It is considered axiomatic among Republican politicians and many conservative economists that government assistance programs to the disadvantaged reduce productivity and self-reliance. This notion is a prime example of zombie economics: ideas that are dead yet continue to roam the Earth. According to several recent studies, there is little evidence to support this idea and much to refute it.
To cite one example, a program called Prospera provides cash assistance to poor Mexican families on the condition that they send their children to school, make regular visits to the doctor, and keep up-to-date on vaccinations. Over time, children from these families completed more education, were more likely to be employed, worked longer hours, and earned higher wages than those who did not receive assistance.
As persuasive as the economic evidence in favor of properly designed assistance programs may be, there is an even more central and compelling reason for continuing and expanding such programs: It is the right thing to do. In the absence of such programs, the seriously disadvantaged among us will continue to be mired in poverty and hopelessness while the affluent enjoy more wealth than they can possibly require or justify.
Craig Rushforth, Kaysville