Get a job.
Then again, if you are a low wage earner, why bother? You can make more money sitting on your duff.
That is just one conclusion that can be drawn from the controversial 2013 Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off study from the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank headquartered in Washington D.C.
Minimum wage workers in 35 states are paid less than welfare recipients in those states even when the Earned Income Tax Credit is considered, according to the newly released report.
Basically, the study says you can make more money sitting on your rump and not working than you can at a minimum wage job (obviously, this doesn’t sit well with liberal thinkers).
“The most generous benefit package was in Hawaii, although that may be distorted by the state’s high cost of living. The second highest level of benefits was in the District of Columbia, followed by Massachusetts,” the report says.
Cato places the value of welfare benefits in Hawaii at $49,175 a year. Ohio ranks 26th on the list with the value for welfare benefits at $28,723, an increase of $3,714 over the 1995 value adjusted for inflation.
Welfare recipients in Mississippi received the least, $16,984 — a decrease of $2,709 when compared to 1995, the last time Cato conducted its study.
Welfare pays more than $15 an hour in 12 states and the District of Columbia, according to the group’s research.
Welfare pays the equivalent hourly wage of $29.13 in Hawaii, $12.60 in Ohio and $5.69 in Mississippi. Recipients in Idaho are paid what would amount to the lowest hourly wage of $5.36.
President Obama this year proposed hiking the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. The federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has proposed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 in three steps of 95 cents.
Opponents say the measure would thwart job creation.
The estimated income per person between 2007 and 2011 in Ohio was $25,618, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. It was $27,915 for the country.
But hold the phone, the 52-page Cato report doesn’t seem to want wages to increased.
It’s goal is more to further reduce the amount welfare recipients receive.
“The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work. As a result, if Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the list of activities that qualify as ‘work.’ Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements,” the study concludes.
It should come to little surprised that liberal commentator Bill D. Moyers has a different take than Cato.
He writes that Cato’s study authored by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes is part of a trend of “dubious studies purporting to show that poor families are living high on the hog on public benefits” and to further dismantle the social safety net.
On his blog, Moyer said the typical family does not come close to taking advantage of all the programs included in Cato’s analysis.
“The paper shouldn’t be taken at face value because the authors’ abundant caveats show that their study measures neither the reality of poverty in America, nor that of the public programs designed to fight it,” he writes, noting that some assistant programs are time limited, many recipients want to work, and assistance programs subsidize low income workers at Walmart and other large companies (Read: More low-wage workers on food stamps, Medicaid).
“When studies like this one are picked up by the conservative media, all of the authors’ caveats tend to be stripped away, and they become straightforward claims that poor families sit back enjoying a good life, forcing overburdened tax-payers to pick up the tab.”
The minimum wage, particularly when it comes to restaurant workers, has been in the news of late. Some are calling a national campaign.
What do you think?
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth