A Rhode Island in Which It Doesn’t Pay to Try


Following up his article about the welfare life in Woonsocket, Arthur Christopher Schaper has posted an interview with a Providence baker who found the story very familiar:

My family has owned an Italian Bakery/Pizzeria in Providence for 25 years.

This once vibrant immigrant built city has become a third-world wasteland of Government Subsidies and lost hope.

Our business has unfortunately had to accept EBT to survive, and the abuse and fraud I see firsthand is nauseating. If you ever needed specific examples, I could give you plenty.

It seems no one feels the need to go to work anymore, at least in my neighborhood.

One telling comment that the baker makes is gaining attention nationally, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the problem is worse than usual in Rhode Island:

[James Hallal, of J’s Deli, has] had prospective employees come right out and tell him they can’t work more than 30 hours/wk. or they will lose such and such benefits.

If I can make close to same amount of $ and not have to work in a 90 degree bakery, why would I chose to work?

We’ve set up “welfare cliffs,” over which people can actually lose money if they make more money.  In 2012, Gary Alexander ran the numbers for Pennsylvania and found that a single mother who began to earn more than $29,000 per year (about $14 per hour on a 40-hour workweek) would lose money unless she earned $69,000 (about $33 per hour).  In Cook County, Illinois, that single mother would have to skip from $12 per hour to $38 per hour for it to be worthwhile to get a raise.

Looking specifically at New York City for City Journal, Myron Magnet describes the role of welfare reform, of the kind that encourages (rather than discourages) work, plays in turning struggling areas around.  Of course, the people most harmed by these progressive policies, I would argue, are those born into challenging situations who would actually prefer to make something of themselves.  Tripling your pay to get from dependency to self-sufficiency is quite a gap.