Welfare as we've come to know it

Submitted by Roldo on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 14:09.

Bill Clinton said he (we) killed “Welfare as we know it,” or at least as some did think they knew it.

Welfare, as we don’t recognize it – meaning not for poor people – continues and thrives. Skimming the news in the Plain Dealer yesterday so reveals. The PD doesn’t call it welfare, however. Rather, the new welfare represents commitments to, I guess, what some would call progress.

One article yesterday reported that Cleveland City Council had bestowed a $1.5 million loan “to help transform the old Capital Theater on the West Side into an independent movie house. I hate to think what collateral the city accepted for this loan.

The project is undertaken by the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. This will help Gordon Square revitalize (again or again and again).

The project also received a $4.5 million in federal tax credits (to be sold to wealthy tax dodging interests), a $770,000 state historic preservation tax credit (same dodge effect) and a $500,000 (tax evading dodge money) grant from the Cleveland Foundation. 

Now, this isn’t the worse of welfare since it may even help an inner city area do more than limp along. Or it may help a neighborhood gentrify, which will be good for some not necessarily for others.

On another page that day the PD reported that the Ohio Capital Fund had “committed” $25 million to four venture capital funds “that invest in young life science and information technology companies, at least half of which must be in Ohio.” I’d call it venture welfare.

On the same page there’s a story about a Macedonia company moving to Hudson, “thanks in part to state tax credits.” The state gives (to Macedonia) and takes (Hudson). It wasn’t that much - $60,000.

The article went on to note in other action that the Tax Credit Authority (a welfare agency, in my mind) offered $142,000 in tax credits to another company and that other Ohio governmental bodies also offered another $1 million in financing; and $850,000 loan to a Highland Heights company; and two more loans totaling $10.4 million to a potato-chip maker. Five other deals weren’t even described. They were not labeled as Welfare.

So welfare IS NOT as we knew it but it lives in other forms.  None of the articles used the word “welfare.”

If welfare were dead it has been resurrected in another form so that the poor don’t qualify.

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Roldo, you are so right!

 I am seriously informal tonight.  Too many kids ahora and too much red wine, nonetheless, you cut through the bullshit and say what I felt when I saw the pronouncement in the PD. 

poor laws/subsidizing wealth

Are we rolling back the Elizabethan Poor Laws to provide welfare to the elite?

I believe this may be why Jeff is researching a co-op model for realneo. The question is, will it be tax deductible as well as tax exempt? Does it matter?

I think that public support of beneficial programs is good - I'll say the arts, education and public welfare. Raised up to share - that's me. But how it is convoluted and decided is way too complex. Corporate welfare? That the rich can fare better while millions starve? Using third world nations' resources for our comfort and pleasure? Doesn't mesh with my moral code. But I am an American born and raised, so it is hard to reconcile this idea that as my "brother's keeper", I may be keeping my rich brother, not the destitute and damaged one who is unable to do for himself.

As long as we're going to have this convoluted taxing mechanism, I want to speak up for historic tax credits. Reusing historic buildings and being acknowledged for said reuse is s smart idea. We may need incentives to stop the wastefulness of tear it down and build it new. New is rarely better and more economic activity is generated when the reuse of something already there is required.