Policy Snapshots – Welfare Myths, Forfeiture Reform & Don’t Touch That Horse

 
Myths about welfare produce bad policy
5 myths and 5 facts about welfare and child poverty

 

The Heritage Foundation reports five myths about welfare and child poverty that often lead to misguided policies.

Myth: The welfare state in the U.S. is small.
Fact: The U.S. welfare system is enormous. The federal government operates over 90 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted services to poor and lower-income Americans. In 2014, federal and state governments spent over $1 trillion on these programs; 90 percent of this spending, or $924 billion, went to cash, food, housing, and medical benefits.

Myth: Welfare benefits are meager and insufficient.
Fact: The combined benefits available for a single mother with two school-age children working full time at the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) would increase her earnings to the equivalent of an annual income of $47,385 per year or an effective hourly wage of $22.78 per hour.

Myth: Due to a lack of government support, poverty and deprivation are widespread.
Fact: The government’s poverty measure says very little about the actual material living conditions of the poor. Examining other government data provides a very different picture of poverty in the United States. For example, the average poor household in the United States has air conditioning, a car or truck, cable or satellite TV, a computer, a cell phone, and (if the household has children) a video game system. They have enough to eat and are not undernourished. They live in comfortable housing that is in good repair and have more living space than the average non-poor person in Germany, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The average poor household in the United States also reports that they have access to medical care when they need it.

Myth: Welfare policy substantially penalizes work, trapping families in poverty.
Fact: Welfare benefits will continue at roughly the same level for a parent who takes a low-wage job. (While Temporary Assistance for Needy Families  and food stamp benefits do decrease as earnings rise, Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit benefits rise; the two effects largely offset each other.) It is inaccurate to claim that high welfare benefit rates (or marginal tax rates) cause low-wage parents not to work or to work little. The more likely problem is that generous benefits may reduce the financial necessity of work or of full-time work.

Myth: Raising the minimum wage is an effective strategy for reducing child poverty.
Fact: A parent who sought to support a family with a minimum-wage job alone would indeed be poor, but under the current welfare system, no parent is expected to support a family solely on minimum-wage earnings. The system generously allows parents to combine earnings and welfare. Raising the minimum wage would actually push many families deeper into poverty by destroying the jobs they need to climb above the poverty level. When the government arbitrarily raises the wages of low-skill workers, businesses will hire fewer of those workers. The job-loss effects from an increase in the minimum wage will focus on the most vulnerable within the low-skill group.

Read the full report here or download it in PDF format.

Source: The Heritage Foundation

Governor approves asset forfeiture reform
New law requires warrant to keep seized property; creates transparency 
 

Under a new law signed by Governor Phil Bryant on Monday, law enforcement agencies will be required to report “descriptions and values of seized property, which police department seized it, and any court petitions challenging the seizures. The law will also require police to obtain a seizure warrant within 72 hours.” If a warrant is not obtained in certain cases, the property will be given back to its owner. That from a report from Reason.com which published a critical expose on Mississippi’s asset forfeiture abuses in January.

Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice(IJ) praised the passage of the bill. IJ had graded Mississippi an “F” on forfeiture transparency earlier this year but now says, “Mississippi is now the third state this year and the 19th state since 2014 to have passed civil forfeiture reform.”

Sources: Reason.com & Institute for Justice

 

Don’t touch that horse without a license
Tennessee licensing board threatens equine massage therapist with fine or jail if she tends to horses

 

In Tennessee, you don’t need a license to castrate or artificially inseminate a horse. But the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has threatened a woman with fines and jail if she massages a horse. The woman, Laurie Wheeler, has been twice certified for equine massage by an animal therapy school in Indiana. She has also been licensed by Tennessee for human massage therapy.

But the licensing board informed her that she must be a licensed veterinarian to perform horse massages, which would require her to go to veterinary school, where equine massage is not even taught. Eric Boehm writes about this licensing gone wild incident at Reason.com’s Hit & Run Blog.

Equine Sports Massage Therapy is a growing occupation across the country with certified therapists operating in Mississippi.

This Tennessee incident is reminiscent of the attempt by a dental licensing board in North Carolina to restrict teeth whitening services. The board was sued under anti-trust laws and the U.S. Supreme Court determined because the board was not operating under state supervision, it was vulnerable to the lawsuit. A current bill (HB1425) to correct similar weaknesses in Mississippi licensing boards is currently pending in the legislature.

Source: Reason.com

Mississippi needs 80,000 more construction workers
MBJ article reports Southern states compete for trained construction professionals
 

“In the next two years, Mississippi alone is going to be short 80,000 craft professionals such as electricians, masons, carpenters and welders,” said Mike Barkett, president of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) in a recent Mississippi Business Journal article.

Barkett said during the Great Recession, many construction workers retired or found new careers. Now there is a shortage with Southern states competing for trained workers. MCEF’s goals to increase the number of Mississippi construction workers include “promoting career and technical opportunities among young people, recruiting top talent that contributes to the fundamental growth and development of prospective employers, and then providing comprehensive classroom and on-job training that creates success for workers at all levels.”

Policy Reports on Internet Taxes, Welfare & Licensing Reforms
In case you missed it, MCPP releases policy papers on three major issues facing your Mississippi legislature

 

Leading Toward Liberty

Did you know Amazon is not paying taxes to Mississippi? That’s right, YOU are paying taxes when you order online; but Amazon is collecting those taxes for the state. But we don’t know if Amazon gets to keep a share.

Did you know when other states did an audit on their welfare programs, they found dead people, millionaires and residents from other states collecting benefits intended for the poor? But some in Mississippi don’t want us to audit our welfare rolls.

Did you know Mississippi licenses 55 out of 102 mid-to-low-level professions? We license court clerks (only 3 other states do that); residential drywall installers (8 other states); and landscape workers (9 other states). Somehow, nearly every other state manages to get by without licensing these trades.

You can get these and more details in three new policy papers released by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy:

Mississippi’s Internet Sales Tax: Answers to Common Questions

Mississippi Welfare Fraud Policy Brief

HB 1425: Necessary Regulatory Reform that Will Protect Consumers and Lower Prices

Source: Mississippi Center for Public Policy

 
Mississippi Center for Public Policy, 520 George Street, Jackson, MS 39202