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Talk:Social programs in the United States


The article lists education subsidies as part of the "welfare state", and then fails to list the history of public education in the United States. Such a history timeline would also require many other edits. It predates any other policy in the article. For example, consider "A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, 18 June 1779" proposed by Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia legislature, or Article IX, Section 9 of the North Carolina State Constitution: "The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense." Livingfractal (talk) 01:23, 17 November 2016 (UTC)

This article needs serious cleaningEdit

There are various amounts of information here that don't speak much to truth, and the references are sketchy at best. When a wiki article uses the term 'weasel word' in the article, it needs cleaning. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:17, 4 April 2011 (UTC) The author of this article is intentionally misleading people or doesnt know what in the world he is talking about. He makes numerous errors that need to be corrected. "In 2002, total U.S. social welfare expenditure constitutes roughly 35% of GDP, with purely public expenditure constituting 21%, publicly supported but privately provided welfare services constituting 10% of GDP and purely private services constituting 4% of GDP. This compared to France and Sweden whose welfare spending ranges from 30% to 35% of GDP.[3][4]" The total U.S. government expenditure is 35% of GDP, not social welfare expenditure. He then compares this figure to France and Sweden's actual welfare expenditures, implicitly implying that the U.S. spends more on welfare than these countries which is absolutely false. The author also states that prior to the reform virtually unlimited funds were utilized. This is incorrect, the amount by state was limited by legislation and state match. This article is biased towards a view of poverty that is demeaning and discriminatory. The page should bear a warning notice of possible prejudice in presentation and should be re-written with factual data.Pndrgn99 (talk) in perspective. Source for correct welfare numbers: Source for correct government numbers: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Why is the word state in the title?Edit

The word state should be taken out of the title.

The word is not "state." It is "welfare state" which is described in the link to it in the lead. Student7 (talk) 14:26, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Home schooling in CaliforniaEdit

I know someone home schooled in California. I do not believe that teaching credentials were required. California, as I understood it, cooperated with parents and attempted to aid them in their efforts to ensure students were properly educated, to the point of issuing free books that were used in public schools. Student7 (talk) 01:55, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

California Education Code 48222 states that other than private school, a licensed tutor or credentialed parent may "homeschool" a child. In the case of the person you knew, if he/she received a diploma it was because there was some tutoring by a credentialed person involved. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 20:23, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Economic commentEdit

This must be an old and not often looked at article. In one place it naively observes that "despite' subsidies, education costs have risen three times as fast as the GDP. For anyone who has taken economics, the sentence would more properly read, "because" of subsidies, education costs have risem....

Subsidies artificially inflate the demand for education, medical, and housing (remember the boom-bust?), causing them to rise faster than normal. That is the way economics (and subsidies) work. Student7 (talk) 02:13, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I understand exactly what you're saying but I disagree. The idea of the sentence was to point out that the aim of subsidies was to cut end costs for students, but what ended up happening is education costs soared weakening the effect and magnitude the original subsidies carried. Your notion that it was "because" of subsidies is a theory better left and found on a page on economics. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 20:17, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Template added today and later blankedEdit

I blanked the template recently added to this page because it seemed to me to be potentially highly contentious. There should be a good reason for adding this kind of template because there are already categories and related links as a way of getting further information.

I'd be grateful if editors would take a look at the template as it was before I delted it and also at the discussion I started at the template's talk page and provide some feedback.

I just have a sense that visuality of the template and some of the subcategories could have had a politically unbalanced presentation not in the spirit of Wikipedia. For instance the linking with articles about the negative side of the welfare state (fraud, dependency, etc.) without equal linking to articles on the positive side (alleviation of stress, social cohesion, etc.). Also some of the articles where the template was placed seem to me to have very little to do with the welfare state per se. --Hauskalainen (talk) 18:32, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Wording and unsubstantiated claimsEdit

The wording in paragraph four of "The modern U.S. welfare State," beginning "In addition, although the United States has a higher income inequality..." are poorly written with respect to case, and the sentence beginning "A history of high income mobility..." offers an unsubstantiated claim, which can almost be discarded off hand as being factually incorrect. It certainly makes an argument, and needs to be substantiated or removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Inaccurate and Incendiary TitleEdit

It would seem a far more appropriate title would be along the lines of "Public Subsidy Programs in the United States". Additionally, the article would also contain at least equal information regarding corporate subsidies. 'Welfare state' is a politically charged term that has no business as a title to a supposedly encyclopedic article. One might well mention the pejorative within the article while discussing varying points of view within the political discourse pertaining to the same. It is however, criminal to use such a title as it currently exists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sylhyntm (talkcontribs) 13:03, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree, the page should be moved to a clearer title. aprock (talk) 18:24, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
I've done the move, and did some basic clean up. aprock (talk) 19:00, 10 August 2011 (UTC)


I've moved the article to "United States entitlement programs" which is a more descriptive title than the previous "United States welfare state". It may not be a bit too specific, since other programs like education are discussed, and settling on a title like "United States social programs" may be more descriptive of the actual content. Feedback invited. aprock (talk) 19:07, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't see what the big problem with the previous title was. At the very least, I must disagree with Sylhyntm's opinion that "welfare state" is a politically charged term that has no business as the title of an encyclopedia article. I thought the old title was good because of the symmetry with the articles European welfare state, and Italian welfare state. If the title really must change, then I think something like "Social welfare in the United States" to mirror the article Social welfare in Sweden would be be better. Another possibility might be "United States welfare system." -Osho-jabbe (talk) 12:41, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Food stamps programEdit

Interesting that complains abound about this article being biased toward the "rightwing," as it reads like it is biased toward a liberal viewpoint. Is the purpose of this article to inform readers about social programs in the United States, or to propagandize? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ladam11 (talkcontribs) 02:02, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

{{Request edit}} Hi, I recently came across this article and would like to make some suggestions for new content and improvements to existing material. I've noticed that there is no discussion of food stamps in the main body. I'd like to suggest creating a new section providing a summary or introduction to this subject, with a link to the article that deals with this at length. I would also like to include some criticism of the food stamps program here, and recognize that others may wish to add support to make this neutral. I have used a recent news article on this topic to provide some up-to-date figures, as well as borrowing information from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. As one of the sources I am using here is from The Heritage Foundation, where I work, I'd like someone to look over this before I make any edits.

Here's what I've put together:

==Food assistance==
In the U.S., financial assistance for food purchasing for low- and no-income people is provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).[1] This is a federal aid program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but benefits are distributed by the individual U.S. states. It is historically and commonly known as the Food Stamp Program. To be eligible for food stamps, the recipients must have incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, and also own few assets.[2] Since the economic downturn began in 2008, the use of food stamps has increased.[2] As of 2011, the U.S. government spends approximately $111 billion per year on federal and state food programs and over 46 million people received food stamps.[3]
Conservative commentators have argued that there is fraudulent use of the food stamp program, including selling food stamps for money and individuals applying more than once for assistance, leading to a greater burden for taxpayers.[3] According to The Heritage Foundation, $2.5 billion is spent on improper use of food stamps.[4] Reforms of the program have been suggested, including the requirement that able-bodied, non-elderly applicants for food stamps demonstrate that they are working or looking for work.[3]

If this would work in the article, please add it, or I might later if there aren't any objections. Thanks, Kalkaska sand (talk) 15:38, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

  Done and   Thank you for the great edit. --andy4789 · (talk? contribs?) 15:56, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

I OBJECT. This is where some of those who 'edit' on Wikipedia should not be allowed to edit an article unless ALL sides are included-especially one-sided political positions such as the above edit shows.

It's clear you've managed to provide only the 'Right Wing-Conservative' view. This article requires a re-edit to delete the OPINIONS stated above and now entered into the article. It is unacceptable that it was allowed to be done in the first place. Simply verifying the references would have shown what was written was only one POLITICAL OPINION.

The references used are from Conservative only media, and the so called 'data' that was cited from the USDA doesnt exist in the way that it has been wrtten about. Reviewing the USDA, nowhere do they show numbers for individuals applyng for benefits more than one time, or who and how many have been using the food stamp programs 'improperly. What the USDA made available was the 'error' rates made in dollars per household that included over/under payments. The article referenced "Food Stamp Fraud Costing Taxpayers Billions" references an article from the Washington Examiner,(no longer available)which only looked at the five states surrounding the U.S. Capitol, and what was claimed as 'fraud' was the amount of dollars investigated for fraud, not prosecuted and found guilty of fraud.

That being said, I have removed ALL references to The Heritage Foundation, and conservative 'arguments' and all politically motivated information. It is unacceptable to include political opinions within ANY Wiki article.

One other thing-if data is going to be provided, let's use REAL information from the USDA, including how many households with children, the elderly and the disabled are assisted with the Food Stamp Programs. How many children would go hungry if there was no low-cost/free lunch programs in schools, those that would go hungry in a low-income family, or who would go hungry in a family where the parents have become unemployed due to less work in the US. That of course is only the drop in the bucket. To provide all that data, every report from the USDA for 2010/2011 would have to be linked into this Wiki article. -bratty — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:48, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

    • Everything I wrote in reference to my removing the non-neutral POV did not save. I hit 'save' several times and it seemed to but didnt.

The individual who removed my revision, added an editorial from The Wall Street Journal that you have to PAY for. This is not a reference. The section removed began with "Conservative commentators have argued..." and ended with additional conservative POVs having only one-sided views in reference to the Food Programs run by the USDA. I have refered the article to the Neutrality Noticeboard. Brattysoul (talk) 04:37, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

Ambiguous meaning of the word "welfare" . What's the right balance and approach?Edit

The word welfare has a main meaning globally (enjoying a state of well being) and a special meaning in the United States (a social program for the underprivilged) which has turned the meaning upside down from being entirely aspirational (as it is in the preamble to the US Constitution) to the somewhat derogatory and un-aspirational meaning that it has acquired in the last 70 years or so. See for example The odd thing to me (as a non American) is how Americans seem to have done this without most people in the US having noticed! To me it is quite normal to use the word welfare as a noun in its original sense such as Child Welfare, Animal Welfare (the well being of children and animals) and in the term Welfare State (a state in which thw welfare of its citizens is assured) and in Welfare payments (payments intended to help a person achieve welfare), but it is quite foreign for me say that "she is living on welfare" because it is non-sensical. "she is living on Social Security benefits" or "welfare payments" would be more normative. This transformation of meaning it seems is pretty much complete in the U.S. but it has mostly not happened elsewhere. Of course, through cultural media, Australians, Canadians, Brits, South Africans, New Zealanders and the Irish will all understand what Americans mean when they refer to welfare in this way, but it is still foreign to them given that they do not use the word this way themselves.

I noticed that this article does not use the word welfare in the title (which I applaud) and it seemed to me that the article did mostly stick to International English (thus avoiding use of Welfare to mean financial support. However, it struck me that some text I block pasted in on history (taken from welfare does use the American English meaning. If the article avoids American English usage it will sound "odd" to the American ear, bit the more it uses Welfare in the American way the less readable it becomes for readers outside the U.S. Any ideas from anyone as to how to find a happy compromise that will keep everyone happy?-- (talk) 02:10, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

First, this is not a forum. Second, welfare is a commonly used term to describe what is government assistance. Whether or not you think that terminology is appropriate or not, it is a commonly used term. You've managed to inject some bizarre significance onto it that I don't think anyone in the mainstream American political system would ascribe to it.
Finally, this is a distinctly American article, and if what you say above is true, apparently so is the welfare article. We have distinct guidelines about English differences to answer issues like yours. Those seem to have been well followed.
You seem to have a political point of view. I think it's largely wrong. But that's my personal opinion, and neither of ours has any bearing on this article, and I fail to see how anything you've written here will help improve this article. Shadowjams (talk) 10:22, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
A forum? No! I was trying to find a way to write the article by using language in a way that does NOT upset the sensibilities of readers whether they are U.S. Americans (where the word has two meanings, one of which is quite different from the other) and readers outside the United States where the word does not have the second meaning that it has gained in the United States. I agree with you that this is an American article and that American usage should prevail (as it should in accordance with WP policy on language variation). I am just pointing out a certain truth that a portion of the editors here may not be aware of. The term WELFARE used in the secondary American sense is not shared with readers by readers outside of the U.S. If an article kept using the word "fag" to mean "cigarette" (a meaning it has in Britain and Australia) it would offend American language sensibilities because "fag" has a particular meaning in American English and the meaning of "cigarette" is not shared in the U.S. Hence this is the same thing in the other direction. "Welfare" does not man "government support for the poor" in British, Canadian, Australian, South African, or Irish variations of English. The meaning of GOVERNMENT AID is colloquial American English and found mainly in the United States. And I do not think it is our policy to offend the lingusitic sensibilities of our readership.
I am not sure what you meant by "bizarre significance". Do you mean that I think it is somewhat Orwellian New Speak to have turned a word with wholesome positive tones (being healthy, free from want) into one having degoratory negative connotations, (dependency, poverty)? Well, I do not think it was done deliberately but you have to admit, that this IS seemingly what has happened. But no, I am not engaging in WP:SOAP, but if I am on a "crusade" (another word with dangerous double meanings) it is only one to make WP the best encyclopedia in the world. -- (talk) 11:49, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

I suspect Shadowjams is under the misapprehension that I am on a mission to turn remove the word welfare from the article. I am not. There are usages that are fine to the ear of a non American and some that are not. Here is an example paragraph from the article. I have highlighted what to me, as a non-American are acceptable usages in italics and the unacceptable usage is in bold.

The welfare system in the United States began in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. After the Great Society legislation of the 1960s, for the first time a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive aid from the American government. Aid could include general welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits. In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman on welfare; by 1980, the percentage increased to 10%. In the 1970s, California was the U.S. state with the most generous welfare system. Virtually all food stamp costs are paid by the federal government. In 2008, 28.7 percent of the households headed by single women were considered poor.

The terms in italics are okay because it is possible to read the meaning of WELL-BEING into the word. Thus "Welfare system" is okay because it is a system intended to promote well-being. "welfare payments" is okay because they are payments intended to promote the well-being of the recipient. "Woman on welfare" on the other hand is nonsensical to the foreign ear. A wonam cannot be on WELL-BEING. It makes no sense at all. A simple re-write can fix the problem. "In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving welfare payments' would be perfectly acceptable to the foreign ear as well as to the American ear.

Does this help you better to understand the problem and how simply it can be resolved?-- (talk) 12:34, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Social Programs To GDP RatioEdit

If the GDP of 2002 was $11,590.6 billion ( and the social programs expenditure was $38.77 billion (, why is the percentage of GDP said to be 35% of GDP when it is clearly so much lower (.3%)? (talk) 20:05, 16 July 2012 (UTC)


The section entitled "Welfare" begins ""The welfare system in the United States began in the 1930s"; and there is a timeline in that same section which lists actions that took place in the 1880's. Given the political controversy surrounding various elements of the social safety net, shouldn't the earliest date (the 1880's) be given as when the welfare system began?

Additionally, the sentence "The welfare system in the United States began in the 1930s, during the Great Depression." would seem to require at least one detail explaining what action or program, exactly, it was that is considered the "beginning." But no such detail is given - instead, the very next sentence jumps to the 1960's: "After the Great Society legislation of the 1960s,..." If no specific program from the 1930's is named, can that first sentence even be correct? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:52, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Entitlement programEdit

The link to the Entitlement page was a misdirect. I'm taking it out. It has nothing on US entitlement programs. If someone who knows details, what is included, what isn't and why, please add a section here or a separate page. THANKS. (talk) 11:44, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

ambiguity between income and imputed incomeEdit

In various parts of this article it's unclear when "income" figures are referring to actual cash income, versus some attempt to measure imputed income. For example consider this sentence:

Social programs increase those households' before-tax income to $30,500. Social Security and Medicare are responsible for two-thirds of that increase.

Another table includes "medicaid" transfers. As far as I know, Medicare and Medicaid aren't income-supplementing programs, like Social Security is, so could not increase someone's income by the usual definition of income, such as that used in personal income in the United States. They do provide health coverage, but this is not usually counted as income elsewhere. For example, if someone has a job that pays $50,000/yr salary, plus company-provided health insurance and other benefits, their personal income for statistical purposes is typically considered to be just $50,000. One could include an imputed value of the health insurance and add it to income, or alternately include on a year-to-year basis the value of any health-coverage payouts from the insurer as income. But that is not what I think our figures typically do. Of course, there is a good argument that in-kind benefits should be counted as imputed income in some manner. But we should be clear about which definitions we're using in which places, and be particularly careful that inconsistent numbers aren't being compared.

For example, when this article is discussing before-transfer and after-transfer income of people in different income brackets, I think (?) it's including Medicaid payments as income, but excluding payments from employer-provided health insurance from the definition of income. That seems a bit strange, at least; not necessarily fatal to the usefulness of the table, but confusing. Overall I am mostly just left confused by which figures labeled "income" are actually measuring what, since it doesn't seem to be only (or at least not always only) cash income. --Delirium (talk) 00:39, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

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"Impact" section needs a rewriteEdit

I find it highly dubious that in the subsection "Impacts," only the point of view of one pro-welfare source is given, with no opposing view to offer a counterpoint. The pro-welfare point of view also seems to be lacking in credibility, as it is logically fallacious and does not actually prove that an increase in welfare programs leads to a reduction in crime. The credibility of the entire article could be called into question. Are we trying to educate people about the history of social programs in the United States, or use this site as a platform to propagandize? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ladam11 (talkcontribs) 02:06, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

The Congressional Budget Office isnt a Pro-welfare source. Instead of complaining about the source of the text beneath the table you should have put up an opposing viewpoint with the reference footnoted. I think the question of Neutrality of this section should be listed as resolved (talk) 01:54, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

Text copied from entitlement. More appropriate hereEdit

In the United States, an entitlement program is a type of "government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits (or sometimes special government-provided goods or services) to which an indefinite (but usually rather large) number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right [...] whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program."[5] Entitlement spending is distinct from discretionary spending. Congress does not pass an annual appropriation; instead, expenditure on the program automatically increases or decreases with the number of claims against eligibility criteria. The government must provide the benefits even if it is insolvent, has reached the debt ceiling, or has not passed a budget.

Originally, the term "entitlement" in the United States was used to identify federal programs that, like Social Security and Medicare, got the name because workers became "entitled" to their benefits by paying into the system. In recent years the meaning has been used to refer also to benefits, like those of the food stamps program, which people become eligible to receive without paying into a system.[6] Some federal programs are also considered entitlements even though the subscriber's "paying into the system" occurs via a means other than monetary, as in the case of those programs providing for veterans' benefits, where the individual becomes eligible via service in the U.S. military.[7]


  1. ^ "Nutrition Assistance Program Home Page", U.S. Department of Agriculture (official website), March 3, 2011 (last revised). Accessed March 4, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Erik Eckholm (March 31, 2008). "Food stamp use in U.S. at record pace as jobs vanish". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Warren Zozak (January 30, 2012). "The Myth of Starving Americans". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  4. ^ Rachel Sheffield (December 9, 2011). "Food Stamp Fraud Costing Tax Payers Billions". The Foundry. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "A Glossary of Political Economic Terms" Paul M Johnson, PhD, Auburn University 1994-2005 Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
  6. ^ What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending? Nate Silver. The New York Times. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  7. ^ Entitlement Programs. City College of San Francisco. Retrieved 16 April 2013.[dead link]

--Penbat (talk) 12:20, 28 March 2017 (UTC)


I added a NPOV tag to this section.

It contains only material in support of welfare.

Benjamin (talk) 01:35, 11 May 2017 (UTC)

I added a quote from CATO.

CATO says: The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work.[1]

Benjamin (talk) 02:11, 11 May 2017 (UTC)

Missing Salient ContentEdit

When writing about the topic of healthcare welfare, I feel that it is important to include the Affordable Care Act in order to be more contemporary. Much debate and political upheaval has centered on this program. The millions of people enrolled in the ACA shows that the country has undergone a significant shift, for better or worse. Adburges (talk) 05:41, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

Poor Link CitingEdit

The following sentence may not be credible: "Prior to reform, states were given "limitless"[14] money by the federal government, increasing per family on welfare, under the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.[15]" I was skeptical of the term limitless being used as if it were objective. Upon checking the cited link [15] to see where the logic was originated, I ran into a faulty link page: Adburges (talk) 05:48, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

Rearrange sectionsEdit

For the sake of convenience and ease for the the reaeder, it would make sense for section '!. Congressional Funding' to be near section '5.4 Cost' since they are similar. Perhaps section 1. can be moved to 5.5 and read '5.5 Congressional funding'.Adburges (talk) 21:29, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

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Consensus on including Social Security sealEdit

I don't think User:2605:E000:628B:6500:1D0A:2568:B511:F6CB's removal of the picture of the SSA seal reflects the content of the rest of the article, which refers to Social Security frequently. I also don't think the usage of the word 'welfare' was out of place; see discussion of the word above. The (non-academic) article cited in their edit summary makes a distinction between need-based and entitlement programs, both of which fit the definition of the word welfare used throughout this article. Any reason why I shouldn't revert this edit? Seaplant (talk) 20:05, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

@Seaplant: I reverted it without seeing your remark. This stems from conflicting definitions of "welfare", which that article could be significantly improved by discussing in greater depth. Daask (talk) 20:25, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
That's great Daask, it looks like no one raised any objections here. I agree some more discussion of terminology would be helpful, there's a bit at Welfare#Terminology, but that focusses mainly on differences between U.S. English and international usage. The hatnote on Welfare establishes some particular definitions, and directs people to Social security, which seems like it's using words somewhat differently—we could try to put some discussion of terminology in those articles too too. – Carl (Seaplant (talk) 17:08, 16 May 2018 (UTC))
Please see discussion here and here . There seems to be a basic inaccuracy in several articles, where welfare is defined as "support for the poor citizens," yet includes entitlements such as SS which are equally for the well-off. BeCritical 04:11, 17 June 2018 (UTC)
Also, I am not the IP above, I just saw the same thing. BeCritical 04:15, 17 June 2018 (UTC)
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