Are You on Welfare ?

Today, in a history class I take on The Great Depression, my professor made an interesting statement. It was his response to a recent national poll where people were simply asked if they were on any type of government welfare. His contention is that anyone with a home mortgage receives government welfare because the interest that is deducted reduces one’s tax and thus takes money from the government.

A general definition of welfare is: financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government.

I find this an interesting approach and wonder what some of you think. I have written a friendly email response to the professor on why I disagree with him but I would like some more opinions and input. Please tell me what you think.


  1. The mortgage interest deduction, which I take advantage of, is governments attempt at social engineering. Like the exemption for children, the deducability of state and property taxes, and the non-taxable heath insurance and 401k contributions, the credit for energy efficient appliances and cash for clunkers.. I had the same type of discussion with a prof in a poli sci class 20 years ago. The liberal/socialist higher education hasn’t changed. Todays welfare is called the earned income tax credit. Why can’t we ALL just pay a flat tax and get rid of all the exemptions and deductions?

  2. Taking less is not the same as giving. If I break into your house and steal all your money except $5, have I really given you $5?

    The supposition that the money is the governments to begin with is precisely the problem with liberalism. To say that we have to “pay for tax cuts” reflects this thinking.

  3. J. Strupp says:

    I’d love to hear what your prof. is teaching the kids these days about the Great Depression. I really, really would. That class should be extremely relevant to current events, especially the events surrounding 1937 and their aftermath.

    I would say that the MID is more of a government subsidy than outright welfare. The MID can, often times, be the difference between buying a home and renting, buying a rental property or investing the money somewhere else. IOW, the government is incentivizing real estate ownership that wouldn’t otherwise be purchased by a prospective buyer.

    It’s also a big subsidy concentrated towards upper income Americans (yet another one) but I’ll leave that one alone for now so Cindy doesn’t start to gag.

  4. i was born in 1932 at a time when the great depression had reached its peak what with banks failing, jobs gone and food supplly low. as i remember FDR became president and created govenment jobs through federal agencies such as the WPA and CCC, etc. which paid people to build the infrastructure. among things built were Hoover Dam and some of our park systems. i was told that my grandparents had no money saved, no job to work at and little food to eat, but they survived by eating at the soup lines and making do with whatever they could scrape up. no luxeries like cars, computers, fancy clothes, nice homes or fast foods. heat, telephone and ice/bricks were a luxery. government welfare kept us going and as a lawyer i saw county government still collecting repayment from probate estates for welfare money in the 1960’s. we today have no clue about hard times. we all know that the public welfare system expanded into a more permanent nature than it was meant to be as a stopgap during the great depression . mortgages and foreclosures were the last straw. yet our ancestors just out of that terrible lifestyle were faced with World War II which caused all eligible men to be drafted and serve their country. yet we survived that too. then a few years after WWII ended we were again at was in Korea (during my service) and we survived that too. even at a young age it seemed that the political process was one of conciliation during bad times. thanx for an excellent subject. the only ones who are qualified to talk and those who lived in it.

  5. i just posted a lenghty blog which did not go through. in essence it tells of the realities of the great depression that todays generation cannot relate to. quote Emily Post: do not pretend to know something you do not know. during the great depression most of America was on some type of government welfare.

  6. J. Strupp says:

    I think I got spam filtered again Cindy.

  7. my last 2 responses are not posted

  8. Randy in Richmond says:

    Strupp and Dick
    Cindy is gone for a few days to her writing class. I’m very sorry but I do not have the capability to clear your comments. Hopefully she may check in and release them from cyberspace. If you have links you might try dropping them and re-entering. As your comments are about my posting I want them to post as much as you do.

  9. I found you! I’ll check in twice a day or so.


  10. If the government tax break benefits you, it’s “stimulating” your personal economy. If it benefits someone else, but not you, it’s “welfare.”

    I agree it may be time for a flat tax, in combination with a value added tax to catch all the underground economic transactions (primarily on the part of “small business”–cash payments not reported, barter transactions not reported.) We all know people who get paid in cash and don’t report it. I know of a couple who paid for their entire house using “independent contractor” payments made that were never reported. They brag about it.

  11. In the first place, “welfare” generally means what government statistics call “public assistance.” The home mortgate credit simply isn’t any such thing.

    If your professor is liberal, and is saying that “since you are on welfare you can’t complain about people on some different welfare program,” that’s just silly.

    There are a lot of different government programs — way too many, in fact.

    Some are good, some are not so good (a lot in fact). Just because you benefit from one doesn’t deprive you of the right to criticize others.
    Indeed, it doesn’t deprive you of the right to criticize the one you are in. If you benefit from a bad program, you are allowed to be honest and say it’s a bad program.

  12. Sceptical Adams says:

    My “welfare”/entitlements are good public policy and yours probably not. The original commentator was in college probably using Federal student loan guarantees reducing the cost of that borrowing by at least 3.5%. If he is attending a State University there is a State subsidy, in WI state share is down to about 28% of System budget, remove that subsidy and Federal Grants and cost to students would rise to over $25,ooo/yr. Welfare was coded slang for AFDC-remember “Cadillac Queens”, my charitable contributions are matched by taxpayers by over 30%- I’m lauded for my generosity. Gov’t keep your hands off of my subsidies!

  13. the DC government will always control war and peace, of course, at a price. let their conscience be their guide. keep taxing social security benefits (a tier tax system) and soon AARP will run the show. like the Brewers a new Manager makes little difference. it is a team game like politics. after living through our two party structure i still had to make my own way.