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Assembly Speaker Discusses "America's Entitlement Epidemic"

By Amanda Morad | February 5, 2013

Josh Good, American Enterprise Institute

Welfare. Medicaid. Housing assistance. All institutions of the federal government that millenials have grown up with and will have to pay the consequences for in the future, according to Josh Good, program manager for the Values & Capitalism initiative at the American Enterprise Institute.

Good spoke at the monthly College of Arts & Sciences assembly on Monday, Feb. 4, discussing America's entitlement "epidemic" and presenting a moral case for free enterprise.

"Entitlements have ascended in cost with specific implications for millenials," Good said. "In our helping, we've inadvertently caused a lot of hurt."

With around two-thirds of the federal budget now dedicated to fulfilling entitlements, it's likely that an "entitlement bubble" is not far off, Good suggested. "Entitlements have turned American life upside down," he said. "They were designed to be a safety net, not a hammock."

Good quoted statistics that show there are eight times more people receiving disability support today than in the program's early years. The cost of food stamps for the federal government has skyrocketed from $19 billion to $84 billion in the span of a decade. The root cause of landslide entitlement costs in the last half-century is somewhat ambiguous, but Good suggested a focus change to solve the problem.

"The difference between the United States and the Continent has always been a value of individual effort and responsibility, and we're in danger of losing that," he said. "We ought not ask what causes poverty, but what causes wealth. When we put the focus on growth, we get different and better outcomes."

The solution to welfare reform, Good explained, "is not just about spending, but getting the poor involved in solving poverty."

He went on to express his belief that "promoting economic growth is the best way to reach the poor. Not that capitalism is the only and best solution for all times, but we should be encouraging free enterprise in ways that consider the moral as well as economic implications of poverty."

Good concluded his talk by encouraging students to be directly involved with the poor. "Compassion differs from policymaking, and personal relationships with those on the margins of society have multiple benefits," he said. "When we directly involve ourselves, the country rises."

Held each month, the CAS assembly aims to provide students with the chance to hear from distinguished scholars in a variety of fields.

Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences.

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