“Years ago, local governments would set up money bounties for troublesome rodents or animals that the public wanted to eliminate. It would pay money if someone would bring in proof of having exterminated a pest, such as a rat’s tail or a pair of ears from a coyote.
Guess what happened? If the bounties were high enough to affect people’s plans, eventually some enterprising people would start breeding rats or coyotes for a living. They would take in piles of tails or ears and collect their reward. After all, it’s a lot easier to breed rats in a shed or barn than catch them. The result of the bounties was the opposite of what was officially intended. The community would wind up with more of the unwanted pests than before the program began.
This is exactly what happens when the civil government tries to create welfare programs. Like the rat-tail bounty, welfare programs actually create what they are trying to remove. The costs of the programs go higher and higher.
When the ‘government pays money to people who are unable to support themselves, it creates an incentive to become nonsupporting. People who were just getting by – barely self-reliant people – now see an opportunity. They can register as officially non-self-reliant people and collect easy money. It pays the marginally productive to “go over the line” into official poverty. It pulls them out of the free market (where there is always at least the hope of increasing one’s responsibility and income) and into the welfare world, where there is very little hope of escaping the cycle of poverty.”
-Ray Sutton, Who Owns the Family