As California’s 33rd governor, Ronald Reagan often stressed that welfare programs needed a purpose. Those programs, that is, needed to do more than just provide for the needy — they also needed to move individuals to self-sufficiency and make them independent as quickly as possible. He challenged the way welfare bureaucrats were gauging success based on how many people were added to welfare rolls, rather than how many left.
President Reagan’s words ring as true today as they did when he uttered them in 1968. But over the past several decades, his perspective has been abandoned in favor of policies that have transformed a temporary safety net for the truly needy into a long-term dependency trap.