In 1982, the total U.S. welfare bill at all levels of government (federal, state, and local) came to 403 billion dollars. If we take figures from the Bureau of the Census (August 1984) which state that the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. was 15.2 percent of the population, or 35.3 million people, an amazing fact emerges. Had we simply divided the 403 billion dollars this nation spent on poverty at every level of government among the estimated number of poor people, each poor person could have received $11,133. For a family of four, this would have totaled $44,532. Since the official poverty level per family for that year was $9,287, it is clear that America's fight against poverty involves enormous overhead costs. Most of the tax dollars collected to fight poverty end up, Thomas Sowell notes, "in the pockets of highly paid administrators, consultants, and staff as well as higher-income recipients of benefits from programs advertised as anti-poverty efforts." Clearly, the bucket used to carry money from the pockets of the taxpayer to the poor is leaking badly. Many think the real beneficiaries of liberal social programs are not the poor and disadvantaged but the members of the governmental bureaucracy who administer the program.
Today's statistics are not much different. $591 billion per year (on the Federal level alone) spent on 39.8 million impoverished equates to $14,849 per person, or $59,396 for a family of four. We spend a lot of money on anti-poverty programs, and it sure isn't helping.