From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure. Since the start of the War on Poverty in 1965, the United States has spent trillions trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for that massive investment is—primarily— more poverty.

Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers, who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church, and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for them and hope for their children.

More on Welfare


20 Years after Welfare Reform, Can We Do It Again?

By Vanessa Brown Calder. Washington Examiner. August 22, 2016.

How Did Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform Turn Out?

By Michael D. Tanner. Newsweek. August 22, 2016.

Brexit: What Now?

By Michael D. Tanner. National Review (Online). June 29, 2016.

Cato Studies

The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: Europe

By Michael D. Tanner and Charles Hughes. Policy Analysis No. 779. August 24, 2015.

The Pros and Cons of a Guaranteed National Income

By Michael D. Tanner. Policy Analysis No. 773. May 12, 2015.

War on Poverty Turns 50: Are We Winning Yet?

By Michael D. Tanner and Charles Hughes. Policy Analysis No. 761. October 20, 2014.


Liberty, Responsibility, and Philanthropy: Individual Responsibility in a Free Society

Roger Pilon. Contemporary Philosophy. Vol. 27. No. 5. 1995.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Work and Welfare in Europe

Policy Report. November/December 2015.

The War on Poverty after Fifty Years

Policy Report. May/June 2015.

Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis

Policy Report. May/June 2015.


Welfare Reform Turns 20: Looking Back, Going Forward

Featuring Michael D. Tanner. August 22, 2016. Conference.

The Human Cost of Welfare: How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help

Featuring Michael D. Tanner. March 28, 2016. Book Forum.

Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis

Featuring Michael D. Tanner. June 16, 2015. Book Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Employment and Training Programs: Ineffective and Unneeded

By Chris Edwards and Daniel Murphy. June 2011.

Failures of the Unemployment Insurance System

By Chris Edwards and George C. Leef. June 2011.

Trade Adjustment Assistance

By Sallie James. May 2011.