We have tens of millions of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, and various other countries who are getting a free ride because they don't have social security numbers and therefore don't pay into the system via payroll taxes.
1> For over 15 years, the only 'free ride" that illegal aliens are eligible for in the US are primary education and emergency health-care. Admittedly, they're very big things to get for free, but they cannot sit at home collecting welfare checks as illegals..
2> Only the ones being paid in cash (which is more than a few of them, for sure) don't pay payroll taxes. Millions of these people are undocumented workers paying into Social Security, Medicaid, etc, with fake or fraudulent numbers but are not able to ever actually collect from those services. In fact, the IRS estimates that fully 75% of all illegal aliens working in this country are actually paying taxes for services they can never collect on. The Social Security Administration claims to collect over $50 BILLION a year in payroll taxes from illegal aliens using fraudulent numbers that the system will never have to pay out. Plus, all aliens contribute the same in Local/State Sales taxes as any other citizen since they still have to go buy their stuff at a store. Which brings us to #3...
3> I daresay that 100% of illegal aliens are working in jobs making so little money that they wouldn't pay federal payroll taxes anyways
. They fit into that same bucket as fully half the rest of the country -- they simply don't make enough to pay taxes. The only tax liability that ANYONE in this country has that makes as little as they do, is Local/State taxes, and an illegal pays the SAME as anyone else does in that regard. So any "free ride" they're getting is at least as much as the one that HALF the country is getting. And one could argue that since 3/4 of them are paying Social Security or Medicaid taxes for services that they simply cannot collect, they're actually getting LESS of a free ride than that half the country.
There are plenty of stories of people rejecting job offers because their unemployment benefits pay out more than a potential job. It may sound unreal being in Europe, but these stories are all too common in the US.
Perhaps instead of asking why unemployment pays better than taking a job, we should be asking why SO MANY jobs pay less than unemployment
. And I'll tell you -- it ain't because unemployment is a massive check, because it's not. In Texas, if you lost a $30k/yr job, you'd get $300/wk and cannot collect more than $10,000. Not exactly good living. Anyone who's purposefully choosing to live on $10K/year rather than taking a job was NEVER going to be a productive member of society anyways.
And maybe it seems to "unreal" for those in Europe is because it actually pays
to take a job there than not. When fully HALF the country makes so little that they don't even have to pay a dime in taxes, that should be a clue that perhaps we have an issue with income in this country. And one can't claim that it's because they're too lazy to take better paying jobs and move into that tax-paying bracket because if that were the case, then there'd be about 100 million $50,000+/yr jobs going unfilled in this country. And, well, I don't think I have to tell you that's not the case.
The concept of the poor or underprivileged falling through the cracks and getting no help is a fallacy. If I could defer all of my tax dollars that go to welfare to private charity, I would do it in a heartbeat, because private charity helps those who are actually in need versus enabling people to not take care of themselves. Also, when the government gives you a handout, you can never return the favor. With charity if you get a helping hand, you have the opportunity to give back. If you ever volunteer at a charity, you'll see plenty of people that charity has helped that are actively returning the favor.
As a libertarian, I'd much rather give all (or let's say, 'most', to address the point I'm going to make) my money to a private charity too. But to say that it's a fallacy that people 'fall through the cracks' is totally false. I've lived all over the country -- owned homes in 20 states -- and give VERY heavily of my time and money in all of them (I'm one of those you mention who was once helped by charity and now give back with the great success I've had in life), and I've seen a MASSIVE disparity in the quality and quantity of BOTH private and public charities available to help people.
There are areas where the number of poor simply overwhelms the infrastructure, places where the density of those in need simply doesn't support any private charities (Meals in Wheels in the rural US is getting harder and harder to function despite an aging populace particularly in these areas), and perhaps most disheartening of all -- places where the charity actually overwhelms the need. I'll be in West Virginia where kids wear the same thing to school everyday, while there's entire buildings full of clothes in Texas. I've volunteered at schools in Texas where kids can't get basic supplies for their education and literally the next day not 5 miles away, be standing in a warehouse
FULL of brand-new school supplies donated over years that grows every year because the particular charity consistently got in more than they
had a need to disperse. And let me tell you, that's a far more common problem than you'd think. And it is so
disheartening every time I see it.
I can tell you now, from decades of personal experience, that charities by and large do not get along well together. For every great success story of cooperation I can describe 10 situations where there was outright animosity between groups that should have been getting along. But the fact is that they saw themselves as competitors -- competing for the same donations, the same grants, the same press.
You are absolutely right -- we do not have a charity problem in the US. We give far more than any one else in the world. What we have is a disparity problem -- a logistics problem. We need a group that somehow promotes cooperation between these entities to share resources and get a better balance. My gut feeling is that only a government agency could really fit the bill -- on the other hand, my gut feeling is that the government would totally screw it up.