Ronald Reagan popularized the idea that people on welfare are a drain on the economy. Fox News carries that mantle today, making regular blanket characterizations of the country’s poorest families as big spending welfare frauds.

Here’s why they’re wrong — but don’t expect them to admit it.


Families receiving public assistance spend on average less than half as much as families that don't receive public assistance.

Considering the very moderate figures in the chart above, it's safe to say that most of the folks represented by the red bars aren't on welfare for selfish personal gain, but because they actually need the support.

These numbers also raise important questions about opportunity in the U.S. For example, families that don't receive public assistance spend an average 382% more on insurance and retirement than families that rely on public assistance.

How might a family's ability, or lack thereof, to invest in the future impact economic mobility for their future generations?

The numbers aside, instead of pointing fingers and spreading false generalizations about poor people, wouldn't we be much better off working together to ensure all families have a fair chance at healthy, productive, and fulfilled lives — or were we all living in caves when the Golden Rule was overruled?