Robert Kuttner criticizes the Reagan Administration for its proposed welfare reforms in his article (Editorial Pages, Nov. 3), "A New, Cynical Assault on the Poor." He purports that the federal government will eliminate all social safety-net programs and establish in their place one comprehensive cash-transfer program. While he totally concerns himself with the prospect of a decrease in funds allocated to the welfare state, he fails to analyze the benefits of such a program.
The cash-transfer reforms would empower the poor to make decisions regarding their own lives and their own welfare. Liberals argue that they want to provide the poor and disadvantaged with self-respect, but at the same time they are reluctant to allow the poor and disadvantaged to make their own decisions. In fact, some public officials have assumed that individuals with incomes below the official poverty line are unable to make their own decisions while those with incomes above the poverty line are able to make their own decisions.
The current welfare state, based on such an assumption, does not employ the poor but instead keeps them dependent on government assistance. Accordingly, the restrictive categorical grant system of funding the welfare state allows legislators and bureaucrats to control the lives of individual citizens.