Government Shaming Welfare Recipients is Hypocritical

Shaming welfare recipients can appeal to conservatives but it won’t do any good and it doesn’t make sense.

The Portland Press Herald reports, “Lewiston mayor wants welfare recipients’ names, addresses listed online.”

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald, a longtime critic of public assistance programs, wants to publicize the names and addresses of Mainers on welfare by creating an online registry of recipients.

Writing in his regular column in the Twin City Times, a Lewiston-Auburn weekly newspaper, Macdonald said if the public can get information about people who receive public pensions, they should be able to do the same for welfare recipients.

“We will be submitting a bill to the next legislative session asking that a website be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole,” he wrote. “After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.”


Macdonald said in an interview Wednesday that he has no concerns about how the column might be perceived.

“Go into a grocery store. They flaunt it,” he said, referring to people who receive welfare benefits. “I’m not sorry. I hope this makes people think twice about applying for welfare.”

Macdonald also said that putting names and addresses out there might encourage neighbors to “make a call.”

“Then we can go after all these people who are gaming the system,” he said.

Asked if that might hurt other people receiving benefits, Macdonald said, “I don’t care. Some people are going to get harmed, but if it’s for the good of everybody, that’s the way it is.”

We need to end welfare and replace it with private charity—which means we need the government to leave more money in the private sector by massively scaling back taxes and regulations.


But using publicity and shame to get people to stop using welfare is not a good idea. Basically, it can only be a hypocritical move—you punish people for taking the gifts that you yourself (i.e. the government) encouraged them to take in the first place.

Also, it would only hurt the people who would only accept welfare in cases of dire necessity and who want to get off welfare as soon as possible. The people who are too shameless to care about being dependent on government welfare will not be dissuaded by this effort of publicly “shaming” them. If they already “flaunt it” then they are not likely to change their behavior because they are listed on a public website.

We need to do our best to get people to see welfare as a trap that trains them and their children to be slaves rather than free men and women. But being hostile toward them and shaming them is going to make them angry. They are less likely to try to get away from welfare dependency if all we do is antagonize such welfare recipients.