While Democrats are blaming Republicans and Republicans are blaming Democrats for the budget mess, some journalists have begun to blame the American people. It's a bum rap.

For 30 years I have watched the processes of American government from both the outside and the inside and I can tell you that government programs do not originate from demands by the American people. They originate either from politicians looking for new ways to buy votes or from special interest groups who think of a new way to finance their agenda with public money.The welfare industry is no different than a for-profit special interest group. The people in the welfare industry who make a good living allegedly tending to the needs of the unfortunate are forever thinking up new needs or creating new groups of unfortunates. Naturally, they live quite well.

They form an unholy alliance with the politicians and frequently with liberal journalists, who think all human needs should be met by money other than their own.

No person on welfare ever got rich on welfare, but people in welfare agencies and lobbying outfits do. No elderly person ever got rich on Medicare, but plenty of people in the medical, hospital and nursing home industry have. No occupant of public housing ever lived like a king because of public housing, but plenty of contractors, developers and builders of public and subsidized housing have.

I have often said, and it is provable by a close examination of government budgets, that the flood of dollars allegedly intended to help the unfortunate becomes nothing more than a fine mist on the faces of the needy.

Thus it is true that the welfare state is a racket but not because of welfare recipients, as some mean-spirited conservatives claim, but because of the decidedly unpoor easy-buck operators who exploit both the genuinely poor and the soon-to-be-poor middle-class taxpayers.

Today's good Samaritan typically walks right past the guy lying in the ditch and begins to set up a social service organization with public money, most of which will go to overhead and lobbying expenses.

Thus comfortably ensconced, this social service entrepreneur will join forces with the editorial writers and the politicians to wail continuously about the unmet needs of the (whatever category the business serves).

It is a nausea-inducing spectacle and if there is a hell, I hope there is an especially hot section set aside for these hypocrites and exploiters of the truly needy.

That's why, despite the billions spent, the poor remain with us and more are added. Already, there is a move afoot in the welfare industry to have the government definition of poor revised so that even more can be included. It ought not to take $1 million to provide minimum wage jobs for a few kids for a few weeks as often happens in these programs.