Welfare, it’s what is Wrong with America Today. American conservatives feel the welfare system, as we know, needs to be completely dismantled, or in the least, restructured with extreme limitations on who can receive benefits and how benefits are used. The good intentions of welfare advocates have over burdened American citizens with perhaps the heaviest burden placed upon the ones they intended to help the most. Liberals would suggest the wealthiest of Americans should bare a larger burden than those who have less.
This has been a theme for the current extreme Liberal party but an overall shift in American social policy has moved towards dismantling welfare with the goals to bring its participants into the mainstream economy. Why should Americans be held hostage by a social experiment started several generations ago by leaders, who themselves, had reservations about the establishment of a womb-to-tomb welfare system? Franklin Roosevelt observed: The lesion of history, confirmed by evidence immediately before me.
Show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is a violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able-bodied but destitute workers. Roosevelt, one of the original authors and advocates of the American welfare system, never intended for it to become what we have today. It certainly can be said that it is a destroyer of the human spirit.
American citizens feel it is their right to receive government aid if they live an impoverished life style. It is the liberal solution to poverty. At this time in American history, we were trying to get out of the great depression and federal intervention was required. Poverty did not start because of the great depression, but this is when America institutionalized poverty. Up until the great depression, most people were only living in poverty because of joblessness, and most of the time it was only a temporary condition. Most would find work and escape poverty.
Roosevelt was elected on a platform that was centered on welfare ideals. This one event set up America to become the welfare state that it is today. Conservatives feel this is a turning point in American history where life was worsened by the liberals’ response to welfare. The problem is that welfare was started as a program whose participants were never meant to stay on it permanently, but that is what it became. It should have been abolished after the great depression. Welfare, as we know it, now got is legislative start in the 1930’s which makes it relatively new in the history of the United States.
Most people feel that between 1930 and 1960, welfare was really not much more than a small federal experiment that was subsidized by churches and other charitable organizations. When Franklin Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930’s as one of the New Deal programs, it required that unemployed individuals were hired to build “public buildings, work on large government projects and roads. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing and housing. Almost every community in America has a park, bridge or school constructed by the WPA agency” (Snyder par 9).
During its peak of production, it had the largest employee base in the United States. This technically can be described as welfare, but not like we have it today. If you look at attitudes alone, you see the underlying problem with our current system where liberal people feel that it is the responsibility of the wealthy to dole out larger percentages of their incomes to support the less fortunate. In the United States, the question of fair income distribution between the wealthy, middle class and poor is a complicated and volatile issue.
How much should an individual pay the government in taxes as it pertains to the percentage of wealth, income or future income? Because an individual has more, why shouldn’t they pay more to a system that supports underachieving citizens? People have the right to earn as much as they can, as it takes hard work to prosper. With intervention from the government, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. The poor are becoming ever more dependent on welfare because jobs just do not pay enough. It is easier to stay at home and collect welfare. It’s the American way.
This is a central difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals have fought for the wealthiest of Americans to pay a larger percentage of taxes or their fair share. There is a point when an individual has more money than they could ever spend, so it makes sense that paying a higher tax rate is fair. The difference would not affect their lifestyle as they would still have more money than anyone could spend in several lifetimes. If the tax burden for Americans fell more on the wealthiest, there would be more money to help the poorest, uneducated citizens get off of welfare.
Furthermore, with limited amounts of natural resources that the population of the United States can benefit from, the wealthiest have an advantage in utilizing the limited natural resources of North America (Carson 142)? Maybe the wealthiest will use up all of the natural resources and leave America to become a third world country. Therefore, all American citizens should share in the wealth derived from the strength of America, its natural resources and basic American ingenuity. It is a right of being American. In concept, this sounds great.
Why shouldn’t the wealthiest of Americans pay a higher percentage of their income for taxes? Certainly, things would get better if the wealthy paid more taxes. This philosophy is why welfare continues to exist today. People worry more about what is right for the other person without looking at themselves and taking responsibility. It is overrun with individuals who prefer to be on welfare than to work hard and contribute to society. This doesn’t mean welfare is not needed, but that it should not be a career. It offers no permanent solution, but only prevents a real solution from being realized.
So why should the wealthy pay a higher percentage of taxes just because they can afford it? They work hard, so shouldn’t they be allowed to keep what they earn? This is not an example of scrooge-like behavior, but that hard work should have its rewards. The way to a better life should start with hard work and the desire for independence from government support. This would help people regain personal pride and become productive members of society, rather than a drain on its resources. It is not a crime for the wealthiest to earn high incomes. Shouldn’t hard work pay off?
Why be penalized by paying a higher percentage of your income when you worked hard to make that income? Simpler solutions are required. The issue of who should pay for welfare is not the real problem. The real problem is how many people actually need the help provided by the government. Especially when it is paid for by hard working Americans. Responsibility of citizens not willing to provide for themselves and their families is the real problem that America must address if we want to stay a world power. No society can exist without disillusionment when able bodied adults are not willing to contribute to society.
So now that Pandora’s Box has been opened, shutting the lid will not be an easy task. Stopping welfare cold turkey is not an option. Let’s face it; some people will always need help. Not everyone has the ability to earn an income. The American way has always been that you should earn your keep, but has never ignored the less fortunate who for extreme reasons cannot provide for themselves. The disabled or handicapped are examples of the need to have a means in place to provide help, but even most of these people would prefer to be able to provide for themselves and have independence financially and otherwise.
Breaking down and rebuilding the welfare system, in itself, is a daunting task and is long overdue. Reform is in progress, but has taken a long time to come. A half a century would pass before a conservative congress could put some restraints on this out-of-control liberal experiment in social engineering named welfare. With the passing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) by Congress in August 1996, the “legislators transferred the responsibility of social welfare policy making and program development to the states” (Carson 136).
The need to “end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparedness, work, and marriage” (Carson 136) could not be ignored. Mandates imposed by congress included stricter work requirements and time limits on benefits. “Block grants issued from congress to the states will now be administered under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program” (Carson 136). TNAF repealed the relationship between the federal government and needy Americans. It is amazing that it has taken this long to reform such a bad policy.
It shows the level to which politicians can manipulate events and issues to fit their needs. What role would liberal politicians play for the impoverished if they were not protecting them from “money hungry conservatives”? It is similar to Ronald Reagan’s use of fear of the USSR to build up America’s weapon pool. What would a Sunday sermon consist of if there was not a devil to compete with God? Would as many people show up? Politicians are very skilled in using fear as a tool to sway voters.
If they can make you afraid of their opponent, then they can convince you to vote for them. The problem is, though, that what they are supposedly protecting you from may actually be your cure. If you are dependent on welfare, it makes sense to vote for the candidate most likely to protect your benefits. The nasty part is that in order for this to work properly, the status quo must remain the same for voters. Therefore, the poor need to stay poor and the rich need to stay rich. What would politicians sell if everyone was happy in their economic situation?
With this being said, it makes sense that the poverty is an important tool for politicians and the ones who get their votes prefer the status quo. The welfare reform program enacted by congress in 1996, specifically the TANF program, has proven the workfare works. The data shows that policy changes are working better than ever imagined, and “caseloads have fallen 75% in Texas over the last decade” (Hagert par. 1). This means there is 75 percent impoverished families in fact poverty is still close to the same levels as when TANF was initiated but the positive result of families living with government financial support is down.
States like Texas are looking to modify the way they qualify families for benefits and at new programs to better help families, such as wrap around services “a short, intensive program. Wrap Around services are designed to work cooperatively with families in addressing situations where child reunification is probable”. (Georgia par 1) These programs look to move quickly to help families before their issues become too big. “Census Bureau data confirms a dramatic increase in income wages for the bottom 40 percent of female headed households while income from welfare declined”. Childress) Single parent families especially with single mothers are high risk to fall into the poverty bracket. Preventing teen pregnancies and making fathers pay child support and is starting to gain attention many states are also “teaching abstinence to teens and are improving child support enforcement” (Carson 144). It will take many factors to significantly reduce poverty beyond temporary loss of wages, but the incentive is there. In bad economic times, it is even more important now to teach the value of responsibility.
Plenty of evidence shows that when single mothers are married the biological fathers of their children, most of the time they were no longer considered impoverished. Promoting marriage and strong family units is sound policy. There are no quick fixes! Poverty will exist until society looks in the mirror and sees the underlying corruption, deceit, and apathy that infect it. You cannot help those who are not willing to help themselves. Messing with welfare and pushing political agendas that negatively affect the economy as a means to advance a political carrier cannot be tolerated.
Any politician who does so, should hear from the American voter and let them know that we understand and refuse to accept their selfish intentions. America needs a strong commitment from all of her citizens to expect better of ourselves and are no longer willing to compromise integrity. Works Cited Carson, Robert B. , Wade L. Thomas, and Jason Hecht. Economic Issues Today Alternative Approaches. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2002. Snyder, Travis. “Welfare; History, Results and Reform. ” Neoperspectives. 06 May 2009 <http://www. eoperspectives. com/welfare. htm>. Hagert, Celia. “TANF at 10: Was Welfare Reform a Success in Texas? ” Center for Public Policy Priorities. 06 May 2009 <http://www. cppp. org/research. php? aid=555&cid=3&scid=12>. Welcome To ACS of Georgia: The Art of Saving Families. 06 May 2009 <http://www. acsofgeorgia. com/wrapservice. html>. Childress, Michael. “A Deepening Divide. ” Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center. 06 May 2009 <http://www. kltprc. net/books/leadershipchallenge/Chpt_3. htm>.