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Welfare Essay, Research Paper

To what extent do you believe the government should be involved in welfare today?Under the old welfare system, founded during the Great Depression, the federal government provided fairly uniform benefits to the nation?s poor ? mostly mothers and children ? with out regard to the details of their personal circumstances, and with no time limit. But as the times changed, changes that should have been made years ago, didn?t become effective until the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in August of 1996. Now, welfare is left to the discretion of individual states. This is the way that welfare should have been all along. Even so, I feel that assistance should only be available to those with jobs or on some kind of temporary work leave (ex: injury, maternity).

The welfare programs of the Great Depression changed American values forever. I interviewed my grandfather on the topic, and he only agreed. Even though his family was poor, he was raised never to accept anything he didn?t work for.

?Men had pride back then,? he recalled in a lecturing tone, ?and supporting your family made you honorable, no matter what your job was. Then welfare came along and disrupted all of it. America was never supposed to be about giving hand-outs to the lazy, it was meant to provide opportunity for the willing.?

That?s why I feel the new changes in the system are exactly what this country needed. According to the ACF Press Room Statistics, from August of 1996 to June of 1999, the number of families receiving welfare nation wide fell 43% (from about 4.4 million to 2.5 million) and the number of recipients in the US receiving welfare fell 44% (from 12.2 million to 6.9 million). In Pennsylvania, the statistics were equally impressive, also falling 43% (from 531,059 recipients to 304,451). Pennsylvania, like 31 other states, requires that recipients must find work within 6 months of receiving their first assistance payment and only allows transitional Medicaid and child care for a maximum of 12 months. A family can receive assistance for a lifetime total of 60 months, but families can receive assistance for 12 months after a birth that would be exempt from the lifetime total.

By limiting the amount of time a family can spend on welfare, the government has put a stop to generations of dependent and unmotivated citizens. They are now forcing those who once made excuses to make progress. The only unfortunate result of the time limitations is for those who still don?t take responsibility and find jobs. Since the vast majority of assistance recipients have children, that leaves those children as the direct victims. There is really no way to prevent this from occurring, except to put them back on some kind of assistance, disregarding the new laws.

Many critics suggest that getting the vast majority of welfare recipients into jobs will be difficult. While two thirds of the welfare recipients are either on assistance only for a short time, or on-and-off, the remaining third have proven unresponsive to prior attempts to find them lasting work. For some, the problems are concrete and potentially addressable such as lack of child care or transportation. To address the child care issue, the state has generously increased funding for day care programs. For others, notably those who have never held a job, the problems appeal greatly to humanitarians – poor health, lack of skills or confidence, or even lack of desire. These are very addressable problems. The government provides medical assistance; and adequate financial aid for those seriously considering a return to school. Lack of motivation can be dealt with using rather simple words: ?You are now cut off of assistance, you better get a job?. It is not the government?s responsibility to provide motivation for those who don?t want to support their children. There are limits to what Americans should expect their government to do.

Over time the welfare system has fallen victim to tremendous abuse. American citizens as a whole are very confused. Some are shouting to care for anyone who can?t care for himself or herself in any way possible for as long as it takes. Others are busy opposing them, calling for an end to the welfare that made Americans so weak and dependant, creating the ultimate motivation: poverty. Then there are those that feel the government is personally responsible for finding jobs for those no longer eligible for the programs. That leaves the political viewpoint of those like myself: our welfare system, for the current social conditions, is just fine. It?s not too enabling but not likely to be taken advantage of either. There is no way to satisfy every opinion and so we are left to think of it logically. The working class citizens shouldn?t have to pay anymore than they do currently to support those on assistance. To increase assistance would increase taxes, and while the wealthy extreme-humanitarians may not mind, the average worker simply can?t afford it and probably would mind. Respectable, hard-working American citizens shouldn?t be held responsible for the income of the ?unmotivated?.


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