Welfare was created by government to assist poor families in need and create job-training programs to increase the skills of the uneducated. Single moms could get child care assistance while they either work or enroll in some form of educational institution. If recipients took advantage of these state-created programs, they should be well on their way to obtaining the skills and knowledge they need to keep a good job. Unfortunately, poor decisions by recipients, failure of the states to create necessary programs, and low wage jobs, have kept the poor in poverty.
It has been over 15 years since President Clinton signed the law that “ended welfare as we know it”, in which a 5-year time limit on federal cash assistance was opposed on poor families. This law allowed states to set shorter limits on assistance and this is why the social safety net is failing to keep pace with the needs of struggling Americans, many experts say. Millions of single mothers are falling through the cracks, scrambling to support their families with neither paychecks nor government aid (Holland 2014).
Although welfare has disincentives, I don’t believe they work because some mothers will get to comfortable with government benefits such as food stamps or cash assistance and they don’t feel they need to work. In some cases a single mother on welfare with kids could be living better than a woman working a full-time minimum wage job. This may be why some mothers become discouraged while receiving welfare. Rep Paul Ryan, R., Wis. , chairman of the House Budget Committee, says “Many of these programs end up disincentivizing work – telling people it pays not to go to work because you will lose more in benefits than you gain in earning wages.” (Stossel 2014).
When a welfare recipient meets her deadline and still don’t have the skills to find a job, then she ends up in a worse position than before. White people receive less strict programs than blacks and they face lesser punishment if they do break a rule. In a study conduct by Joe Ross, just 5 years after the passage of the Welfare Reform Act, 63% of families in the least stringent programs were white and 11% were black. Also, in the most restrictive programs – that is the ones with the toughest penalties and most stringent requirements for eligibility, 63% were black and 29% were white ( Holland 2014). This creates a big gap between the white and black economic status and well-being.
When single mothers reach there benefit time limit and can’t find employment, this makes it very difficult for them to maintain a prosperous life with their kids. Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who resigned from the Clinton administration, says “You have so many people who were pushed off welfare who didn’t find work in the beginning, and today there are people who can’t get welfare at all.” (qt. in Ross 2011) In this situation I can agree with Edelman and say that welfare is “useless” to some degree.
I do agree that if an “abled-bodied” individual is on welfare, that they should be required to either be working, attending school, or actively looking for work while receiving benefits for a 5 to 7 year time limit. This should encourage single moms and poor persons to at least engage in some form of education for a career or keep a steady job to maintain. The problem with a regular low paying job is that they don’t pay enough to even live a simple lifestyle and pay bills. I believe single mothers should make smart decisions and take advantage of all state programs that will teach them the skills and give them the tools to succeed.
Although some may argue that it’s all the government’s fault that there are still millions of Americans in poverty, we can’t undermine the fact that poor people do make poor personal decisions sometimes. For example, purchasing an Xbox gaming system or paying for unnecessary cable TV when you are past due on your electric bill (Rector & Sheffield 2011). I do believe that society and individuals themselves are responsible for the persistence work. For one thing, the government has a duty to provide equal opportunity and the welfare for everyone. On the other hand, an individual must take advantage of all the resources and tools available to them for their success.
Poor decisions can be independent due to an individual lacking education or just bad judgment but it can also be connected to social issues. Many individuals try to be like to next person who live luxurious or they associate themselves with peers that influence them to purchase things they know they can’t afford.
To say the least, if the government provides you with all the job training programs, resources and tools you need to succeed, you must take advantage of them. Being on welfare for ever will not lift you out of poverty and working low paying jobs won’t either. Education and professionals skills are what secure you with a promising career or a very profitable business. Poor decisions and social issues are connected so you can’t put all the blame on just the individual and not the society he or she lives in.
Senior Criminal Justice Major at Florida A&M University
Real Estate Investor & Internet Marketer
1.Holland, Joshua “How Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform Created a System Rife with Racial Biases”, www.huffingtonpost.com 12 May 2014. Web
2.Stossel, J. “Why welfare, minimum wage make it harder for poor Americans to succeed” www.foxnews.com 8 October 2014. Web
3.Rector, R., Sheffield, R. “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today? www.heritage.org 19 July 2011. Web
Ross, J. “Welfare Reform Leaving More in Poverty” www.huffingtonpost.com 23 Aug. 2011. Web