I’m trying to understand why some of my conservative friends are so opposed to government welfare to individuals. In my view, welfare is a necessary and humane way of helping people in need to get their basic needs of food, shelter and medicine met. While charities and religious organizations can help in these areas, federal and state governments can provide help for the greatest number of people in as fair a manner as possible. Does abuse of our welfare system occur? I’m sure it does. Reforms need to be made to make America’s welfare system better. We can make our system better through change, not by destroying it.
Having stated my view, let’s explore the reasons why some people oppose welfare to poor people. First, giving people welfare makes them dependant upon the state for their income. I’ve listened to stories of people living off welfare their entire lives, their children living off welfare and so on down the line. I’m not sure how common this is. I would like to see statistics if anyone has some. According to one source:
<< The average welfare mom is 28 years old and has fewer then 2 kids (1.7). Her husband/significant other left her. (Those are the stats. Seems wrong but it’s true.) She stays on welfare less than 2 years. Her “welfare benefit” in my state is about $450 a month. She gets a little more for food stamps but there is little subsidized housing. She only gets child care if she’s working or in school. >>
This suggests that a many, if not most, welfare recipients only draw government funds for a relative short period of time until they can get back on their feet. In an ideal world, no one would need welfare funds for more than a short time. This seems like a good argument for providing more job training, urging employers to pay a better working wage, and providing daycare and adequate medical coverage for people who need it.
A second proposed problem with welfare is that it promotes laziness. This is based on the premise that medium to long-term welfare recipients are too lazy to go out and get a job.
I’m in favor working hard and achieving “the American Dream”. I have gotten to a point in my life where I earn enough money to pay for my home, food, healthcare and more. I had quite a bit of help along the way from my family and others. Not everyone has the luxury of growing up in a middle class home, like me. I’ve heard stories of people from the welfare ranks that have gotten an education or joined the army and led successful lives. I applaud those individuals. Unfortunately, it can be a very difficult battle that not everyone can achieve in our current society. There’s not enough education, jobs in the military and good paying jobs to accommodate everyone. I don’t believe that most people on welfare are lazy. Many just don’t have the same opportunities as people with more money. Other people may not have the ability to hold down a job.
A third argument against welfare is that it creates a robin-hood scenario within the government. A friend of mine told me how she earns her money and wants to keep it as opposed to paying taxes to the government. Should a taxpayer have to have a portion of their money to support the welfare of others? Let’s examine this more closely. How much of our federal budget is spent on welfare? According to the article I quoted above:
<<We’re talking less than 2% of the federal budget for welfare (including child care and food stamps). ALL of that money goes to kids. You don’t get welfare if you don’t have dependent children living with you. You cut off all support because the mom “doesn’t want to work” you cut off all support to the children too. That isn’t fair to the kids. >>
At two percent, I contribute about $80 a year to help families with children that need food and shelter to survive. That seems like a small price to pay to help my fellow man. Could charities or churches do the same or a better job of helping people in need? If so, I would welcome them to take that responsibility.
In summary, our American welfare system helps many individuals. Some, few, people abuse the system. Is government welfare for needy people a blessing or a curse? Should we continue to use our tax money to help people in need? Does our welfare system need major reforms or to be scrapped altogether? Does our welfare system reward laziness or provide people in dire needs with the basic necessities of food, shelter, and medicine? Are people opposed to welfare afraid that they too may find themselves on skid row? How much more money is spent on corporate welfare than on individual welfare? I have lots of question that I would like answers to.