Government Assistance (Welfare) in the U.S.
Government assistance and welfare programs in the United States are welfare subsidies and grants designed to aid the needs of the United States citizens. Funded and governed federally US welfare started in 1930’s while there was high economic crisis with proposals for federal programs beginning with Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism, expanding with Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom policy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal proposal, John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and later in Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society for the benefit of little or no income citizens of US (Barr). The government established programs for vast numbers of families.
This article discusses the pros and cons of the US Assistance and Welfare programs and debates its usefulness as well as its damaging effects for citizens and the economy. It puts across the views and arguments related to both sides of the issue at hand and tries to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the welfare programs in the states.
Before the Assistance and Welfare programs can be scrutinized there purpose of existence should be shortly documented. The welfare programs differ in requirements of eligibility and are catered to citizens by different organizations on different levels, from private to federal. These programs help provide food, education, shelter, healthcare , monetary help and pensions to United States citizens by providing primary and secondary education, grants for college education, insurance for unemployment and disabilities, grants for workers eligible due low-wages, subsidies for housing facilities, pensions for eligible persons, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and healthcare insurances that correspond to public employees. The largest and most prominent of these welfare and social aid programs are the Social Security system and Medicare (Barr). American welfare state programs were designed so as to address the shortcomings in market private enterprises. However, these programs were not designed to encourage redistribution of power from the capital to labor politically; nor were they designed to mediate class struggle (Feldstein) The welfare of the federation and the state, whether through charitable redistribution or regulation that favors smaller players, is motivated by reciprocal altruism (Krugman).
Human Service Department handle the first application with clear identification like Human Services, Family Services or Adult and Family Services and a meeting with concerned conducted. The applicant has to present necessary papers during the meeting. The concerned official in the Human Service then checks all the papers submitted by the applicant to evaluate and finalize the aid.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people in US who misuse the welfare system. People create or fake situations where they may continue to remain under the welfare subsidy or insurance cover. Take for example parents try to avail welfare benefits through intentionally giving birth to three or more children. This is unethical not just as part of being irresponsible but as endangering life of an infant. Some people intentionally remain unemployed to qualify for unemployment welfare benefits. In another example eighteen year old uneducated girls can avail welfare and continue to get the same benefits till death, and many girls remain uneducated to avail these benefits.
There are many instances of students availing facilities of public institutions with the aid of welfare system and then getting financial aid even after leaving the institute or not passing the exams. On the other hand there are many brilliant students who are not able to get proper education due to lack of funds (Morgan).
With respect to the welfare system there are many mixed thoughts amongst the US citizens. For example, some think that the US government is supposed to have some sort of structure in position for the individuals or families who need help but the existing welfare system is not exactly the remedy. They think that this system is close minded and infecting generations to the addiction for unemployment. For providing milk to their babies, many fathers get the aid without the programs ever knowing whether the father ever gave the child the milk at all, selling off the milk for money or even drugs. So a father must be answerable and get tested for drug abuse even when his condition is temporary and whether he is trying to get job or not. Otherwise if this system remains without check, it promotes crime. But very recently drug testing has been vetoed in some regions like North-Carolina, bringing the government intensions under speculation. At the same time the racket damages the economy of the society (Morgan).
In socio-economic terms, the welfare system has been instrumental in providing benefits, from easily and promptly available health care to food and educational benefits (Melloy). However, this achievement is maligned by the amount of expenditure done for the betterment of individuals, whom many tax-payers term as mooching their hard earned money.
There are people who work very hard to maintain their own requirements and family. But with the existing cost of living they do are left with no extra money to afford other essential expenditures like paying insurance premiums, repairing and maintaining housing and even having the food of their choice. Whereas these individuals pay high taxes and live under great pressure. On the other hand some drug addict gets handsome aid to enjoy life. This must be re-examined and rectified.
One sensational issue often asked is, “Why should hard working, college educated, tax paying people have to pay for others who chose to be ‘useless’?” In other words common citizens earn money for themselves and government needs money to run the country along with providing citizens the basic facilities. But why the tax money should be spent on the non-serious. Many citizens point out that lazy individuals enjoy life lavishly on the hard earned money of common people in artistically shameful ways. Citizens argue that it is not the mistake of the tax payers; rather it is the immorality of such inept individuals who indulge in maligning welfare efforts (Krugman).
On occasions there have been reports of officials suggesting measures to avail benefits. Sometimes, the solutions or nature of solution for availing such benefits may seem to hurt the modesty and dignity of the person applying request for benefit. For example, a student who required health benefits but could not avail them was given the suggestion of getting pregnant in order to qualify for such health benefits. Another problem related with welfare programs is the obvious favoritism these show to certain particular groups. There could be any number of reasons for providing grants and subsidies, but the most important ones are personal. Welfare programs benefitting a certain segments of society alone are present and depict an unfair picture of the authorities. There is a high level of dissatisfaction amongst tax payers over how the Assistance and Welfare system is run causing them to frequently demand taking the system down completely. They argue for their human rights to equality and their modesty, which are often brought under question (Morgan).
However, there are people who believe that such help should continue to be given to the citizens of United States (Barr). Discarding the system altogether may lead to higher poverty levels (Melloy). For households that are dependent on welfare subsidies, taking down the Assistance and Welfare system may prove to be devastating. In other words, not all individuals who avail these subsidies are fraud or false, and they should not be allowed to suffer due to the wrong doings of others.
It is true that inept people are taking undue advantage from the welfare system. But there are needy people like handicapped, ill, widows, old aged or victims of situations who are unable to live a natural living and must get the aids. Otherwise stopping welfare will only put the general public into unhealthy circumstances where the basic needs of citizens may not be delivered on time. So restructuring the system, in place of discarding it is the only alternative in place.
Some people think that the welfare system must be continued with more vigilance on the frauds and the total aid amount must be kept same. The main apprehension is that people will turn into more of a dependency on the welfare system, which is already under criticism for the very same. It should be provided to a genuine person who deserves to be helped by the program. The inquiry system should be strengthened further to seal all the loop holes. It is true that the effect on citizen also affects the government both at a large extent in the present and long into the future (Melloy). So a complete balance has to be maintained.
On the contrary there are still genuine and justifiable points to have a systematized welfare system to provide aid to the person seeking help. As an example if a single working parent has three kids and still needs help, he or she should be provided with a helping hand. The system must have check points like drug tests or job searching statuses (with properly documented verification) before providing any aid to any person.
Some people however hold beliefs the government should provide these welfare programs only to disabled and psychologically handicapped instead of slothful individuals (Krugman). Also the welfare system should have more fool proof organization for foodstuff, government economic support and community home.
Without any sort of help people must stand on their own as real citizens. In that case if one has to increase his or her working hours to suit their life style he must do that. The aides should think to be lean enough without taking any aids form the persons who are working 70 to 100 hours a week and paying taxes to provide the aids to lazy persons (Morgan).
A restructuring of the welfare system is the need of the hour, to make it more effective and citizen oriented. Further strengthening of execution and adherence to the system needs to be done to get fruitful results and preventing funds fraud. As citizens of the U.S., people must understand the responsibility they have towards their fellow citizens, and must report foul play instead of indirectly blaming the system of inadequacy (Feldstein).
This established it can be concluded that the Federation of the United State has incorporated many means to help in the welfare of their citizens. The problem is that such means do not find way to the citizens exactly as they are supposed to. Frauds and foul players reap benefits that should actually reach the needy. The system and programs are run with the right intention but an average US citizen who does not benefit from it will always remain disgruntled. The welfare programs are a major support for a lot of people in the US (Melloy). The need of the hour is better screening mechanisms and fool proof methods to acquire the eligibility of individuals for welfare programs. Needless to say the system needs an overhaul and that too as soon as possible.
Barr, N. Economics of the Welfare State. New York: Oxford University Press, USA. 2004.
Feldstein, M. Rethinking social insurance. American Economic Review, 95(1), pp. 1–24. 2005
Morgan, K.J. America's Misguided Approach to Social Welfare. Foreign Affairs. 3 Dec, 2012. Accessed 28 Sept, 2013
Krugman, P. The Conscience of a Liberal. New York: W. W. Norton. 2007
Melloy, J. Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages. Behind The Money. CNBC. 2011. Accessed on 29 Sept, 2013