Essay, Research Paper: Welfare To Workfare


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Welfare is a public assistance program that provides at least a minimum amount
of economic security to people whose incomes are insufficient to maintain an
adequate standard of living. These programs generally include such benefits as
financial aid to individuals, subsidized medical care, and stamps that are used
to purchase food. The modern U.S. welfare system dates back to the Great
Depression of the 1930’s. During the worst parts of the Depression, about
one-fourth of the labor force was without work. More than two-thirds of all
households would have been considered poor by today's standards. With a majority
of the capable adult population experiencing severe financial misfortune, many
Americans turned to the government for answers. In response, U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt led a social and economic reform movement attacking the
Depression. Part of his newly enacted “New Deal” program was the Social
Security Act, enacted by Congress in 1935. This act and established a number of
social welfare programs, each designed to provide support for different segments
of the population. Recently Roosevelt’s Social Welfare Program has become a
topic of heated debate. Welfare has come a long way since Roosevelt, it was once
a system that help those in need until they could get back on their feet, now
welfare has turned into a system that feeds money to a group of people that have
become to lazy to find work. Talk of replacing the old system with a welfare
program that will emphasize putting welfare recipients to work has become very
frequent. More and more stated are now beginning to adopt a
“welfare-to-work” program, leaving other states to simply ponder about the
idea of “taking people off the system.” Those in favor of welfare reform
argue that a welfare-to-work program will cut the amount of people on welfare
causing a surplus of funds. These people base their idea on the overwhelming
success of those states who have already adopted such a program. Nationwide,
welfare caseloads have declined significantly since the passage of the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. In the few
months since the bill went into effect the amount of welfare caseloads are down
by approximately 2 million. Figures also show that Alabama reduced its welfare
enrollment by 48%, and Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee reduced
theirs by 49%. In Wisconsin welfare was reduced by 58% and Wyoming’s cases
dropped an amazing 73% (Source: Dept. of Health and Human Services). According
to the experts these successful states have a on main element in common, “a
serious effort to move welfare recipients into jobs.” In addition, welfare
reform is saving both the state and federal governments hundreds of millions of
dollars, while giving thousands of Americans who formerly received government
handouts a sense of self-worth. Opponents of the bill have a much different
view, they believe that the new program will have a negative effect on society
and the economy. Labor unions, and others who are against the legislation, are
concerned that welfare recipients, often available at lower rates, will displace
current workers. Businesses pressured by the federal government to handle their
share if the burden in ending welfare as we know it, must struggle with the
uncertainty of employing workers who for years were unemployed. Critics of the
bills also believe that the legislation goes too far by cutting too much from
welfare spending and harming poor children. They contend that the unemployed
poor need training in order to get a job, and that a welfare-to-work program
including training will cost more money not less. After assessing both side of
the issue it is my sincere belief that a nationwide welfare-to-work program
would have a positive effect on American society. This sort of program would rid
the nation of the wide array of indolent people who live their life off
governmental funds, and produce a remainder of workers in need of jobs. It is
obvious from the many statistics that welfare-to-work has been a success in
decreasing the caseloads of welfare, and in adding to the surplus of funds for
state and federal governments, that could be used for beneficial changes such as
improvements in roadways. Therefore I think that this program should be adopted
by all fifty states.

Berkowitz, Edward D. America’s Welfare State: From Roosevelt to Regan. The
American Moment Series. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. Cloward, Richard
A., ed. Regulating the Poor The Functions of the Public Welfare. London: Vintage
Books, 1993. NCAP on the web. National Center for Political Analysis 17 Nov.
1999 Pear, Robert. “10,000 Welfare Recipients
Hired by Federal Agencies.” New York Times. March 1, 1999 19 May
1997. The Policy News & Information Service. 15 Nov. 1999
Pont, Pete du. “Uneven Welfare Revolution Results.” Washington Times. Jan
16, 1998

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