“If they was to cut out all this welfare like they’re talking about…they can’t starve people to death and they can’t put everybody to work. It’s just not there.”
The above stated by Neil Bowling in the American Undercover television series documentary titled American Hollow. American Hollow depicts how hard life can be living off the land as the Bowling family does. Yet for life being so hard to live off the land, many of the scenes of American Hollow are of the Bowling family doing nothing but griping about their living standards and how poor they are; however, one of the Bowling sons stated halfway into the documentary that they did not work all they did was wait for the government welfare check to show up every month.
Today, I will show that jobs must be provided for welfare recipients that are more than capable of working and supporting themselves. I will show how more jobs can and should be provided for these welfare recipients able to work, whether they want to work or not, and how more jobs can be provided without starving any of these workers like Neil Bowling incorrectly believes.
While the idea of living solely off the land is a romantic one indeed, the Bowling family needs to realize that living solely off the country is not possible anymore without having taking and living off someone else’s hard earned paycheck in the form of the government welfare check because of their ‘romantic idea’. The Bowling children deserve a better life than the bare minimum because their fathers will not provide for them. Sadly, the world has changed and it is impossible to live 100% off the land anymore. Instead it is necessary to work 40 or more hours a week at a job outside of the home. Life has changed.
As can been seen from the 2009 film documentary titled, Redemption of the Welfare Queen and directed by Freddie Rhone, there are many welfare recipients that do not live off the land as the Bowling family does, but instead see welfare as a way not to work. Many, not all, of these people become even more greedy and begin to lie to the welfare system in order to receive a bigger welfare check. Even though there are many people on welfare who can work, there are millions on welfare who cannot, examples of people who cannot work are the elderly, the disabled, and in some cases, young mothers with little children who cannot leave home to work. These people will be taken into consideration in this paper. By pointing out the people on welfare who can and cannot work shows that taking money away from the people who cannot work and giving it to those that can is not fair and it is inhumane. To determine how those who need welfare and those who are able to work will be separated, will be discussed later in the paper.
First, what is the history behind welfare and why was welfare created? The question of providing welfare recipients with jobs has been prevalent since the creation of the welfare system in the year 1935. Still today, eighty years later, providing jobs to welfare recipients is a highly debated topic with many people calling for yet another welfare reform.
The welfare system began admist the Great Depression and was put into action by President Franklin Roosevelt to help the millions upon millions of unemployed Americans survive until the rough times were over and the economy bounced back and more jobs were added to the work force. The Constitutional Rights Foundation article titled, “How Welfare Began in the United States,” states that “Before the Great Depression began 18 million elderly, disabled, and single mothers already lived at the bare subsistence level. When the Great Depression struck in 1929 by 1933, 13 million Americans had been thrown out of work, thus joining the previously mentioned 18 million on the streets.” With 31 million Americans out of work and starving truly the Great Depression was hell on earth. The welfare system was created to support those families until the government could supply enough jobs for those who could work. As can be seen, the welfare system was created not to give people an excuse to remain unemployed but to help them until they could get their job back. Today, 110 million or 35.4% of all Americans are welfare recipients. America needs a drastic economic change and part of this change includes providing jobs for those on welfare.
During the course of American history many, if not all, of America’s presidents have tried to help abolish poverty. The most popular welfare reform occurred during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential term and was appropriately dubbed, ‘The War on Poverty’. Lyndon Johnson stated in his 1964 State of the Union address that:
For our goal is not merely to spread the work. Our goal is to create more jobs. I
believe the enactment of a 35-hour week would sharply increase costs, would
invite inflation, would impair our ability to compete, and merely share instead of
creating employment. But I am equally opposed to the 45- or 50-hour week in
those industries where consistently excessive use of overtime causes increased
unemployment. (War on Poverty)
The challenge arises when the numbers of people in the work force is more than the amount of jobs in the job market. Jobs must be created in order to provide for every citizen in the work force. To give these people a job two things must be done: First, more jobs must be added to the economy in order to keep up with the high demand of employment. Second, there must be a change in the welfare system itself.
The first step consists of adding more jobs to the economy. Without enough jobs in the economy Neil Bowling will be correct in stating that “people would starve”. The 2014 Huffington Post article titled, “U.S. Creates 248,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.9%” states that, “Employers have added 226,000 jobs per month, on average, this year—a healthy pace that more than keeps up with the natural population growth.” While this sounds promising and good, the vast majority of these jobs are part-time. According to the Affordable Care Act passed in the year 2010, full-time hours are considered to be just 30 hours a week. A family cannot survive on just thirty hours a week. If the majority of these 226,000 jobs are part-time, welfare recipients will still be unsupported if they are only able to work the allotted 30 hours a week. To add to the struggle, the 2013 New York Times article by Teresa Tritch titled, “Trying to Redefine ‘Full-Time’ Work”, the Affordable Care Act cut 45% of all employees hours. Nearly half of America’s labor force was demoted to a part-time job and was then forced to find a second job to continue to support their families, thus further contributing to the lack of jobs found in the America’s economy. Indeed, according to the 2014 Congressional Budget Office or CBO, it is stated that, “The reduction in CBO’s projection…represents a decline in the number of full-time workers of about 2 million in the year 2017 and 2.5 million by the year 2024.” To provide enough jobs for both welfare recipients and non-welfare recipients the solution is a simple one: the Affordable Care Act must be repealed to create more jobs and full-time hours should be increased to forty hours a week to ensure that employees will receive enough money from their hard earned paycheck to pay the bills.
The next step of the solution requires a reform in the welfare system itself. The welfare system should be broken up into three main categories: permanent, active, and temporary. A permanent recipient is a recipient who is elderly or disabled and cannot work for the rest of their lives. These recipients are permanent recipients and will receive a check until they pass away. An active recipient is a recipient who is disable for the time being, but after he or she receives the treatment they need, they will be able to work again. The active category will also include single mothers with at least one child below the age of five. Once all her children are five or older and enrolled in school the mother will be placed with a job that allows her to be home when her child or children leave for school and when they return home from school. If she doesn’t hit full-time hours the mother will still get a small percentage of what her welfare check before her children were sent to school. Active recipients are welfare recipients that will receive welfare for an extended period of time but not for the rest of their life like a permanent recipient. A temporary recipient is anyone who has lost a job or had an unfortunate turn of events in their life but is still able to work at the time they apply for welfare. A temporary recipient will be given welfare for up to but not exceeding one year of the date they applied. An employment agency will give them priority and will place them within a job as soon as possible.
To determine the status of welfare recipients, all applicants must be examined by a qualified medical doctor. To keep the welfare funds going to the well-being of the recipients and their family welfare recipients should be tested for drugs and alcohol, including nicotine. After all, it is vitally important that the welfare money be spent on what it is purposed for. Recipients can return to their addictive past times only after they are completely off welfare, until then there are too many people needing welfare for us to waste it on an individual that will only spend the majority of their welfare money on alcohol and drugs. The 2014 newspaper article titled, “No We Don’t Spend $1 Trillion on Welfare Each Year” and written by Mike Konczal states that, “The federal government spends $668 billion dollars per year on 126 different welfare programs.” It is vitally important that the $668 billion dollars going to these welfare programs are going to the right place. Such a huge amount of money should be treated and handled responsibly and must only be used for its intended purposes. Special guidelines should be created for welfare recipients and what they can and cannot spend their welfare check on. While doing this may sound like invasion of privacy, individuals must remember that the money used in the welfare programs comes from hardworking Americans that deserve to have their money going to the right places. When welfare recipients are completely off welfare and make their own money they can then spend that money in a way they deem best.
In the radio documentary titled, Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago and part of the Ghetto Life 101 documentary series was broadcasted in May 1993 and, quite literally, shook the nation. The two storytellers, Lealan Jones and Lloyd Newman, were two 14 year old black men who have an extraordinary outlook on the harshness and unfairness of life and decided to them share their outlook with the entire American nation. Rather than support the welfare system, like many at the time were doing, both young men stated that, “Giving a man a job will feed him for life, but handing him money will provide for him only until you die. He never actually learns to take care of himself.” Our America: Life and Death of the South Side of Chicago became such a powerful documentary that it was later published into a book and still continues to open America’s eyes to the problems running rampant through America’s cities. The 2008 eBook titled Welfare and edited by David M. Haugen and Andrea B. DeMott points out that welfare recipients slowly but surely lose their independence by becoming more and more dependent on the monthly welfare check instead of gaining independence and relying on themselves. Because America is a free nation we need to encourage American citizens to be independent or America will slowly lose the very thing that created her in the first place, which is yet another reason to provide jobs for America’s welfare recipients.
By reforming the welfare system and providing jobs for those able to work, the economy of America will be in a better position, and the $668 billion dollars that we are currently spending to support families will be drastically reduced while still providing more than enough exceptional help for those unable to work. We can cut the welfare and we can create jobs for everyone. Doing such is a hard but not impossible task. No one will starve and in the process, America will become the great nation that she once was.