The Welfare Debate

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In the s, public support for Aid for Families with Dependent Children AFDC , a federal program that provided cash benefits to eligible poor families with children, began to erode Teles Critics of welfare associated the growing number of unwed mothers with the rising rates of AFDC, even though the scientific evidence offered scant support for this claim. Underlying such attitudes was the belief that the increasing reliance on public assistance was due to the moral character of individuals, not inequities in the economic and social structure of society Melville and Doble It also conjured up racial resentments.

A study of attitudes toward poverty among white middle-class Americans revealed that when the race of the welfare recipient was invoked, the image of unmarried black women with babies aroused strong negative responses.

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For all the talk about work obligations, programs can and often do have activity requirements rather than strict employment mandates. Those who receive public assistance are required to contribute to society in exchange for the benefits they receive, whether through paid employment, schooling or training, or some form of community engagement. Even in a depressed local economy with few job openings, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer or to receive training.

Some safety net and social insurance programs are relatively more generous during economic downturns. States can request temporary waivers, for example, from enforcing time limits on food stamps when unemployment is high and jobs are relatively scarce.

And the unemployment insurance program offers additional compensation to laid-off workers when joblessness in a state is particularly high. In addition, there should be measures to bolster labor demand during recessions and in depressed areas.

The Missing Half of the Welfare Debate

In and , as part of their response to the Great Recession, 39 states and the District of Columbia operated subsidized employment programs, successfully placing low-income workers into private-sector jobs. Initial evidence suggests that these programs were successful. Rather than impose a work requirement on every individual receiving a safety net benefit, programs can require that a certain share of the total number of beneficiaries be engaged in a work activity.

For example, under the welfare reforms, half of families receiving cash from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in each state must be engaged in a work-related activity for at least 30 hours per week. Ninety percent of two-parent families in each state are required to be engaged in work under TANF. Placing the work obligation on the overall population of benefit recipients rather than on each individual creates a mechanism to deal with many hard cases, while still offering the pro-work goals of the safety net and the powerful message that society expects recipients to be engaged in their communities.

Even before Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio came on the scene, it was clear that the debate over how to balance economic security and personal responsibility would be a major issue in the years to come. Changes in the economy could continue to put pressure on workers with relatively few skills and less experience. Inequality could continue to widen, putting pressure on our political system to provide greater assistance to those who are relatively less well off.

But a key to making the safety net more pro-work will always require balancing the tradeoff between personal responsibility and economic security, and not abandoning either. To contact the author of this story: Michael R. Strain at mstrain4 bloomberg. That's true, isn't it? Wrong again.

This bill does not create a single job. Indeed, the IMF recently admitted that cutting of precisely this sort has a disproportionately negative effect on growth.

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Essentially, by reducing the spending power of people who spend all their income on necessary goods and services rather than those who squirrel it away in tropical island tax havens , local businesses sell less and the economy contracts. What's that, ChannelNews-lady-outside-the-tube-station? You work in a shop? Not for long.

Welfare is a good thing.

Soon, you will get your wish fulfilment. In a way.

Social Policies: Europe, the United States and the Politics of Welfare

You won't have to resent those who don't get up to go to work. You will join them; with the added bonus of having the government that made you unemployed call you vermin.

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  6. It may not be economic growth, but it is an opportunity for personal growth, don't you think? So, what does it actually do, this bill? The short version: it attempts to plug a hole in the Government's forecasts, which keep getting revised down and down and further down, as if calculated by an over-enthusiastic limbo dancer.

    Only the savings are small, the hole is massive and their policies including this one are making it bigger. So, it's more like throwing a single shrimp into a shark's gaping mouth. Bad news for the shrimp, little effect on your chances of survival. The added bonus is that nobody seems to be talking about huge multinationals paying no tax in this country, about which everybody seemed to be talking a month ago.

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    Several coalition MPs even suggested a link between rises in tax credits and the financial crisis. I would love to tell you that Hansard recorded the response: "Which crisis? The global one? Of course there is no correlation, direct or indirect, you fucking numpty. Friend makes an excellent point".