Thoughts On Welfare

The stigmatization of welfare has unfortunately led to its demise. Because of all the opposing aspects of it, welfare is a challenging topic to address. Welfare should equally assist all struggling to survive but not allow those who benefit to abuse the system. However, in a democratic country where the poverty rate was high, it was difficult to persuade an entire nation to forfeit their earnings. To find a compromise, welfare reform was a major discussion around the time of Clinton’s campaign. David Ellwood proposed radical ideas to change this system in a beneficial but productive way to decrease the poverty rate. For Ellwood, if the overall goal was to help people in poverty get into a position to support themselves, the minimum wage must be increased. Prior to working, these individuals would be given “short-term financial, educational, and social support” during this transition from poverty to working. The purpose was to provide adequate support for the individual to begin working and provide a steady income for the family, not to impose limits on welfare. Regardless, the American public listened to what they wanted to hear: that welfare should be limited and require work.  

In his presidential campaign, Clinton appeased the public by announcing that he was going to “end welfare as we know it.” Instead of continuing to provide support indefinitely for people in poverty, Clinton limited this financial support to two years. Initially, the implementation of Clinton’s plan flourished. For instance, because single mothers were required to work to receive benefits, the number of working single mothers jumped from 58 percent to 75 percent. Starting in 1996, child poverty rates declined for the next four years, and the national unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent. However, this initial success was soon to plummet due to the lack of support for a significant number of individuals following the welfare benefits.  

Because of how welfare had been limited during Clinton’s presidency, it has become increasing difficult to receive these benefits. Although I do not believe that anecdotal evidence alone is sufficient in support of an argument, some cases of certain individuals help to explain how the welfare system as a whole has been failing. For instance, a single mother named Modonna desperately required government assistance but was denied, like many of her friends. Modonna lost her job as a cashier, meaning that she not only lost her yearly salary but also her refundable tax credits and SNAP benefits. Hopeless, Modonna tried to apply for aid but was turned away because she arrived too late that day. In such a dire situation, it seems as if Modonna has run out of options.  

Due to unfortunate circumstances, welfare is a necessity to many Americans today. When analyzing how it should be implemented, different methods are proposed to satisfy political, economic, or social agendas. Because of the complexity surrounding this concept, I applaud those individuals who are dedicated to tackling this issue. As for our current situation, I believe the most beneficial approach would be to give more wage subsidies to employers to provide more job opportunities. Although it will take trial and error, I hope that a beneficial compromise can be made to satisfy a majority of Americans.