Welfare reform is needed now

newsroom@islandpacket.comJune 13, 2014 

Since the start of the war on poverty in 1965, the U.S. has invested trillions of dollars in welfare programs. The result: more poverty.

There is almost universal acknowledgment from both sides of the political spectrum that our welfare system has failed both economically and morally. Critics point out the situation is unfair to everyone-- taxpayers, communities, churches, families, and most importantly, the poor who are trapped by a system that destroys opportunity, incentive and pride.

In 2011, Forbes estimated the cost of 185 federal programs to be $700 billion or $927 billion including the states' contributions. Half of the programs' participants were single-parent families.

U.S. Census data from 2009 found that 46 million families were living below the poverty line. The use of food stamps rose from 21 million to 47 million in 2011. MIT research shows that Social Security and disability payments have become permanent ways of life for many. Historic levels of work-capable Americans exit the labor force while others spend years at home, trying to qualify for disability.

Congressional research in 2011 found that, of the 69 welfare-type programs run by Washington, only a fraction required participants to work.

So what is the alternative? As a start, we need programs requiring recipient participation. That could be recipients studying for their GEDs, doing community service, participating in job training or classes about parental responsibility.

Earle Everett

Moss Creek

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