Welfare criteria should be more strict to avoid abuse


For the sake of fair warning, I am about to say something the majority of the liberal readers will probably not like. In fact, I think many readers in general might label me as a cold, heartless conservative, which is interesting, because I might be cold and heartless, but I am actually a cold, heartless libertarian. But I digress.

I think welfare is causing big problems in the United States, and by big problems, I mean system abuse, government dependence and watered-down capitalistic values.

Welfare is a great idea in some aspects. Although I do not like the idea of a big government, at some level, a little bit of assistance is a good idea for many people in the United States. However, I feel that many people on the welfare program are abusing the system simply to avoid bettering themselves as citizens. They are instead relying on a handout, which in turn, makes us as a nation more dependent on our government.

Before I get slammed in the letters to the editor, allow me to reiterate the point that not all people on welfare are lazy Americans trying to milk more money from taxpayers, but I do want to make a few points that cause me personally to think welfare is rapidly becoming a stupid social norm.

In 1996, Bill Clinton enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which led to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. TANF limited benefits of recipients of the program to five years, and people using the assistance were also made responsible to find work as soon as possible. However, there are many ways to get around the five-year cap, and as the welfare system in the United States works, the lower the income and the bigger the family, the larger the monthly check.

A logical person can infer that, while honest people would do their best to improve their lives and earn their own money that does not come from taxpayers’ pockets, there is also the idea that if an individual were to have more children and still live in poverty, the government will dole out more money to “fix” their socioeconomic situation.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to pay for someone reproducing just because A) they can and B) they are benefiting from it. That is a societal flaw that gets pushed under the table all too often.

Critics may argue that some families are simply disadvantaged and have been their entire lives; it is not their fault they cannot find a job or pay for basic needs. Obviously, these are the people who do benefit from assistance programs and honestly, I think they are pretty easy to single out. The struggling single mother wanting to go back to school to get her GED to get a better job and the escaped domestic abuse victim struggling to find better pay both deserve welfare.

But then there is the woman whom Jeff Jacoby wrote about in a March 1994 Boston Globe op-ed, “A blunt ugly truth: Abuse and welfare are connected,” who came to the United States in 1968, had 14 grown children, 74 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, all of whom were on welfare. Sorry. That long line doesn’t deserve government assistance, although the abused child that was discovered by social services certainly did deserve a better home.

Here is my proposal; in the spirit of small government, I say the United States simply stops handing out welfare checks for a while for experimental purposes. Those individuals who really are making an effort to support their families in difficult circumstances would be immediately noticed and those who were doing nothing before that did not benefit them in the easiest way possible would learn a valuable lesson about capitalism.

I might sound a little harsh, but throwing money at a problem is something our government likes to do, and as far as our ridiculous expenditures and trillion-dollar deficit can tell, that has not been the answer for anything. In order to gain help from others, one must first be willing to help oneself. If everyone receiving government assistance could abide by that principle, the world would be a better place with smarter people, or vice versa.