Saturday, February 22, 2003

Welfare Recipients Forced to Work While Going to College!!!

Check out this editorial, typical of the Register's stance on welfare reform. Always a view protecting the status of current welfare recipients. Reform without pain... that's the only way.

Here are some of the highlights:

The marriage initiatives are simply wrong. They don't work. They only further stigmatize single motherhood and scapegoat single parents as the reason for poverty.

Now, why would we want to stigmatize people who indulge in behavior that puts them in a position in which society (that would be you and me) is compelled to support them? I am absolutely FOR the stigmatization of people who choose to have children when they are incapable of taking on this enormous responsibility. I don't care if they are unable to cope emotionally (like Michael Jackson, who is incredibly rich but, IMHO should have the child welfare people on his butt), or financially. Ever hear of "enabling bad behavior"? The strongest indicator that a child will not grow up in poverty is being born in a two parent household. A two-parent household (I'm for gay adoption and legal gay unions by the way... so I'm not coming at this from a "religious right" point of view.) simply provides a much better and flexible financial and emotional foundation to raise children.

But it's the work requirements that really stand to hurt people. It may not sound like a big deal to require welfare mothers to work more, but it is.

Welfare hurts people, the individuals entrapped in it and society as a whole. The lure of living on the dole has ruined millions of lives in the country. It SHOULD be a big deal. Being on welfare should SUCK. It should be worse than working long hours at a crappy job to support your family. It should be SO BAD and SO HURTFUL that women will think twice before they have children when they are not ready to support them. This isn't Dickinson London in the 1850s, okay. If you choose to be sexually active, use birth control. Use it consistently and effectively. First trimester abortion is safe, available, effective and legal. If your moral convictions make abortion an non starter, take extra care with your contraceptive regimen... or here's an idea... don't have sex.

Currently, an Iowa mother with two children receiving about $300 a month from the government and getting help with child care can meet the requirements of welfare by attending classes full time at a community college. If she uses this time to get an education, the hope is that her long-term opportunities will be more promising. The cycle of poverty will be broken. If the House legislation is imposed, the Iowa woman might need to work 24 hours in a job before her schooling could count for her "work requirement." (It's worth noting jobs are in short supply in the current economy.) That could result in her having to go to school part time instead of full time. If she makes even a little too much money at her job, both her child-care subsidy and tuition aid could be at risk.

Oh please... Yes, we should absolutely encourage people to get an education. There are a myriad of financial aid opportunities to help low income people get a college education. So you've got to work up to 3 (notice the might need to work 24 hours... I wonder what the real requirements are...) days a week to go to college. Tell that to the kid flipping burgers or working a crappy telemarketing job to put herself through college, without the benefit of welfare. So a welfare mother would have to go to school part time. When you do not have the ability to pay your own way, your choices are limited.

That's what stricter work requirements mean in the real world.

What real world? The point is that welfare insulates people from the real world by disconnecting them from the consequences of their actions. If the government is going to be in the business of financing the outcome of behavior, it has a huge stake in influencing people's behavior to lessen the blow. Government should do everything it its power to incent people to be autonomous, responsible, contributing members of society.

Welfare reform is not meant to benefit the people currently on the welfare rolls. It is mean to provide a strong and growing incentive for people NOT to live their lives on welfare and have children when they cannot support them. The policy has a longer view. It is designed to break the cycle of multi-generational welfare recipients. It trades some hurt now for much less hurt later.


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