A quick fix for a failed system

Chris Kok

There’s a myth in America that says it only takes hard work to succeed, but real life is more complicated. People point to Bill Gates as an example of a rags-to-riches story, but they don’t realize that his parents were extremely rich. In fact, he was sent to a preparatory school that cost more than Yale. Bill Gates is not a typical American.

The fact is, for many people, it takes much more than hard work to succeed in America. Those born into poverty have the deck stacked against them. They have to deal with failing schools, parents working multiple jobs to support their family and neighborhoods plagued with crime. Most likely, their future job will have them saying, “Do you want fries with that?”

This is not the sort of job that leads people to great success, no matter how hard one works.

One focus of the Federal Reserve is to make sure that there is a steady level of unemployment, because if there is full employment, wages rise, leading to inflation. So even if someone really wanted a job, there is still the possibility of not finding one because unemployment is part of the system.

At present, welfare exists under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. This policy is as humane as Genghis Khan was peaceful. To receive assistance from TANF, women must disclose how many sexual partners they have had and try to make contact with the parents of their children, even in cases of abuse.

After getting on TANF, people are required to accept the first job available, regardless of the working conditions. TANF doesn’t even make decent allowances for education, the one thing that could truly lift people out of poverty.

Also, TANF is restricted to five years in a person’s life. Capitalist economies are subject to booms and busts. There is no stopping this fact. When an economy goes into bust, it is the people at the lowest rung on the employment ladder who are laid off first. Thus, people under the regulations of TANF will be the first hurt in an economic downswing. When the five years of TANF runs out, these people will be out of luck.

Welfare is susceptible to fraud, and sometimes it encourages laziness, but for the most part, people are hard workers. Most aren’t looking for handouts from the government. The need for welfare does not come from lazy people, but from a system which has unemployment built in. What is needed is a humane welfare policy that takes care of the unfortunate.

What would this system have? Free childcare. How can we expect single parents to hold a decent job while taking care of their children without any support? Welfare should also include decent educational opportunities so that people can be lifted out of the lowest paying job into sustainable success.

Welfare should not be personally invasive. Requirements to contact children’s parents, attend marriage counseling and disclose the number of sexual partners should be eliminated.

Rather than cutting welfare, let’s have welfare reform that helps more poor people.

Chris Kok is a senior international relations major and point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]