Originally Posted by Freethinker#22
I dont think they do. While I do not have the statistics Im pretty sure the majority of single parents on welfare are on welfare not because they used children as a way to get out of poverty but because of unforseen circumstances (i.e death of thier partner, divorce etc), why should we punish these people because a very small minority decides to use welfare and having children as a way of survival? It's not right.
I don't think women use children to get out of poverty either. They may, however, have children for a source of income. I've seen welfare mother's spend their checks on jewelry, clothing, and booze. I've seen others spend almost all of it on their children's food and clothing, having to sacrifice in some cases their own needs for the child. But that is my limited experience, and without studies, I am not sure we can gauge what number of welfare recipiants had children to survive vs the number on welfare due to a divorce or the death of a loved one. So to say it's a "small minority" is an assumption at best.
As for why women go on welfare: you assume the vast majority go on welfare due to "unforseen circumstances." Again, that is an assumption at best. Many women unbeknownst to them have children with unreliable men. Many women were aware, but for whatever reason, be it stupidity or denial, they chose not to see it. Now, I've already said this is something we can't gauge. It's not as if this is a question asked of welfare recipiants when they sign the application. But it does go back to Karl's question, and it is manifestly true that many women who go on welfare are irresponsible. Many of them are poor, without an education, and choose to have children out of wedlock (statistical fact). And many of these women choose to compound their problems by having children with a man who is ostensibly unreliable. A women who chooses to have children in those circumstances is taking a big risk, and for those who knew the odds were against them, I shed no tears.
As for personally repsonsibility, single parents have alot of it bringing up thier children alone. If they are not responsible for thier status as single parents why does it have anything to do with personal reponsibility?
Again, it's difficult to gauge how much responsibility a person should take for their fate. You're asking me, and very rhetorically I might add, why I'm demanding personal responsibility for those who were not responsible for their fate. I wouldn't logically demand that, which is why I am careful to distinguish between welfare recipiants who fell into difficulty by virtue of their bad decisions, and those welfare recipiants who fell into difficulty by virtue of unforseen circumstance.
And lastly why should single parents work? they are doing a service to society by bringing up thier children, just like employed people are doing a service to society by working. And what is to say single parents will be any better off working than they were on welfare, espcially since you pointed out single parents tend to get low-wage jobs.
The problem is, they are doing a service for a disservice. Having children you cannot concievably afford does a disservice to society because we have have to part with more of our own money that we could be spending on our kids to help you bring your child up properly. And because children raised in poor, single-parent households (even with welfare benefits) are at a greater risk of anti-social behavior, you are doing more of a disservice than can be immediately felt.
I don't wnat to leave the impression that I don't believe in helping the unfortunate who have fallen on bad times. The problem is if you create a system with no accountability and, worse, and incentive to make bad decisions. I want to move to a society that increasingly values personal responsibility as a virtue within reasonable bounds.
What welfare-to-work can do (and has done to some degree), is push our society to a more personal-responsibility orietned society. According to the Health and Human Services Department, we've cut our welfare caseloads in half. 80% of those leaving welfare went on to work and 80% of those in turn were still working three months later. The kink I see is the potential for exploitation, which I have already mentioned. That needs to be corrected. Welfare-women should be paid reasonable wages that could verifiably allow her to support herself and her kids. I wouldn't even have a problem with the women continuing to collect checks until she achieved a reasonable salary.
I agree, but the solution is not to force them to work, the solution is to create a welfare system that deals with each person as an individual not one that imposed on standard onto everyone. So say for example you are long term unemployed and suffer from no disabilities, have a good background both socially and finacncially and living off of welfare. You should be forced to look for work or get off welfare. But say you suffer from SA and have a long history of being unable to keep a job. The priority for you should be getting help holding down a job, and dealing with your SA.
I totally agree that welfare should be localized and personalized. I support disability. I just fear a bloated welfare system that allows everyone and anyone to collect and the rationale for such a system has always been the liberal credo that only the unfortunate, hard-luck people will use welfare.
And I agree with that, but the problem with welfare now and before is that it only catered to one viewpoint. Before welfare reform it only catered toward the sociological viewpoint, and with welfare reform it only caters to the economical viewpoint. The consensus amongst sociologists who actually have studied the real effects of welfare reform on currnet and former welfare recipients is that it has made very little change in thier social and financial situations. Many of those that did get off welfare and found a job are no better off in thier lifestyles than they were on welfare although financially they are somewhat better off. Now that sounds contradictory, but once you take into account the economic boom of the 90's and the slowing down of the economies today and inflation I think it makes sense. Meaing higher incomes (incomes based on wages instead of welfare) are offset by increasing price of goods and services.
There is also the factor that in some states, the gross income from welfare (including foostamps, medicaid, and low-income housing) is greater than what can be earned at a regular full-time job. That, of course, says something bad about both welfare AND worker's benefits. My point has always been to discourage people from making bad decisions. I'm not elated about punishing them after the fact, but something needs to be done to discourage people from making them. That doesn't mean I think all welfare recipiants are irresponsible leeches. It just means that the system has to be fine-tuned so that abuse is minimized while still being made available for those who truly need it. I want to weed out those drug moms who pop out kids in order to collect a paycheck to support their drug addiction. I've seen it, and there is no oversight.
Yet the current trend now is to only look at the economical perspective of how much money welfare reform can save the government and according to the government how much it can save middle class taxpayers. And ignore the sociological perspective of what welfare can do to help those that need it most and what changes are needed for welfare to be more effective in helping those that need it. As you said personal responsibility is only one factor of many, and it may not apply to everyone, yet this is what the current welfare refom is based on.
Welfare reform is not solely about keeping more money in the pockets of the tax-paying middleclass. It's also a way to encourage people to take responsibility, and to discourage those who abuse it from making irrational decisions. Some states have phoney welfare-reform programs while others are more social-conscious. I support the latter in theory and action (not diluted with explotative mechanisms, of course).