Welfare is a topic that has been discussed by everyone from heads of state to recipients with opponents pro and con lining up to support their views. In spite of all the talk, few reflect on the real purpose of welfare as a safety net, and what we as a country have allowed it to evolve into. When discussing welfare, one should always think of, as my wife says, our three basic needs : Food, Clothing and Shelter. However, perhaps we should add another parameter, self respect or dignity. Our current system has gone way beyond the basic needs and has effectively robbed several generations of self respect and dignity. Our liberal colleagues recognized this to some degree and their solution was to remove food "stamps" from the equation along with the percieved stigma associated with presenting the "stamps". So has the new debit card helped or made matters worse ? The reality is more now sign up for assistance with no sense of embarrassment when presenting a card paid for with the tax dollars of the working masses. Once that awareness or desire to maintain self respect or dignity is removed, it becomes easier and easier to stay in the system with no impetus, i.e. salvaging self respect, to try and get out. Work and work ethics become less and less important with that mentality passed down to the next generation. Now that 35 states (that's 70% of our country) have welfare programs that provide more than a minimum wage job, the question becomes, why work ?...just move to one of those 35 states if that lifestyle is all one aspires to attain. I wonder if those states realize that is exactly to what they have opened their doors ! This lack of self-initiative, killed by state handouts, is why all large socialist societies ultimately fail.
So what are some possible, realistic solutions ? First would be to stop the debit card system and go back to some of form of voucher that could not be sold or bartered as the voucher would have a name and picture associated with it. The voucher could only be used for basics, those basics in the form of flour, milk salt, sugar etc. (the proverbial pound of bacon) but things that actually involve meal preparation, another "work" skill being lost. Make the welfare system for subsistence to prevent starvation, not a life style that many are content with. Make work a desireable asset, not something that is worth less than a government handout. Out of wed-lock children should not be a way to increase government rewards, but something that careful consideration should go into with consequences for ignoring those considerations. Too often we see five or six children in rags while "mom" supports her donut addiction and flat screen TV cable subscription. We can help with the first two children born, but offer assistance in the way of reversable sterilization if the mother wishes to continue efforts to procreate. This sounds harsh and certainly is contrary to some religious beliefs, but offering adoption as an answer has not come close to solving this problem so far. Education in the form of understanding the real long term cost associated with bringing a child into this world is paramount as is assuring that personal responsibility be a part of the solution. Obviously more ideas are needed, but maybe this is a start.