Monday, February 28, 2005

Workfare - Fixing Welfare

Something that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time is welfare. I hate it. In its current state it is completely disrespectful to not only those who pay taxes and reap no benefits, but those that are forced into the program with no opportunity to escape. Many don’t want to escape. They are content to live off of you and me for as long as we keep giving them a handout instead of a hand-up. Many other people would like to kick those people in the backside for taking their hard earned tax dollars while giving nothing in return.

What I would like to propose is something that falls under the category of workfare. No, this is not the same workfare that makes you do 30 hours of community work a month in order to collect a check. All that does is make you feel like an indentured servant to the government, a government slave if you will. That’s not what I’d like to propose.

What I’d like to propose is a transitional form of welfare. One that gives you the career building opportunities that you need while still providing financial assistance for you to live on. It’s a hand up, a chance to graduate from poverty, a chance to succeed.

The reason people don't work under welfare is that they lose their benefits at the slightest employment. If you work at McDonalds you lose your benefits. That's not right. We need to fix that so people can work and continue to be productive members of society. Now here's the dig, instead of still receiving your full welfare check and what you collect from an underemployed job you collect the difference between your welfare check and your transitional job. In addition to that, you receive an additional half of what you are receiving at work as a workfare supplemental. The 50% number can be played with, depending on what level of incentive or savings the government wishes to extract, but this is the cornerstone of the concept.

For example, lets take Bob. Bob collects a welfare check every month for 1,000$. He sits on his rump, collects a check and eats Doritos all day. If he were to get a job at McDonalds for 500$ a month he would lose his 1,000$ welfare check and only collect 500$. Under workfare he could collect 500$ from McDonalds, 500$ from welfare and 250$ from his workfare supplemental. That's 250$ that he wasn't collecting while sitting on his couch, suckling the government piggy bank. That's also 250$ the government has just saved on the welfare system. It now costs the government only 750$ to provide Bob with 1,250$ worth of workfare.

So what happens to the additional 250$ that the government has just saved? Well, there is a plethora of under funded, hand-up, educational and service based programs within the welfare system that could definitely use that money. It could pay for classes, improved services, better accounting and maybe even free or reduced price psychological services for those within the system. It creates a win-win situation all around. I can see no losers in this endeavor.

Let me modify that last statement. There will be no legal losers in this endeavor. The only losers that I can foresee will be the illegal aliens that assume the jobs that regular Americans will not take because they can do better with welfare, sitting on their duff, eating Doritos. If the opportunities for migrant workers dry up in the United States word will get out and the influx of the undocumented will subside. I guess that makes this a win-win-win situation.

Now, I have thought about the fact that some people may believe this program discriminates against those less capable. That is simply not true. The less capable would be the individuals most likely to benefit from this program. They are usually the ones that would take these lower employment jobs but don't due to their long-term welfare status. It would also be giving them better services to make the less qualified more capable of rising from their underemployed status.

So what about those already trying to better themselves through the free or reduced college services available today? Aren't they going to get shafted by this? Well, normally yes. They wouldn't be working and collecting an extra check so they wouldn't be able to benefit. However, an option that has been used with other workfare plans is to include a partial payment system for those continuing their education. I would suggest a plan that worked by examining how much time you are dedicating to college. Say, for example, a full time student would receive 10% extra from welfare while a half time student would only receive an additional 5% supplemental. From the 25% government savings to the system pay equality would be a natural consequence. How many wins are we up to now?

Another benefit of employment is a sense of accomplishment. Even if your job is adding the big white mints to the toilets at Billy's Beanatorium you are still doing something that makes an effect upon society in a beneficial way. It gives people an improved self esteem. It gives them the drive to do better, to make something of themselves, to make something of America.

Cross-Posted at: The Blogger News Network under Education & Social Policy

NOTE: BNN has just been instalanched.


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