Welfare 'Reforms' Aim at Punishing Poor: Stingy Aid Programs Usually Self-Defeating

By Ruether, Rosemary Radford | National Catholic Reporter, June 3, 1994 | Go to article overview

Welfare 'Reforms' Aim at Punishing Poor: Stingy Aid Programs Usually Self-Defeating


Ruether, Rosemary Radford, National Catholic Reporter


A mid the shadow of the debate health-care reform has begun a second, less-noticed debate on welfare reform that deserves more attention from those concerned with justice in America.

The United States has been tardy in developing government assistance to the poor, and its programs have remained minimal compared with European industrialized countries. It has continued to maintain a suspicious and punitive attitude toward poor people, viewing their poverty as personal failure rather than a problem of the economic system.

Public assistance to the poor has been seen as public charity, rather than a basic right of all citizens to a minimum standard of life's necessities. Welfare caseworkers are poorly paid, given an excessive caseload and an inordinate amount of paperwork and required to investigate the assets and social, relations of the applicants in a way that puts them in an adversarial relation to those they are supposed to "help."

Public assistance had developed and been expanded in the United States in times of social crisis but has been kept at a level well below the federal poverty line, which is itself unrealistically low. Aid to Dependent Children was one of the programs initiated under the Social Security Art of 1935 along with the Social Security system of retirement pensions, aid to the aged, blind and disabled and unemployment compensation. It was expanded to become Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1950, giving a family grant primarily to unemployed women with dependent children without a male breadwinner.

The outcry against poverty and hunger in the limited States m the 1960s brought new programs of food aid, food stamps and supplemental nutritional programs for recent mothers and undernourished children as well as Medicare and Medicaid, various job-training programs and early education experiments, such as Head Start.

In the 1980s, under the Reagan and Bush administrations, federal assistance for all those programs was drastically cut and the state were forced to assume a larger percentage of the costs. Millions of people were dropped from the welfare rolls or had their checks for food stamps reduced. Mother and child nutrition programs, funds for school lunches, job training for youths and Head Start all were slashed by presidents who at the same time escalated the military budgets to more than $300 billion annually and reduced taxes for the wealthy. The impression was given that public assistance was far too costly and "didn't work" creating population of Welfare "loafers," while gargantuan military budgets went unquestioned.

Contrary to the impression. that public assistance creates a permanent underclass of welfare "loafers" who live in comfort without having to work, 80 percent of welfare recipients receive benefits for only two years and 50 percent are off welfare within one year. Most who apply for welfare do so reluctantly: because they were forced to by a precipitous loss of income due to illness, death or desertion by the person who had provided the income for the family. Women with dependent children go on welfare because their husbands lose their jobs or desert them or they are forced to flee an abusive relationship and they themselves unemployed. They use welfare to tide themselves over while they look for a job or the skills to acquire one. The high costs of child care prevent many from getting training and taking jobs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Welfare 'Reforms' Aim at Punishing Poor: Stingy Aid Programs Usually Self-Defeating
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.