Looking after our very poorest citizens is of utmost importance and despite the stories of abuses dreamed up by those less compassionate who feel there is never an excuse for living on the public dole, the fact is, nobody deserves to go hungry in the world’s richest nation– regardless of the reasons why they might find themselves in need. Welfare is always going to be a punching bag for people on the right for and red line in the sand for those on the left looking to point out the perceived lack of compassion on the right.
I believe we need to be both doing more to move people from welfare to prosperity and spending more.
Welfare as a one-sized solution is a bad idea, for the same reason that a size one shirt is a bad idea on a size 10 person. It doesn’t fit. We need to examine the levels of welfare in this country so that we can be smart about the help we can give folks in need–not just compassionate.
I propose we move to three levels of welfare, to which qualified, properly trained caseworkers would assign applicants on a case-by-case basis:
The first level would be those people who are likely always going to need help from the government to survive. They are rare, but they do exist, and these are the people that every society takes care of. As the religious texts say; “The poor will always be among us.”
The second level are people who are going to need both medical and vocational training help to reach a higher level of potential so that they can enter the workforce as productive members of society. Unlike the first category, these folks stand a pretty good chance of entering the workforce, but they will need psychological, medical, or emotional help to do so and likely, in most cases will have a limited level of success going forward. We will help them achieve those ends while making sure they have safe shelter and food in their bellies.
The third level of welfare are short-timers. These are people who got lost somewhere along the way but who with some vocational training or academics training, along with accountability, could thrive in a world beyond social services. They need help right now, but there is every reason to believe that in time, with proper help and training, they could pay the system back for money that we give them.
As such, I believe we would be wise to turn our welfare system into what amounts to a subsidized loan program which does not affect personal credit. Once a person reaches a certain level of success, ( i.e. $40,000 per year for a single person and $5,000 per minor child-in-custody allowance) we would ask them to begin paying back what we provided them so that we, in turn, could pass that money along to subsequent people in need. The onus would be on us to give the sort of assistance that results in that sort of success.
(And we would not consider ourselves successful until a person was able to reach that level of success. The metric “no-longer-needs-welfare is no longer good enough to be considered a win. Just a stepping stone to winning)
Let me be clear: As I envision this, welfare is always going to be a financial burden on the nation. I don’t expect it to ever fully pay for itself. That said, it could at least begin to pay a portion of itself. That would go a long way toward our fiscal responsibility without giving up any of our moral responsibility in the process. More importantly, it would go a lot further to convincing those who disagree with welfare as a whole, to come aboard with the funding necessary to help folks who can, reach this new level of success measurement– one based on the long term success of those we move from poverty to prosperity rather than simply measuring by a lower number of destitute people.
No program is perfect. What we seek is a better solution– something we can learn from and improve upon– and something that at least attempts to be good for everyone involved.
That is the crux of how I see government– never perfect. Always striving to improve.
#Widdifield2020 #ResponsibilityMatters #CompassionMatters