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Welfare: Godsend or Menace?


What is Welfare?


A government sponsored enterprise,welfare is a ‘knight in shining armour’ that liberates desolate and poverty stricken individuals from the throes of debt and bankruptcy. It is a range of state projects that provide financial assistance or any other aid. Tax that is levied on citizens funds ‘Welfare’. Such projects are typically financed by federal taxation. The objective of welfare is to encourage the pursuance of employment,education and a finer standard of living. Although indispensable in an economy,it is a system that can be exploited with ease at the expense of industrious citizens. A meticulous and exhaustive analysis of the framework put in place to assist the nation’s poorest is imperative in order to find constructive solutions that would appease every strata of society.


Merits of Welfare


Welfare is well known for supporting the unemployed,the disabled and the sick but it is primarily focused on serving the needs of children. Children are incredibly vulnerable to exploitation and enslavement. Labour laws with respect to children have existed since the start of modern civilisation.No matter how many laws monitor child labour,it has continued well and beyond the twentieth century untouched. Welfare helps shield and protect minors from predators. Financial support thus extended aids children in escaping the gruesome reality of child labour and human trafficking.


Although laissez faire capitalism strongly opposes government intervention and its ‘altruistic interests’,Welfare is a major player in shaping the destiny of a country’s economy. Laissez faire capitalism proponents are convinced that the productive yield of the creators of the human race can propel an economy forward. They however,do not take into consideration factors such as unemployment,enormous inflation, recession, depression and debt. In a prospering economy,the progress of individuals of every station is crucial.Along with entrepreneurs and the gifted,the proletarian must also prosper. Welfare addresses this sine qua non effectively by providing assistance to where it is needed desperately.


Welfare bridges the gap between the affluent and the poor. Income gaps are filled because of the allocation of resources to the underprivileged. In the decades before welfare reforms were introduced in the United States, fifteen percent of senior citizens were living at or below the poverty line. By 2016, that percentage had reduced to less than ten. The rate of poverty has fallen to thirteen percent. Welfare has brought about this miraculous transformation by welfare programs,distribution of social security benefits and active encouragement to save money.


Welfare programs close income gaps because they provide resources to those who need it the most. The benefits create a source of income for local businesses, which supports the local economy even further. In this situation, a rising tide tends to lift all of the boats.

Nicknamed ‘The Golden Age’ of the American economy,the fifties were a glorious decade for immense economic growth. The highest tax rate was above ninety percent. With the introduction of welfare reforms,the rate of tax has reduced one third. Rather than create community support, a safety net program that facilitates subsidies brought about by the reforms in the tax code. Although the possibility of fraud does exist in the system,these programs ensure that everyone is given an opportunity to pursue happiness.

A positive impact of welfare is the reduction of crime. Sans Welfare, fundamental necessities such as food,shelter and clothing would be a utopian dream for the impoverished. The destitute would look to crime as their only course of action for survival.The welfare state suppresses crime particularly through social support by means of generous unemployment benefits..Sustainable welfare programs work to satisfy rudimentary living standards while attempting to reduce the likelihood of fraud.German criminologist Franz von Liszt famously stated about a decade after Chancellor Bismarck had introduced the first national social insurance schemes in the world – that social policy “represents the best and most effective crime policy.


Despite misleading statistics that declare the eligibility of undocumented immigrants for the benefits of welfare,it could not be further from the truth. The government does not offer any aid for individuals without at least a work visa. Health care benefits are also withdrawn from illegal migrants. While members of the left wing may protest the ‘callousness’ of this policy,it is a justified measure. Undocumented residents are a drain on the coffers of the country as they elude taxation. Would it not be a grave injustice to the law-abiding citizens who would be forced to shoulder the costs of undocumented migrants?


Demerits


Welfare is an interim solution that keeps the impoverished off the streets. Most welfare programs are designed to provide emergency assistance that prevents homelessness and starvation. Welfare programs do not address the core issues that lie at the heart of poverty. With the advent of artificial intelligence,human civilisation has whirled towards progress with lightning speed. It is lamentable indeed that AI progress brings with it the alarming threat of ever increasing unemployment. Automation and artificial intelligence dominate every sphere of human life. Five hundred thousand jobs are at risk of getting axed. Most of the safety net benefits of Welfare are designed for individuals in a transition phase. It does not seek to create meaningful employment by means of job training programs and educational resources.


Welfare programs are often an additional source of income rather than a single stream of income in countries such as the US. Federal regulations dictate that a single person without children earning less than twelve thousand dollars per annum would qualify for benefits. A surplus of four thousand three hundred dollars would be provided with the addition of a single person to the household. A worrying destiny lies in store for individuals earning seventeen dollars an hour as they would not qualify for welfare even if they aren’t earning enough to support their family. Thus, the support system of welfare does not prove effective for certain families that do not meet the strict parameters set by the government.



Welfare benefits are also subject to the regulations of various states. Families that may qualify in a state may not meet the qualifications in another. Access to these programs is often not communicated clearly at the community level either, which creates uncertainty as to whether or not a family should apply.An example that can be cited that exposes the inconsistent nature of welfare is the welfare reforms of the 90s that were passed under the Clinton administration. This policy was envisioned as a foil to fraud committed in the welfare system. Before these reforms were introduced, eighty five percent of qualifying families would receive benefits on the ground of their financial situation.Over the next ten years, this figure would drop by more than fifty percent, with only forty percent of qualifying families participating in the various cash assistance programs. The welfare reforms of the nineties did little to reduce fraud. Rather they withheld benefits from households that desperately needed them.


Welfare also indirectly encourages corporations to pay wages that are not at all competitive. The expansion of Walmart highlights the implications of Welfare as a mechanism to lower wages. This company benefited from over $1.2 billion in free land, tax breaks, outright grants from governments, and low-cost financing. Taxpayers also subsidise the health costs of Walmart employees who do not receive coverage and work through a public program like Medicaid.Thus,rather than alleviating poverty,welfare unintentionally does increase the likelihood of reduction in wages.


A whopping two percent of all welfare payments are attributed to a fraudulent application. Is it not appalling that three million households effectively hoodwink the government and receive welfare benefits? Linda Taylor or rather the ‘Welfare Queen’ fraudulently took $150,000 per annum in tax-free income by assuming eighty different names and thirty fake addresses to collect food stamps. She also received social security benefits for four deceased husbands who didn’t even exist! Wael Ghosheh took nearly a million in government welfare funds illegally. Dorothy Woods stole $377,000 in public aid to which she was not entitled. The Shalhout family even employed their business to give customers fifty percent of their benefits in cash, and then pocketed the rest to buy a vacation home in Israel! Countless instances only prove time and again the dupable welfare system and the severe tax frauds looted by welfare cheats from righteous citizens.

It is a nation’s sacrosanct duty to uplift the penurious and prevent them from crashing into financial ruin.Nevertheless,it is imperative to identify a pattern of dependence that emerges quite frequently.Certain households rely solely on welfare benefits without attempting to improve and redefine their situation by means of education or perseverance. Scheming individuals may also successfully snatch undeserved welfare benefits by concealing their income.A permanent welfare benefit thus discourages the intrinsic incentive to work harder as it facilitates adequate monetary resources to live a comfortable life..

Welfare and social security programs are primarily demand-driven. Thus, costs are affected by factors such as population growth, population ageing, labour market changes, and economic circumstances as well as policy changes relating to eligibility requirements. Most welfare payments are also adjusted regularly to maintain their value over time. A trillion dollars of the total tax received in the US funds the exorbitant costs of welfare. Most of the subsidies provided by the general population are directed toward healthcare needs. Forty percent of the funds are utilised for direct cash assistance,housing costs and food expenses. Is it not astounding that this amount exceeds the total annual budget of every country excluding the top twenty economies?And yet,even with this enormous spending,twenty percent of American children are classified as food insecure. They receive only a meal per day as their families can afford no more.The inept and unsuccessful stratagem of welfare does little to alleviate poverty and carelessly squanders the silver of the taxpayers.

Conclusion

Welfare programs are designed as a supplementary source of income for families at or below poverty level whilst instilling a sense of industriousness and determination to develop personal skills and ambition for a brighter future. It is a safety net that one can fall back on when circumstances are adverse.It is a stopgap that vanquishes financial worries. It however,cannot and should not be considered as a substitute for a job. Although there shall always be opportunists and tricksters who ruthlessly manipulate welfare programs, its benefits far outweigh the negatives of welfare.



A revamp of the welfare system that would adeptly curb fraud and rein in costs is the need of the hour. It is crucial that the impoverished be distinguished from all those crooks and rogues who attempt to live off taxpayers.Governments must adapt new tactics such as drug testing,work requirements, a certain timeline for receiving benefits,emphasise work training and educational programs and several other reforms that would revolutionise welfare for the better.

The merits and the demerits of welfare demonstrate the immense difficulties that policymakers face whilst attempting to shape a dynamic and just system that advances every strata of society. It is paramount that the nation stand firm behind the most pauperized of society and invigorate their spirit and their determination to persevere and remould their destiny.


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