Essay on Welfare Reform

This essay has a total of 2761 words and 12 pages.

Welfare Reform


In the late 1920s and early 1930s, there was a crisis among American families. The crash
of the Stock Market in 1929 led into the era, which would be remembered as the Great
Depression. The stock market crash left many American people with nothing. With no
money, no homes, and no jobs, many American families became poor and homeless. With the
presidential election in 1932, of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the introduction of the “New
Deal,” the American people were acquainted with many new economic and social welfare
programs. Up until this time, welfare was not a big issue, but with so many poor people
it was important to find a way to help the economy. The welfare programs did help many
people in the height of the depression, but the question today is, the welfare benefit
levels too charitable? The answer is yes. Welfare benefit levels are so generous, that
they entice people into becoming dependent upon the system.

Up until the Great Depression, welfare was not really an issue. For the most part every
one dealt with their problems on their own. When the stock market crashed in 1929, it
left many people to fend for themselves. Many families in America got wrapped up in the
stock market, after all the returns were very plentiful. Several people had their life
savings in the stock market, and others went to loan sharks and took out loans for large
sums of money, to try and earn back money that

they had already lost. When the stock market crashed, it left all of the people with
investments in stock, as well as banks, with nothing. Many people committed suicide, or
went crazy. Some of the richest people became poor. But to make matters worse, many
people were fired or laid off their jobs. This was happening left and right; their
employer had either lost too much money in the crash of the stock market. Or when the
stock market crashed and took everyone’s money, no one could afford the goods or services
that they were offering and they were not making enough money to pay their employees. So
they were left with no choice, with little to no cash flowing in they could not afford to
keep many people on their pay roll.

The Great Depression, which began in 1929, had a tremendous impact on nearly all aspects
of American life. Its effects on the American political perspective was considerable
indeed. The landmark election of 1932 brought Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency.
Also, that election marked an essential shift in the public’s attitude toward the proper
place of government in the nation’s social, and economic life (Carlson-Thies 13).

“Franklin Roosevelt and the democrats engineered their victory in 1932 with a new
electoral base. It was built largely of southerners, small farmers, organized labor, and
big-city political organizations. Roosevelt’s revolutionary economic and social welfare
programs, which formed the heart of the New Deal of the 1930s, further strengthened that
coalition; and it soon brought increasing support from African Americans and other
minorities to the Democrats” (Carlson-Thies 13).

With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt came many strong attributions towards the
economic status and the very well being of the American people. Roosevelt’s biggest push
was his “New Deal,” which was a program that he and his fellow Democrats had comprised.

The New Deal was supposed to help the American people that were jobless, and living on the
streets, by giving them a job and bringing them in off the streets. It was a program
devised to help get people on their feet. It was a series of programs that formed a very
large program that is known as welfare. Welfare consists of many programs, there are
programs that are intended to help the elderly, and there are programs that focus most of
their attention on children. There are also programs intended to provide housing for
needy families.

There were several federal rules and regulations that one must meet in order to receive
benefits from welfare. Once a person qualified to receive benefits, then a certain amount
of money was given to them. The amount of money that a person received was based upon how
many children they had, and the standard of living in the area in which they lived (Blank

Money was not necessarily just handed out, but at the same time it was not very hard to
receive welfare benefits. The major problem with welfare was deciding who should and
should not receive benefits. “It has been said that approximately only half of all of the
people that actually needed help, ever received any” (Blank 77). The government was
providing money to people who did not actually need it, and turning down people who did
need it. What they were faced with now was coming up with a way to determine who was and
was not a worthy candidate for receiving welfare benefits.

Mostly the people that received benefits from the welfare system, were homeless people.
Homeless people that had children would receive even more money, and possible even
implemented with a home to live in. The major problem with this is that the government
was giving these things out, they were not making people pay or work for what they are
being given. Therefore, these people were becoming dependent on welfare. They were being
supplied with a home and money, what else do they need? The welfare program set out to be
a very positive thing, but with so many people taking advantage of the government, and not
making any efforts to get jobs and or get off of welfare, they were costing the taxpayers
of America a great deal of money. Along with costing the taxpayers money it costs the
government lots of money too, and for these reasons the welfare system of the United
States definitely need improvement.

Like anything else, there are going to be good things and bad things about the welfare
system. There are many positive things that come from the welfare system. Welfare is
very cost efficient as far as the amount of money spent for the services provided.
“Welfare is also cheaper than job creation, which is one reason why past reform efforts
have in the end not been approved by Congress” (Gans 115). Welfare provides people in
need with something that they under normal circumstances would not be able to acquire, and
that is money.

Welfare does indeed provide for many individuals. It provides for the elderly, infants
and young, and the homeless. The welfare program provides for these people in several
ways. For infants and small children there are many programs available for example, AFDC
and WIC “AFDC is Aid to Families with Dependant Children, and its main purpose is to
ensure that families are capable of at all times providing a home environment for their
children” (Bane 53). WIC (Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and
Children) is a similar program, but it “makes it possible for women in need to feed their
children, and was formed to ensure mothers that their children would not go hungry”
(Wilson 150). Another program that was set up and was aimed at the well being of children
is CSA. CSA is Child Support Assurance. With this program “the main goal is to ensure
that families with absent parents receive some sort of compensation for their income
losses, in other words there are state subsidies present rather than payments from absent
parents” (Wilson 147). Most of these programs were created for the general health and
well being of the American people. In other words, they promoted the general welfare of
people in need. These programs made it possible for people to feed their children, put a
roof over their head, put clothes on their back, and provide their children with an

There are also different programs set up for the elderly and a good example of one of
those programs is the Medicaid program. This program was set up to help people of all
ages, but mainly just the elderly. “Medicaid is a program set up to provide health care
services to low-income, elderly, disabled, and some low-income families” (Lunardini 77).
Although Medicaid is indeed a welfare program, set up by the government, “it is often not
listed by the public as a welfare program” (Lunardini 83).

A few general social welfare programs, are HUD and GA. “HUD stands for Housing and Urban
Development, which stands as means for people in need to have a house” (Maybury 41). The
government either buys or builds houses for families in

need to live in. GA stands for General Assistance. “ General Assistance is a catch-all
term for any cash assistance that states provide to low income individuals who are not
eligible for broader national programs” (Blank 85). As the title of this program clearly
states, General Assistance can be anything from cash and food stamps to houses.

The problem with all of these programs is that they cost so much money. The amount of
money spent on welfare is immense, and not all of the people that receive benefits from
welfare actually need it. Some people form a dependency, where once they get on welfare,
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