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“I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

April 3, 2011

Good ole Wimpy, always on the prowl for a little charitable assistance to get a hamburger.  For those of you who don’t know Wimpy, he was a hamburger addicted friend of Popeye and Olive Oyl (if you don’t know who they are – Wimpy, Popeye, Olive Oyl).  Wimpy was in a continual state of being underfunded, or maybe in by today’s standards we could say he was underemployed and food insecure?  It’s that “charitable assistance” I am going to discuss today, more specifically public assistance programs funded with tax dollars.

One of the alleged moral responsibilities of society is to care for and provide assistance to those in need through public assistance programs.  For the sake of this discussion only I will agree without qualification to this premise.  With that stipulation made we look at what this alleged moral responsibility equates to in helping the less fortunate.

Welfare is the general heading under which people gain aid for periods of time (some of those periods lasting years).  There are various federal and state controlled programs paid through taxes that fund these programs.  For this discussion we when I speak of welfare I will be speaking to assistance programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) health and nutrition programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, health assistance programs etc.

There is no question that there are people needing assistance and since society wants to provide that safety net, then when it is provided the assistance should come with the responsibility to the receiver to return to society some remuneration for that assistance.  In considering the assistance to be given there should be some forms of means testing obviously to determine the reasonable amount of need one has.  As well as that needs testing there should be some non-negotiable requirements in how long the assistance will last and what the recipient must return to society.

For example, any assistance one receives is offset by the requirement of that recipient to work for the community in return.  There are myriad jobs that would benefit the community.  Recipients could work on grounds crews to maintain parks, public roadways, or school grounds as examples.  Further work could be provided in public agencies and buildings, whether assisting in cleaning the buildings, working in public assistance programs that aid the elderly, providing services in public established child care programs watching children of other recipients needing child care while they work for their communities.  For those with physical limitations not severe enough to prevent working in some area there could be administrative assistance given in places like libraries, recreation centers, or visitors centers for instance.  Work programs could also be structured in a work-education format.  A recipient may work 20 hours per week and attend vocational training courses for the other 20 hours per week.  The goal of course to provide the recipient with skill sets that can be used to obtain full time employment, removing the need for them to continue on public assistance programs.

Recipients would be working for their assistance awards, thereby removing a stigma of accepting handouts and also quelling any public complaints of recipients being welfare addicted and unwilling to quit.  Recipients would be required to work a standard 40 hour work week.  The assistance received would be prorated out per hour, so any missed work time would result in decreased assistance by the prorated amount.  All assistance received would be considered in the annual earnings statements all receive for filing federal taxes.  There should be no exemption since those not on assistance programs do not have their earnings generally excused.  Obviously recipients would have the same opportunities for tax reductions provided for in the tax code just as anyone else not on assistance does.

What happens though should a recipient be injured in some manner while completion the work for assistance job required of them?  Well, they would have the same access to worker compensation as any other worker.  It’s a system already in place so there is no reason not to utilize it.

The differing programs for assistance to those in need would have maximum limits that shall not be exceeded.  If a recipient is receiving assistance under more than one program then the program with the longest limit would be the limitation for all the programs the person is receiving aid through.  During the period the recipient is receiving assistance the program would begin phasing out the amount received at some point in the period until the eligibility amount reaches zero percent.  As an example, a person is receiving TANF assistance.  The limitation is determined to be the length of time to reduce the benefit provided to zero percent beginning in the seventh month.  The first six months would be 100%; the seventh month would see a 5% reduction to 95%, the eighth month another 5% reduction to 90%, continuing to zero percent from the ninth through eighteenth month.  This gives a total assistance period of 26 months after which the recipient has exhausted their “entitlement” and must be self-sufficient to the best of their ability.  If we stop playing the game of continually extending assistance to an individual, and if that individual is aware of exactly when the assistance will end, then that individual should be taking control of their future and be prepared for when the assistance is maxed out.

Keep in mind throughout the period an individual is on assistance of some kind there is nothing preventing that individual from receiving private charitable assistance.  These private programs may have their own criteria for an individual to qualify and there should be no link between what the individual receives privately and what they receive publicly – on the public assistance side.  If private charities wish to limit their aid when one is receiving public assistance as well, that’s up to the private charity.  To keep anyone from objecting, I further believe the funneling of public taxpayer funds to private entities to provide any assistance to individuals should be barred at all levels.  No public funds to charities, none to organizations like NPR or Planned Parenthood either.

Is this the best solution to there being taxpayer support public assistance programs?  No.  Ideally we should have a society that does not require any type of public assistance.  We could have too, but the majority of Americans are completely unwilling to take the necessary steps that would bring about the reductions in the need for these types of programs.  That of course is a totally different article to write, probably several more.

Now, Wimpy requests that you pass him the ketchup.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Whitehorn permalink
    April 4, 2011 5:01 pm

    I agree 100% on this Artical I also think anyone getting welfare or help from the Goverment should take a weekly drug test and if not married should have a limit on the kids in the household Ive heard people say the more kids the more money I get
    Its time to stop wasteing money on people with there hands out and not wonting to work for it

    • April 4, 2011 5:30 pm

      Thanks.

      I am not up on the aspects of what, if any, limitations are in place to keep from a person increasing their welfare take by increasing the number of children. But, it shouldn’t be so. No one pays a working parent more just because they have another child and it shouldn’t be that way for welfare recipients.

      • Whitehorn permalink
        April 4, 2011 5:33 pm

        I think if you check into it you will find out its happening every where

        • April 4, 2011 5:37 pm

          I believe it. It makes sense to the government to work it that way. Which is why government – truly – should not be in the welfare business at all.

          It just grows that entitlement “right” in the mind of the recipient!

  2. charlie miles permalink
    April 4, 2011 6:45 pm

    i agree with you whitehorn. lets not forget that those on welfare also have the best healthcare plan going!no copays .no nothing! they never get a bill in the mail,now i realize that sometimes people get blindsided such as losing their job or other unforseen circumstances. but the key here is that they were working trying to do the right thing.but you are right you have to show up for some kind of work or community service.not just rape the system like so many do now!how about this idea farmers should quit hiring illegal immegrants those on welfare should start picking tomatoes beans potatoes and fruit!you dont show up you dont get your check or food stamps for the month.our farmers are allways getting screwed anyway! might save them some money.those inmates in prison that are not considerd dangerous should be part of this program also.no more three hots and a cot on the tax payers buck!

  3. April 5, 2011 8:31 am

    Gman, good morning, my brother!

    Okay, so I’m actually in agreement with “much” of what you posted. Where I really get “red” (and it will surprise you, no doubt–and it will offend those left of me (there are a few)), is the pregnancy issue. My wife tells me there are things that will keep women from getting pregnant that are removable at some point in the future. I am absolutely against women on welfare (for whatever reason) reproducing at will. I am more to the right on this then my wife (who thinks while on welfare these “chips” or whatever (I may be getting it wrong) are in place until they are self-sufficient). I am more in line with leaving those chips in until they are self-sufficient for X amount of years (BF would have a heart attack, I’m sure). But … here’s my question to you. What do you do when all the welfare benefits have run their course under your paradigm? Do you leave people in the streets? What about their kids (who are not necessarily responsible for their parents laziness/mistakes)? Now, I am not suggesting they be taken care of forever and ever … but you can’t just leave them to die … What do you do?

    And a 40 hour week might be pushing it for some. For those capabel, I’m fine with it and agree, work restores dignity.

    As to your ideal society, that I reject completely. Unless you have 100% employment opportunity, you cannot expect to ignore people who are out of work (especially those out of work through no fault of their own).

    • April 5, 2011 12:26 pm

      Good morning Charlie,

      Thank you for the kind words. It helps prove the truth that any two different people can see eye-to-eye at times on issues.

      You bring up some points I would like to try and answer. First, the 40 hour work week, I would agree – if the person is fully capable. There would have to be flexibility to some reasonable degree to handle issues that may arise that impact the persons ability to work (maybe they’re have some medical restriction from a physician limiting their workable hours for some reason). Second, the pregnancy prevention thought. Figure out how to get the the courts to let government pull it off and you’d get the rules into force. Otherwise the only way I see past it is the maximum benefit limit. More kids does not gain more aid.

      The most difficult aspect is the last one you pointed out, what about when program aid benefits have run their course and there are those still unemployed, underemployed and/or homeless? Well, here’s where private charitable organizations can come into partnership with government. While it is a goal to have the recipients employed and housed before end of the benefits occur, we can also foresee where there will be a further need beyond the time frame. Working to get recipients paired up with organizations that can assist them in housing and basic employment assistance (further job training, child care programs, etc) is the direction to take. The recipient has been made aware from the outset of their benefit limits and their responsibilities and the private charities hopefully are paired up with the recipient early on to work together ion solving the needs of the person(s).

      At some point though we must also acknowledge that there are some that will not change the lifestyle they are in, by their choice. If that is the case then they live as they choose without further involvement of the government. There are those who are hardcore homeless/unemployed and they are determined to stay that way (and do you know the amounts a good panhandler can make in a day? It may be very surprising to many to find out).

      Sadly, where homeless children are involved, the final answer there is that after all reasonable attempts to aid the parent it may come to the point where the focus shifts to the children and they have to be placed – hopefully temporarily – into the foster care system for their own health, welfare, and safety (and this means there would have to be a lot of improvements/reforms in the government social services agencies responsible for these kids).

      I know these answers aren’t perfect Charlie, but they are attempts to solve issues. At the least they could be good catalysts for putting our attention into areas that have more importance than interfering in another nation’s society.

      • April 5, 2011 2:53 pm

        I agree with all you have to say here. It is damn frustrating that there are those who just scam the system by reproducing (one way) and we have one recently in my family (2nd cousin) that makes my head explode. Perfectly able, totally unwilling. She has her mother playing martyr for her now but that won’t be there forever …

        I think we all probably agree way more than we don’t. Cool beans, brother.

  4. charlie miles permalink
    April 5, 2011 1:07 pm

    i am in agreement with the both of you. there is no exact way to deal with this problem. i think that the focus should be on eliminating both welfare and healthcare fraud!

    • April 5, 2011 2:55 pm

      Charlie, I’d love to see this dopey government eliminate the fraud … but did you see 60 minutes the other night. Big banks (some bailed out banks) paying $10.00 an hour to out of work people to fraudelently sign other names (even with one person signing being a notary) because the banks “lost” the paperwork on foreclosures. Thousands of people were kicked out of their homes based on “fraudulent” paperwork. In my opinion, those responsible (CEO’s of the banks and the contractors they hired) should be shoved off rooftops and the homes they foreclosed on forfeited to those they kicked out. Fraud exists everywhere, it seems … truly frustrating.

      • gmanfortruth permalink*
        April 7, 2011 12:04 am

        Hey Knuck’s, I agree! I’d like to put your blog on my blog roll, you OK with that?

  5. charlie miles permalink
    April 5, 2011 3:42 pm

    they all need to be cellmates with bernie madoff!

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