The welfare system is broken. Whether or not it can be fixed remains to be seen, but before we can start to consider how to fix it, we have to understand it's role, identify what's not working and then start to discuss solutions based on what actually is wrong...
Smoke And Mirrors
It's such a mess because it's misunderstood and misapplied, for the sake of 'convenience.' For most people, welfare is a destiny that they can't escape, because it is designed that way. It doesn't matter if you subscribe to the Democratic party or the Republican party, both have the same goal, to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. They just have two different ways of going about reaching that goal.
It's convenient for all of us to look upon those who need welfare as 'lower beings.' It gives even the 'low income' and the middle class, a 'target' to hold in contemp, and that takes the focus off their own 'self serving' lives.
We've now reached the point where being 'poor' automatically makes you a convicted criminal, stripped of your Constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure in the form of drug tests, and from being innocent until proven guilty, as now you must prove you are innocent by submitting to things that give up your Constitutional rights, and all without things like probable cause, due process, and conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, the 'assumption' is that if you're poor, you are a criminal drug user. You don't have to have ever even been accused of using drugs, being poor is now 'proof' that you are, until you prove that you aren't.
Although 'Welfare' is a democratic notion, the Democrats are responsible for the 'Nanny State,' and by treating the people as though we are too stupid to govern ourselves and need big government to do it for us, they've created the welfare system to maintain the status quo, and keep the classes exactly where they want them.
The entire premise of the drug testing policy is predicated on the notion that 'you' are so much 'better' than them because you have a job and pay taxes, that you can look down upon them, and subject them to being treated like a serf because 'your' tax dollars support them,' and that keeps 'you' at 'war' with them, who resent being convicted of crimes that no one has any true 'reasonable cause' to suspect they committed. Being poor is not 'probable cause' that someone uses drugs. That's an ignorant notion, perpetuated by a governing body that knows that your own 'ego' will love to believe this so that they can continue to maintain the 'status quo.'
This is not to say you 'can't' get off welfare, but in order to do so, you need to treat it like a chess game, and have a very strategic plan. The system is designed to keep you 'under the government's thumb' and the easiest way for the government to do that is to make it so that you must always depend on them.
That's why 'welfare to work' programs encourage minium and low wage job seeking models instead of 'financial independence' programs. Now I can only speak for my state, a definitively Republican state, but if I knew then what I know now, I really needed a lawyer to help me navigate the waters known as DCF. Luckily for me, I'm more educated than most, and far more strategic. I'm also a lot less willing to blindly obey an $8.00 an hour 'government employee's' edict that I do what they did, and not think for myself.
Before we delve into my own story, it's important to note that I ran a very successful real estate investment business for 8 years before I became 'destitute' thanks to a tanking economy, and as a business, I paid a lot more in taxes than most people. So I paid into the welfare system, which is a 'socialist insurance program.' No one else's 'tax dollars' supported ME, because I paid in more than I ever got out.... I paid for myself and others!
At first, I was denied state assistance entirely, because I owned 2 houses. It didn't matter that they were both in various stages of foreclosure or that they were uninhabitable so I couldn't rent them out, or that I owed more than I could sell them for at a time when no real estate anywhere could be sold because we were right at the very beginning of the worst economic crisis that the country had seen in over 80 years. It also did not matter that I had nowhere to live, a 22 month old boy to feed and was pregnant with another.
I was still D-E-N-I-E-D.
Months later, I would learn that all I had to do was APPLY for cash assistance, not even be approved for it, just be able to show that I APPLIED, and if I got a job before cash 'opened' or was 'denied,' I could get up to $1,000, known as an 'up-front diversion,' (diverting me from getting $300.00 per month in 'cash assistance' for at least 90 days after the diversion) and a 2 year referral for state subsidized daycare. Had I known then what I know now, about that up-front diversion, I would have been able to get a job immediately because as soon as I got the up front diversion, I would have also gotten the daycare referral so I could work a job, and that $1,000 would have paid for at least 3 weeks, if not 4, in a weekly rental motel where I would have had electricity and running water and enough gas money or bus fare, to get back and forth to work until paychecks started coming in. And as long as I had gas money or bus far, I could have gone to the food pantries for food since I would have been denied that benefit until the houses were fully foreclosed.
But DCF doesn't tell you anything until they have approved or denied you... if they deny you, they don't tell you anything... and if they approve you, then they tell you to go to Career Central to 'Work Register." The first step in that process is the 'orientation' which is where you learn that you don't have to be approved for Cash Assistance to GET up front diversion. But when you first apply, you aren't told to go to Career Central, so you have no way of knowing...
I think I would have still gotten food stamps back then, in my case, once the houses foreclosed, though at the time of this writing, if you take the $1,000 up front diversion, you get absolutely no other benefits. No food stamps, no daycare, nothing for 90 days. And IF you are lucky enough to have a job that pays minimu wage and you work just 1 hour per week, you are inelgible to apply for cash assistance. You are also ineligible if you don't have kids.
But if you get a job before cash opens, you can use that $1,000 to pay bills to keep you 'level' until your paychecks start coming in, and then your paychecks will support you, except for one small problem... you can't have the job without the daycare...
Now I know that there are those of you out there who would ask, "well why can't your family watch your kids?" And I agree with you ONE THOUSAND PERCENT... but ever since the welfare state was born, we have paid taxes to support our need to have this 'insurance' if we ever experience financial strife, and so, many parents feel that they paid their taxes, and you paid yours, to position against this tidal wave of financial tragedy and by all means you should reap the rewards of those taxes, and so our 'family values' system has been replaced with a 'return on investment' values system. I can't say I disagree with this... because I don't. And that is where I believe the 'crux' of the problem exists.
With myself and 2 kids, all I would qualify for as far as 'cash assistance' goes, is the $1,000 up front diversion, and/or $303 per month once the 90 days after the up front diversion was up. Without a 'job', $300 wouldn't even pay my monthly utility bills, let alone my rent and food. And as soon as I have any job, my cash assistance drops completely, and my food benefits are cut by what I earn.
This doesn't really give me any time to actually 'level' out. If I take a minimum wage job, I know that I can't even pay the bills. I will have to juggle bills that exist in a state of no more or no less than 2 months behind, every month, and God forbid a tragedy... car breaks down and costs $350.00 to repair, I don't have a spare $350.00 but if I dont get it fixed I lose my job, forcing me to go back on full state assistance, starting the whole process all over again, and if I do get it fixed, that means my kids and I are going to be living without power or water until I can figure out how to pay that bill, which would most likely get me a visit from Child Protective Services, who will then refer me to all sorts of charities that issue the same knee-jerk 'we're out of funds' reaction to every applicant who deigns to darken their doors or ring their phones, and I still won't get any help, but now I'll also have to take time off work to contact these people only to be turned down and also time off work to 'report' to CPS so they can keep me under their thumb.
Now let me make this clear. I do not think that anyone 'owes' me a 'savings' that can withstand such events in my life... but I PAID INTO THIS FOR THAT! I paid taxes to support this system so that should I ever 'need' it, I could call upon it.
But now, we've yet again come to the government pitting us against each other over these problems so that we aren't paying any attention at all to how badly they are mismanaging it to create 'nice, cushy, government jobs for DCF workers who sit on their asses and treat us like scumbags' for making a claim to the insurance policy we PAID for!
While I would have done things much differently if I knew then what I know now, my recovery would have been a little bit easier, but still by no means 'equitable' in comparison to what I paid in. To a 15 year old girl who gets pregnant, $1,000 is a lot of money... but to a 33 year old mother of one with a second on the way, a home that's 3 months behind on the mortgage, a car that's 3 months behind on the payments, and an electric bill that is 3 months behind and has had the power shut off... $1,000 doesn't even make a dent. and that's after 13 years of paying taxes into this 'insurance' program.
I don't claim to have all the answers. I know WHAT to do, even though I don't necessarily know HOW to do it... and 'what' to do is twofold.
1.) Privatize the welfare industry. Look 'welfare' is an insurance program. At this time, it's a 'social insurance program', and it's run by people who have proven that they not only don't know how to 'manage' money, but also only support the welfare system as a means to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Only when it is run on the same principles as a private insurance company, can any of us hope to actually get an equitable return on our investment into this 'insurance.'
2.) Make It A Loan. One of the best investments we can make in our life, is the investement into a "Whole Life Insurance Policy..." and the number one reason that it's a good investment, is the fact that we can borrow against it. An insurance policies main purpose is to make us 'whole'. If we wreck our car, car insurance makes us whole again by replacing our car. If an act of God, flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake levels our home, our homeowner's insurance makes us whole again by giving us the money to repair or replace our house. If our spouse dies, our life insurance on our spouse makes us whole again by giving us the amount of money we would have if he or she were still with us and earning money, for the most part, when purchased correctly. As an 'insurance policy' that covers us for a 'recovery' amount that is based on the premiums we pay, we can not only be made 'whole' again, we can also still manage to support those who need it and have never paid into it, by 'repaying' the loan.
Again, I don't claim to have all the answers. In order to privatize a company has to be able to make a 'profit' otherwise, the only ones who will do the job of managing it, will continue to be government employees, which not only creates the 'inequality' but also is the cause of the 'bloat' that is really where all our tax money goes... because the people on welfare are not living 'high on the hog' on $303 a month, I can assure you. Yet, the government has managed to successfully pit us all against each other to detract from that fact...
Insurance companies make 'profit' by collecting 'premiums' from it's customers every month, and pooling that money to make 'investments' which make profits. Now, we do not allow the US Governement to 'invest' our tax dollars...after all, it's obvious they can't even 'manage' money, let alone invest wisely with it. Which is all the more reason to turn welfare over to 'private industry', where the company is accountable to it's customers and shareholders... where they exist to 'serve' the customer's needs.
You may think private industry is corrupt because it seeks to turn a profit, but if a business seeking profit is corrupt, what exactly is a government that takes your money but gives you nothing in return for it, and you can't even hold them accountable for it?
It's time to wise up America. The rich are not the enemy. The poor are not the enemy. The middle class is a buch of whining, entitlement establishment yuppie swine, but they are not the enemy. The enemy is willful ignorance. Willful ignorance is what makes you blather on about how your tax dollars are supporting someone who must be a 'criminal' simply because they are poor and by God you will do all that is in your power to do to get people off welfare, even if it means convicting them without due process or even a conviction, in your mission to keep your precious dollars to yourself.... and your willful ignorance to ignore the fact that even if the US completely did away with 'welfare', the government would still find some other way to waste your tax money. You will not get a 'reduction' in the taxes you pay if welfare goes away, so really getting people off it, won't save you a dime, and for God's sake, if you're so sanctimonious ask yourself... what are you doing to help people stuck in this shitty system? Besides looking for shadows that you can use to cast aspersion on their character so you can feel superior...