What are some of the major problems in society that make the success of programs like welfare reform legislation less likely?
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The answer to this question will depend to some degree on a person's political leanings. Conservatives and liberals will perceive different problems that make this success less likely. Let us look at one problem that each side would perceive.
Liberals would argue that social welfare can't succeed because of economic problems caused largely by globalization. They would say that social welfare programs do not work when there are very few good jobs available for people who lack high-level education and skills.
By contrast, conservatives would argue that social welfare programs do not work because of a "culture of poverty." They would argue that many people who are supposed to get help from social welfare programs lack the values and habits that will allow them to succeed. Programs that try to help them fail because they people do not have the right values or habits that will allow them to make use of the help and use it as a stepping stone to greater prosperity.
Many people (mostly on the left) would also argue that social welfare programs are actually insufficient to address the deep structural problems that afflict impoverished communities. They would say that social welfare programs must be accompanied, as the above post says, by job opportunities, and also by educational oppprtunities that train people for the jobs that actually are available in our current economic climate. Providing a safety net addresses one aspect of the problem, but it doesn't begin to provide long-term solutions to problems which are not rooted in "work ethic" but in economic and social conditions.
On the most basic level, possibly the biggest problem of all is the simple process of defining who qualifies for welfare. Establishing guidelines to determine eligibility requires drawing a line and saying, "This amount of income and no more." "This level of impairment and no less." "This type of condition is covered under these circumstances."
Such rules and regulations are essential for the establishment and provision of services, as they define who may or may not be helped. However, the inflexibility of such guidelines always leaves some people "falling through the cracks" - earning just a few dollars too much, having a slightly different condition that renders the person ineligible for welfare even though great need is present.
The debate about how and where to draw the line frequently sidetracks welfare reform efforts.
In terms of welfare reform legislation, the biggest obstacles are the politicians who are responsible for any reform. Lately, our Congress appears unable to do anything "big" to help this country. Many poltiicians will say and do whatever is necessary to get reelected. For example, in the last few days, there have been Democratic polticians who supported health care reform initially, but now say it is bad for the country. Their change of position appears to be related to the fact that they are not running for re-election.
Our society has more people receiving food stamps than ever in our history and many people (not necessarily these recipients) feel entitled to receiving help. This sense of entitlement is hurting our country. Also, once programs are in place in our federal government, it is hard to take them away or change them; people get used to receiving benefits. This is also one of the big obstacles to any type of reform - someone will have to do without.
I think the biggest problem in successful welfare reform is (as is touched on by all the previous posters) an lack of agreement as to what successful welfare reform is. Right now the rift between the parties makes any real meaningful discussion about what the pits and downfalls of welfare are and what would be realistic solutions impossible. I don't see any politicians who are willing to listen, and address this issue realistically. It is all about towing the party line. It is too hot an issue to get real bipartisan, realistic discussions and solutions. Until there is greater discussion and ultimately agreement about what welfare is and should be, we can never succeed in changing it for the better. The divided, us against them, 99% vs 1% attitude that currently exists in our nation makes meaningful welfare reform impossible.
One problem with welfare reform is the design of the welfare system itself. When this system was designed, most people would be ashamed to ask for help. Culturally, people would not have applied for welfare until they were extremely desperate. These same people would have worked hard to get off of assistance as soon as possible. This is no longer the case. Now the cultural majority doesn't see anything wrong with government assistance. We have an entire generation of students that might have grown up never seeing a parent go off to work. Seriously, I had students that had never seen a parent nor a grandparent work for a living. They simply lived off of welfare.
On the other hand, those who do want to get off of government assistance will have a difficult time accomplishing this in the current economy. Many people find they are stuck. There is a large gap between the amount of income allowed for government assistance and the amount of income needed to support a family. It is difficult to find a job or get a raise that will jump the gap. Many families find a new job or a raise will give them just enough income to be disqualified for assistance but not enough income to support their family.
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