Every large program, federal, state, local, or private, has some degree of fraud and waste (uh, the Defense Department, anyone?). While it is frustrating fr the general public who hears stories of them, I don't believe the fraud is overwhelming or even prevalent. The number of people it helps is much larger, and the need, under our system, is not going to go away anytime soon.
Vulnerable children need the aid the most, and in my society, I want them provided for at such basic levels, and I'm more than willing to be taxed in order to do so.
Welfare otherwise referred to by its politically correct title of Public Assistance will never be eliminated in this country due to the one disadvantage of a capitalist society, capitalism does not equally take care of all the needs of the people. The underlying reasons why are many, debatable, and politically charged, the cup would run over during the 20th century. As for your second question regarding women and their children living on the streets, the U.S. government has dealt with these social issues beginning with F.D.R.'s New Deal presidency.
Historically, charity in the U.S. for the economically disadvantaged was conducted through religious groups, the philanthropic donations of the wealthy, and those who became known as the 'Progressives'. However the Great Depression forever changed the relationship between the U.S. government and the people. F.D.R.'s New Deal changed the way Americans looked and felt about their government. The ideology of the New Deal was based in 'intervention' for the sake of the individual who in turn was a part of a greater whole, namely society.
By the 1960's President Johnson and his vision of a Great Society further expanded upon the New Deal philosophy. He declared a 'War on Poverty' and pursued legislation that would reduce the economic gap between Americans. Such legislation included medicare, medicaid, food stamps, public housing based upon income, the Job Corps, and Project Head Start.
Unfortunately, the lack of federal, state, and city oversight regarding these programs left them vulnerable to those who would take advantage of them. As a result, by the 1990's many Public Assistance Programs were inefficient and financially draining on the taxpayer. Finally in 1996, The Personal Responsibility Act was passed and signed into law by then President Clinton. The purpose of the law was to put a 'check' on those who filed for public assistance as well as defined a time frame for being on public assistance. Although I believe that these reforms were necessary in order to change the climate of public assistance programs in this country and understand that some Americans regardless of age need these programs to survive, with all due respect I cannot escape the insanity there is in passing a law requiring Americans to be responsibile for themselves.
Something for every American to think about....
My sister used to be a social worker and she cited for me the statistics on who benefits from "welfare." Over 80% of recipients are under the age of 12 years old. While I don't dispute that there are cases of fraud and waste, I also don't think that children should suffer for their parents' lack of responsibility and initiative. Ending welfare would mean condemning a whole generation of children to excruciating poverty, potentially severe malnutrition and even starvation.
I don't think children under 12 are eligible for welfare benefits.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that in 2001 about 70.3 million people, or 25 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in households that received some form of means-tested assistance—assistance based on earning below a certain amount.
Read more: http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/901/Who-Receives-Benefits-AN-OVERVIEW-WELFARE-PROGRAM-PARTICIPATION.html#ixzz0GG23ypE7&B
The situation depends on the parents or in the case of disabled children, it amounted to less than 3% of all benefits.
I agree with krishna-agrawala that welfare should not be eliminated but utilized effectively. And under the umbrella of welfare, if you include programs that are simply payments, then disability will also be included and no one wants to remove assistance for either disabled veterans or disabled as a group. If waste, fraud, and abuse were truly eliminated, then society will benefit tremendously.
I cant imagine any responsible person today supporting the idea of eliminating welfare activities of government even if it means forcing single women and children to become homeless live on street.
But like all other well meaning activities, welfare activities also need to be conducted with adequate planning and control to ensure that resources of the society do actually help the most needy.
The welfare activities can some times go wrong and do more harm than good. For example, unemployment dole, may actually encourge some people to stop making making any effort to get employment.
Thus the need is not to eliminate welfare, but to make it more effective.