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Values Essay

3380 words - 14 pages

   “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
     These words are uttered in elementary schools, high schools, and various events and meetings throughout the nation everyday. We usually do not associate the image of welfare with the American flag or think about it as we recite the allegiance. We, however, associate it with images of prosperity and freedom. As I look closely at the last words of this allegiance: “…with liberty and justice for all.” I remember the number of homeless who beg in the streets, those who for one reason or another await assistance in the social ...view middle of the document...

Many in society see those on welfare as ‘crooks’ who try to take advantage of ‘the system.’ Yes, there are some that do, but all the majority wants is “…liberty and justice for all.” They want to be a part of America and not looked upon as outcasts or criminals. Life is hard enough with the minimal; its even harder when prejudice and stereotypes set in. It gives no justice to those in welfare and strips them of their liberty

Welfare and Social Responsibility 

Welfare. Read that word to yourself and ask what popular images surround it. The first thing is probably women and children. This one is correct, because 97% of AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the federal "welfare" program) is made up of women and children. Young women? Not really-the average age of a mother receivingwelfare is 29, and only 7.6% are under the age of 20. Is she black? Maybe, because the composition of the welfare roles is about the same percentage black and white. More kids than she can count? The average welfare family has 2.9 members. That means a single mom would have 1.9 children (fewer than the national average). Forever "dependent?"-the average length of a stay on welfare is 22 months. We certainly think that they don't work. Without bringing up the question of why raising children is not considered work, the average AFDC benefit plus food stamps still is only 69% of the poverty line. Women on welfare are constantly working to make up that difference. Do we think of welfare as expensive? AFDC represents just over 1% of the national budget. If welfare is not about young women having lots of babies and living their life off the generosity of the state, and if it's a minuscule part of the federal budget, why have Republicans chosen it as their pilot issue? Why, when our Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and attempting to maintain an unemployment rate of 6.2%, and when a job at minimum wage would still leave a mother with two children 23% below the poverty line, is entrance into the paid workforce being pushed as the panacea for poverty? 

If we are serious about getting people to work we need relevant training programs, child care provisions, and efforts at job creation. These at least were discussed in the Clinton plan, if the plan was in many other ways as punitive and insubstantial as the Republican plan. The Republican ideology is particularly insidious because it shifts the entire frame of debate from the structural to the moral. It implies, even states, that if those people would just clean up their morals and stop being so lazy that they could have a place in the American Dream. Today welfare moms are understood to be the symbol for all that is morally wrong with America. They are "dependent" on the state, and they do not fit into the American norm for family structure. The Republican act proclaims that their poverty is their fault, and that they need to take responsibility and get themselves out. If they can't, that is their own...

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