Welfare in the United States has taken a turn away from the way it was designed.Formerly a program that offered a helping hand,public assistance has turned into a hand out for many of its recipients.Herein,this essay will define welfare,discuss its inception,and determine how it is being abused,as well as what is being done about it.According to Richard Caputo's "History of Contemporary Social Policy: Introduction," welfare began in 1935 as cash assistance to mothers, for their children. Eventually, Caputo writes, "all low-income families" (9) began to take advantage. Now, the definition of welfare includes said cash assistance, but has since added a food stamps program to buy groceries, child care for working families who meet the low income guidelines, and healthcare to families who meet similar guidelines. These are not the only changes that have taken place.The Internet essay "How Welfare Began in the United States" took a more in-depth look at the beginnings of welfare. The essay reads that after the 1929 stock market crash, The Great Depression took its toll on Americans by plummeting "about 18 million elderly, disabled, and single mothers" below the poverty guidelines and "by 1933, another 13 million Americans had been thrown out of work" (para. 2). Also by 1933, at least 20 percent of school children were suffering from poor nutrition, and about 200,000 boy children under the age of majority left home to wander around looking for work or food for the family (para. 3). .The essay paints a picture of dire straits, situations that actually called for welfare, to offer money, hope, and housing to persons who were clearly indigent, and experiencing an unprecedented economic hardship.
At that time, families, usually headed by single women, applied for welfare benefits only until they could find employment and become self sufficient. Now, the welfare system is experiencing extreme abuse by those who don't intend to work at all. When people think of abuse, sometimes they mean the percentage of people who work full time or part time jobs, but don't report the income so that they seem to remain eligible for state benefits. That is certainly one form of welfare fraud, but technology has made it much more difficult to cheat in that way, even though it is the kind of fraud that is sensationalized in the media. There is a more prevalent form of fraud, though, whereby many welfare recipients end up abusing the system by choosing not to work at all. According to most studies, the actual act of refusing to work is, by far, a bigger problem than the dollar amounts these individuals collect. In "Americans and Welfare Reform: Work, Not Cost, Primary Issue," 59 percent of Americans admit to knowing someone who cheats welfare, but 65 percent of the population would want welfare changed, even if lying to receive benefits wasn't a problem. While 67 percent of the surveyed called cheating welfare a "serious problem," they were still more offended by the people who received welfare, but didn't work at all. In fact, according to the article, 63 percent of those surveyed wanted officials to pay "surprise visits" to unemployed welfare recipients. Why Most Americans simply believe that people who can work should, and they don't believe that choosing to have children, especially out of wedlock, is a good enough reason to stay at home and collect benefits.
The laws are different in every state, but some states don't require women to work if they are sole providers of children under the age of five. If the single mother of four had a child out of wedlock every four years, she could abuse the system for sixteen years, and it would be legal. For those sixteen years, she could choose to remain single, while the state coughs up monthly (bi-monthly in some states) cash payments, food stamps, and medical care. This mother might feel that she is better off taking advantage of the state, than she would be to work for a living. Other