Sociology - Welfare the Conceptual Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Instead, the welfare system encouraged perpetual social dependency and provided a reason for poor people not to work at all when the most reliable method of achieving financial independence (besides continuing education) is precisely, to begin working at minimum wage jobs while gradually learning skills and establishing contacts and a record of regular employment that are essential in the long- term goal of qualifying for better work in time (Healey, 2003 p56).

The Need for Welfare Reform:

While elements of government assistance programs are still subject to epidemic abuse (Schmalleger, 2007 p104), the reconfiguration mandated by Congress in 1996 are designed to rectify some of the most glaring problems plaguing the federally administrated programs previously. First and foremost, the new state-run welfare programs must, by federal law, establish caps limiting welfare eligibility to discourage perpetual (even permanent) reliance on public funds as a substitute for making the necessary effort and commitment to seek gainful employment in the long-term (Macionis, 2003 p295). Under federal law, the maximum period of eligibility s two years and many states have rightfully shortened that period even further (Henslin, 2002 p200).

Second, since the 1996 reforms, state-run public assistance programs must also require enrollment in vocational training programs and mandatory adult supervision for unwed teenage parents pursuant to which welfare recipients who fail to participate and unwed teenage parents who fail to accept appropriate adult supervision lose their remaining welfare eligibility. Third, under the new reforms, welfare recipients must accept offers of employment irrespective of their pay scale and may not purposely choose to remain on the public dole instead of working (Macionis, 2003 p295).

Critics of the welfare reforms suggest that terminating welfare benefits and imposing stricter eligibility requirements are inappropriately harsh and disproportionately harmful to the poorest segment of society and prejudicial against racial and ethnic minorities who are over-represented in the poorest neighborhoods. Similarly, opponents of welfare reforms equate financial assistance to poor people with the financial assistance to which working members
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of society are entitled, such as home mortgage interest tax deductions to homeowners, Social Security benefits to senior citizens, and tax write-offs allowed for corporate entities, referring to such benefits collectively as "wealthfare" (Macionis, 2003 p.294).

Proponents of necessary welfare reforms correctly point out that unlike welfare, eligibility for those benefits to which welfare supporters hope to draw parallels are all predicated on lifetimes of hard work and long-term contribution to society first, as a condition and determinant of eligibility for tax rebates. In that sense, the comparison is fundamentally flawed because, by definition, the beneficiaries of so-called "wealthfare" earn those benefits by contributing productively to society whereas welfare recipients often use those benefits to avoid ever contributing positively to the very society that provides for their sustenance in the absence of earned income.

Conclusion:

In general principle, social welfare serves an important function in society: it is intended to ensure the health, welfare and safety of underprivileged individuals, particularly minor children whose are not fortunate enough to have the benefit of two supportive parents. However, the modern history of welfare in the United States prior to Congressional reforms in 1996 demonstrate the degree to which improperly regulated and limited social assistance programs can actually undermine their stated purpose and perpetuate, instead of alleviate, societal financial dependence. The essential reforms under current federal law are a necessary but insufficient approach to limiting the degree to which individuals can choose to accept public funds instead of preparing for and seeking gainful employment. Ultimately, welfare regulation must maintain and enforce stricter controls to ensure that welfare programs benefit rather than harm U.S. society.

Bibliography

Healey, Joseph F. Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change. London: Pine Forge (2003).

Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston: Allyn & Bacon (2002).

Macionis, John J. Sociology 9th Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall (2003).

Schaefer, Richard T. Racial…

Sources Used in Documents:

Bibliography

Healey, Joseph F. Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change. London: Pine Forge (2003).

Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston: Allyn & Bacon (2002).

Macionis, John J. Sociology 9th Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall (2003).

Schaefer, Richard T. Racial and Ethnic Groups. New York: Harper-Collins (2001).

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