Essay Elizabethan Poor Laws and the Unworthy Poor

Words: 1381
Pages: 6

Elizabethan Poor Laws and the Unworthy Poor
Tara McFadden
Indiana University School of Social Work

Beginning in the Elizabethan Era, unworthy poor was a label placed on able bodied people that appeared to choose to not work. They were often treated harshly and in extreme cases, put to death (Shelly, 2011). In today’s society such treatment would be unheard of. The act of even labeling this group of people or other groups is discouraged and even against the NASW’s The Code of Ethics (2008). When faced with the multi billion dollar price tag of welfare, we need to make a distinction of who is worthy or unworthy to receive government assistance. The question arises on how this can be done without impeding the rights of the
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This completely differs from the black and white perspective in the Elizabethan time period.
Within my own personal experience, I had spent thousands upon thousands of tax payers’ money because I choose not to work to support my family. I was indulging myself with a life of drinking, drugging and partying. I thought that since I had been a tax payer for over 15 years, I deserved the right to ‘cash in’ on all the tax money I had paid. I made up numerous excuses to caseworkers why I was unemployed, but I simply didn’t want the responsibility of paying my expenses. I simply jumped through the paperwork hoops to receive my benefits. I was never forced to show proof of job seeking or questioned about my substance use.
Articulate Learning
What did I learn?
I learned that placing our country’s poor in either a category of worthy or unworthy isn’t an easy task with all the variables involved. Elizabethan Poor Laws didn’t appear to delve into other explanations for an unworthy poor person not working. In today’s society, it is almost too easy to get government aid if a person does not wish to work especially if the person has dependents. Not enough time is taken to fully screen people and the reasons why they are not working.
How did I learn it?
The literature assigned, classroom lectures and skit and personal experience provided me with an understanding of trying