07 December 2013
Fixing the Welfare System, to Protect the Innocent.
Last Christmas season I was shopping at the local Walmart, while standing in line I noticed the couple in front of me purchase a cart full of groceries with an EBT (food stamp) card. They then pulled out cash and purchased a 60” television. Of course this was shocking knowing that my hard earned money is paying for their groceries yet they have the means to purchase a television for more than $1000. I was recently recounting this situation at a Scensty party and one of the other guests there (which purchased more than $100 dollars in merchandise) seemed offended by my reaction to what I had witnessed. She then proceeded to tell me that she was not married to her live-in boyfriend and the father of her child (who makes more than 6-figures per year) because she received food stamps, rent assistance (for a home her boyfriend owns), assistance on her energy bills, and has her school 100% paid for with housing allowance which she intends to use for her children’s Christmas this year. She stated that if she were to get married she would lose her “benefits”. I was totally taken back. Witnessing and recounting one form of welfare fraud has exposed another form. This made me think, I am working full time sometimes 50 hours a week, I am in school, a single mom of 2 kids that are in multiple extra-curricular activities and I am contributing to other people’s livelihoods and they are being less than honest and their actions are illegal. Moreover, there are people that truly need the assistance, people that are truly want to better their selves yet the dishonesty of other people hinders their efforts and gives them a bad name.
Seeing the fraud first hand makes it hard not to conclude that the system is flawed. But the welfare system was put in place with good intentions, meant to assist people in the process of getting back on their feet when they encounter hard times. The people that truly need help are branded with the stigma of those that commit the fraud which assists in the continued cycle. The stereotype that is placed on those that need assistance are based on those who have children to receive benefits; those that lie about an absent parent to receive benefits; those that lie about their unreported income; and those whose career ambitions are purely to cheat the system that they are living on.
So what is this system that people are cheating?
Social welfare, aka public charities, is financial or other aid provided to people in need. Welfare is provided primarily by the government, although some private organizations such as churches and non-profit organizations contribute. Funding for welfare largely comes from general government revenue. Some countries run conditional cash transfer welfare programs where payment is conditional on behavior of the recipients.
Welfare dates back as far back as 44 BC during the Roman Empire. Different forms have been documented around the world for centuries throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. The United States, as a colony of England, adopted the England’s “Poor Law” which gave villages the responsibility for providing welfare payments to the poor and introduced the system of workhouses, a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. The current welfare system was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during The Great Depression, The Social Security Act of 1935. This law established social insurance programs on a national scale to help meet the risks of the unemployed since the Depression had reduced opportunities for gainful employment. These programs supplemented the incomes of persons whose benefits could not provide a basic living.
So with good intentions what are the problems with the system?
Welfare fraud is intentional misuses of the welfare systems “by withholding information or giving false or inaccurate