Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sound summations on welfare today

During the holidays I find time to review some of the best books I have read about welfare. An extra incentive came from an outfit in the US that wants a contribution from me for an upcoming anthology. After a year of mostly fulfilling painting commissions I am a bit rusty.

My favourite book is Overcoming Welfare by James L. Payne, an American.

This post comprises some passages as I re-read the introduction. He is economical and highly effective in his writing.

"As government established a massive presence in the welfare business, especially with the advent of the New Deal, it began to create constituencies and vested interests that reinforced the hand-out orientation. Making up one of these groups is social workers. As volunteers or employees of local, private charities, nineteenth century social workers had a position of independence from which they could observe, and comment on, the danger of handouts. The country thus gained a bastion of poverty experts who firmly and eloquently denounced sympathetic [something-for-nothing] giving. As government took over welfare activities, social workers became predominantly employees of government giveaway programs, and they had to align their thinking with these programs or leave the field."

Bill Lock, a Black church leader says about the war on poverty;

"In fighting this war we have created an industry that feeds on itself like a mad general who has lost thousands of soldiers but continues to say, ' I can still win if you send me more troops'. This is what our government's effort to fight poverty is like today. It is an endless cycle of programs, projects, and personnel, often supported by people with strong motives, but without a clear and sensible vision of what needs to be done.

My community has not been untouched in this war. I live in central Milwaukee and my zip code has a large population of the shell-shocked. This is the result of being bombarded by programs that have reduced survival skills and the spirit of individual initiative."

And lastly, because you won't want to be overburdened too much over the break:

"Ideology also pushes welfare programs into the handout mode. For generations, many philosophers and reformers have embraced the doctrine of income redistribution, believing that government should take from the rich and give to the poor. A handout policy follows almost automatically from this approach. If the poor are mortally 'entitled' to government payments, it is wrong to demand that they do anything in return for them. Thus the policy of income redistribution has seriously harmed the cause of sound assistance policy."

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