When the average middle class American hears the word “welfare,” the first word that usually comes to mind is “taxes.” I mean, why should you or I foot the bill for someone else who didn’t earn that money?
When you look at the big picture, though, it is easy to see how beneficial welfare is to our country.
Take for example the recent recession. The people hit hardest by the effects of the recession aren’t lazy bums or non-achievers. These are hard-working Americans who got laid off. These are students who graduated from college without any jobs waiting for them. These are low-income families who relied on government aid so that they can focus on studying and furthering their careers so that they can become self-sufficient.
And now the state and federal governments are tightening their belts and squeezing out welfare – Medicaid, food stamps and other programs that are meant to aid these people who have been hit hardest by the recession.
This restriction on welfare hurts single mothers particularly hard and at a time when our society is changing. Like it or not, marriage is not the same as it used to be. Women are moving out of marriages with abusive husbands and deadbeat dads, and they are no longer a marginalized sector of society. Single parents are a social, political and economic force in this country, and this is something that nobody can deny.
This also means that it is worth our while to “invest” in welfare, especially when the alternative is much more expensive in the long run.
Welfare isn’t just tossing money out the window. Take for example the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Simply providing nutritious foods to pregnant mothers, infants and young children significantly cuts down on state costs caused by malnutrition and a child’s poor development.
An ancient 1992 study – and this was before the welfare reform of ’96 which is often lauded as a “success” – showed that each dollar spent on welfare returns $3.50 to state and federal governments. The money used for and freed up by welfare allows Americans to spend more; in effect stimulating business, generating taxes and creating a vibrant economic environment.
On the flipside, cutting back on welfare does the exact opposite: people spend less, businesses pay less taxes and a general feeling of malaise will depress our outlook of the future. And seriously, how can you work hard to support yourself if there are no jobs and support systems in the first place?
So the next time someone sneers at welfare, gently remind them that welfare isn’t charity – it’s an investment for our country’s future.
Image © Homeless In LA