Welfare reform welcomed

Social welfare is meant to be a safety net for people who fall on hard times.
Apr 29, 2013


Formed out of FDR’s New Deal, it offered a glimmer of hope for starving families during the Great Depression. It offered them a way to feed their children while they worked toward a better life.

For many Americans, welfare has served to do just that — give them a leg up when life has dealt them unforeseen blows.

Unfortunately, for some, welfare has served as a long-term, several-generations solution to their money problems.

Roughly 45 percent of the more than 51 million families on food stamps or welfare are on assistance for two or more years. By comparison, 19 percent are on it for less than seven months.

Some of these able-bodied men and women choose to forego work so they can stay on welfare. Others are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Welfare enables their addictions and cheats taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.

This is not pennies we’re talking about, either. The U.S. Department of Commerce clocks the welfare program’s yearly expenses at $131.9 billion, not including food stamps.

No one who has fallen on hard times and truly needs welfare should ever be turned away. But it should also not be a long-term crutch for users and abusers.

That’s why legislation recently introduced in the Michigan Legislature is timely and necessary. Sen. Joe Hune, a Republican from Livingston County, has proposed bills that would require welfare recipients to perform community service if they’re not already participating in work or training programs. It also would require drug testing for welfare recipients if there’s “reasonable suspicion” they are using drugs.

These are common-sense measures that legislators should approve, and never look back. Far too long has welfare been abused because there hasn’t been that hindsight or foresight with the program.

If someone is abusing drugs, they should not be allowed to receive welfare checks. If someone is not working, or is unable to work to get themselves out of the hole in which they’ve fallen, then community service might be the right answer. It could give them crucial resume-building experience, as well as connect them in service to the community that is putting meals on their tables and roofs over their heads.

Let’s deal the abusers a new deal: Stop leeching off society. Start giving back. Find your solutions and way to a better, self-sustaining life.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Ah Vlad - I see you continue to drift down the Crazy River towards 1950 American Utopia Lake. And all with such smug verbiage - Holy Max Bruch! Isn't it fun, trolling for ground feeders, especially when they are women, black, and poor. Whee - pull that bait away just when they need it the most! Just don't rock the boat too much - you might end up in the drink, swimming with the alewives, bloaters and carps.

As for unchecked copulations among government workers, you were the government worker for years, not me, so I guess I'll just have to take your word for it. Oh, and by the by, if you can stand reading some facts and looking at charts about welfare without fear of going into a hostile liberal environment, what do you think of this? (Answer: not much, blah, blah).



And here I thought I was paying you a high compliment . . . .No good deed and all that.

I spent some time with the bible for Catholic Socialists you provided - found some of it interesting but much of it questionable factoids cobbled together to prove a point. Plus, when they define welfare as limited to TANF they lost me right away; when they didn't recognize that after the federal time allowances for TANF use expire, the states TANF benefits kick in, I questioned their credibility; when they used all the charts about alleged disabilities, all self-reported as far as I could tell, I moved on.

You realize, of course, that Sen. Joe Hune's legislation regarding work requirements merely brings the rules back to what President Clinton signed into law, but were changed unilaterally (and I think illegally) by Obama and his Queen Sebelius. But of course, according to justice before charity, not only should these folks not have to work to get paid, they really can't work anyway. Nice future you and your liberal friends are limiting them to - perpetually grovelling for crumbs from the table society agrees to provide.

Apparently you find no conflict between an allegedly Catholic organization telling folks how to be good Catholics while at the same time supporting the Catholic "rights" of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered crowd - I shouldn't be surprised - why should liberals confine themselves to perverting America when that mean old Catholic Church is permitted to maintain its core beliefs?


I choose to recognize your compliment by offering one of my own. I am delighted you took a prior link of mine to you re: the correct spelling of the word 'professor' to heart, and have shown respect by spelling correctly 'Fluke', a name you have played little games with in times past. Thanks!

Now - Vlad - you are slipping! Not word one about the unconstitutionality of drug testing welfare applicants (4th Amendment of course). Most courts have deemed it as such in years past.

As for Attila the Hun Joe Hune's legislation proposal and your allegations that Obama changed the work requirements unilaterally and illegally, let me say this: bullhockey. "http://www.factcheck.org/2012/08... "The Obama policy responds to state officials who say they can improve job placement and retention if freed from the time-consuming process of documenting and verifying that recipients are engaged in those work activities.

“In times of reduced funding, waivers may be the best method to allow states to find effective and efficient approaches to assist the unemployed to find and keep work,” the Utah Department of Workforce Services wrote to federal welfare officials last year.

Republicans criticized the new policy shortly after it was implemented on July 12. That prompted Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican who supports Romney, to issue a July 17 press release “defending Utah’s waiver request for state flexibility to achieve work-related outcomes for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients.”

And you purport yourself to be a state's rightist! Or maybe not? Of course, you will respond by saying you were merely finding fault with the process, not the intent.

As for your Catholic Church comment, if you want to twist caring for the poor and needy as a perversion of religion, be my guest. Traditionally, the Catholic Church has been known for it's compassion for the poor and indigent, and has worked tirelessly to maintain the 'Circle of Protection' for those who need it. Far be it for me to suggest the Church is no longer permitted to maintain its core beliefs.


Bullhockey? I call Cowfarts "Two weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office issued a letter confirming one of Mitt Romney’s main charges against President Obama’s July Health and Human Services welfare memo: that Obama illegally exceeded his executive authority and therefore must submit his policy change to Congress for approval.

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office again confirmed Romney’s another attack on Obama’s welfare policy, this time certifying that, since welfare reform (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, aka TANF) became law, the HHS has never granted work requirement waivers similar to the ones the Obama memo authorizes. Specifically, the GAO concludes: “Since the creation of TANF, HHS has not granted any section 1115 waivers related to TANF. Many states received section 1115 waivers under AFDC, and they were allowed to continue these until their expiration, the last of which expired in 2007. No provision in law allowed these AFDC waivers to be extended.”

Also yesterday, The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, one of the architects of the 1996 welfare reform law, released a paper detailing how Obama’s work requirement memo guts welfare reform:"http://washingtonexaminer.com/ga...


Hmmmm.....looks like my prediction was correct, again. So it is the process you are mainly deeply concerned about, with just a little content thrown in at the last minute with the Rev Rector link (he's the one currently being studiously ignored re: immigration by Repubs).

And yet still no word whatsoever about the unconstitutionality of drug testing welfare recipients.


Since you appear fixated, here is a fair and balanced law review article on circumstances in which drug testing has been permitted by the courts and where it has been disallowed. http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrl... (That's the COLUMBIA HUMAN RIGHTS LAW REVIEW)


Thanks Vlad! Very decent of you....will read it over soon when time permits.


Disagree! No unborn child should die because of his or her parent's choice. There is always adoption---many more waiting homes than babies available! As for reproductive rights and birth control, choose abstinence until one is married. The Biblical principle still applies.


Cold but true. I thought control of the women's body is what the left always screams about during the abortion debate! Can't they control their sex life the? Guys are no better, they need to be held accountable to the life the help create. See how responsibilty and accountability starts to solve our society ills!


Don't know how this reply didn't end up under hoofhearted's post. COME ON TRIB, WE NEED A FRICKEN EDIT BUTTON!!!!!


Oh, so now you tell me you can't get pregnant if you are responsible and accountable!! And that if you control your sex life that means you are automatically responsible and accountable, and that the inverse in true!!

Now see, I've had this all wrong. Thanks for enlightening me.


Keep thinking it will sink in sooner or later.....or not. Mom and Dad used to be terms to describe people that would teach and nurture and provide for a young life!


Good one, Wing.


I told my wife that most households these days are 2 income families so I made her go get a second job.


I have tried to look at this issue from the perspective of the liberals among us. As Wing said, it boils down to a dispute about personal responsibility and accountability, and how to balance competing interests. Some of us feel the line has already been drawn too far to the left, mitigating against responsibility and accountability from the recipients of welfare and shifting the burden to the taxpayers. Others, like Lanivan, ghjhs, and Alan9074 believe the successful in the country have rigged the system in their favor, and more drastic steps have to be taken to level the playing field, requiring even greater responsibility and accountability from the successful.

Fair enough. Clearly, one focus of the comments is what to do about very real problem of the increasing numbers of babies being born to people who are not self-supporting financially. In looking at this from the liberal perspective while keeping in mind that there is a finite amount to the ability to tax the successful without killing the geese that keep laying the golden eggs, I believe it comes down to two concepts that are near and dear to liberals - free contraceptives at one end of the scale, and an unfettered right for women to choose to abort their prospective children.

The right to free contraceptives is virtually a reality, especially with the mandate under Obamacare, so the focus must turn to abortion, which is available but constrained by many factors, including the prohibition on its use in the late term. I believe, using liberal principles, I can suggest a solution - set up Dr. Kermit Gosnell as head of a series of medical school teaching his methods of abortion, and give students free tuition to study under him. Gosnell could bring other abortionists with similar practices to head individual schools or teach as adjuncts. Abortions performed in these federal medical schools would be free.

Much of the problem solved, using liberal principles - new federal university; free education; increased use of the liberal sacrament of abortion with few constraints; guarantee mainstream media will not question the decision, the methods, the teacher; diversity - Head of new university would be African-American; support from womens' organizations and Planned Parenthood; free advertising on NPR. Margaret Sanger and Sandra Fluke would be sooo proud of me!


Too much time and trouble, and a little inefficient, don't you think.. Just outsource them all over to China along with everything else where they will be forced to have abortions just as a matter of public policy.

Mystic Michael

Vlad, I have a big problem with your use of the word "successful" - as if to imply that the only real issue here is the resentment of the ne'er do well have-nots, against the self-made, pick-themselves-up-by-the-bootstraps types.

Hogwash! It's just more residual Reagan-esque mythology - and it doesn't even begin to accurately portray the nature of the problem, as it ACTUALLY exists. The fact that so many people reflexively buy into the conservative frame of "personal responsibility vs. resentful dependency" is itself a testament to the ubiquity of right-wing values & priorities being spoon-fed to us by Official Sources, i.e. mainstream media, Beltway politicians, etc. But I for one refuse to debate this issue on right-wing rhetorical territory.

The truth is that, with the exception of a relative handful of losers & abusers who will always try to game the system, the overwhelming majority of people do NOT resent "success" - they respect it. Most people don't even particularly resent the ultra wealthy & ultra powerful plutocrats who wield the levers of actual power in this country (partially because they don't understand what's really going on) - so long as the plutocrats don't infringe on the rights & privileges of the rest of us.

But since it is apparently in the essence of human nature for great wealth & great power to respect no boundaries, conflict is inevitable. As Lanny has so skillfully articulated, the plutocrats have for the past 30+ years been methodically siphoning off great gobs of wealth from the U.S. Treasury into private pockets - and ultimately into offshore bank accounts. The reduced amount that remains is fought over bitterly, with the Right insisting upon draconian cuts in benefits for those who can least afford to sacrifice - because "we're broke'. "Ironic" doesn't even begin to characterize the situation.

It's like the joke: A plutocrat, a Tea Partier, and a union guy are sitting around a table. There is a cake, divided into 10 slices. The plutocrat immediately takes nine of the slices for himself, then leans toward the Tea Partier and whispers into his ear: "I'd be careful if I were you. That guy looks like he wants to take your piece of the cake."



While the union boss pulled out a lead pipe and took all 10 slices for himself while railing against the Plutocracy that keeps his dues paying workers down. Guess there's no march in our future, dude.


Or how about: Obama pops out of the cake, cuts it into equal thirds, gives a piece to each of the representatives, who in turn cram it into their mouths while their bellies bloat in proportion.


Not bad! Afraid I'd have to say Obama pops out of cake baked by non-union bakers after unions bankrupted Hostess, uses his slicing wedge to cut it into 3 pieces (70% to green energy plutocrats, 29% to union bosses, and 1% to tea partiers (and not even a corner)), and then declares everyone has gotten their fair share.


Perhaps a more accurate description: cake baked by non-union bakers after previous private equity management flipped the co via bankruptcy, frosted by new management lawyers who are advising non-union slurs could mean Obama DOJ cuts them out entirely.


Your some special kind of stu and his friend pid.

...."spoon-fed to us by Official Sources, i.e. mainstream media, Beltway politicians, etc". What are you smokin?? The media is so in the tank for the left they spew talking points better then the Dem politicians

...."the overwhelming majority of people do NOT resent "success" - they respect it." Really, how do you explain your and others constant attacks on everybody and every corporate entity that has been successful?

....."with the Right insisting upon draconian cuts in benefits for those who can least afford to sacrifice.." Who insisted on and designed the sequester cuts?

And the best for last, you slam "residue Reagan-esque mythology"! We had the longest economic boom in modern history after his policies and leadership set this country on track and made the Dems look like the chimps they are. Where every American benefited to their best ability during this time if they applied themselves! Funny how your chosen one wants to capture his mystic to push his own agenda. Your not so mystic Michael, get over yourself. Your left blather and pontification smells like the south end of your parties mascot.


Mystic Michael

One thing is for sure: I'm not going to mince words - or waste my time - corresponding with a class of person who apparently thinks that blunt-force name-calling qualifies as some kind of witty repartee...much less as a legitimate substitute for a well-reasoned argument.

If you want to be content in your little own hermetically-sealed, reality-free world - where heat is better than light, and "...you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe...", simply because you want to believe it - that's perfectly fine with me. But don't lash out at me just because you're being challenged to think about things you've been trying to avoid thinking about.

Continuing to contend with you would only bring me down to your level - where you'd be certain to win with experience.



Ah Mystic Michael, before you disappear into your cloud of mysticism shall we travel down memory lane of name-calling today:

..."whipping boy issue for small-town conservatives, and for small minds everywhere."

Or this one......"Tea Party rabble-rousers"

I'm glad too see you do not want to mince words with a simple common man. It confirms the defeat of your elitists positions where academia minds are just not good enough to match up with simple common sense minds. I know its hard to compete in the arena of ideals when the facts you hold so near and dear hold water like a sieve.

So yes, move along and sit in the willy weeds and watch and pounce from time to time when your wounds have healed.

See the difference in our beliefs are mine where earned, lived and experienced where yours where sourced most likely from liberal professors, far left media, and socialistic literature. Talk about hermetically sealed! This alternative world you live in is only shared in academia, not here in the real world where those disdained small town conservatives live that you despise.

That lofty perch in your willy weeds should keep you safe but if ya peak your head out with some non sense position or argument you will hear my views. I will chase you back and when I'm doing so, I will step on your tail. Remember not to hiss because I will turn some heat on you to melt that scaly skin of liberalism!

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views’” – William F. Buckley, Jr.



Mystic Michael

Ah, here we go again. Welfare reform. A perennial favorite whipping boy issue for small-town conservatives, and for small minds everywhere.

Sure, let's cut way back on welfare. And while we're at it - just to maintain some actual philosophical consistency - let's cut way back on corporate welfare as well - a corrupt system of giveaways of hundreds of billions from the public Treasury for the benefit of those who don't really need it, and don't give back to society anything remotely commensurate to what they've received from it.

But wait. I get confused. This isn't really about philosophical consistency, is it? Just as it's not actually about serving a legitimate public policy need. It's about hypocrisy - and the ability to fly under the radar of public awareness (especially the awareness of small-town conservatives) - because corporate welfare is abstract, diffused, and indirect in its impact, while welfare for poor people is more tangible and direct in its impact - and thus easier for all of us to wrap our tiny minds around it.

In all this indulgence of public indignation, has anyone bothered to consider that one reason for the high level of long-term welfare dependency is that we have in this country a problem of perpetual, systemic, structural disenfranchisement & unemployment, made even worse by the effects of the Great Wall Street Economic Meltdown of 2007 - 2010? Do we really not yet comprehend that there are large numbers of Americans who therefore will never find employment again - no matter how hard they try?

Is there abuse of the system? Sure. But as usual, what's conspicuously missing from this "debate" is any sense of proportionality & perspective. But I guess that just goes with the territory - when you're a small-town conservative.


Thank you, MM the scales have fallen from my eyes! Requiring work for welfare is the province of "small-town conservatives" - like the first black president, Bill Clinton.

And the inconsistency of forcing people to earn their free welfare benefits while feeding corporate America from the taxpayers trough, crony capitalism if you will, flies under the radar of "small-town conservatives." Funny, I thought that it was small government conservatives and the Tea Party who objected to such corporate welfare, especially as practiced by Barack Hussein Obama in his stimulus welfare give-aways. And why stop there, what about unions like the SEIU and the NEA who lobby with multi-millions of democrat political donations to get better treatment from the government than non-union workers. In fact, let's talk about the hypocrisy of giving corporate welfare to non-profits and special interests like the environmental lobby.

Finally, let's put some sunlight on the government benefits being showered upon "urban-dwelling liberals." If you agreed to go after all of it, I'd be marching with you, brotha.

Mystic Michael

Nobody's debating the general principle of personal responsibility with you, Vlad. Certainly not me. I'm saying that those who focus disproportionately upon it - to the complete exclusion of the far larger structural picture - "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel".

For the most part, Tea Party rabble-rousers rail at big government - only to the extent they're manipulated to do so, at the behest of their corporate puppet masters (the economic stimulus is a completely separate issue). It's the most feasible explanation for why they castigate Obama for his unfortunate concessions to the corporate "elite" - while consistently ignoring the vast majority of dirty dealings that remain cloaked in a fog of deliberate obfuscation & misdirection. Since they don't even know - it's easy to not care.

You really think that the so-called "Americans For Prosperity" and other Tea Party groups were the result of some kind of spontaneous citizen uprising? Please. They were wholly-conceived, created and paid-for by corporate lobby groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce, ALEC and others, with long-time corporate shills such as Dick Armey, recruited to give them a populist public face. If you didn't know even this much, you're pathetically ill-informed. If you did know it, you're disgustingly disingenuous.

To seriously equate member-funded labor unions, NGOs and other non-profit organizations with extremely wealthy & powerful for-profit multinational corporations that leverage their wealth and their power to extract hundreds of billions of dollars in outright cash giveaways from the Congress - merely because they can - has got to be the very height (depth?) of obtuseness.



Not to mention dishonest superciliousness....


Lanny, you and MM are either hopelessly naive or useful idiots of the socialists that have taken over the democrat party. Conservatives know from bitter experience when liberals accuse them of some chicanery it is a misdirection to avoid scrutiny of what they themselves do. The asstroturfing described by MM is what David Axelrad is best known for, long before he employed it on behalf of Obama. Like all those millions who formed groups supporting Obamacare (paid for by the Democrats) whose members to this day don't know it is the law - who do you think you're kidding - surprised that low information Obama voters don't know it's the law? The Tea Party as backed by corporations - and Occupy Wall Street was not created by the democrat party for the democrat party? You and MM must have been smoking that good Choom that Obama did - and then buzzfeeding at 2:00 a.m. with copies of Mother Jones.



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