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 firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.