It’s beyond time to change the way we administer benefits to the unemployed and welfare recipients. As a nation, we simply can’t afford to conduct business as usual and we simply can’t afford to raise taxes on those who do pay taxes.
I’m not suggesting bringing back The Civil Works Administration, but I am suggesting that we restructure the unemployment and welfare programs. There must be a trigger after a certain time period goes by that “eligibility” is dependent on working for your benefits.
In November of 2010 the number of reported unemployed persons in the United States was 15.1 million. Nearly 6 million individuals have exhausted their unemployment benefits.
In September 2009, around 4 million Americans were served by a state cash-assistance or welfare program, more than 37 million received federal food stamps. This data is based on a report published in USA today in January 2010. I can assure you that these numbers rose in 2010.
While unemployment and welfare recipients are on the rise, revenue to perform “public works” is declining. State and local governments are cutting services and items such as “parks and recreation” budgets are being slashed. It’s time to connect the two issues and have individuals who receive benefits work for those benefits.
Example – After three weeks of receiving unemployment benefits, the recipient must perform 20 hours of service per week to continue receiving benefits. States could establish “programs” that are underfunded or have lost funding, that benefit recipients could work within. It’s a win win situation. Our parks, streets, schools and such would be clean. Monies coming from either the welfare or unemployment compensation coffers would replace monies typically coming out of department budgets.
One could argue that “time” spent doing public service would take away from looking for a job, but I would argue that the beneficiary would have to “manage” their time, just as they would if they were working. Instead of simply taking money out of the “system”, the individual is giving back to the “system” for emergency support.
Others will argue that this type of program “discriminates” against the recipient, but I say it will provide an incentive to find work or provide a sense of honor in receiving the benefits. Nothing in life is free; when it comes free it typically is not valued. These types of programs bring more respect to the citizen, as they are giving back, instead of just taking.
The “child care” argument is easily accommodated as well. Parents, who have children and can’t afford care during service hours, will have access to a “child care” program that is supported by recipients. Not all recipients are able to work in a park, build roads, work in our schools, and such – but if they are employable, they can do something to earn their benefit.
I understand this isn’t popular, but it has to be done.