Welfare laws were enacted in the 1800s to give general assistance to the poor and underprivileged. Over the years, more plans were added to welfare, as we now know it: food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Women Infants and Children (WIC), public housing; even help paying utility bills.
This system went without many changes until 1996, when President Clinton decided to change welfare’s emphasis from dependency to empowerment on empowerment. In 1996, Congress passed welfare reform that Clinton signed into law, which required that recipients enroll in job training programs and work to collect benefits. This was successful in decreasing welfare roles: Between 1996 and 2006, the number of people receiving benefits decreased from 4.3 million to 1.9 million.
Unfortunately, not even 10 years later, the numbers of people on welfare has increased again to 45 million, an increase of 70% in 4 ½ years. Once again, are we returning to a entitlement culture, a culture of dependency?
Another growing entitlement is Social Security Disability, which provides benefits to 10.8 million people; 50% of those people have been placed on disability rolls in the past 3 ½ years. (The fact that I’m on Social Security Disability is one of which I’m not proud, but the good health ‘fairy’ didn’t stop at my door!) There’s a recurring 3 ½ year theme; hmmm.
Of concern to all Americans is the fact that our national debt is $16 trillion. This is an increase of $6 trillion in the past 3 ½ years from the beginning of the current administration. In 2002, 19 % of our gross domestic product (GDP) was used to support our government. Today, that figure is closer to 25%. The GDP is a measure of economic activity within a country.
This brings me to my conclusion:
Are we an independent self-reliant nation? Or are we becoming a dependent nation? It seems that increasingly that the US of A is becoming a nation headed for dependency and increased entitlement and we’ve got some serious decision-making and talking to do. In what direction do WE want our country to go? Frankly, I like the principles on which our country was founded where government is small and there’s minimal intrusion in our lives.
So far this ‘election cycle’ we’ve had discussions about dogs on cars, eating dog, racism or not racism in this country, campaign gaffes and criticism. Mommy wars and wars on women are real; but there are other issues which ought to take center stage.
We should never minimize a race issue, but when are we going to have a real, serious and meaningful discussion about independence and self-reliance, the state of our economy and jobs-or lack thereof?