Unemployment and Dependency

In some ways, working the desk in the computer lab of the library seems something like the stereotype of work as a bartender. We get quite a number of the down-and-out, and they frequently turn to us to share their frustrations.

A broad-shouldered man in his forties, slightly frayed and worn, came to me for assistance. He was confused by the instructions on how to submit his resume for a job listing on Craigslist. I helped him to read the instructions, and guided him in the process of attaching his file to an email. Afterwards, he spent several minutes expressing his frustrations. For the past three years he had been unemployed. He had previously worked for years in a respectable blue-collar job which provided him a modest but sufficient income, a job in which he was proud of his work. But changing economic conditions had caused layoffs in his profession, and he had found little demand for his skills. He tried to be inventive and branch out into new fields, but with plenty of applicants with specific training and skills in those fields, nothing had come of his efforts. He was obviously ill-prepared to enter into fields requiring computer skills, which severely limited his options. He was interested in re-training, but routine bills and his medical expenses drained all his available funds—most coming from government welfare programs. If it weren’t for those, he would likely be out on the street.

“I just want a job,” He mourned. “But I can’t catch a break.”

This patron was hardly alone. A large number of requests for help at the desk have something to do with looking for work: writing resumes, sending or uploading resumes, using online job boards, using the library’s computers to learn to type, learning other computer skills.

All my life I’ve heard conservatives insist that welfare corrupts self-reliance and personal industry, encouraging laziness, idleness, and indolence, turning good people into “loafers.” Tom Delay even recently went so far as to avow that people want to be unemployed, that “unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs.” When unemployment benefits are proffered, goes the theory, it prolongs unemployment because the recipients have less incentive to find work.

Seems a pretty dismal view of humanity, and I don’t buy it. Oh, I’m sure there are always some who abuse the system, but the extent and level is exaggerated. I see far too many people who want work, who want to be able to provide and to feel the sense of self-worth which comes with being self-sufficient. They may lack the background which has helped enable many of us to find a place in the modern economy. They may have some extra obstacles, and lack some of the skills or training which are prized in today’s job market. But they don’t aspire to be leeches and loafers. Welfare doesn’t extend some life of luxury, it extends their survival while they struggle to succeed or deal with the challenges which have prevented their ability to be self-reliant thus far. They may depend on government assistance to keep them housed or fed right now, but they don’t relish the notion of relying on their meager welfare checks indefinitely to support idleness.

The data shows that the conservative complaint is superficially correct. Unemployment welfare does prolong unemployment. However, an Economic Policy Institute analysis shows that a deeper look reveals a story missed by the critics: unemployment insurance allows the recipients the time and resources to find work suited to their abilities or to develop the skills necessary to be more effective in the modern workplace. This makes those individuals more productive and more economically secure in the long run—a valuable investment if we want the members of our society to be more self-sufficient. In the short run, If people are having difficulty finding work, it may have less to do with some supposedly welfare-facilitated loafing than with an economy which has been persistently hemorrhaging jobs for some time now. To assume that jobs will suddenly open up if we just cut off aid to the poor in order to prevent dependency and “loafing,” that everyone will be self-reliant and “independent” is naive, and the results could be disastrous for the poor in society—most of whom are like you and I, and “just want to work.”

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20 Responses to “Unemployment and Dependency”

  1. Tom Grover Says:

    Great post, Derek.

    One point to make clear that drives your point further- unemployment insurance is administered by the government but funded by premiums paid for by employers (based upon a formula of how often their employees use it). So it’s not a redistributive program in the traditional sense of the word. It is both a safety net and a market driven program.

  2. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Tom. I’d never considered that aspect.

  3. Aaron Orgill Says:

    It’s usually dangerous territory to make blanket statements. But Tom Delay has said and done a number of shady things. I would insist that long-term welfare does in fact have that effect, but I am not opposed to, and actually am quite happy that we have a system in place. It’s not good for anyone to have more foreclosures than already exist.

    Being self-employed, I do struggle with the unspoken idea that anyone owes anyone else a job. Most jobs being lost are because companies are going under and can’t afford the wages and perks that people come to feel they deserve. If you’re making your boss money and have an overall positive value to the business (and of course, conduct yourself in a positive way), most likely you won’t lose your job. It sounds harsh, but often it truly does come down to cold hard numbers. I’m removed enough from the days of “working for the man” that I don’t know why people are so scared to go out on their own. I occasionally have people act like I’m special for having a business, when really the only difference between me and them is that I took the plunge and went for it. I was scared. Sometimes I’m still scared. Certainly owning a business is not for everyone, but I overhear a lot of comments from people in the workforce, without even trying to search for them, that indicate there are substantial numbers who allow themselves to be lax at work. They feel that some guy with money oozing out of his ears should just show up and offer them a six-figure income and the hours and lifestyle they want. I do my best not to assume that is the average attitude, but again, having run my own show for nearly three years, the boss-man (or woman) usually does have a lot clearer picture of how things work. A lot goes into creating a business, and it doesn’t always bring the financial windfall that we’d like (and that some employees assume is there). So even if going out on one’s own doesn’t suit someone, looking deep inside for what you can do to better yourself and make yourself attractive to employers will be rewarding, and I wonder if people are truly taking that to heart during this recession. “Just wanting to work” shows willingness, but people would be well-served to dig a little deeper than that.

  4. A Girl Called Dallan Says:

    My husband is returning to work next Friday after 10 months of lay off. While the unemployment insurance checks we received were not enough to pay for food or COBRA health insurance premiums, just knowing that we had enough coming in to keep our regular bills and mortgage up to date allowed us to sleep at night. Savings and family generosity filled the gaps.

    I cannot imagine having to go through the intense stress of unemployment without financial assistance from the government. The monthly expenses of a single household these days are too much to be carried any other way. It is awfully hard to keep ones chin up while being rejected for job after job. The additional worries of how to pay the bills would seem to lead to despair rather than incentive.

  5. Michelle Says:

    Thanks for this.

    Its a great relief to me that there are others like myself, Mormon yet distinctly liberal. I like what Harry Reid says, “I am liberal BECAUSE I am Mormon, not in spite of it.”

  6. Z. Says:

    Derek, I agree with with most of you’ve said–I do think that, for the most part, recipients of government assistance would prefer to be meaningfully employed, and that financial assistance can play a role in helping people make the distance between jobs. But there are a couple of additional facets to this problem that I would highlight.

    The first is immigration. It is difficult enough for working class Americans to compete with immigrants for jobs, but it is nearly impossible for the poorest and most disadvantaged of Americans to compete with immigrants for jobs. Anybody with any kind of criminal record or spotty employment record is going to have severe difficulty competing with an immigrant applicant who, at least on paper, has a “clean” record. The moment an immigrant crosses the border, he or she acquires a benefit that many Americans do not enjoy: a perfect record, including no criminal record, no employment gaps, and no credit check problems.

    For ex-convicts, in particular, the situation is very acute. For employers, the decision is between somebody who is known to have committed a crime, and somebody who may have a criminal record, but probably does not–that makes for a very easy choice for an employer. Given a massive prison population and shrinking local government budgets, we are soon going to have a large numbers of ex-convicts who need work, and getting them meaningful work is going to be a very daunting challenge.

    So while I fully realize that this is not a popular message, the simple fact is that a high level of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, is in direct conflict with the need to reduce the high unemployment rate. We do not need to do anything harsh to solve this problem–simply ensuring that businesses are checking the immigration status of the people they hire, and putting heavy fines on those who do not, would go a long way toward helping open the door to employment for the poorest of Americans.

    The other facet I would highlight is that, while I agree that unemployment carries with it a stigma, I don’t think that the stigma is as strong as that attached to certain kinds of work. I grew up in a family where the choice between a government check and working at McDonald’s was a simple one: you worked at McDonald’s. I have slowly come to find out that that is likely a minority view in the U.S., and certainly among middle-class families. I do think people hate being unemployed . . . but they won’t work at McDonald’s. That is seen as work for Other People (see discussion above), not “respectable” middle-class folks.

    That stigmatization of certain forms of work, including janitorial work, construction, and food service (all of which I have worked at!) is a sign of how class-based our society has become, even in recent memory. It used to be that people would take what work they could get, but the perceived availability of high-paying jobs, and a huge population of immigrants willing to fill menial jobs, has led to a deep division in society, which I see as extremely unhealthy and a potential sign of social unrest ahead. The phantom supply of high-paying jobs has disappeared, but there remains a strong reluctance to turn to menial jobs, even if they are the only option. I do not think there are policy solutions to that problem; but clearly, our social expectations need serious adjustment.

  7. jennifer Says:

    I agree with most of what’s been said here. The notion that people who aren’t currently working are all lazy and eager to “live off the taxpayers” is not as true as people think.

    Z’s comments about menial work ring true for me. My oldest son is 17 and he has worked for nearly 2 years at a nearby fast food restaurant (a local chain though). He only works about 1 shift each week but it’s enough for his spending money and some of his expenses. It’s not glamorous – – but many of his peers (and some of their parents) have said that they would never consider working there – or consider having their kids work there. I think a good job for him cause it’s near our house and they have been very flexible to accommodate his schedule.

    Aaron – I am glad that your self-employment has gone well so far. But I have one idea why people are reluctant to do it. two words: HEALTH INSURANCE. I’ve had several friends and acquaintances express interest in doing their own business (people who are bright, capable & hard working) but admitted that their health (or a family member’s health) will preclude them from ever getting insurance on their own.

  8. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron, I agree that no one is owed a job. What we do have is an obligation to help enable all members of society to find gainful employment in which they can be more productive. Yes, just wanting a job isn’t enough. But many do put forth the effort necessary and still don’t find meaningful work. Sometimes they may need retraining, sometimes they may need help developing better job searching skills, or maybe just more time to find a job which will meet their needs.

    I think the reason for which fewer people consider self-employment today is because the dominant paradigm of the US economy since the industrial revolution is the corporation. There certainly are still niches available for small business, but the model has changed Many of the traditional avenues of self-employment or proprietorship have become much more challenging (for example, it would probably be unwise to try to own your own bookstore in today’s economy, or a drug store, and I suspect we were both in Logan when the three locally owned lumber stores were run out of business by the two big box lumber chains). So it’s taking awhile for people to understand the model in the new economy. And not everyone is suited to be self-employed. Even for those who are, it is inevitable that there will be some significant percentage of entrepreneurs whose businesses will fail–not because they are lazy, nor stupid, but simply some decisions, no matter how well-studied and well-informed, will end up in error. And I’m glad that we have some safety nets to catch them when their best efforts end up for naught.

    Z, while I oppose any sort of draconian immigration restrictions, I do agree that some sort of employee verification system is a smart solution.

    It is true that there is some stigma to certain jobs. But I think that there is more to it than just some prideful disdain. Employment decisions involve opportunity cost evaluations. Is it really worthwhile for someone to take a job at a fast food place when calculations show that it’s compensation will not provide the necessary income to feed one’s family? If a given job provides no opportunity for meaningful advancement or to most productively use one’s particular gifts, and minimizes the time available to search for a job which better fits one’s criteria, is one’s time best utilized at that job, or in searching for a job which better suits one’s needs? Yes, you and I took those jobs in our youths, but would it really be in our best interests or that of our families if we took them today?

    Values can also come into play. Would you take a job in a cigarette factory? Most fast food places have a market model which convinces people to spend money for food which is at best lacking nourishment, and at worst does direct harm to the consumer. Would one be wrong to decide that their values do not support their participation in such an industry?

    I’m glad that your husband has found work again, Dallan!

    Michelle, there is a sizeable number of Mormons like us who consider ourselves liberal because of the teachings of the Church. If you haven’t already, you can a number of other liberal Mormon blogs and sites on my Delicious account (link is in the right-hand list on this blog).

    Jennifer, you mention another very important challenge to self-employment in our modern economy!

  9. DJ Says:

    “I see far too many people who want work”

    Where do you live?

    As a person who was raised on (well, on and off, back and forth) welfare, until I was 16, I can tell you some rather unfortunate tales of generational poverty, if you’d like. However, and though our experiences as individuals all vary from one to the next, often greatly so, having been raised LDS -kind of :)- in Flint, MI (home of Michael Moore) I know first-hand that many, many people are quite content to receive welfare at the cost of another. Unions are almost as big in that part of Michigan as welfare is. Almost.

    More to the point for my commenting on your article; mother was never content while on welfare, hence the on-and-off phases we went through, and she did solicit the help of the Church as well as the Michigan government, but as she went through her mid-thirties things began to change. She almost ALWAYS had a job, but the wages were simply never enough. Welfare checks would still come in the mail, but when she’d report that she was making money, they’d ‘adjust’ her assistance checks and food stamps accordingly, thus keeping her with essentially the same amount of pay from one month to the next. Fortunately, she was able to hold things together long enough and received her nursing license, whereupon we moved to Arizona faster than the speed of light (almost).

    I understand that you believe the numbers of real losers on welfare to be exaggerated, however, I don’t think I know you from my old neighborhood. I understand that that experience in no way makes me an expert on the matter, and after all, all I really can offer is my immediate knowledge of how things were in the ‘hood I grew up in Michigan. Honestly, more times than not, those who were on welfare were on it because they made victims of themselves. Someone’s baby-daddy left, others were too poor to go to college, and others simply felt so pinned-down by the white man (a broad term used for ‘society’ or ‘freakin’ laziness!’) that any attempt they made at personal success was nullified by the color of their skin.

    So, making victims of themselves and then feeling a sort of entitlement did nothing but add to the propensity of many people in my neighborhood to simply fill out the requisite paper-work and sit back and collect a paycheck. Rent being what it was, if a person -usually a single mother- had enough children, she could make quite a nice living for herself. Many people in the neighborhood would send their kids to the store with foodstamps and have the kid by a 25 cent pack of gum, just to get the 3 quarters back, and when they’d visit enough of the local stores and have enough quarters for a pack of cigarettes or beer, the kid would return home with pockets full of gum and quarters. The gum went to the kid, the quarters went to mom, and mom went and bought smokes and beer.

    Is this the case for the majority? Perhaps and hopefully not. Did it happen a lot? More than you’d think.

    Derek, you say we have “an obligation to help enable all members of society to find gainful employment in which they can be more productive”, and I say THEY owe it to society to take some personal responsibility, use welfare IF it’s needed only for as long as it’s needed, and then get off of it. They want help? Fine. Be on welfare for two or four years while pursuing an education.

    You say that ‘many do put forth the effort necessary’ to find work, but you also say that the numbers of people loafing around on welfare are exaggerated or inflated. I say the number of people on welfare who ARE putting forth the effort to score gainful employment is much lower than and the number of people content to get and remain on public assitance is unsettlingly high.

    I admire that you want to believe the best about humanity; I share that belief. We perhaps have a certain obligation as a people to give a hand UP to a neighbor, not a hand OUT. Further, people should never be MANDATED by LAW to do so; it’s false charity. True Christian charity is given to those in need based on compassion, not extortion. We should not try to force people to do the right thing. Joseph Smith famously said that he gives the people correct principles and they govern themselves. I think much the same could be said of the America spooken of in De Tocquiville’s ‘Democracy in America’. If people are ASKED to give, they seem much more willing, and therefore much happier, to do so than they are if they are TOLD to give to those in need. No one has the right to morally police another. If your neighbor is a jerk and doesn’t want to help your other neighbor out when that neighbor is in a real and legitimate financial crisis, that’s his perogative, I think. However, I DO somehow have to believe that American are very, very kind. I believe the best about us. And, I believe that people who see a genuine need in another citizen will step in and help out out of nothing more than common decency. However, when this becomes a governmental mandate, people get pretty stubborn, as well they ought to. It is simply not the government’s design to force charity upon her people. We ARE a giving and kind nation, but we should reserve the right to make our own judgments about where our money goes.

    People discuss this matter as though conservatives lack compassion. I think that’s wrong and far from the actual truth. I would gladly give someone a ride and $10 for a meal (or, booze) if I had the means. What that person does with the money once I drop them off at the store is entirely on their conscience, not mine. And when I cannot give money, I find a sandwhich, and if I cannot, it’s never because I will not. Truly, we must say in our hearts ‘I give not because I have not; if I had it to give, I would”. The U.S. government simply cannot afford, at the very least. At the core of it, and for much larger moral implications, a people should NOT be mandated to support that part of the citizenry who choose poorly.

    One more quick thing, because I know that there are SOME people who are on welfare out of necessity, like my mother was (the numbers of whom I think YOU greatly over-estimate). I remember as a kid my mom would TELL me to clean my room or do my homework or eat my veggies. Being the stubborn kid I was, and now being essentially the same stubborn man that I am, I would go around and around with her about the importance such tasks lacked. She would say, ‘Son, go mow the lawn”, and I would refuse. Then I’d look out and see her doing it, and I’d feel bad. Often I’d go and take the mower from her. Other times, I just felt like being helpful and would then take the initiative to mow the lawn without being told. Then there were the times when mom would say, ‘Son, I know you’re busy with -whatever the thing may be-, but you have more time than I do right now, and I’d love the help. Would you mind mowing the lawn, please?” The lawn ALWAYS looked better when I was ASKED to mow it or when I took the initiative to do it. More care and pride went in to such a task.

    It’s all about approach and tact. I think our countrymen generally respond to the call to give. After 9/11 we were ASKED to donate blood because we ‘just wanted to help’, and it didn’t require any governmentally mandated board of know-it-alls debating the pro’s and con’s of passing one law or the other to see that the mean spirited American people were compelled, forced, or mandated to give blood. We did it because it was, and is, the right thing to do.

    Despite the poor economy, Americans shattered the record for the amount of charitable donations in 2009 from 2008. Maybe the tax-write off has something to do with that, sure. But, I think most people DO care about others. We’re a generous, caring nation. We don’t need to be FORCED to do the right thing.

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog, and I look forward to returning soon!

    Best,
    DJ

  10. Derek Staffanson Says:

    DJ, thanks for your comments. I’m impressed by and glad to hear about the example of your mother. I’m glad we agree that there are circumstances in which assistance should be extended. I think it is true that there are certain areas in which the number of people on welfare is greater than in others, and even areas in which cultures (for lack of a better term) of helplessness, resentment, or other forms of negativity have developed. And yes, people can be charitable and do great things of their own accord.

    That said, I do not believe, as many conservatives suggest, that the solution to eradicating a culture of negativity is to simply eliminate assistance.While personal responsibility and self-determination must play a role in the lives of individuals, they won’t alone cure those cultures. I think that if we examine the roots of those cultures, we will find that there are complex socio-economic factors in play, issues which must be resolved. And while I do not believe government can or should be used to mandate charity, I do believe government has a legitimate role as a backstop regarding poverty and its attendant ills. Individuals and voluntary organizations can do wonderful work in that area, but individuals are more likely to fall through the cracks and experience tragedy when there is not a more widespread safety net in place.

  11. justapunkkid Says:

    What I found most odd about Tom Delay’s comment was how does he explain the sharp spike in lazy-ol’ welfare bums? One day we’re at around 4.4 percent of the country who was just too “lazy” and the next we’re between nine and ten percent? Give me a break Tom, I know that some people do get dependent on welfare, but extending jobless benifits is a no brainer in a recession. In fact, it’s one of the most effective anti-cyclicle methods out there. People on unemployment once had a job and stats show most want to get another one as quick as they can. Starving them out doesn’t help.

  12. DJ Says:

    Derek,

    I apologize for the delayed response, my friend.

    Two quick points, for what they’re worth:

    You: “I do not believe, as many conservatives suggest, that the solution to eradicating a culture of negativity is to simply eliminate assistance.”

    No one believes that there is or would be anything ‘simple’ about eliminating assistance programs. And to clarify my position, I think the cases in which tax-dollars should be used in these cases are few and far between. I’m glad my mother had the help, sure. But, I also believe that friends, family, non-government, non-profits, and church organizations could have gotten us through if the state-sponsored assistance had not then been available.

    I’m not sure where this idea comes from, honestly; that eliminating assistance programs would be easy or that anyone thinks that, or that ‘simply eliminating’ them is believed to be a pragmatic approach.* Let’s face it, at this point, we’ve fed the beast far too much and for far too long for it to ‘simply’ go away. It’s not going to be easy, and it might be impossible. There’s no such thing as a temporary govt. program. Besides this, except for perhaps the most conservative states in the union, I am confident that there have been ‘conservatives’ who have suggested entirely cutting these programs. As an ideal, I agree with it. It would, and should, be done slowly and methodically, but with transparency. We’ve quickly approached theory, however, in this discussion, Derek; ideals, perfect scenario’s, etc.

    Now, what I struggle with personally, as a Libertarian, is that Democrats have a GREAT point when they say, ‘Sure, that’s a nice ideal or idea, but we live in a concrete world, and it’s just not as simple as you (me, conservatives) make it sound.” I agree, and to date, all I’ve come up with to combat the point is, ‘Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. And, as long as everyone is working with what ‘is’, how are we ever supposed to work for what ‘could be’?’ It’s not the best argument, I know that.

    My second point in response to your most recent comment; “I do believe government has a legitimate role as a backstop regarding poverty and its attendant ills.”

    ‘It’s attendant ills’, by which I assume you mean ‘social ills’, are caused my moral relativism. It’s a shame that academia refuses to venture into the realm of religious and spiritual truth. Many universal and eternal truths could serve to guide public policy in the United States in a much more profound way if it were not taboo to talk about these things publicly; it’s as if the American Universities and Colleges are mandating what we can and cannot use in public discourse about how to repair some of these ills and it casts these very simple remedies in such a way that suggests that anyone who talks about the tenets of Christianity, the foundation and importance with the framework of a family, is being innapropriate, intolerant, and is therefore necessarily a zealot. Religion threatens people because many of them, the important ones, claim objective and ultimate truth; something that is just not ‘appropriate’ in public any longer.

    Read this article, it’s great:
    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artid=126

    Now, where we really disagree on this matter, it seems, is that I don’t believe govt. has a ‘legitimate role’ in this matter in the same capacity that it seems you do. To keep this part short, I’m willing to cite simple political differences as the reason for our disagreement without much argument on the matter. People are capable, they just need to believe it. A safety net, as you say, does not exist in this American government without some sort of attendant, and often unchecked, power. I am inclined to more readily accept that this policy is more about getting votes than what it is about compassion, passion, or conviction in a given politician.

    Every inch we give of our personal liberties, the less free we immediately become, in that instant; I’m malleable on certain beliefs, but on this I’d stake my very life.

    I look forward to your response. If you’re simply ‘done’ with this and it’s just an old post and you’re content to simply move on without response, however, I’d also understand that.

    Best,

    DJ

  13. DJ Says:

    p.s.

    Sorry. I lied. Upon reflection, my points weren’t so ‘quick’ and I probably made more than two. lol Sorry, bud.

  14. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I trust that you are correct, DJ, and that most people realize that eliminating assistance would have to be done carefully. However, what I was getting at is that many conservative commentators seem to feel that simply the absence of assistance programs, however that absence is ultimately achieved, would itself solve the problem, and that everyone would then find gainful employment. I believe that Beck, Delay, Limbaugh, et al, are greatly mistaken in that regard. We would find that there are still a number of other obstacles which would hinder a significant segment of society from finding work, and that the culture of negativity to which I referred has far more complicated roots than simply welfare-enable indolence.

    As to higher education leaving out “the realm of religious and spiritual truth,” I wonder how you think we could include that as part of higher education while still respecting freedom of conscience/religion, a principle which I feel of highest importance. How in a secular environment do we involve that realm? How do we treat with fairness and equality the vast range of religious thought? You yourself refer to the tenets of Christianity, and I think that most conservatives who want a greater involvement of religion in the public realm have a similar bias towards Christianity. Are we serving freedom of conscience when we favor one religious tradition over all the others, or when we favor religious belief–the tenets and doctrines of which are unverifiable–over non-religious belief, giving religious belief an advantage in the marketplace of ideas? It is, I believe, dangerous ground and a slippery slope.

    If religious tenets are failing to hold sway in society, the fault shouldn’t be laid at the feet of government for not prefering religion or using force to promote religious concepts.

  15. nat kelly Says:

    Augh. As a child of the welfare system, I can attest that it does not lead people to depend on it for the rest of their lives. The system is so punitive and insufficient that many people choose to be on the streets rather than partake. (I assume these people would also be castigated as lazy and irresponsible, folks who “choose” poverty and homelessness.)

    My experiences as a child on welfare are a large part of what pissed me off enough to work for economic justice as an adult. No one should have to go through that crap. And our particular system is pretty atrocious.

    Also, I hope people worried about the effects of “long-term” welfare will go back and carefully read the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconcilation Act of 1996. It established our current welfare system, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which is drastically different than the previous system. No individual can be on TANF for more than 5 years, total, in their entire lifetime. 5 years. Total. Forever. So the notion of long-term dependency is a little laughable.

    DJ, I have to respond to this comment:
    “I believe the best about us. And, I believe that people who see a genuine need in another citizen will step in and help out out of nothing more than common decency.”

    I just need to point out that this is a contradiction about your (very politely worded) opinions of those on welfare – that large numbers of them are lazy or milking the system. While I was reading your comment, it seemed to me that you, on the one hand, did not want to believe in the goodness of Americans when it came to poor people, but were willing to argue for the goodness of Americans when it comes to those who have enough resources that they can share. I think this is a very common myth, that those who are underprivileged are less “good” than those who are well-off. I hope that this was not your intent.

    Also this:
    “Every inch we give of our personal liberties, the less free we immediately become, in that instant”

    I fail to see how giving aid to those who do not have enough to live has anything at all to do with personal liberty……

  16. dj Says:

    Nat,

    Poor does not equal bad and rich does not equal good. Often the opposite seems true. However, criminal statistics are generally in favor of middle to upper class citizens not robbing banks, stealing cars, selling drugs, robbing liquor stores, etc. Of course this is not something that ALL poor people do; but it’s hardly something upper classes ‘have’ to do. I’m not saying that upper classes aren’t thieves and crooks, I’m speaking to these particular crimes.

    The fact is, upper classes simply have more means to give where lower classes would not. That’s not even to suggest that lower classes don’t give, they do. Financially speaking though, upper classes do give more because they can. There are many people who milk the system. If they weren’t milking they wouldn’t be on it any longer than necessary, until they receive an education or otherwise find gainful employment. The rest are either disabled to a point to where they can’t work and have no other financial provisions in place or they’re milking it and have no plans to ever abandon the “free” money.

    Nat: “I fail to see how giving aid to those who do not have enough to live has anything at all to do with personal liberty”

    Why do they not have enough to live? Are they personally taking measures to rectify the situation? Why or why not? These questions should all be considered, but my larger argument is that mandating, governmentally enforcing rules that make ME pay for the shortsightedness or mistakes of others is wrong. Maybe these people should be helped, I have no problem with that. My problem is that when you TELL me that I have to you take away my right to say yes or no and to decide where MY money goes. I’m not a jerk. I give to charity, but “I GIVE” to charity, and if I didn’t choose to, it’s not right to tell me I have to. No one can make me be a good person. I should have the liberty to decide if I want to be a decent guy or not, that’s all I’m saying.

    If you still, after reading what I just wroite still “fail to see how giving aid to those who do not have enough to live has anything at all to do with personal liberty” then all I really can say is that it’s NOT giving. It’s the government ‘taking’. And if you still don’t understand that then I’m afraid that we’re at a point where I don’t know how to be more clear and will just have to throw in the towel on this one.

    Hope you’re all well!

    Best,
    DJ

  17. dj Says:

    “If you still, after reading what I just wroite still”

    That should say, “If you still, after reading what I’ve written, believe…” etc.

    My grammar is an idiot sometimes. I’m trying to fix him, but some people just refuse to change. lol

  18. Moniker Challenged Says:

    This is only peripherally related, on page 110 of the Library Journal they recommended indeed.com as a resource for librarians inundated with patrons needing job search help. Might be worth a look-see.

  19. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Thanks for the resource, MC. I’ll look into it.

  20. ride on mower Says:

    ride on mower…

    […]Unemployment and Dependency « A Liberal Mormon[…]…

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