Episode 37: The American Dream: Is Welfare Helping or Hurting?


Some argue that welfare is a good sense public policy that helps families in need to achieve independence while others suggest that it creates lasting dependency on government benefits. Economists and political leaders are divided on its impacts.

Welfare, known officially as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is a federally funded, state-run benefits program that provides benefits to needy families to help them achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties. Economists and political leaders are divided on its impacts on the country’s economic plan and on its recipients. Some argue that if it were not for welfare, various families would have not been able to earn a paycheck while others advance that it is because of the program that these families are not able to earn a paycheck. They went further to suggest that as long as welfare is what it is currently, these families will never achieve financial independence. 

Hello, and welcome to a series on state and federal benefits. Here, I discuss whether the welfare program is a good sense public policy or whether it creates lasting dependency of recipients on government benefits. I am your host Dr. Bobb Rousseau. Without further ado, let me tell you the history of welfare, its impacts on children, families, and the economy, and whether it helps or prevents families from pursuing and ultimately achieving the American dream.

Since its inception in the 1960s, experts have been advancing that the welfare program is killing its recipients’ American dream. While over $25 trillion of taxpayer money funds the program, it is ineffective in alleviating poverty. American economists claim that 20% of working Americans are poor because they live under the poverty line, meaning they are making less than $14.000 a year on average. 

The Welfare program was part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty public policy. The goal was to help Americans escape poverty by shrinking their dependence on the government, increasing their self-sufficiency, and reinforcing their abilities to support their families. 

The program fails as recipients remain poor and financially powerless to leave the program. Let’s say that by providing women more benefits to remain single parents, offering more incentives to recipients to have more children, and handing out more money than an actual job would pay, the welfare program deepens poverty, breaks up families, and discourages work. Hold on now; I am not saying that there are more women on welfare or that women who are on welfare are single mothers; I am just pointing out how it is for single women who are in the program.

Welfare discourages recipients from seeking employment or remaining employed and encourages women with kids to stay unmarried. A single mother on welfare receives more money than a married woman with kids. Moreover, a woman joining the program as a single mom and later getting married would see her benefits reduced. 

The most crucial impact of welfare is on children. It becomes a vicious cycle where children, whose parents are on welfare, will likely grow up on welfare or eventually follow in their parent’s footsteps. Welfare undermines the role of fathers in the household because of the men who decide to have kids with different women in welfare because they know their government will take care of their baby mama and their kids. 

American experts suggest reversing the current system, because, according to them, it provides no incentives for its recipients to get out of poverty. I suggest that welfare be a subsidy program instead of a handout program. As such, welfare benefits should be contingent on recipients having a job or actively seeking employment. Moreover, I recommend that welfare reduce the benefits it gives recipients and then invest the extra funds on skill bridge, training with industry, and on-the-job training programs to empower recipients to learn new skills and prepare them to enter the job market. 

I furthermore recommend that the government provide financial incentives to companies to hire welfare recipients and more incentives to them if they offer scholarships to the welfare recipients they hire; the higher the certificate or the degree they are pursuing, higher the incentives the government would give the companies. To ensure the welfare program protects families, the government should require absent fathers to pay child support or perform community service if they cannot afford to pay. I also suggest that the government remove the substantial penalties against marriage. 

The bottom line is that to receive and continue receiving welfare benefits, the recipient must have a job, be actively looking for a job, or attending school. 

In summary, the goal of welfare is to help Americans escape poverty, but the program has been not helping Americans achieve the American dream since day one. Recipients remain poor and are not financially empowered to leave the program. Transforming the program from handout to subsidy will encourage recipients to seek employment or remain employed, motivate businesses to hire welfare recipients and energize these recipients to go to school. 

Thank you for listening, and remember to like, comment, share and subscribe.