The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that there is a way out of welfare. There is no freedom in being dependent. It does not matter whether one is dependent on parents, spouse, or government. Anyone that is dependent on any mortal or any organization is not truly free. Freedom is the opportunity to make choice.
There was a time not too many years ago when generation after generation depended on welfare. In 1996 the United States welfare program was reformed. One of the changes made during the reform was to require welfare recipients to work. Beneficiaries of the welfare program had to have a job, work at finding a job, or be in a training program. Food stamp benefits to able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 were limited to three months in a 36-month period.
Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, and the Obama administration eased the work requirement by allowing states to waive it for food stamp enrollment. The numbers soared for able-bodied adults without dependents requesting food stamps. According to Christine Roe at The Daily Signal, enrollments in the food stamp program went from “1.9 million in fiscal year 2008 to almost 4 million by fiscal year 2010, and 4.9 million by fiscal 2013.”
By establishing and enforcing the work requirement to receive government benefits of cash, food, and housing, the federal government could see an immediate and huge drop in able-bodied adults requesting help.
In December 2014 under Republican Governor Paul LePage, Maine started enforcing work requirements for food stamp recipients. The number of able-bodied adults without dependents requesting food stamps dropped from 13,332 to 2,678 (Roe).
Alabama eliminated the exemption for work requirements in 13 of its 67 counties as of January 1, 2017. According to Roe, there have been some big changes in Alabama.
In those 13 counties, enrollment in food stamps dropped over four months from 5,538 able-bodied adults without dependents to 831 such recipients.
Statewide, a total of 13,663 able-bodied adults without children or other dependents were enrolled in the food stamp program before the change implemented Jan. 1…. As of May 1, that statewide number had dropped to 7,483….
The purposes of welfare programs are to help those who cannot help themselves (such as children, elderly, and sick people) and to help people move from poverty to prosperity. The examples of Maine and Alabama illustrate that requiring the able-bodied adults without dependents to work is one way to fulfill those purposes.
America must have a safety net for those persons who cannot help themselves, but it is a disservice to extend the safety net to able-bodied adults who can work. Work is the only way to move from poverty to prosperity and to become free from welfare.