The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns food stamps and other government aid programs. People are free when they have the means to provide for their basic needs; however, they often become slaves to those who provide their daily needs. The War on Poverty is a good example of how single mothers and poor people have become slaves to the U.S. Government.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson began the War on Poverty, there was one welfare program to assist single parents, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In the fifty years our nation has been fighting poverty, our government added approximately eighty welfare programs: Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Women, Infants and Children food program, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, child nutrition programs, public housing and Section 8 housing, and Medicaid.
Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation believes that the War on Poverty is the main reason for the collapse of marriage in America. “Although married couples with children can also receive aid through these programs, the overwhelming majority of assistance to families with children goes to single-parent households.
“The burgeoning welfare state has promoted single parenthood in two ways. First, means-tested welfare programs such as those described above financially enable single parenthood. It is difficult for single mothers with a high school degree or less to support children without the aid of another parent.
“Means-tested welfare programs substantially reduce this difficulty by providing extensive support to single parents. Welfare thereby reduces the financial need for marriage. Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, less-educated mothers have increasingly become married to the welfare state and to the U.S. taxpayer rather than to the fathers of their children.
“As means-tested benefits expanded, welfare began to serve as a substitute for a husband in the home, and low-income marriage began to disappear. As husbands left the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, which generated a need for more welfare.”
The Obama Administration added more “slaves” of all colors to the government “plantation” when they allowed states to waive the requirement for work before receiving food stamps. Most Americans believe able-bodied adults should work or at least be looking for work before receiving welfare benefits, and several states have taken steps to put the work requirement back into effect.
New Mexico’s attempt to encourage people to work for welfare was set to go into effect on November 1, but two nonprofit groups and a few food stamp recipients sued the state. A district judge put a temporary hold on the work requirements. The governor announced that the state would simply restart the process to pursue the same work requirements rather than go through litigation.
“While the food stamp program doesn’t have much of a work requirement, it does have a modest one for able-bodied adults without children (or other dependents). Able-bodied adults without children are limited to three months of food stamp benefits unless they work or participate in some type of work activity for at least 20 hours a week….”
New Mexico is not the only state to make a change. Indiana waived the federal requirement for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to work before receiving welfare benefits. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration recently announced that the federal requirement will be enforced as of 2015. Able-bodied adults without children will need to work for at least 20 hours per week, be searching for employment, or be in job training to qualify for food stamps. Approximately 65,000 people could be cut from the program.
Work requirements hold welfare recipients accountable and help to build the self-esteem of people in need. There is no reason why able-bodied adults should sit around and expect other people to provide their food. Encouraging welfare recipients to work encourages them to become self-sufficient. Welfare recipients must become independent of the government plantation before they can be truly free.