Natural Law dictates that it is an inherent quality of mankind to extend a helping hand to those who are deprived of ease and convenience in life. Most often we find ourselves under an impulse to extend a helping hand when we see someone in need. This human nature is so complex that only the science of psychology can better explain, thus we will endeavor to comprehend instead how the act of charity evolved into a policy adhered to by certain political institutes.
When and how did poverty become a pressing issue which necessitated the governing body to act upon by means of formulating policies relative to the promotion of social welfare? Thus becomes the essence of this paper, as it delves into the historical aspect and purpose of the Elizabethan Poor Law in comparison with the current social welfare, more specifically in the aspect of its characteristics and aim. The succeeding paragraph will attempt to answer how the two differs and what similarities do they have.
Introduction With the Declaration of Independence in 1776, three basic yet paramount considerations laid its foundation and these are; life, liberty and happiness. It was then followed by a century characteristic of post liberation and on going need to rebuild and move on, where every man plowed his own field for sustenance. This was a time marked by the struggle to improve one’s standard of living, a quest for survival. A time when the children’s way of life determines the quality of father they have.
During the 18th century, government aid was un heard of nor was it for anyone to expect aid. Everyone was left to their own means to support their family. Progress then took place and in the late 19th century the disparity between wealthy business barons and their employed meager wage earners grew more obvious, In spite of the progressive reforms during the Roosevelt government, restricting rampant business corruption and unfair practices, poverty intensified at the onset of the great depression. The entire country was plunged into despair.
The Elizabethan Poor Law owed its beginnings in 1601 with the purpose of compounding all previous enactments relative to providing assistance and alleviation to poverty. This law structured a category that defines the state of poverty and at the same time accorded them with a fixed financial assistance through their parish. With EPL, each parish was required two personnel in charge of overseeing the creation, procurement and distribution of relief assistance for the poor. In general, this Law was created in order to provide aid for those who are poor through the means of providing them an opportunity of employment.
This law sustained with further adaptations like the 1662 Settlement Act, followed by the 1782 Gilbert’s Act, the Speenham land system in 1795 up until the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act which created the basis of poor relief (Bloy. 2002). The Elizabethan statute was aimed to assist migrant’s struggle to realize their vision in the early phase of industrialization where its principles were geared to accommodate the necessities of economic transformations as well as a negotiation between the landed gentry and industrial interests.
Likewise, it aimed to differentiate social insurance versus social benefits as supposed to the deserving and undeserving poor. As with EPL the means of relief were different for the deserving and undeserving poor, where those deserving poor belonged to the category under physically disabled, widows, and elderly who were accorded with outdoor relief in a form of cash payments. The undeserving ones on the other hand, received indoor assistance through poorhouses programs that provided hard labor with punitive measures set to discourage people from denying work.
As opposed to the economy, it was actually weak work ethic assumed to be the bully of the able bodied poor causing the lack of willingness to work, the root of all problems. Since EPL does not qualify them for any financial aid, they would be forced to endure the harsh working environments otherwise turn to charity organizations for reprieves which didn’t have enough resources to accommodate their quantity.
In an article entitled Congress, Bush faulted for inaction on welfare – news, published in find article website on October 09, 2002, social welfare seems to be a topic favored by few activists yet obviously avoided by the Bush administration. “The house welfare bill passed in May was roundly criticized by Protestants, Catholics and Jewish activists for requiring longer work hours, fewer education benefits and a new plan to disperse food stamps in block grants to sates and grant superwaivers to states that allow them to side step some federal regulations” (Eckstrom. . 1. 2002). While the Senate had a different version and interpretation of this bill which took quiet a major support from the religious sector, the Finance committee approved this bill a month later in June 26, retaining the provision of 30 hour work week. However, such bill was left stagnant apparently due to the President’s shifted focus to Iraq’s homeland security concerns neglecting the welfare of his nation’s people.
David Beckam, a Lutheran leader of an ecumenical group called Bread for the World, blames Bush’s unwillingness to compromise for political reasons, and while this article has been published in October, the same month when congress adjourns, the likelihood for this Bill to become a sitting until congress reconvenes is enormous. Analyst believes that this could perhaps be a political strategy that could be employed for re election especially that the campaign season is about to begin. Many religious leaders purport that the rate of poverty continues to rise and unless the government acts now, such crisis will only worsen.
The article entitled, Congress, Bush faulted for inaction on welfare, talks about how the government views welfare as an unnecessary element yet politically useful tool to acquire the people’s support in times of election. The changes and adjustments that has been proposed and lobbied for in this act includes the promotion of a family oriented principle where by longer work hours are cut short to give time for the parent to spend quality time with their kids. It also cuts short the benefits of meal tickets that helps feed the hungry.
It actually describes how the benefits for the poor have been a subject of a lot of infringements of the rights thus causing several criticisms, debate and disagreements. It talks about how a social welfare law can be viewed by politicians as a means to acquire future votes, seemingly delaying its enforcement while election is far away. It talks about how the President turns his attention away from his own people who have been asking him to feed and clothe them. Thus we can say that while poverty is supposed to be a responsibility of those whom the people elect, to alleviate this issue, they are the same ones who denied the poor of such aid.
The article focused on the changes made to the provisions of social welfare act with which benefits are being ripped off from the poor instead of providing them one, in the guise of political delaying tactics. This is similar to EPL in the sense that it is mostly the religious sector taking full responsibility on social welfare and ensuring reprieves and assistance for those in need, as being shown in the article, those who implores the immediate enactment of the social welfare act seems to be only from the side of the religious sector lobbying for the poor peoples right.
The question remains, what about those whom we elect to address this issue? Will they not do anything to help the hungry ones be fed? Will they value other matter outside their country more that the welfare of those who elected them?. This article also run in congruence with the aspect of providing assistance, whereby the opportunity of employment is accorded only to those able bodied, giving medical assistance to the sick while feeding those who are hungry, what about those who are unable to work and left to care of the government funded institutions who likewise suffers from the very little entitlement accorded by the government.
The social welfare act discussed in this article and the EPL both settles only those who are out of work for reasons of illness, those who are hungry because they don’t have money to buy food, and those who are sick who don’t have the means for hospitalization. Assistance is given only to those who can render the equivalent service to pay off what is being given to them, more of a conditional aid.
On the other hand, this House Bill discussed in the article differs from the Elizabethan Poor Law in the sense that the House Bill aims to ease the burden of labor through shorter work hours and longer time spent with the family, whereas the EPL did nothing to address the issues relative to the harsh working conditions of labor so long as they are to provide a means for the poor to earn a living.
The EPL did not care whether the laborers were maltreated, abused or unfairly waged so long as these laborers receive a means for them to sustain life. The Working conditions in the time of EPL, was far difficult compared to that of the House Bill of today. Furthermore, the EPL did not provide for any educational welfare and child care as suppose to the provisions under the House Bill, although understandably acceptable at that time as there were less children while education was not much of an importance.
With Epl then, there was no means for negotiations, no venue for the voices of the poor to heard, but with social welfare act today, there is room for bargaining and arbitration whereby lobbyist advances the voices of the poor people for adjustment and thorough assistance. While the two differs in the fact that Queen Elizabeth then used this law to promote religion while President Bush uses this Bill to advance his political significance, they are similar in the sense that there actually was a hidden agenda beneath the act of helping the poor.
In conclusion, social welfare began even before the time of reformation prior to the establishment of the Church of England, when Christians considered helping the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and giving a drink for the thirsty, welcoming a stranger and providing shelter, burying the dead, visiting the prisoner and providing medications for the sick as corporal works of mercy.
It is a responsibility not just for the leader of the nation, but an individual duty to help one another. As the world progressed and the population grew, poverty became not just a concern of the poor, it worsened into a national level where our elected leaders are tasked to resolve and thus alleviate. The only question left is how long should the people wait before poverty ceases?
Cite this Critical Analysis and Comparative Study: Natural Law
Critical Analysis and Comparative Study: Natural Law. (2017, Mar 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/critical-analysis-and-comparative-study-natural-law/