Take-Home ExamNovember 16, 1999
The ruling ideology dealing with welfare is a negative view among the majority of Americans. It states that welfare recipients are lazy people who have lots of children and collect checks for a long period of time. This statement is believed mostly among higher-class people because they feel that if they can work hard for their money, welfare recipients can do the same, and not live off other people’s money.
Charles Murray supports the statement “welfare policies encourage poor women to have more children” in one of his books, but is proven wrong by careful studies and demographics. It has been studied that welfare has almost no effect on bearing children. These studies show that younger women are more likely to be poor and their poverty makes their children poor. American adults by far are more unequal in wealth and income than any other industrial society as well as the declining incomes of young men since the mid-1970s. Many young men cannot afford to keep their children out of poverty or decide not to the handle the duties or responsibilities of marriage, leaving young mothers and children even poorer, leading them to depend on welfare. According to a New York Times article dated 2/29/92, there are fewer children receiving assistance from welfare and are not just being lazy but and collecting checks, but actually getting off welfare.
This ruling ideology that most of the American society supports leads to the lack of wide political support and budget-cutting of means-tested programs. These mean-tested programs are available only to those people who can prove that they
are poor. Only Social Security and Medicare, both Universal programs, have largely survived cutbacks in recent years because it is widely accepted throughout the American society. The reason it is accepted in the American society is that everybody contributes to social security and everybody benefits from it. As stated before many people in the American society do not want to support the welfare people because they are perceived to be lazy bums, who just collect checks and have lost of children, which persuades people’s attitudes to not support these means-tested programs including welfare.
AFDC has been repeatedly cut and will continue to decline as long as federal governments transfer responsibility for welfare to state governments which aids the American’s ideology that help to the poor must be “limited, conditional and unpleasant” so that people get off welfare and acquire jobs. This cuts and limits the amount of means-tested programs such as welfare because neither the federal nor the state government take it upon themselves to protect welfare and other programs from being cut, in contrast to universal programs such as Medicare and Social which are politically supported. Universal programs have helped reducing poverty among mostly the elderly and not the younger welfare recipients.
This dominant ideology contained among the American society is just one of many, that shows the degree of inequality in our society today and how poor are perceived through the rest of the society.