Abuses of Public Assistance Programs

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Abuses of Public Assistance Programs
What is the definition of a puzzling and mysterious system that attempts to provide for the indigent? It is called the welfare system, and it works in a very complicated manner (Weiss 5). The dictionary defines welfare as an “organized community of corporate efforts for social betterment of a class or group” (Weiss 7). The welfare system was developed as a program to help American citizens during the Great Depression. Originally the welfare system was simple, understandable, and provided uniform benefits to the nations poor—mostly women, children, and unemployed men. Many of the programs were based on the idea “that government can and should try to eradicate poverty with handouts of cash and other benefits” (Weiss 53). What made the early welfare programs simple was its ability to recognize “poor” as being the same from state to state and “relief was offered on a short-term basis, giving the neediest a boost and affording them the chance to get back on their feet” (Weiss 103). Through the years as the welfare programs expanded they became less need-based, more long-term, and less strictly monitored. The biggest argument against today's welfare system is that it is more widely considered to be an entitlement program that contributes to an eroding social climate and with its lack of infrastructure promotes more problems such as cheating. A solution to this problem would be changing the requirements of the system and having more strict check-ins on recipients.

Across the country there are millions of families that are considered to be in poverty (Weiss 37). Poverty struck the United States to a new extreme when the Great Depression hit (Weiss 37). The Depression started on October 23, 1929, which shocked many Americans because the 1920s decade “had been a good one for the stock market” (Weiss 37). Some stocks had been worth hundreds just the week before and now they were valueless. Many people lost their jobs, but that is not all that was lost in the depression, “bank after bank failed, and since their depositors' accounts were not insured, thousands watched helplessly as their life savings vanished into thin air” (Weiss 38). Thousands were forced out onto the streets because they could not pay their rent or mortgage. The government did nothing to help these people because welfare programs didn't exist everywhere in the United States at the time (Weiss 38). The Great Depression lasted nearly ten years and changed nearly every life that had to live through it (Weiss 38).

The president at the time of the depression was Herbert Hoover, and he believed that “welfare wasn't necessary […] things would soon bounce back to normal” (Weiss 38). During the 1932 election the New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt ran against Hoover (Weiss 39). He vowed that if he was elected he would offer a “new deal” which included food for the hungry and jobs for the unemployed (Weiss 39) Roosevelt won the election and took his office oath in 1933. During his first few months in office Roosevelt got congress to pass fifteen new deal laws (Weiss 39). Not all of these new laws dealt with welfare, some “attempted to regulate business and banking in ways that would make future great depressions unlikely” (Weiss 39). There were many Americans, at this point in time, who didn't like the idea of the government giving out relief (Weiss 40). The laws passed to help the unemployed “were relief programs. For the most part, though, they were relief programs of a special type—work relief” (Weiss 40). In the Americans point of view, work relief was the same as relief and they didn't like it, and in a way, neither did Roosevelt (Weiss 41). He was convinced that, “the federal government had no choice but to step in and help out during the depression emergency. And he knew that his New Deal had succeeded in relieving suffering and giving the nation renewed hope. Even so, he was uncomfortable with the...
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