Compassion, Welfare, and Poverty

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Welfare: handouts to the lazy, or a helping hand to those facing hard times? The debate continues, even in the face of sweeping welfare reform, which, for all of its sound and fury, has not helped or changed much. What's wrong with welfare and how can we fix it? This is not a simple question, and there is no simple answer. However, one thing remains eminently clear. Welfare desperately needs to change. But where are we now? Are we headed backward or forward? Does anybody even care?

In “The Compassion Gap in American Poverty Policy” by Fred Block, Anna C, Korteweg, and Kerry Woodward, with Zach Schiller and Imrul Mazid (2006) it is discuss that “Every 30 to 40 years, Americans seem to discover that millions of our citizens are living in horrible and degrading poverty.”(pg. 1) The authors question the fact as to why it is that poverty becomes so invisible during these periods of detection. They state that societies recognize the needs for the poor as well as the moral obligation to hand out help, but yet turn their back on these same people in need. Their theory is that the compassion gap results from two key dynamics. “First powerful groups in American society insist that public help for the poor actually hurts them by making them weak and dependant. Second the consequence of reduced help is that the assertions of welfare critics turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.” (pg. 1)They establish that those living in poverty seem to vanish from public eye as society fails to recognize the pain which is inflicted by poverty. The authors discuss that people in need get reprimanded and receive little or no public assistance. They are perceived to be in the situation they are in because of their own failures. They state that the “Compassion Gap is a deep divide between society’s moral commitments and how we actually treat those in poverty.” (pg. 1)

It is not a pretty sight. Welfare in Laredo, a case that deeply touched many is that of Rachelle Grimmer who had moved...
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