The Buck Stops Here

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The Buck Stops Here: Not a Handout, a Hand Up
Sharon Nakken
Kaplan University
CM220: College Composition ll

Thousands of welfare investigators across the nation report that only about 2% - 3% of welfare cases involve fraud (Barron, 2012). That is such a small percentage. Could fraud on that small scale really be significant? After closer examination, the significance becomes much clearer. If 2% - 3% of welfare cases are fraudulent, that means between 785,000 to 1.2 million families are receiving welfare illegally (Barron, 2012). That ends up costing taxpayers between 9.0 – 13.5 billion dollars each year (Barron, 2012). That small percentage turns into a very large number of dollars spent annually on welfare recipients who should not be receiving these benefits (Barron, 2012). The welfare system in America today is once again in need of reform. Conditions such as mandatory drug testing, entry into an educational program, and strict time limits need to be placed on individuals who wish to receive welfare. In 2007 The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that 20% of families receiving welfare claimed to have used illegal drugs at least once in the last year, while 5% said they had an ongoing drug habit (Vitter, 2011). Some who oppose the random drug testing requirement say that it does nothing more than single out the poor and underprivileged. Deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Vanita Gupta claims “Mandatory drug testing of those receiving public benefits is just plain wrong. It demonizes and demoralizes those Americans most in need of help, and it perpetuates the dangerous, baseless notion that low-income people and communities are somehow less deserving of the constitutional protections and basic human dignity to which we are all entitled. We should not support ineffective, unconstitutional, and costly government programs that intrude into the lives of Americans and target the most vulnerable among us during the worst economic period in decades.” (Gupta 2011). But there is another side to this coin. That is that random drug testing is to truly help those people affected by addiction, giving addicts the motivation to seek help, allowing families once broken by drug addiction to heal. There is also the obligation to the taxpayers that must be considered. Wasting a taxpayer’s money by allowing it to be spent on illegal drugs is wrong and creates a feeling of resentment toward welfare programs and those who are benefiting from these programs. Truly needy families should be getting that money. Every welfare dollar spent on drugs takes a dollar away from a family in need (Vitter, 2011). Placing these conditions on people who receive welfare will eliminate money allotted for this program being spent on illegal drugs. According to LaDonna Pavetti, during her testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, “about 70% of families receiving assistance at a given point and time have already received assistance for at least 24 months and 48% have received assistance for more than 60 months.” (Pavetti, 1996). Of course these families receive assistance for long periods of time. Why wouldn’t they? During the time these families are receiving welfare, what has changed for them? Unfortunately the answer to that question is usually nothing. Pavetti states that the number one reason for a family to remain dependent on welfare is lack of recent work experience and educational attainment (Pavetti, 1996). A welfare reform that limited recipients to four years while at the same time requiring these recipients to attend either college or a training program would prepare them for a career. Part of the benefits of this new reform would be money allotted for tuition and child care. At the end of four years, you will have well educated people who are capable of contributing to society instead of being a drain on it. These families would be able to stand on their own without government...
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