Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: Change the Word 'Welfare' to 'Transitional Living Fund'

Pity it tends to be permanent rather than transitional

In a brief speech on the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) hailed the war on poverty, endorsed government welfare programs, and said the "safety net has to be something for all of us."

"Maybe the word welfare should be changed to something of, 'a transitional living fund.' For that is what it is -- for people to be able to live," she said.

Jackson Lee hailed the Earned Income Credit, food and nutrition programs, jobs training and education programs, Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act as "huge safety nets -- not handouts, but safety nets, she said.

"So today, I honor the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, Mr. Speaker, and I ask us  not to give up the fight because the American people are looking to us to win the war."



Use the Name, Luke said...

Typical leftist. Once the public at large begins to associate a word describing a leftist ideal with the negative emotions caused by that leftist idea, change the term describing the negative idea instead of giving up on the actual cause.

Anonymous said...

No doubt "welfare" itself was a euphemism for the previous term. All socially negative or embarrassing terms go through an endless succession of euphemisms until even some become circular.

Anonymous said...

Renaming a program that the public is having trouble swallowing is one of the Left's oldest and most effective tactics.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I kinda like the idea.
For once, Sheila might actually be right. But then, a busted clock is right 2 times a day.
When it was called "Relief", back before Johnson's "Great Society" and the "War on Poverty", there were many less people on it, and most tended to get off of it within a year or less.
Then they changed the name to "Welfare" and the rolls quadrupled within a year. The name itself seems to imply a "right" to receive a payment forever.
Just making it sound temporary is a step in the right direction. The next thing they need to do is to tweak the law so that it's actually worth it to get off welfare and get a job.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is a good name. Welfare transitions a taxpayer into a helpless democratic voting ward of the state.

Anonymous said...

Let's name it in honor of our lovely First Lady: Moochfare. Now who could be offended by that?

Anonymous said...

This is in the same double speak as undocumented workers, climate change or man made disasters. Orwell missed by 30 years.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 1:38
The true idea of welfare is not to reward idleness or provide an alternative to work - it is to provide a basic level of support while a person transitions from needing support to being self-reliant.
This concept should be the cornerstone of all welfare.

Anonymous said...

Our nation’s founders recognized the need to take care of the sick and indigent who couldn’t help themselves. Quoting natural rights philosopher John Locke, West writes that “[T]he law of nature teaches not only self-preservation but also preservation of others, ‘when one’s own preservation comes into competition.’” In other words, society is organized for the security of its members as well as their liberty and property. A society that fails to respond to those in need jeopardizes its own preservation.

In the early days of the American experiment, local governments — not the feds — assumed this responsibility. But there was careful emphasis that “poor laws not go beyond a minimal safety net,” West notes, and that aid be provided only on the condition of labor. Only the truly helpless, those “who had no friends or family to help, were taken care of in idleness.”

The founders saw a great danger in overly generous welfare policy — that it would promote irresponsible behavior. That, in turn, would threaten the inherent natural right of every individual “to liberty, including the right to the free exercise of one’s industry and its fruits.”

Contrast that with today’s anti-poverty measures. Of 70 federal welfare programs, only one — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — actively encourages greater self-reliance. The remaining 69 encourage irresponsible behavior. Unsurprisingly, abuse of the system is rampant. Food stamp recipients sell benefit cards on Facebook, then falsely report lost cards. And recipients include prison inmates as well as millionaire lottery winners.

Our founders would not be surprised. While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Similarly, Jefferson argued that “to take from one … in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

This is why the founders encouraged reliance upon family, private charity and community. This approach ensured that aid to the needy was provided as personally as possible. Family and community can make crucial distinctions between the deserving and undeserving poor, whereas government cannot. Many individuals, for example, need a government handout far less than they need moral guidance and correction, which church groups and family can provide.

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, however, the War on Poverty turned these concepts on their head. Incentives for self-reliance, industry and hard work were reversed. Programs offering financial aid and child care to single women incentivized single-parent households while discouraging marriage. By 1995, a non-working, single mother of two was eligible for benefits equivalent to a job paying close to (and in some states, even more than) the average salary. Small wonder the decline in poverty rates was checked.

America needs to return to the principles that worked so successfully before Washington embraced the European welfare state model. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, with sound poverty policy, “industry will increase … circumstances [of the poor] will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves."