Welfare State in the United States
A welfare state is a model of government where the state provides for the total well-being of its citizens. The state plays major roles in the protection and promotion of the economic and social welfare of its citizens. Welfare state is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. In a welfare state, there is direct transfer of resources from the public sector to citizens. The private sector may also indirectly contribute to these resources through redistribution of taxes and other revenues.In United state, Welfare state has a big implication in promoting the general state progress and growth. It involves government programs that provide benefits and economic assistance to low income citizens. Through welfare state financial assistance to impoverished Americans which is supplied through the taxes paid by the working class is provided. Welfare state aims at improving the quality of life and living standards for the poor and underprivileged. Welfare assistance is usually extended to citizen groups other than just the poor and underprivileged such as the elderly, the disabled and unpaid workers, such as mothers and caregiversWelfare state represents organized equality and solidarity between strong and weak, young and old, sick and healthy, workers and unemployed. It is a basis of the economic dynamism which creates our prosperity. In Welfare programs available in the United States there is personal benefit to citizens. Programs, which comprise of Medicaid, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, Work Study, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Head Start, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicare have directs benefits to the citizens. In these programs, individuals provide information that enables their livelihood levels determined through income and resource limitations which gives the government a close link with them.Welfare help has contributed to improved living standards. Help in the form of cash assistance or services such as healthcare or education boast peoples’ lifestyles. For example, Head Start and Work Study are both services that assist with education for low income or underprivileged students.
On the other hand, welfare state creates a cycle of dependency in the state assistance. Many citizens have neglected the responsibility of hard work and burdened the government with a duty of paying for their laziness. Many individuals may rely too heavily on the welfare system that is temporary which makes them frustrated when the program is terminated. Welfare state produces a generation of dependents who, instead of working, rely solely upon the state for income and support; even though assistance is only legally available to those who their output is limited. For instance Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is provided for only five years which means if there beneficiaries have not utilized the program to develop and stabilize themselves their will be financially embarrassed and their output in the economy will be minimal.A major disadvantage of welfare state is high rate of taxes. In providing for equality between the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy or education for all, government has to raise revenue in terms of taxes that may be too high in class of people and advantages are immense, free education, health care etc. Lack of universal social and economic goals challenges the workability of Welfare state. Changing social and economic goals demand less of welfare state in a government. There is no one correct way to organize welfare programs, each program has strengths and weaknesses, and different welfare programs attach different priorities to different objectives.
Welfare states are used as a political tool not a social and economic growth tool. The citizens receiving benefits from the government perceive the support as a kick back of the government in power and therefore they must support and vote for it for benefits to be continuous. The pressure of ballot forced government to respond to peoples’ need may be aimed at personal benefits. A welfare state compromises vital government’s projects. Resources are used in creating a welfare state, when these resources could have otherwise been used in funding more important project in the government.For a welfare state to exist there must be a mechanism to identify people’s class, jobs, age and other variables that determine their living standards. These mechanisms are not readily available to determine what support goes to which group of people. Welfare state spending alone may be a misleading indicator especially if a large share of such expenditures goes to privileged groups in society. In addition, effective welfare state requires a coalition of various social groups to expand welfare policies and this is may be practically impossible as peoples’ need and wants cannot be universal.Socialists criticize welfare state programs as concessions made by the capitalist class in order to divert the working class and middle class away from wanting to pursue a completely new socialist organization of the economy and society, for which it had been historically used.Schweickart (1998) argues that welfare state limits the incentive system of the society by providing things such as minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxing profits and reducing the reserve army of labor, resulting in capitalists having little incentive to invest; thus social welfare policies cripple the capitalist system and its incentive system.Another shortfall of welfare state is the view that the system is injustice in a certain group of people. Many people believe that distribution of resources from one class of people to another is theft of property or forced labor. This believe is based on the classical liberal human right to obtain and own property, whereby it believed and known that every human being owns his body, and owns the product of his body’s labor (i.e. goods, services, land, or money). Therefore the removal of money by any state or government mechanism from one person to another is argued to be theft of the former person’s property or a requirement to perform forced labor for the benefit of others, and thus is a violation of his property rights or his liberty, even if such mechanism was legally established by a democratic means.Equality may not be practically possible in welfare state. The state allegedly provides its dependents with a similar level of income to the minimum wage which is challenging to match peoples need, capabilities and outputs. Fraud and economic inactivity may be apparently common in welfare state. Welfare state services may be more expensive and less efficient than the same service provided by private sector. Louis (2000) argues that anything which is supplied for free at the point of consumption would be subject to artificially high demand hence making the product or service more expensive.Welfare state has many benefits though they require organized systems for them to be realized. However the limitations that face the state need to be addressed in details and, long-term solutions found.
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden