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The American Welfare System (And Why It Works For the Most Part)

By Tosin Onaolapo

When you hear the word welfare, what do you think? Is it how well you fare, in terms of your health? Financial status? Place in society? Youre not at all far off if you think any of the above. In fact, you have the idea (go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back), but that wont give you in an IGCSE exam. Welfare is defined as health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being, or something of the sort, as the first definition in your dictionary. But Im not talking about the American Happiness System, am I? Lets move our finger down a bit to the much-neglected second definition. Welfare is defined here as (a) aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need; (b) an agency or program through which such aid is distributed. What is the American Welfare System (State)? The welfare state is how a society insures against the risks natural in human life - unemployment, poverty, sickness, and old age - that in one way or another confront everyone. The term welfare state refers to a collection of programs designed to assure economic security to all citizens by guaranteeing the fundamental necessities of life: food, shelter, medical care, protection in childhood and old age. In the United States, the welfare state confronts universal problems - much broader and more complex than is usually realized. Its economy is mixed, and its composition reflects American federalism - the division of powers between the federal government and the states. How Does It Work? Were charged taxes. The government decides to do with those taxes; a special amount or percentage is set aside for welfare. Welfare is issued by the U.S. Department of Human Services, also called social services. Welfare is only issued based on a family's income level. The income for the household must be at or below the poverty level set by the state. So a family of three may make up to $1,200 a month, but a family of five would be able to make up to $1,400. The amount is also different from state to state. Interested parties should apply at their local social services office. An application and proof of income must be submitted to find out if you qualify.

The Good. . .
Everyone is entitled to be clothed, housed, fed, and provided with medical care and education. Those that fall into financial or social need are assured of government assistance. The system requires that all taxpayers contribute to the support of the needy, and does not allow the selfish and greedy to avoid paying their share.

. . . And The Bad

High taxes. Low incentive for citizens to be competitive and innovative; ie the 'Fat Cat' syndrome. When you are too well fed, and not 'hungry' you will not struggle and try to improve your lot. Universal health care is incredibly draining to an economy. Lots of welfare freeloaders who abuse the system and never attempt to look for a job.

There is a lot of debate about whether or not there should be a welfare system; arguments include having a welfare system makes those that qualify too lazy, or others quitting their jobs just to be able to qualify. Others disagree, saying that a welfare state enables the working class to be happier, thereby reducing crime in a country.