The 6 Groups of People Who Will Always Need Welfare
Welfare will always be necessary.
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In Solidarity — Joe
No matter what economic model a society uses, whether it’s the capitalism of 21st-century America or the porto-communism of prehistoric hunter-gatherers, welfare is a necessity. By welfare, I mean financial support the larger community gives to certain people to provide for their basic needs and well-being.
In the United States, decades of attacks from both parties have rendered the term “welfare” politically charged. Its mere mention conjures up images of lazy “moochers” who spend taxpayer money on video games and weed.
The notion of “welfare queens,” a derogatory term used to describe imagined welfare exploiters, is as common as it is bizarre, considering a majority of Americans also believe the government should assist the needy, which is the actual definition of welfare. Despite the country’s apathy towards those who receive welfare but are perceived to not need it, strong, bipartisan majorities approve of America’s welfare programs.
Putting aside the political contradictions of disapproving of the name while supporting the programs, the strong support for public assistance likely comes from the common sense knowledge that there are certain groups who will require monetary support from the public. Specifically, there are six groups of people who will always require welfare, regardless of whether we are talking about our current capitalist society or the post-capitalist society I hope humanity achieves.
Obviously, it is good for everyone if people are studying the skills society needs. Whether they’re a 30-year-old medical student or an 18-year-old electrician in training, it benefits all of us to have a significant population undertaking education. But as Americans must pay for higher education instead of being paid to be educated, this creates a conundrum: Society needs trained professionals, but many cannot afford the tuition paywall society has put before education. And even if they can, many cannot afford to feed and house themselves while learning. So, logically, they do not go to school, leaving us with fewer doctors, teachers, mechanics, and other high-skill professions. This counterproductive system was famously critiqued by musician Cardi B in the below viral clip.
Instead of this self-harming approach, we should flip the script — pay people to go to school so they can support themselves while learning the skills that will benefit us all later on.
The need to provide welfare to children is self-obvious. As they cannot legally consent to employment and seldom have useful skills, they have no means to acquire income. There is an easy fix to child poverty, which (get ready to pull your hair out), the United States implemented and then revoked.
Before 2021, the child poverty rate was around 9.7%. After the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to increase cash handouts to needy families, child poverty fell to a historic low of 5.2%. But when the Democrat-controlled Congress ended the expanded CTC after just a year, childhood poverty rose to 16.3%, a 300% increase in less than two years.
Providing welfare for children is both obvious and simple. It’s an indictment of our nation that we willingly choose not to provide it.
Similar to students, caretaking is a critical role that is unpaid in capitalist society. For obvious reasons, someone must raise children and care for the elderly and disabled. If no one does this, the burden will fall to the state, which is exponentially more convoluted than simply paying family members for the labor of caretaking.
For example, Medicare spent about $33.5 billion to put 1.3 million Americans in nursing homes in 2022. That’s about $25,769 a year, per person, much higher than the average cost of $6,954 it takes for a family member to provide care. Due to this self-obvious need and solution, many of America’s peer nations have some form of state-provided payment for caretakers.
While few doubt the moral reason for providing welfare to disabled people, it’s important to recognize the practical reason society should take care of those who are physically unable to earn income. Whether through work or as a consequence of a tragic everyday accident, it is common for Americans to be disabled at some point in their life.