Originally Posted by iowaorganic
So... to the original question. Should welfare be given to moms to SAH? No. My husband works to support his family and allow me to SAH to raise our children. He shouldn't have to work to support others. If I didn't have him would I feel differently? No. It would then be my responsibility to work to support my children. Perhaps the better question would be why don't people take responsibility for themselves?
I think this is a reasonable response, though I disagree with it. The critical issue isn't your beliefs on this subject, or even your feelings, but whether you understand that our current welfare policy is not designed to allow women to stay at home with their children. The previous program, AFDC, was explicitly for that purpose, but TANF is not.
In this country, I can see a few problems that create a constant need for monies to offset problems of poverty.
First, real wages have stayed stagnant since the 1970s. From the late 1970s until the present, we've had a slow, healthy rate of inflation--except that real wages haven't kept pace. This means anyone working for a wage without inherited wealth has earned less money and had less of an opportunity to amass wealth, which has increased the gap between rich and poor. If these folks succeeded in buying houses during the housing bubble, their main wealth asset lost its value.
We are also in the middle of another economic recession, with very high unemployment. These two economic factors have driven down the rate of marriage to a new low. We also have an insanely high rate of incarceration--we have more people in prison here than in any other country. I don't know how that affects marriage--I'm assuming badly--but it also affects whether people can make a living.
Our welfare policy since the 1990s has been predicated on the idea that promoting marriage would be a good idea (I'm not sure about that) that dads should pay child support, whether they're married or not, and that moms who are low-income enough to need aid also need to be forced to work so that they won't be permanently impoverished. The problem is that educational opportunities that would lift people out of poverty are only sometimes included in work requirements, since states have a lot of control over how the federal money is distributed and they need to do a lot with it.
Nearly all our programs that deal with hunger--food stamps, school lunch and breakfast, WIC--are driven by a desire to subsidize big agriculture. That's probably good news, because we are a country of ogres who don't care whether children go hungry. What has dismayed me has been the growing need for backpack weekend food charities. These are privately funded (which is good if you like everything to be privately funded, I guess) to make up for how many school-aged kids don't have food at home. In my city, in the summer, food trucks come around to the parks and playgrounds to hand out free lunches to children, in case their parents in this mixed-income area don't have enough money from their work or benefits programs to feed their children.
The principal at my son's school keeps a box of meal bars for children who don't get to school in time for the free breakfast but can't concentrate in class because they are too hungry.
Frankly, I do not care whether the money to keep children from going hungry comes from public or private sources. I prefer public because I think we as a whole society have an obligation to make sure children have what they need. If private funders would reliably make up the difference, though, I could suck it up and deal with that. I'm just crushed when I think that little kids have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
I really do not care one iota about forcing parents to be responsible. Kids have one childhood and these are the children in our country and we have an obligation to make sure they grow up healthy, smart and productive.
would I like welfare to also allow women to stay home with children? Sure, maybe, yeah, whatever. I think the policy should actually be to promote education, but frankly I think it's too much of a crisis to be picky.