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America’s Welfare State

According to a 2015 USCB (U.S. Census Bureau) survey, the United States has a poverty rate of about 13.5 percent. As a means of combating poverty, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the US Census Bureau in 1960, which provides regular reports on the levels of poverty in the United States. Clearly, there have been unsuccessful efforts to combat national injustice, since no substantial change has been witnessed (Isaacson 1). California has the highest rate of poverty as compared to other nations, which is very unexpected. America lacks a standardized metric for measuring and describing poverty. Political stands have forced us to believe that poverty exists only in third-world countries, which is a lie.
This paper seeks to discuss that the American welfare state has failed and needs significant changes to be effective. Besides, the Barbaric American policies for offering resources to the poor are stingy. Unlike the US, the liberal systems in London include maternity benefits, guidelines for social housing and mental health. America’s welfare state only focuses on scattered social programs such as small cash benefits, food stamps, and milk vouchers for pregnant women and infants. These benefits combined provide only a fraction of what Britain offers its citizens. The paper will provide a better alternative for the American welfare state that includes five components, i.e., education spending, Healthcare spending, cash retirement benefits and government cash transfers. Some of the government cash transfers include unemployment insurance and EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit). These components will complement the current non-cash aids like public housing and food stamps (Gootnick 2).

Below are the major Principles I wish to recommend for poverty eradication in America (Warmer and Link 36).

Self-reliance

Most developed countries center on self-reliance as a means of eradicating poverty. Citizens who are self-reliant can work without being helped or influenced by others. These individuals can make sound decisions about improving their quality of life. Both Christianity and Islam believe that individuals who do want to work are sinning. America needs to develop a Community Empowerment Program that helps to drive the mission of self-reliance. If Americans continue to rely on governmental and no governmental resources, they may never be able to utilize their experience, skills or knowledge and benefit the American economy.

Education

Evidently, education reduces the rates of poverty, increases income and boosts economic growth. No country can ever succeed when it lacks educated citizens or has a faulty education system. Universal Education and adult literacy are central to eradication poverty. Education offers an outlet to relinquish issues affecting the country and deal with them internally. Education will also equip Americans with relevant knowledge and skills that promote the growth of the economy.

Health

Seeking treatment during illness is costly. Illness can lead to loss of the breadwinner in the family resulting in poverty. A healthy nation is more productive which increases income. America needs a reliable healthcare system that seeks to prevent poverty due to sickness. Key health and nutrition resources should be distributed adequately.

Employment

When the labor market is solid/strong, it offers more employment opportunities to everyone. Americans who are yet to be employed will secure better wages and raise their families out of poverty. These individuals will also pay taxes to the government and boost its economy.

Housing

Providing stable housing to Americans increases their ability to look for basic needs such as medicine and food. Housing will reduce homelessness and rates of absenteeism at school due to illness. Stable housing helps to strengthen parenting and supports the development of early childhood. Studies have revealed that improving housing will help to eradicate poverty by up to 21 percent (Isaacson 2).

From the principles listed, it is evident that the U.S is headed in the wrong direction. The middle-class population in the US is shrinking slowly while individuals with high paying income are relocating from America to other countries. Republicans argue that America is spending more on every individual regarding social welfare, but we are still lagging behind in poverty. Households with low income continue to fall into more debts. Additionally, the rates of poverty in families raised by single mothers are impacted significantly be America’s poverty. According to the National Poverty Center, these women lack additional support from spouses. The welfare state of the US does not include this population into its policies. The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recorded that over 15 million kids are living below the threshold for poverty. These rates are worrying among black children, Latino and Indian children (Haymes, Haymes and Miller 81).

A good welfare state needs to address the needs of these children; something the US welfare has ignored. If asked to check the number of times the aging population appears in the current US Welfare State, you will be surprised to learn the Welfare speaks less about this population. Unfortunately, the aging populations continue to struggle with health care bills, the increasing costs of housing and utility costs. The current welfare state has ignored them regarding Retirement benefits, and thus the older adults lack adequate savings to rely on. It is quite shocking that over 20 million Americans above 60 years are living in poverty after dedicating their lives to serve this nation. The Justice in Aging, i.e., a nongovernmental organization against poverty among older adults reveals that the fight against senior poverty will be a tall order if the US Welfare State continues to ignore them. According to the organization, over 72 million senior will be living in poverty by 2030. The Welfare state does not allow the average worker to save for his or her retirement since it lacks pensions (Warmer and Link 44).

The Welfare State must include effective and efficient social insurance programs whose policies promote equity amongst Americans. `Most political leaders do not understand the true meaning of social insurance fund hence confuse the public. The US Welfare State should define Social insurance as a set of programs that the government administers regarding public insurance. This type of insurance must be distinguished from private insurance regarding the benefits offered to the public. For instance, we need a solid unemployment insurance for young Americans. As discussed earlier, unemployment contributes significantly to the increase in poverty. Young Americans will be able to earn certain financial benefits from the program that will help them to cater for their bills. Americans do not need Public Assistance programs like food stamps that are awarded only when there is a need. For how long shall America continue to provide food stamps to children and young Americans living in poverty? We need a sustainable social insurance program that will help Americans settle their bills. The current alternative to employment compensation argues that this policy discourages Americans from seeking jobs. This fallacy should be discouraged because what the policy offers is not enough to sustain the youths and this they continue looking for jobs. Besides most Americans who are yet to be employment, i.e., the poor are not covered (Warmer and Link 57). What is the benefit of having such an alternative that does not take care of the larger unemployment population?

The Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) is another social insurance program that the Welfare State needs to promote. After serving America all my life, I would be more than pleased to know that I can qualify for such benefits when I retire. A country whose people are motivated is more productive and records an increase in the revenue. Today, the working population in America is less motivated because they are worried about their fate on retirement. We have read many stories about our American Heroes who lost their legs, sight or became totally paralyzed on the battlefield. The current policies on OASDI require that individuals must be employed for a particular period to qualify for these benefits. Many soldiers have been left to suffer because they suffered before meeting the required minimum time of working. Such policies should be deleted from the welfare system. The government should also design ways in which older adults, survivors and the disabled are allowed to pay less for the insurance policy and earn more. (Warmer and Link 67)

The Welfare State must expand in-kind benefits to cover the larger population of Americans living in poverty. Today, the cost of living is high and continues to increase regarding food, shelter, and health. A nation whose people are not healthy can never grow. With the ever-rising cost of healthcare, America has lost many lives. The government collects too much revenue from the citizens annually. These revenues are sufficient enough to cater for free healthcare to citizens who can barely afford. The welfare state should channel the revenues to the ministry of health and ensure that healthcare is free to those who cannot afford. One of the ways of ensuring free healthcare services to Americans is by reimbursing hospitals and doctors directly. A fraction of this money can be set aside from the revenues collected by the county governments and the national governments. The national regulatory insurance authorities need to consult with private insurers to ensure that Americans who wish to take a private health cover do not have to exhaust their accounts as it is today. Taking up a private insurance today in America is costly, yet the coverage is still limited. Politicians have opposed the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as the Obama Care for their selfish interests (Gootnick 45).

The American government should roll out programs that center on preventing poverty in the country. The current American programs seek to support those who are already struggling with poverty. Once we can prevent our citizens from falling into poverty, then we can confidently say that America has won the fight against poverty. For instance, we need to establish children’s programs that seek to reduce the number of kids born out of wedlock and minimize teen pregnancies. America is one of the developed countries that is still struggling with high rates of teen pregnancies. Every year, nearly 750, 000 American teenagers become pregnant. Unfortunately, the chances of teen mothers graduating from high school are low which leads to poverty. Most of the teen mothers rely on welfare programs. These teens require prams that offer comprehensive sex education and allow teenagers to engage themselves in productive activities that impact our revenue positively. I am optimistic that reducing the number of children born out of wedlock and teen pregnancies will save this nation from sliding further into poverty (Warmer and Link 75).

Another way we can reduce poverty is by offering an efficient education system that equips Americans with relevant skills for survival. The current American education system is not effective as it should be. It is factual that Americans are ‘out-educated’ by students from other developed nations. This system has failed to generations that are productive both locally and globally. We need to change America’s curriculum, offer free public education (not student loans) and provide rewarding careers that will enable our students to complete globally. General education needs to end upon graduation from high school. Students should also be taken through vocational training to acquire relevant training. Community education system should be restructured such that students enroll in the right fields from day one. There is no doubt that an educated nation can never struggle with poverty. Additionally, we need social services that seek to empower the elderly and the working aged (Haymes, Haymes and Miller 88).

When this population is empowered, it becomes self-reliant, and Americans can positively channel the time that would have otherwise been spent on taking care of the elder into other productive activities. These strategies help to promote potential self-reliance among populations that have been known for relying on government welfare programs. In-Kind programs should lay solid plans to eliminate homelessness by providing adequate housing to all citizens. It is a shame that the current housing programs provide substandard houses that are not safe for Americans. Being a developed nation, America’s welfare state should establish houses that meet the global standards. America has about 1.1 million units for public housing that are not enough to house the ever-increasing population of homeless and low-income Americans. By 2013, the number of public housing units reduced by over 250, 000 citing underfunding by the government and deterioration. A welfare state should ensure that deteriorated public houses are replaced or renovated in time (Isaacson 2).

Conclusion

Establishing an efficient welfare system in the U.S will be met by several challenges including racism and political division. When a country is divided by race, ethnicity, language or religion, the welfare state becomes small and less efficient. This division accounts for the 40 percent difference in America’s welfare spending compared to European nations. A welfare that adopts the recommendations above will promote national and political cohesion (Warmer and Link 74).

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Works Cited

Gootnick, David. Poverty Determination in U.S. Insular Areas. DIANE Publishing, 2011.

Haymes, Stephen, Maria Vidal Haymes, and Reuben Miller. The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States. Routledge, 2014.

Isaacson, Betsy. "How to Fix Poverty: Writer Every Family a Basic Income." 2014. NEWSWEEK.

U.S. Dept of Commerce. "People Without Health Coverage: Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2014." 2016. U.S. Dept of Commerce/U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Warmer, Katherine S and Rosemary J Link. Social Welfare Policy for a Sustainable Future. SAGE Publishing, 2015.

September 21, 2021

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