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The word "welfare programs" in the United States refers to state-regulated programs intended for US residents who live below the minimum acceptable thresholds established by US state governments. There are many welfare programs available, each of which falls under a separate policy umbrella and each of which has unique illegibility criteria or elements to not only obtain but also sustain payments. Child maintenance services, cash aid (TANF), food assistance, electricity and utility assistance, and medical assistance are only a few of the welfare programs available.
Although US welfare systems offer enormous benefits to the vulnerable, the scheme is not without flaws. Some of the ethical issues or concerns raised over these programs include denial of assistance to poor people that fail to meet the requirements, marriage and wage increment penalties and fraud all of which portray the welfare programs as profoundly unjust.
Ethical issues that render the US welfare Programs as Unjust
One of the primary ethical concerns of US welfare programs is regarding the state’s denial of welfare, cash and medical assistance to poor American citizens that fail to meet the requirements such as in the case of most immigrant families (Eternity). This ethical issue is a result of a great deal of paperwork required during the application process. As a result of lack of adequate documentation and high illiteracy levels poor people for whom these programs are meant to aid end up not qualifying for welfare. According to research studies, the US welfare program has evolved into a process that is “more concerned with the process of verification and ultimately keeping ineligible people off welfare than in trying to help poor people become eligible”(Tolchin).
The second ethical issue that makes the US welfare programs fundamentally unjust is the marriage and wage increment penalties (Welfare Issues). The contemporary welfare system to a great extent discourages marriages due to the disproportionate loss of welfare benefits in the event two individuals marry. Similarly, in the event people living in absolute poverty receive wage increment regardless of how insignificant the increment is, this results in a disproportionate loss of welfare benefits. As a result, such attributes are responsible for making the poor American citizens feel as though they are trapped.
In conclusion, another ethical concern concerning the US welfare being unjust is lack transparency which results in large-scale fraud. In the US, over the years department such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not disclose information such as on product purchases or information on money used by welfare programs such SNAP nor how much money is generated by retailers off SNAP (Montgomery).
As a result, this makes it impossible for watchdogs to identify fraud on the system. Following this, according to the government accountability reports released earlier in 2009, an estimated amount of $2.2 billion was paid out in error (Montgomery). This can be considered as unjust because these funds fail to aid those in need and living poverty and instead benefits those that are well off. Moreover, as a result of such fraud, poor people end up receiving limited funds.
Eternity, M. "Failed "Welfare" Programs and the Web of Poverty”. (2013). Retrieved from, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15095-failed-welfare-programs-and-the-web-of-poverty
Tolchin, M. “Welfare Denied too Many of Poor over Paperwork”. (1988). Retrieved from, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/29/us/welfare-denied-to-many-of-poor-over-paperwork.html?pagewanted=all
Welfare Issues. “Federal Safety Net”. .(n.d). Retrieved From: http://federalsafetynet.com/welfare-issues.html
Montgomery, A. “Top 10 Reasons Food Stamps Need to be Reformed”. (2013). Retrieved from, http://www.freedomworks.org/content/top-10-reasons-food-stamps-need-be-reformed
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