Reading the articles on the work-requirement facet of the welfare law boils the blood, if you happen to care about others. Consider this Crosscut piece by Drew Atkins. He writes:
Under new requirements, individuals are now limited to three months of food assistance in any three-year period, unless they work 80 hours a month, or participate in a sufficient number of trainings and volunteer programs. These requirements apply to adults between 18 and 49 who do not have disabilities or dependents.
These requirements have been on hold since 2009, due to the widespread and persistent unemployment following Wall Street’s crash. The boost in food stamp benefits has been attributed, in-part, to preventing poverty and homelessness rates from skyrocketing.
The requirements are being re-imposed due to perceptions that employment rates have sufficiently recovered in parts of the country. Federal waivers have been sought and granted for areas whose employment numbers remain low, which is why only certain segments of Washington are effected [sic].
sic] [However, this year Republicans in the State Senate attempted to forbid any part of Washington from seeking a waiver, regardless of how few jobs were in them. Many thousands more people would lose food assistance under the bill — SB 5776 — which has been reintroduced in two consecutive sessions and four special sessions.
You see, the damn Republicans are busy again screwing the 47 Percent. It must be in their DNA to blame the victim. The virtues of compassion and empathy encounter a solid brick wall when trying to enter conservative hearts and minds.
That said, we remind ourselves that it was William Jefferson Clinton who boasted that he had ended “welfare as we know it,” championing then signing a draconian piece of congressional legislation that essentially criminalized being poor. But the Clintons have never been in league with the Rest of Us, preferring the baubles and trinkets of the elite, a class to which they have always aspired.
In a country founded on rights, why do so many Americans abhor the letter and intent of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and ratified by dozens of countries, including the United States? Take Article 1 of the document. It reads:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Or take Article 25:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
The Declaration, by the way, has the force of international law. But we are Americans. We get to do what we want, even ignore stuff to which we once agreed. And the thing we evidently want to do at the moment is kick people when they are down. Oh, and ape the rich, if we can.