I think it’s time to bring back two old programs started under The New Deal: with the Civilian Conservation Corp and the Works Progress Administration
The benefit was that people that were unemployed were given meaningful work to do. I have four main suggestions.
1) Get people to do work improving infrastructure, cleaning up cities and towns, and building public amenities, like they used to do in the 1930’s and 40’s.
2) Remove the marriage penalty for getting welfare, to discourage the decline of nuclear families on benefits. In some states, marriage means you get fewer or no benefits, making parents more likely to split up or not live together.
3) Remove the welfare cliff so people on benefits don’t get punished for working as you earn more money. Instead of dropping off welfare completely and suffering a net loss for working, have the benefits gradually step down so you are encouraged to work and actually able to build up a savings.
4) Increase the food benefit – people should not have to depend on charity food banks to meet their basic food needs. It’s an abdication of responsibility by our society to offload these concerns onto private charities.
5) Medicare For All – healthcare is a human right. It should be available for all. Not having access to healthcare is a huge barrier to living a life of dignity and decency.
I strongly believe that when people are sure their basic needs will be met, and aren’t stressed and occupied with basic day to day survival, most people receiving these benefits will be much more likely to participate and engage with meaningful work. I believe more people would work, compared to the current system where those on benefits live under the threat of losing their safety net unless they work.
The system as it is designed today is fairly cruel.
The real question is something along the lines of: “why do the wealthy political elites allow the status quo to continue?”
The answer is because they can pat themselves on the back and say, “Look at all the programs we’ve created for the poor! We’re doing something!” In reality, the poor are ghettoized and cordoned off from middle and upper class society so that the rest of us don’t have to face what their lives are like.
Wealth and income inequality present an existential threat to society.
“The rich get richer. It’s the law of the land.”