Women like Rose Laird, an 89 year old widow who is living in Chicago and who lived during the Depression. “My husband was off in Europe during the war and my mother was sick with cancer and I was assigned to take care of her. I worked but did not make enough money to care for my family. I received welfare payments to the total of $521. 19. After the war, I paid back the total. I hated being on welfare but there was really nothing at the time, that I could do to remedy the situation.
I did what I had to do but made sure to pay it back. It was an awful time. ” (Wolf, 2006 www. usatoday. com) By the early 1990’s there had been instances of individuals being on welfare for more than thirty years and had also added numerous additions to their family. This infuriated millions of Americans and despite President Clinton, a Democrat, being elected to the White House in 1992, the General Election of 1994, helped the Republicans to gain many seats in both Houses of Congress.
Their “Contract with America” would help to define that Congress. Their first agenda was welfare reform. The negative perceptions of the welfare system was based mostly in fact but also in erroneous assumptions that found its roots in the prolonged and largely ignored frustrations that came from those whose hard work helped to support those who chose not to work. The perception which is held by some and which states that all who are on welfare, is a result of bad choices and irresponsible actions.
Nobody is perfect and the large majority of those on welfare, had an instance in their life where a decision could have been made differently. There is no exception to the rule for every American who ever lived to adult hood. Also, what compounds the problem and increased the time in which people were on welfare, came from a number of factors; factors that the person might not have had full control over but whose responsibility does not lie with the government.
Seventy five of people on welfare are single mothers. The traditional American family of two children supported by both parents in the home, has hit on hard times lately. For the first time in American history, there as many unmarried adults as there are married adults. It is a self evident fact that those who are not married, are still having children at the same rate as those who are married, perhaps even at a greater rate.
Also, what constitutes a horrible, but well known male logic states that if one did not possess the level of committeemen to marry that girl, then they will not have the same commitment to stay with that person and raise children that they never intended to raise. This has become the rule much more than the exception and men who decide to stay with their pregnant girlfriends, can expect to receive high praise from a society made skeptical about the role and responsibility of millions of American fathers.
“As the researchers tell us, behavior is learned and copied by what the child grows up and witnesses. If a child is taught that paternal involvement, self responsibility and economic independence is really only an option, crippling hurdles now exist which tell the child that to follow in the footsteps of their father or to expect a man not to marry them but that somehow they will stick around to take care of their child, will somehow come to fruition.
” (Johnson, 2007 pg. 18) The sad fact, as the percentage of broken homes has increased at an exponential rate over the last fifty years, contributes greatly to a person’s inability to independently take themselves off of the welfare system. Also, as America has become a blameless society and only those from the pulpit will speak to the benefits of the nuclear family, there is little evidence to show that such movements will reverse their crippling trends.