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Welfare - How to get people off of it

Updated on August 22, 2013


Welfare seems to be the way to go these days, jump through a few hoops and you have your check, or in today’s words, Bridge Card (Michigan is our State and they used the Mackinaw Bridge as the symbol)  As I have said in my previous Hub, I used welfare on and off for more than 10 years.  I have been able get off and stay off due to shame and determination on my part.  I have given a lot of thought and have come up with a few ways to give people that ‘Hand Up’ take away the hand out, add a touch of shame (yes, it IS needed) and give the people some pride in themselves.

How and what is available to the needy

The food Stamp program is federally regulated yes it is necessary at times but can be dealt with in a different manner. Just handing the people a card with a certain amount of money to use each month on food is not going to teach them anything. The card was supposed to be a better way of giving out food money, this way the ‘stamps’ that were given could not be used to purchase drugs or in some cases, smaller convenience stores run by non-Americans would buy the stamps for 50 cents on the dollar. Yes, On numerous occasions I was asked to sell my stamps “I give you 50 cents on dollar, you can’t get better deal anywhere!” in very broken English. No, I did not sell my food stamps, but I did not report him either. I didn’t know who to report him to. Now the food card is just handed to the drug dealer with the pin code given, trust seems to work for these people.

Welfare is money received each month to pay your bills, the only thing you have to give in return is a little bit of your time to ‘Work First’ a program that truly doesn’t do any good since you have to find a way to pay a care giver for your children. The laws have changed and now the only way to be on welfare is if you have children. Other programs have been implemented for those who feel they cannot work it is called SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is just a fancy name for those who can come up with a health issue that prevents them from gainful employment, and can get a Dr. to agree with them.

Medicaid is medical insurance that those who are on welfare receive. They get to go to the Dr. or the emergency room whenever they feel the need to do so, without any charge. I am putting it in its simplest form, there is more to it, but basically this is what it is.

Everyone is makes mistakes, we all have accidents. Sometimes a young girl, usually those with self esteem issues are the ones who begin the ball rolling. We need to find a way to stop the ball. To keep it from picking up speed, collecting all the garbage along the way, hitting the bottom of that hill.

The Solution - simplified

Education should be our very first issue. I’m not talking about public schools, apparently those are not working. What I am referring to is welfare school. Classes that must be taken by those who have applied for and are receiving food stamps and welfare. Let me explain:

Right now we are in the double digits of Unemployment. People are being paid for being laid off, some of these are educators. All of them have something to offer. When you register for Unemployment your job description is included, along with that you must register (in our State it’s called ‘Michigan Works’) with a job search bank. What if we put these good people who have lost their jobs to ‘work’, meaning they still get their Unemployment but have to serve several hours per week putting to use what they know, to those who don’t know?

We have young people who are receiving food stamps going to the store buying whatever suits their fancy, only to find at the end of the month there isn’t enough food or money to eat well. They buy junk with their food card, non nutritional foods, foods that may be filling at the moment but are bad for their bodies and the bodies of their children. Instant foods, something that is already made, just ‘heat and eat’. Canned foods, high in flavor, high in fat and high in calories, bad for the body.

The first class that I feel should be required is a cooking class. We need to teach them HOW to cook, how to purchase and prepare nutritional meals. Show them how to take a hunk of meat, and some veggies and make a meal with it. How to take the leftovers and make a meal with that. How to preserve foods should also be included in these classes. Handing them a piece of paper telling them circle what is nutritional is not doing anyone any favors. They need to have some hands on experience, to see how it is done. To feel pride that they have prepared a meal that everyone will eat.

Some could teach “How to do simple home repairs“. Men or women who receive Unemployment could teach “How to change the oil in a car” How about “How to utilize coupons”? Musicians can teach music, something that may not seem beneficial at the moment, but will cause the recipient to feel good about themselves. If there is something that you know, something that you are good at, why not teach it to those who don’t know? It will give those who are on Unemployment satisfaction of making a contribution and quite possibly an idea of how to get back into the work force.

Parenting classes should be mandatory for those who have children. We are seeing an influx of babies being born in our country. If something isn’t done to help these new parents and soon we will have a bunch of uneducated hooligans running around. These classes should be offered and required to take if you are on the receiving end of welfare and food stamps, if the required classes are not taken and passed, the assistance should be stopped.

We have a lot of available land in this country, a lot that is owned by the states and federal government. I personally have 4 acres, of which has very rich earth. In the big cities it would be a little trickier to accomplish what I suggest, but it still could be done if planned well.

Gardening - It has become a lost art. It is much easier to go to the store and buy something that someone else has grown. Most of the young people of today have never even contemplated such a things as growing their own produce. Digging in the dirt, planting seeds and tending to them and watching things grow give such a good satisfaction of having accomplished something. It should be required that every person receiving food stamps be required to tend a garden, during the growing season, or at least be part of a Co-op that over sees this. Let me explain:

Some of the land that each State has, for instance 10 acres per county (just an estimate some counties are larger than others), could be utilized for growing foods to be distributed to each food stamp or welfare recipient. In order to continue to receive said food stamps one must be required to participate. The SSI recipients who can move about, we are referring to those who can walk even with the aid of a cane, would be the book keepers of said project. A State official or someone within the local welfare office would oversee the entire project. For those without transportation, buses would be provided at designated times. There should be no excuse as to why anyone cannot work at one of these farms.

Animals could be raised to provide meat, tended by the recipients. This is not a ’work house’, something that was done away long ago. This is an opportunity to do something for yourself and feel good about what you have done. The children of those who are receiving welfare would not be excluded from this, daycare would be provided for those who need it, at the farm. All participants would share in the bounty. Classes for food preservation would also be taught at the farm. All would serve, all would benefit including the tax payers. The amount of food stamps that would be received could be greatly reduced, lessoning the burden upon the tax payers.

I have offered some of my land to be use for gardening, marked off in sections, to my community at a price that anyone could afford. I had to charge something for the electricity used to pump the water, a garden needs water. Yet my offer was refused, why? Because no one is being forced to do anything for themselves. They are all standing there waiting for their hand out, with no one offering them a hand up.

Just a possibility

This is not a complete end, but it is a beginning to an end. A beginning to giving the people a reason to get up, get out, get motivated, a beginning of feeling self sufficient. Other programs may follow, all I know is something needs to start somewhere. I have no idea how to get my word out, please feel free to pass this Hub along, in fact I encourage it, get it to someone who can make it happen. Even if a pilot program were started, just to see how it goes. We have to start somewhere!



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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 21 months ago from Michigan

      I'm trying to wrap my head around how you could possibly disagree with educating people and helping them help themselves. Wouldn't it be much nicer to be on a program that makes people feel good about themselves? A program that teaches how to prepare more nutritious meals that help their health rather than hurt it? Wouldn't a person who is a productive member of society feel better and want to improve themselves? It would give them a sense of pride, correct? Pride in themselves, pride in their surroundings, pride in something they have accomplished. How could this possibly be a bad thing?

      You may have missed the first paragraph so your allegation of bias is unfounded. If - as you say there is currently a rigorous approval process to receive SSI that is because of so many who have abused the system in the past. Back problems were 'the' thing for the last 25 years or so and now it is mental issues. The back problems were very difficult to prove and now that there are MRI's, Cat Scans and all sorts of different ways of looking into back issues. I'm not making this up, just writing what I have seen with my own 2 eyes and my own 2 ears.

      I have found ways of making money and have offered these ways to people who are on SSI and the first thing I hear is "I can't because it will mess up my SSI". For me I find it difficult to understand, who wouldn't want more money a month?

      I believe you missed the point of this Hub. But thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      shirleymay 21 months ago

      This article is rubbish. It is biased and doesn't take into consideration the fact that some of your readers are, or in the past have been, on welfare. SSI is a federal program for individuals deemed disabled and unable to work for a specified period of time. Applicants must go through a very rigorous approval process, meeting with multiple medical experts to verify the validity of their disability. Typical applicants are denied twice and wait around three years before being approved. This program would cover veterans with PTSD, children with cancer, adults with schizophrenia. You write that lazy people just make up ailments and get it but in reality its difficult to get approved for, and most often requires legal representation. WorkFirst requires participants to work 35 hours per week in exchange for the benefits they receive--so for the most typical recipients, the single mother with two children, that means working for around $1.40 per hour, in order to obtain and strengthen job skills and employ-ability. YES there are people that abuse the system (about 1% of them) and NO the system isn't perfect, but the way you describe people isn't realistic and is just a blend of all the typical stereotypes society likes to generate about those less fortunate. Its unfortunate that you have a voice to share and people willing to listen to what you have to say and that this is how you are choosing to use that voice.

    • profile image

      Betty 4 years ago

      A lot of people that are on WELFARE have been on it for several years and it needs to stop. A lot of them have no shame. They also need to have to take a money management course and also show everything they did with the FREE money that was handed to them. They buy better food and go out to eat more than the average person. We the people are paying for all of that when we don't feel that we can live like that. Most of them are just plain lazy. This system (I thought) was to help get people back on their feet when things get bad NOT be on it for years and years and then their kids go on it also. That seems to be a way of life. A lot of people can't afford to have health insurance, but these long term welfare people seem to get it, no stress whatsoever. They also get cell phones. This has to stop. I go to church once a week, go to the Drs. when NEED BE, I just don't feel I have any extra money for gas. But Welfare can sure pound the roads all the time. I'm not saying all welfare people are bad or lazy, but the majority are and that gives the ones that are really really needy for a period of time a bad name. We plant a big garden and I can non stop. Hundreds of quarts of garden vegetables. Welfare doesn't want to bother working like that. I'd rather hire more people to check up on those people than let them continue enjoying life and not working.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      That's AWESOME!! Now to get more cities and States t go along with it!!

    • profile image

      Sean 5 years ago

      Actually, there is a big movement right now for inner city gardening:

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you. Wouldn't it be great if there were programs like this? I don't know if it could bring employment or anything for pay but it might give people incentive to create jobs for themselves. This Country is in such a mess right now, I don't know what can help. The only thing that can bring us around again is for our gas prices to drop well below what they are right now.

      I wish I had some hard and fast answers for you, you seem like you really have it going on in your life and aren't asking for a hand out, just a little help.

      The schooling that you speak of yes, it seems like they are just out for the money.

      Your kids will motivate you that is for sure!! Best of Luck to you!!

    • profile image

      Ava-bug's Mom 5 years ago

      You have some very good ideas. I'm currently a "welfare mom" (I hate that term BTW) and I would jump at the chance to take some classes to learn some additional skills. The problem is are those 'additional skills' really gonna help me get a job? I've been looking and applying for jobs continuously, while taking classes online. So last year, along with my FT school schedule I signed up to take the NAI class through my college. For almost 5 months I gave up my weekends to attend class 8-5 Sat & SUN. I became a certified Nursing Assistant in January of this year. It's almost April and I still have no job. And trust me I have applied every where, even State positions. I even made an arrangement with a friend for her to watch my kids overnight if I could find something on 3rd shift but still NOTHING. If there is going to be programs like the ones you speak of then there needs to be guaranteed work in place once you have completed your obligation. Sometimes I think these colleges are just making money off of all of us and not doing much, if anything, to help us actually find (and keep) a job. I WANT to work! I HATE the situation I'm in but I gotta keep pressing forward and hopefully (and prayerfully) something will change SOON. I'm finishing up my Associates degree and want to go even further. My kids are what motivates me to keep going.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      It just seems to make sense doesn't it? Just handing out cash only to have someone ask for more! I can't get upset with folks, you keep handing it out, they keep wanting it. So make them work for it, feel better about themselves and everybody wins!

    • profile image

      Shelley 6 years ago

      I agree that welfare money should not just be given away without some sort of responsibility to go to "welfare class", go to and be accountable for job interviews, community service, i.e. babysitting, typing resumes for recipients looking for jobs, etc.

      We need to help each other with a hand up and not just with a hand out.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      When I received welfare I too was able to make very good meals, I could stretch that dollar so far it would make your head spin! I also utilized coupons to the point of going to 3 different stores each month on the sale days. That $1.50 Sunday paper was worth it's weight in gold, for the coupons available.

      I am not suggesting that no one can do what you do or I did. What I am saying is the biggest share of food stamp recipients do not know how.

      It is obvious at the local Food bank offices. All you have to do is show your food stamp card or medicaid card. For those who don't receive food stamps, you can still get food from the food bank, it's just a little more difficult.

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      It amazes me that too many think of welfare people as 'not bright' and think of them as not smart enough to buy decent food. When using a paycheck, no one cares what I place in my cart, give me food stamps, it becomes a big public debate.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you Nora! Glad you found your way here! I've been thinking of this for some time now and was finally able to put it inot words. I know I really should write our state Governor about them. Was hoping she'd find her way here!

    • profile image

      NorajAlex 7 years ago

      Great post and some fantastic, realistic and definitley do-able suggestions!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Well, my thought for the most part is to get them contributing in some way shape or form. When we sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, we accomplish nothing.

      I agree, inner city people would have a hard time finding a garden to tend to. I'm sure our 'thinkers' can come up with something!

      Thanks for linking mine to yours!!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      You have some very good points here, and I certainly agree with all of them except perhaps the gardening. While a good thought in principle, I think that far too many of the people expecting their handout live in inner cities where a garden just isn't practical or possible. When it takes a couple of hours to get a busload out of downtown Chicago or New York I don't think it will work.

      This hub makes an excellent addition to my own hub on entitlements and I have linked to it. Thank you.