Lawndale News Chicago’s Bilingual Newspaper – Commentary

By: Daniel Nardini

                             Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary A middle-aged lady named Laurie just sits on her porch all day. Every now and then she may go and pick tomatoes in her garden, and do house chores. But she does little else during the day. Laurie cannot work, and has had a long history of physical illness. However, she cannot, for some reason, get on disability, and so is on the U.S. government’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, also known as welfare. She does not like being on this program, and has tried to get off of it and find work. However, Laurie has run into three serious problems in regards to her being on welfare. Because she is on welfare, many employers will not hire her because they see her as “lazy.” Second, the amount of money she receives in welfare is better than if she tried to have a regular job. Finally, she has health care through her welfare—something that nine times out of ten she would not have if she worked.
  All of this is a huge disincentive for her, and other people she knows who are on welfare, to try and work and become part of the workforce. Even with her physical ailments, Laurie wants to do work even if part-time just to feel she is bringing in some money. She knows that being on welfare is a major disincentive for her children, and wants to break out of this trend. But with poor job prospects, and a high unemployment rate in her area, Laurie is, sadly, better off on welfare than if she had a minimum wage job. According to a report published by the Cato Institute, this has become a dangerous trend. As many as 12 states, and Washington, D.C., have welfare payments that are almost twice as high compared to the minimum wage jobs in these states. According to the study, the largest percentage of those on welfare are Latinos. Like Laurie, many Latinos on welfare are having trouble getting off of welfare.
                              Over the last generation, the quality and quantity of high paying jobs in the United States has fallen dramatically. In my father’s day, all a person had to do was simply walk out the door and the chances were they could land a job before the end of the day. Nowadays, finding any kind of job is proving exceedingly difficult. In many regions of the country, it is proving nearly impossible. The economy has still largely not recovered from the Great Recession, and the percentage of people on welfare now is the highest recorded in the nation’s history—15 percent. With this large percentage of people out of the workforce, how will we be able to get them back in? How can we give them, or just about anyone else, good paying jobs as an incentive to return to the workforce? Some people may remain on welfare because they cannot work anymore, but there are way too many who want to get back in but simply cannot. In fact, trying to increase the availability of high paying jobs for the average American is not just the solution for those on welfare, but for all Americans. Until then, Laurie sits on her porch all day.

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