Idea on putting welfare recipients to work

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by jam937, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    These are just random thoughts. I haven't fully vetted them. I know there are flaws here. I read an article today about how some businesses are urging law makers to open up immigration so they can get some workers. I thought wait a minute, we have tons of workers in the country, they're just not working.

    Idea .....

    Many people on welfare, disability, unemployment, etc. are capable of doing some type of work. There are many reasons why they are not, but lets table that discussion for now. Let's just take those who are of working age, are not working and receiving government benefits.

    What if we created a job registry where these people are entered into the registry along with their location, skills, education, criminal background, availability and means of transportation. Then businesses who need workers can draw upon the registry for someone who matches their needs. The workers still get their benefits from the taxpayers while working for these businesses. The businesses do not pay them wages. Maybe the business pays their transportation costs. Then after a certain amount of time the business has to hire the person or put them back in the registry. This way the people might be learning some new job skills and/or getting a new job. There is minimal risk for businesses to try someone out and give them a chance to prove themselves. It's not costing the businesses money to train people. Of course there would need to be safe guards for businesses abusing the system and just using people. There would also need to be some requirements and penalties for the workers. If you turn down work X times or do a bad job X times maybe you lose your benefits. Obviously there would need to be some guidelines. Maybe there would be a bonus (money, tuition help, etc.) paid by taxpayers for any welfare recipient worker who lands a full-time job from the registry, gets off welfare or reduces their welfare benefits and keeps that job for X amount of time.
  2. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    Sounds like a temp agency. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I completely agree with your statement regarding the fact that there are people who simply aren't working when they could be. My brother-in-law is a part owner of a major seafood company. They hire workers from Mexico to do things like shucking oysters. Yes, they're legal. :usa2: I asked him why they wouldn't hire locals, because there are tons of people around on unemployment. He said they WOULD, but the problem is that no one around here is willing to do the work. They're especially in need at the moment, because regulations have changed and the Mexican workers have had to go home for the summer, when in previous years some have been able to stay. Unfortunately, no locals want the job.

    I asked him his thoughts about why locals wouldn't work. He talked about how employees were paid for things like shucking oysters. They're essentially paid based on their output. If they shuck more, they get paid more. The locals that they have hired in the past have been unwilling to work, and they're output stinks. Because of the laws, they have to be paid minimum wage, even if they output less than that. So my brother-in-laws view is that it actually costs the company more to hire people who aren't willing to work. It's a messy situation. They have jobs available, but the people just aren't willing to work them.

  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    You might be able to help some people if such a plan were implemented, but maybe not very many. Most recipients of welfare are not of working age and most of those who are already have work, but it just isn't enough to get by (very often, this is due to the death of a working spouse in a family with children, or a medical issue which reduces how much a working aged adult is capable of working).

    There are doubtlessly some abuses- no man-made system has ever been abuse-free, but abuse is a relatively minor problem when it comes to welfare when all the numbers are addded up. There also exist those who would work if they could find it or if they knew where to look (I've personally experienced this- being highly motivated to find a job, but being unsuccessful in my search and wishing I knew how to search better, but not even knowing where to turn to learn how to learn to search better.) Although, in my case I never qualified for welfare. It turns out that welfare is not for the desperate and hopeless, but for those who are even worse off than that.
  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    We have something where I live (Canada) called "Ontario Works," for people who can work, but have no job or unemployment insurance income. Basically, people on this program get welfare benefits - money and free dental/drug (prescription, that is) coverage. The deal is - in exchange, they have to take job training or do whatever the Ministry of Social Services says they have to do, to get working and off benefits as soon as possible. I believe sometimes they are assigned jobs on a temporary basis. Of course, the Government has to steer clear of assigning them any work that any union members might otherwise be employed at.

    They don't assign them to tasks done seasonally by our many (legal) foreign farm-workers. Many have come from Mexico or the West Indies every year for a long time, as they can make as much in three months here as they can in a year back home. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the locals don't want that kind of work anyway and wouldn't be as productive at it.

    I've seen no stats on what the program really accomplishes. From my own experience, some people just don't want to work, and many are adept at finding some reason they don't have to and getting free money anyway... I've known of families on welfare for three generations! Who knows - maybe that'll change -- maybe it won't!

    And contrary to Maniac's findings -- here most welfare recipients ARE of working age. They are, because even if they have nothing else, the Government pension schemes are pretty good to most folks 65 and up. I'm living proof of that! :smile: And here, welfare abuse is a MAJOR problem. Of course, it may be entirely different where he (Maniac) lives - I have absolutely no idea. but I know how it works here, because I live in a high-welfare area.

  5. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    This is getting off topic but I need to set some facts straight. I think a lot of people may be under these misconceptions.

    Most recipients of welfare are in fact in their 20's and 30's. 90% of welfare parents are single mothers and 87% of welfare mothers are in their 20s and 30s.

    57% of welfare recipients have NOT worked in past 24 months. The 43% that have worked in past 24 months averaged 24 weeks. Death of a working spouse is also very minimal.

    Los Angeles County performs 30-40,000 investigations per year and finds fraud in 5-8,000 of those cases.
    Michigan FY2012 had $112 million in recipient fraud
    New York City FY2012 had $425 million in fraud and recovered $61 million
    I suspect welfare fraud to be in the billions annually but could not find an all inclusive source. I consider that a major problem.

    You can earn $1000 monthly and still receive Welfare
    Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job in 39 states
    Welfare pays more than an $12 per hour job in 8 states
    Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher in 8 states

    U. Texas - General Characteristics
    LA County Fraud
    Michican OIG
    Welfare Fraud NYC - By the Numbers
    Welfare Statistics | Statistic Brain
  6. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    That sounds like a very interesting program. I think the US could learn from it!

    We have the same problem in the US. I think it's animal instinct. If I start putting food out for the bears, squirrels, etc. They will stop foraging on their own and take the food I put out. Humans are no different looking for the easy way.
  7. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    I'll explain myself when I have more time, but several of the discrepencies in our observations have to do with distinctions, slants and definitions. Lest anyone think I just made up a neat story above, I have some numbers and studies, too. I'm also willing to stand corrected if my conclusions are faulty or if my info is wrong or outdated.
  8. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    Help the helpless, not the hopeless.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    "If you live with the lame -- then you learn how to limp. (2x)
    I can hang with a doctor -- or a low-life pimp." - Bluesman Z.Z. Hill

    In psych class long ago, we studied "learned helplessness." That's the kind of helplessness people turn to their own advantage, so others will give them stuff or do things for them.

    I agree with your sentiment, Cory - although too much of what I've seen in the welfare world* is "learned helplessness" and often practiced by the truly "hopeless." Yes - when people are truly helpless and can't provide for themselves/families - they need a hand up.


    * I've seen a lot. I was a bill collector for close to 30 years -- so I know welfare.
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I'd like to see your evidence, Maniac. I'd never accuse you of making up "a neat story" but I think jam937 hit it right on. I know first-hand that his observations - particularly about (1) age and (2) large extent of welfare fraud - are true around here, too.

    At this point, you'll have to count me among the unconvinced. Especially the part about "Most recipients of welfare are not of working age" - I know that's not true where I live - and it's not true where jam937 checked, either. So please - let's see it.

    And in case you're wondering - yes, I've seen lots of welfare, up close. I was a bill collector for about 30 years, so I have to know welfare and how it works.

    People go on welfare for the darnedest reasons sometimes. Here are two I heard a few years back, locally. These were just people I knew slightly - nothing to do with debt collection.

    (Man about 26) "I woke up and my teeth were hurting real bad, so I knew I had to go on welfare." (To get free dentistry)
    (Man about 35) "My wife and I split up a while back, so I had to go on welfare." (To avoid child support.)

    It's crazy. Completely crazy.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2013
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Well, it works - sometimes. And it's more expensive than it seems. Here's a success story from my town - and I think the program needs every success story it can find: City sees biggest drop in welfare cases since 2008 recession - Local Economy - CBC Hamilton

    What isn't shown here is that aside from a living allowance, that daily 100-mile (return) commute for a year was also funded under the program and the training this young lady received cost an additional - I'm guessing - somewhere between $13,000 and $15,000 of taxpayer dollars. That would be the average cost of a one-year private career college program around here. I don't begrudge a nickel of it for an outcome like this -- I just mention it to show that the success of this program sometimes comes at quite a price.

    And when you factor in the price of failures - the people who drop out of the programs, etc., the price-per-success can escalate dramatically. All too often, the program fails to accomplish anything even when a person successfully completes training. I know people who've completed expensive courses - e.g. IT certifications and are now working at unrelated minimum-wage jobs. Expensive training doesn't guarantee a job. Well-- at least they're working at something, but surely that could have been accomplished for less.

    Yes - perhaps other jurisdictions could learn from our program - but I suggest they study it very carefully and learn from the mistakes as well as the successes. There is no easy fix.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2013
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add - I believe child-care costs would also be taxpayer-funded in similar cases as well. I'm all for that, but it has to be factored into the cost...

  13. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I did a little research on the price of bombs. A general-purpose 500-lb. military bomb is $500, tops. Maybe only $300. But strap on the guidance system and it's around $20,000!

    For that same $20K, our welfare system can enable someone to survive, get educated and get off welfare.

    I think that's WAY more "bang for the buck." :smile: How are you doing on your numbers, Maniac?

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2013
  14. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Perhaps as a point of instruction and perhaps as a point of debate, there is no such thing as "welfare." It's a term that has grown up to represent a set of assistance programs, some which you might like and some which you might not. I offer this:

    United States
    Main article: Social programs in the United States

    President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935.
    In the United States, “welfare” is most often used to refer to means-tested cash benefits, especially the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and its successor, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant. Sometimes, especially by critics of government social spending, it is used to refer to all means tested programs, including for example, healthcare through Medicaid and food and nutrition programs (SNAP).[23]

    AFDC (originally called Aid to Dependent Children) ADC was created during the Great Depression to alleviate the burden of poverty of families with children and allow widowed mothers to maintain their households. (New Deal employment program such as the Works Progress Administration primarily served men.) Prior to the New Deal, anti-poverty programs were primarily operated by private charities or state or local governments; however, these programs were overwhelmed by the depth of need during the Depression.[24] The United States has no national program of cash assistance for non-disabled poor individuals who are not raising children. The exception to this is permanent alimony, which is still administered in a handful of states including New Jersey, Florida and Oregon. Alimony Reform movements in these states are attempting to end this form of private welfare.[25]

    A chart showing the overall decline of average monthly welfare benefits (AFDC then TANF) per recipient (in 2006 dollars).[26]
    In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act changed the structure of Welfare payments and added new criteria to states that received Welfare funding. After reforms, which President Clinton said would "end Welfare as we know it",[27][dead link] amounts from the federal government were given out in a flat rate per state based on population.[28][dead link] Each state must meet certain criteria to ensure recipients are being encouraged to work themselves out of Welfare. The new program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).[29][30] It encourages states to require some sort of employment search in exchange for providing funds to individuals, and imposes a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance.[27][29][31] In FY 2010, 31.8% of TANF families were white, 31.9% were African-American, and 30.0% were Hispanic.[30]

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau data released September 13, 2011, the nation's poverty rate rose to 15.1% (46.2 million) in 2010,[32] up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. In 2008, 13.2% (39.8 million) Americans lived in relative poverty.[33]

    (from Wikipedia "welfare")
  15. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    One has to wonder whether those 8 states are very generous when it comes to welfare benefits or very cheap when it comes to teachers' salaries.
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the explanation, Kizmet. There is "welfare" in Canada and the politically correct name for it is "social assistance." It's provincially administered and our province's name for it is "Ontario Works." Nobody likes the word "welfare," it seems - but it is what it is. The Ontario Works page is here: Ontario Works Not everybody who collects it works, regardless of the name. Some new immigrants, mostly refugees who have not yet had their "hearing" receive it because they can't yet qualify for a work permit.

    We have a variety of Federal income support schemes too, but they are not "welfare." The Feds have a page here:

    Income Assistance - Service Canada

    We have another Provincial program, ODSP - Ontario Disability Support Program, for people living with disabilities - most often permanent. It's not "welfare" - the benefits are at least twice what's paid under "Social Assistance" aka "Ontario Works" aka welfare. And it's most often paid till age 65. It's not uncommon for the lazier type of "welfare" recipient to have but one ambition - to somehow qualify for ODSP. One would like to think such a program would be restricted to those with disability preventing employment -- but it's much abused. "If you live with the lame - you learn how to limp." I know some examples of gross abuse, personally.

    As in the US, we have a variety of lifelines and income supplements, but only one is "welfare" and the PC name differs from province to province. That's the program I was speaking of. In view of the US complexity, it looks like Maniac may have a problem coming up with those numbers... :smile:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2013
  17. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    I call out-of-date on your source. Your source here seems to be the General Characteristics page cited.

    This is a report discussing recipients of TANF published sometime around 1998, before Clinton-era welfare reforms took effect eventually kicking much of the subject population off TANF. As the page in the same report immediately preceding General Characteristics explains, the report is

    Which source is this from?

    Remember that this is putting aside every welfare case where the county doesn't perform a fraud investigation. So looking only at cases where they do perform a fraud investigation, in between 73 and 87% of these cases no fraud is found.

    Your plan seems to put heavy new requirements on welfare recipients as a whole. It doesn't target fraud.

    Now these seem to be from the Statistic Brain page cited. Their source for these seems to be this report from the Cato Institute.

    Look a few pages into the Cato report and you'll see they're mashing together a "Welfare Benefits Package" no one has ever received in anything like cash form, assigning the "Package" cash-equivalent numbers some of which are composed and averaged out at a very high level of abstraction, then treating the "Package" as something like a wage or salary.

    It's nothing like a wage or salary. A very large part of the Package is a cash-equivalent value the writers assign to being covered by Medicaid. They also assign cash-equivalent values to public housing in most states and add those. Millions of people pass through one form of welfare or another without ever living in public housing or receiving a housing voucher.

    The WIC program makes electronic food stamps available ONLY to pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children up to five meeting very specific criteria. If I'm not mistaken the authors here assign a cash value to WIC, average it out among all welfare recipients, and add it to the Package.

    No one ever signs up for welfare and takes home "more than than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher in 8 states." Unless, within "taking home," we're counting these thousands of abstract dollars underlying Medicaid cards, Medicaid or CHIP cards for their children, averages derived from housing and WIC benefits many will never receive, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2013
  18. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    I should have known this would have gotten off topic. I was looking for ideas to get people off welfare. Maybe even see if there was a way to leverage the private sector. It was not my intention to discuss fraud, abuse, etc. Nor to get in a discussion about the statistics of welfare.

    My definition of welfare is anything given to someone by taxpayers that you did not earn by working (excluding retirement). I am adding benefits a child receives to his/her parent(s).

    I guess it was out of date. Here is the official USDA - 2011 Characteristics on food stamps (not TANF I know)

    Age of SNAP participants:
    46% are 18-59 (many in 20's and 30's)
    45% are children (most parents in 20's and 30's)
    9% are 60 or over

    Maniac said "most recipients of welfare are not of working age." At least for SNAP, most households are of working age which is the point I was trying to make.

    I don't know if the investigations are random, from a tip line, etc. So just because 13-27% of investigations discover fraud doesn't mean that can be applied to those who were not investigated. But keep in mind when we see reports on fraud it is only those they caught. The FBI 2010 stats show that only 21% of larceny thefts get solved. 79% get away with it.

    Trafficking (selling benefits to retailer at discount for cash) is $858 million annually or 1.3% of total SNAP. I guess 1.3% is not a lot but this is only one form of SNAP fraud.

    About 10.5 percent of all authorized SNAP stores engaged in trafficking.
    USDA - 2009 Trafficking Report

    In 2010 there were 784,430 fraud investigations done and 27% were positive for fraud. Granted I don't know if they do random investigations or if the people they investigated were under suspicion.
    USDA 2010 State Activity

    279,000 households selected for verification of eligibility for school lunch program
    46% were verified that they met requirements
    54% did not meet the requirements (failed to produce supporting documentation)
    * I believe these were random.
    USDA - 2008 School Lunch Income Verification

    It doesn't seem there are many requirements right now on recipients. The same USDA - 2011 Characteristics shows only 30% of households had earnings. Does that mean that 70% don't work?

    Hawaii offers $60,590 ($29.13 an hour).
    D.C. ($50,820 per year and $24.43 an hour),
    Massachusetts ($50,540 and $24.30),
    Connecticut ($44,370 and $21.33),
    New York ($43,700 and $21.01).
    From Forbes (citing the CATO study). I think the CATO study is pretty good.

    "spending on federal welfare benefits, if converted into cash payments, equals enough to provide $30.60 per hour, 40 hours per week, to each household living below poverty." - Now keep in mind this has administrative, distribution and other costs so not all this money is going to recipients. But interesting stat nonetheless
    US Senate

    Wow this is the most time I ever spent on a post. I have to get back to real work now.
  19. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    I think you're using unrepresentative proxies for "welfare," and this one for "welfare fraud" is an even bigger stretch. Not sending back acceptable proof of low income for a school lunch audit?

    Of course not. For one thing, people work other than for wages: as volunteers, in overlong internships, in sweat equity for new or struggling small businesses, etc. Your plan in the original post is based on companies getting temp workers without paying them.

    Again, they only "offer" these amounts if we juice the numbers by assigning cash values to Medicare which is nothing like cash (Cato does this), take benefits for pregnant women and children and average them out among all adult recipients even the childless (I think Cato does this though I haven't confirmed it with a closer read), etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2013
  20. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    The assumption of course is that those on welfare actually WANT to work. I have found that this is usually not the case.

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