The Heritage Foundation, Nice Try With Welfare, But You're Missing Some Things

Hey, Heritage Foundation, Nice Try With Welfare, But You're Missing Some Things

People aren't the problem, the system is.

Jake VP.
Jake VP.
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Since I have been writing about poverty recently I thought I would take a look at what someone from a different perspective then me has to say about poverty, and the way we currently approach poverty in the US. So I turned to The Heritage Foundation. For anyone who doesn't know, The Heritage Foundation states is mission is "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." So they aren't usually my go-to for information, but I think that is exactly why it would be interesting to dive into one of their articles, and see what I thought, if I learned anything, and in general, just what they had to say.

I decided to pick their report "Understanding the Hidden $1.1 Trillion Welfare System and How to Reform It". Right off of the bat they focus on the price tag of welfare. Now although the social worker in me responds with thinking that no price is too high when we're talking about helping people, the pragmatist in me can really appreciate this. Although I wouldn't go as far as they do in saying that "the aggregate cost of this assistance is largely unknown because the spending is fragmented into myriad programs" I would agree that the current fragmentation is a real problem. For one thing it can lead to the government, religious groups, and other non-profits (these three entities being the makeup of our social security, along with family members) having overlapping services, leaving some areas to be overcrowded with certain services, and lacking in other ways.

While talking about the cost of programs, and how much they aid families the report made the argument that the amount of people in poverty is too high, since if you include the aid they receive, they are no longer in poverty. They use the example of a single mother of two, whose earnings from working full time at minimum-wage, and receiving aid would come to $47,385, with an effective hourly rate of $22.78 per hour. Another look at how much aid single mothers received from the Cato Institute stated that "The state with the highest total value of welfare benefits was Hawaii, at $49,175. The lowest was Mississippi, at $16,984. Welfare packages in only 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., exceeded Grothman's threshold of $35,000. Hawaii may be distorted by the high cost of living, researchers said." And The Economic Policy Institute estimated that a single parent of two would have a cost of living in St. Loius to be $39,589 annually. In the end, how much aid someone receives varies wildly state to state, and programs like the housing voucher (which makes up $11,820 of The Heritage Foundation's $47,385) only serve "about 25 percent of eligible households". I know where I live there is a 2 year waiting list to get a housing voucher, and I understand it to be frozen, so people cannot currently get on the list.

Since the welfare system varies so much state to state, and although aid is theoretically available, it is often out of reach for many the numbers The Heritage Foundation puts forward of a single-mother of two living off of $47,385 is inaccurate.

After talking about costs the article then goes into what I would consider to be more of the crux of its argument, "most existing welfare programs either fail to encourage or actively discourage efforts toward self-support through work and marriage. As a result, they are inefficient, unnecessarily costly, and ultimately harmful to recipients." They continue with saying that "Today, unwed childbearing, with its consequent growth of single-parent homes, is the single most important cause of child poverty" and "The second major cause of child poverty is lack of parental work." They propose that "The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, thereby generating a need for more welfare."

The problem I see at first is the fact that welfare causing a decline in marriage sounds very hard to prove, and seeing as the burden of proof is on them, I won't comment on this idea any more until they present more information. Now the notion that single-parent homes are correlated with child poverty is a topic I can engage with.

So what is going on here? Well, "single parents, overall, earn less than married parents. It comes down to jobs, really. More than 80 percent of moms with spouses are employed, but only 60 percent of single mothers are in full-time jobs -- perhaps due to the difficulty of managing children alone. … there is much more research to do, but this much we know: Single parents work less and earn less because they are the sole caretakers for their children." Important to note is that "mothers who live near their mothers or mothers-in-law participate in the labor force significantly more than mothers who do not live close." Given that we are talking about families which need financial assistance, we can either pay the moms to watch their kids, or we can pay to have their kids watched so they can go to work, expecting them to pay for childcare before they have the chance to begin working, or rising up to the point where their income can cover childcare doesn't make sense.

The Heritage Foundation's report is longer than I usually write, and so I will be reviewing the next part of their article in a future essay. So far, although there are definitely disagreements I have, I think for anyone on my side it's interesting to see the perspective of a group which has the price tag of everything written in every line, and I hope if you are someone who enjoys The Heritage Foundation, you had something you were able to take away from my article about their views on Welfare and Poverty.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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