i have my own perspective.
almost all of my clients receive either medicaid/welfare or medicare/disability benefits. this means most do not work, receive monthly support checks and housing vouchers and food stamps, are covered under state health care.
i see generational dependence. parents don't work, their adult children don't work. i don't like that one bit. i drive through housing projects and i look at many able bodied people who could and should work and don't.
but there is more: my perspective to be sure, but i offer it not as fodder for the right or the left of politics, but as a piece of a puzzle that seems to be unattended, over and over again.
1. at least half any maybe three quarters of my clients would work, some willingly and some reluctantly, if there were jobs. there aren't.
2. without cars, and don't believe those folks who talk about welfare studs driving cadillacs, most of my clients don't have cars, travel to and from work often requires two, sometimes three, bus changes. that sounds doable, perhaps, until you think about your 18 year old daughter or yourself walking four blocks to catch a bus to catch a bus to catch a bus.
3. without skills, hourly earnings tend to average $ 8 or 9 dollars an hour. let's stretch it to $10. that's
$ 400 a week. let's say, for a family of four. that means you will likely lose housing vouchers, lose food stamps, lose benefits, lose health insurance. a two bedroom apartment will cost at least $ 900 and more like $ 1100/month. it is too often an all or nothing choice, so people work under the table, if they work at all.
4. if you are single without kids, in my state, you will get a disability or SSI check averaging $ 700 a month. you'll get food from a local pantry. yes you will pay for a cell phone and maybe you smoke. but $ 700 a month doesn't offer an independent place or space for anyone. $ 700 a month is poverty.
the solution? i don't favor the increase in government dependence and i don't favor eliminating preventive supportive programs that provide basic needs. what i do favor is insisting that able bodied people who can work do work; that the government supplement their earnings so they and their children can live above the poverty level. what happened to welfare to work? i know: it was too expensive to implement. so instead: a political debate that misses the point altogether.
my perspective here doesn't begin address the middle class; those folks who have been laid off for two, three years, looking for work, unable to pay their bills. no jobs? no jobs. at least not enough jobs.
surely this is solvable in one generation. except....it's not to be.
i shake my head.
your comments and opinions are most welcomed in this debate.