Modern societies and democracies may have been founded on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, but all these are not uniformly prevalent across the world. Equality is still a utopia. There is a vast majority of the world that is still aspiring for prosperity. With millions of people starving, living without a home and not having any means of employment or source of income, welfare programs have become the only way to care for the poor.
Everyone has the right to life and for that to be achieved everyone must get the basic facilities. Food, shelter, healthcare, education and a source of income are just some of the many essentials that must be catered to. Most countries in the world have welfare programs and the United States of America is no different. There are some countries which are more socialist than the US and it is unavoidable since not every government intends to propagate and develop a welfare state.
As is the case with any government initiative, policy or program, there are some advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the welfare pros and cons that one must bear in mind while assessing its value and impact on society at large.
The Pros of Welfare
1. Welfare caters to right to life.
A person cannot survive without food or shelter. With subsidies on food and even offering food stamps to allow a basic diet for free and by offering affordable housing, welfare programs ensure that people have the right to life and one that ensures dignity.
2. Welfare caters to right to education.
The United States has one of the largest education subsidy programs in the entire world. The public education system in the country is heavily subsidized or incentivized. Without affordable education, millions of kids in the country would have avoided going to school and thus would have not been educated or attained literacy.
3. Welfare also ensures universal healthcare.
The healthcare facilities may not be all inclusive but basic medical attention is assured for people regardless of who they are, where they are and what kind of insurance they have. There have been debates on such universal healthcare policies but they are imperative for a society to care for its poor and helpless.
4. Welfare is not confined to food, home, healthcare and education.
It includes programs that generate employment for the poor or those who are not necessarily skilled. From philanthropic activities of private organizations to trusts, charities to government funded programs, there are many jobs for the jobless which wouldn’t necessarily help one to earn a handsome figure but can certainly provide some financial foundation. The purpose of welfare programs is not to offer never ending help. The objective is to offer enough help till such time the poor get uplifted from poverty and have the ability to sustain a dignified livelihood without the help or intervention of the state.
The Cons of Welfare
1. Welfare programs have a substantial bearing on the state exchequer.
It would be an understatement that the treasury gets depleted every time there is a major welfare program funded or revised. There are instances in the world wherein countries have gone bankrupt, have had to sell assets and had to endure humongous fiscal deficits just because they have had several welfare programs in place. There lies a risk of the country becoming a welfare state if such programs are not kept under stringent check and if it is not seen whether the programs are being abused or not.
2. Welfare programs have often tempted people to lie about their well being or conditions so they could qualify.
Many people depend entirely on welfare programs and take them for granted. There have been studies which indicate that a substantial section of those who are beneficiaries of welfare schemes don’t aspire to uplift their livelihoods and then get out of the welfare programs.
3. Welfare programs are often out of sync with reality and they don’t have any eventual impact on uplifting the poor.
It has been seen, not just in the United States but across the world that the underprivileged have remained underprivileged even after decades of welfare programs trying to uplift them from poverty or trying to help them be independent, educated and self sustained.
4. It is quite difficult to attend to all the needs of basic human livelihood through welfare schemes.
Personal desires or preferences can certainly not be attended to. Holistic welfare programs are beyond the budgetary allocations and would require governments to raise more funds, which would invariably have an impact on taxes. People who pay taxes don’t wholeheartedly endorse the idea of funding the needs of those who don’t pay taxes. It is doubtful if the growth of population and the subsequent need of larger welfare schemes will be possible, especially given the economic slowdown in recent years.