Monthly Archives: June 2015

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Social Programs

Social Mobility - Student protest, London, 9 November 2011

We’re living in a time where upwards mobility is becoming more difficult, and the middle class is shrinking (and slipping) more and more into poverty. Social programs are used to combat poverty and have been a controversial topic since their inception, but there is finally hope in building a bigger picture on their effects on families. The thought of programs nowadays is that they’re a sap to government resources. That they’re essentially useless and are cushions for more lazy people who’d rather live off disability than get a real job. In many cases, this is true but recent studies featured in the NYTimes showed that

“much of the benefit appears to derive from helping low-income families pay for basic needs like food, housing or health care, or simply reducing the intense economic pressure…. In addition to long-term benefits, the safety net, of course, supports many Americans right now. In 2013, income and nutrition assistance programs lifted 46 million people, including 10 million children, out of poverty, while health programs benefited tens of millions more…. Moreover, safety-net programs do not discourage work in any big way
Smart Social Programs– NYTimes.com

While there is an undeniable fact that many programs have the proclivity for dependency, the benefits can’t be denied either. In the light of recent cuts to nutrition assistance, health care, housing vouchers and other social programs, studies like this can help determine exactly what programs are   most effective. They could also become a good way to better screen potential recipients and have more appropriate contingencies for remaining on any given program. Regardless of which programs are kept, it’s hard to deny their position in securing a safety net for downwards mobility.

10-26-11 Press Conference to Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

In my book, I talk about the decline of the middle class. The decline is due in part to people slipping into poverty- which can often happen from being denied help from a program. Deciding who gets help (and how much help) is a thin wire to walk across, and it doesn’t help that the government tends to borrow from Social Security and Medicare funds to finance its current deficits.

“The common people… should be concerned that the network of public and private social and health protection is unraveling. There are fewer safeguards against downward mobility in a world pulsating with economic insecurity for the vast unemployment, limited employment opportunities and lw wages; loss of retirement investments and pensions; deflating home values and equity; soaring medical bills and health insurance costs…”
Wealth vs. Work: How 1% Victimize 99% (pg 22)

So which programs do we keep? Which ones do we cut? Who gets them and for how long? Obviously, questions like this are why we have a government but who’s to say they’ll make the right decision, even with this new information?

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