Symposium 2015: Should unemployment and welfare benefits be tied to community service?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-More and more Americans unable to find work are drawing unemployment and welfare. The negative side of this pervasive problem is that getting paid for too much free time becomes an open invitation to an irresistible lifestyle for some. Who wouldn’t like to get paid for doing nothing?  This way of life has developed a group of complacent individuals otherwise known as freeloaders or leeches. Though some are genuinely concerned about finding work and the satisfaction of providing for themselves and their families, the lackadaisical types are more comfortable maintaining a moocher lifestyle.

The non-working lifestyle has become an insurmountable problem in modern society due to the sheer numbers of people on welfare and unemployment.  With unemployment at record high levels since the recession, with more than 94 million Americans out of work, more and more individuals are receiving extended periods of unemployment benefits and welfare.  The longer both groups are out of the work force, the harder it is to return to work and the more individuals have to rely on unemployment and welfare.  Added to that number are those who are about to receive or do receive unemployment and welfare, and are not that interested in working, so the combined numbers are too high to count.

Many legislators at the state and federal level have tried to find a solution to the growing lack of funds to finance entitlements and have come up short with ways to solve the dilemma.  Some states, such as Maine, have implemented programs to cut dependency by enacting mandatory community service. The program has proven to be a very productive way to send the unproductive on their way since many on unemployment and welfare lack the desire to seek work at any cost.

Community service programs are an effective way to wean people off unemployment and welfare.  Programs that require direct input from those on unemployment and welfare provide an avenue for such recipients to gain either part-time employment, job training if they can’t find work, or continue with volunteer and community service activities.

Enrollment in community service programs should be a requirement for anyone that has applied for unemployment or welfare, particularly if they have been out of work or drawing welfare for any length of time. Retaining any benefits should be dependent upon finding a part-time job, entering a vocational training program or performing community service.

Those on unemployment and welfare should be required to give back to the community that has helped them gain benefits.  If they are not enrolled in any kind of community service program that hinges on part-time employment, job training or other volunteer work, volunteering in some other way should be a requirement.

Local volunteer centers can coordinate various activities for out of work individuals from helping in homeless shelters and hot food lines, to roadside and neighborhood cleanups, as well as collecting canned goods for food pantries, mowing people’s lawns, shoveling snow or raking leaves, starting a cooperative garden, shopping for the elderly, visiting hospital patients, mentoring high school students, reading with children in the local library, and volunteering with local churches or  specific organizations like the YMCA, Boy and Girl Scouts, Boy’s Club, and others.

Programs that involve pre-requisite conditions of part-time work, job training, and community service work associated with the program provide the right kind of stimulus for those on unemployment and welfare to break the bonds with their lifestyle and end the cycle of handouts.  State and local governments need to think really hard about the program in Maine and put those ideas into practice across the country.  Maybe with a boost in the economy and an expansion of community service based programs, unemployment and welfare will someday be thought of as past history.

 Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-I say why not? I’m not PICKING on the poor, or anything like that. Trust me I’ve collected unemployment before. I did everything I could to find a job and did all that was required of me, I even went back to school. I wouldn’t have had a problem volunteering a couple days a week if that was required for me to keep getting my unemployment until I found a job.

This entitled nature needs to stop. I was raised being told that nothing in life is free. There are no free meals, no free money, nothing is truly free; whether it’s time or money someone pays.

I always hear “I can’t find a job, and I have 2-3 kids”. Well, guess what. What did you think was going to happen? You want kids, you “pay the price.” That’s why I haven’t had them. I’m not financially prepared to support another human being; I can barely afford my dog! So, these people on welfare that have kids and can’t work, 90% of them have a vehicle. So volunteer! “I can’t volunteer with kids; I can’t afford a sitter”.

Yes, you can. Volunteer at an old folks home, or go play checkers with Granny; so many of them have no family and would love to play with kids! Put your name in at that home and your local church offering to drive the elderly to the store; you can take your kids! Take your kids to the local Humane Society and take the doggies for walks or pet the cats.

My point here is that kids and childcare can’t be a crutch forever. There are things you can do to volunteer with your children.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Ah, isn’t this one of the hottest of hot-button topics?  How dare we force those who are down on their luck trade labor for the support of the state?  Does that not put us in league with Ebenezer Scrooge, snarling, “Are there no workhouses?”

Let’s first look at the unemployed.  In every state with which I’m familiar, there are requirements that those receiving benefits apply for a certain number of jobs each week.  Failure to apply or provide other proof that one is either trying to find work or trying to improve one’s skills to become more employable is cause for suspension or termination of benefits.

As long as that requirement is strictly enforced, I see no problem with the current arrangement. However, if the job search goes on for more than three months without bearing fruit, I think some sort of vocational re-training should be mandatory.  Quite simply, if no one’s hiring in your chosen field, you need a new field. These Millennials who are holding out for the “perfect” job in their area of expertise need a reality check.

Welfare is an easier issue, for me.  If you are in such straits that you must be on the government dole, the government has the right to expect some measure of recompense either through direct service or through efforts to lessen the burden others bear.  Perhaps parents who have too many children to allow them to work could take on providing day care for the children of wage-earners.  Perhaps the physically disadvantaged whose mental faculties are still intact could serve on such things as IRS help lines.

I’m not suggesting some sort of indentured servitude to the government, and certainly there are some who through no fault of their own will require help and be unable to contribute in any way. But if sufficiently ascertaining but compassionate arbiters are set to work to determine who can fill what positions, I have no doubt that the greater portion of those receiving public assistance can be offered some way to contribute.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Welfare benefits have long been the thread by which the unemployed are sustained. We’re living in tough economic times. It’s difficult for so many households to make ends meet, and so welfare benefits are able to fill that gap. However, too many individuals depend on unemployment benefits without a thought of giving anything in return. We need to teach people to earn their catch. Instead of giving a man a fish for a day, teach him how to fish. That includes getting unemployed people to give back to society. Unemployment and welfare benefits should be tied to community service.

In a recent article released by The Guardian, it was clearly stated that individuals 18 to 21 years of age, who’ve not been secularly employed for the past 6 months, would no longer be entitled to unemployment benefits, unless of course, they enroll in an apprenticeship or community service program. When tied to community service, unemployed individuals are trained, especially when young, and learn how to be responsible adults when they grow up.

Additionally, community service will give adults the opportunity to appreciate the benefits they receive from the State. They will understand what it really means to work for what they have, instead of staying home all day, on the couch and have money thrown all over them.  Working for the community in an attempt to obtain welfare benefits is not below anyone, but is a kind gesture to help the unemployed to appreciate what they have.

Cartwright—Absolutely!  Why should we let people on welfare or unemployment sit around all day watching Netflix, playing video games, going to the gym, having sex, smoking dope, and doing nothing to contribute to society in a meaningful way?  These people are fully able to work, but many of them are just flat out lazy.  It’s become a lifestyle for them.  Why work when someone is willing to pay you to sit around and do nothing?

Obviously, we need to address the bigger issue of welfare reform in this country.  It’s nothing more than a modern day plantation system where welfare recipients are slaves to the plantation overseer, Uncle Sam.  They rely on Uncle Sam for every aspect of their existence.  Sadly, it’s become generational, much like on the plantation.  Successive generations are born into it and never escape.  This needs to stop.  There clearly needs to be limits on the amount of time you can receive welfare benefits, that is unless you’re providing forty hour or more per week in community service.  Let’s set up a system that tells the welfare or unemployment recipient where to go to do the community service each week.  If they don’t turn in their timecard with forty hours of work verified, they don’t get the benefits.  They can work the food kitchen or the homeless shelters.  They can pick up trash along the roads.  There are plenty of community improvement projects that need done in communities throughout America.  They can help public works fill potholes in the roads if they need to.

And how about this?  If we’re going to build a wall across our southern border, let’s round up all the illegals and the people on welfare and unemployment and ship them down there to build it in exchange for their benefits while they’re working on the border wall.  If they refuse, their benefits are cut off immediately.

 These people are just sitting around and doing nothing. Let’s put them to work.  If they don’t like the work, they can find another job.  These people have been sucking off the teat of the taxpayers for far too long.  I don’t mind helping people get back on their feet or helping those who are incapacitated and can’t work, but it makes me sick to think that my hard-earned tax dollars are going to fund habitually lazy leeches of society.

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