Workfare for the poor

Assuming that providing welfare for children and the disabled is considered a separate issue, should the state provide welfare for those who cannot find work?  If so, under what conditions and for how long?  During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt  started a number of social welfare programs to keep citizens from losing their homes or starving.  Some of these programs were not hand-outs, per se, but were jobs. The Works Progress Administration provided jobs for unemployed, building thousands of public works projects, parks, school buildings, government buildings, roads, dams, utility facilities, water lines, even making visual art and writing books. (FDR’s state-sponsored art came under heavy criticism and was compared to propaganda produced by the Soviet Union.)  Because the WPA’s main purpose was to employ people, not build projects with economic efficiency, it was criticized by those who thought that the workers were just being paid to stand around. What if Workfare projects were designed to help eliminate poverty?  Projects like building tiny homes in poor neighborhoods or starting community gardens could go a long way to make the workfare programs unnecessary eventually.

Would you replace Unemployment Insurance program and/or Welfare with Workfare?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Dent says:

    Workfare is a good idea because, in times like the depression, building infrastructure is one of the best ways to boost the economy. Helping the community to make money puts more money into circulation within that group, which helps the community make more money, and so on. I disagree with FDR that art should be on the list of jobs that the poor may take. A good piece of art reflects time and skill, and not every person has that. In order for the piece to be valued at anything it has to actually be good, a piece that everyone says is good but isn’t doesn’t have the same inherent value. Perhaps FDR’s choosing to put art on his list was the start of modern art.


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