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<nettime> workfare
mazzetta on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 16:12:28 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> workfare


a propos of nyt editorials...
today's main one addresses one of the most ignored issues in US



Welfare as We Knew It 

The nation's poorest citizens are already suffering some of the harshest
effects of the economic decline, most notoriously with a 60 percent
increase in children forced into "food insecurity." That's
bureaucratese for families driven to skipping meals. There were more than
690,000 youngsters who didn't have enough to eat last year. There were
783,000 meal-skipping seniors among the 36 million Americans found to be
chronically lacking adequate food, according to government data.

This year, the hunger struggle has worsened. The number of citizens turning
to food stamps -- a clear measure of fast-rising poverty -- reached a
record 31.6 million in September, up more than four million in a year.

It's no surprise, then, that a politically acclaimed reform of the 1990s --
"the end to welfare as we know it" in favor of "workfare" -- is fast
fraying at the edges. States are reporting a surge in applicants for the
limited short-term cash aid allowed under the workfare rules. And the
program's emphasis on shunting the poor toward low-paying, start-up jobs is
becoming increasingly pointless as the job market ossifies. In a sampling
of applicants for help in one hard-hit Florida county, The Washington Post
found that 2 out of 5 were newcomers at seeking the government safety net.
Many had recently slid from the middle class because of the subprime-
mortgage debacle and rising unemployment.

It's important that the most hungry, poor and direly troubled Americans not
be denied a proper place in line with the financial moguls, auto executives
and others pleading for taxpayer help. Most immediately, a temporary
increase in food-stamp benefits is needed. It fits logically in the next
stimulus package, for each dollar spent on food stamps generates $1.84 in
economic activity.

Beyond that, the workfare program's contingency fund for extending the poor
emergency help during recessions seems certain to run out of money next
year. Congress must deal with that. And there already are sensible calls
to repair workfare as we know it, by allowing more cash assistance and
easing mandates for work, at least until there's work again.


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