Enslaved to a welfare check

Published 9:04 pm Monday, October 21, 2013

By Joseph L. Bass

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed chattel slavery in the United States, and the slavery of serfdom — though once common in Europe — never really made it to the shores of America.

But there is a third form of slavery that is widespread around the world, even in the United States of America and even today.

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Under this form of slavery, a nation’s political and economic system is structured in a way that a small percentage of the population benefits from the work done by a large percentage. Most people are kept poor, politically oppressed, and uneducated. The few are rich, while the many are kept “in their place” and must work for low wages in order to survive.

This is the form of slavery practiced in the United States following the Civil War. In America, this political and economic system is supported by welfare, violating the civil rights of the poor.

The 14th Amendment guarantees “equal protection of the laws,” which, in my way of thinking means that government shall not enact laws that hinder citizens’ motivation to take part in the American dream.

Giving money and providing salaries does not motivate, even when people actually work to earn the money. Motivation comes from doing actual work and receiving recognition for it. Providing money, housing and so on to poor individuals de-motivates them from striving toward the American dream.

Let me provide an example based on a hypothetical situation.

Imagine a shipyard with a list of people who can be granted access to the facility. Now, suppose three workers are called to a shipyard, because their unique expertise is needed. Their company makes a mistake and provides only two names for the list but sends all three workers. One worker is denied access and spends the afternoon in a company vehicle in the parking lot. The other workers demonstrate their unique skills and eventually are given recognition certificates. This motivates them and helps their careers.

But the worker not on the access list is unable to demonstrate his or her unique expertise and receives no recognition or motivation. In fact this worker is de-motivated from the experience and does not do his work as well in the future. But they all receive the same pay for the hours spent at the shipyard.

I see welfare having the same de-motivating effect on the American poor. Our legal system provides them with just enough money, housing, etc. from which they only receive negative recognition. Our welfare system violates their rights as citizens by doing and providing what they need to just barely survive, making them available to work for very low wages in un-motivating jobs for large American corporations, while rich people make money through stock ownership.

Our welfare system must be modified so that the American poor have better chances to pursue the American dream.

Joseph L. Bass, Ed.D., is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.