It's Diana's turn at the tiny glass window. Her face burns red with shame as she is handed her monthly check. Two small children tug at her dress, their stomachs growling from a day without food. She looks down at her two children, her face filled with pain and guilt. What had happened to their happy life? With just the stroke of the pen across a divorce decree, Diana and her children were thrust into the humiliation of the welfare line. For two years now, Diana has tried to get back on her feet, but with only a high school diploma, she can't find a job to support her family. Getting a college degree is her only way out, but her check isn't enough to afford daycare, so she's stuck accepting welfare.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Most people on welfare are looking for a way to rejoin the American work force; yet, society's stereotype of a welfare recipient is consistently that of a lazy, immoral woman who continues to have children out of wedlock just to increase her welfare benefits. This image could not be further from the truth; most single mothers who turn to welfare do so for the purpose it was originally created for: to be a temporary safety net for those trying to get back on their feet after a job loss or tragedy. Though welfare is supposed to be a temporary source of help, once the woman begins to receive her benefits, she has actually trapped herself in a vicious cycle of poverty, and while the U.S. government takes credit for providing budget money to help thousands of people regain their positions in American society through welfare programs, it actually robs them of their dignity and self-determination. Not only that, but this system, ostensibly devised to uplift women and children, has actually made us poorer as a people (Lavelle 124).
Every year, tax-paying citizens complain that the money they work so hard for is being used to support those sections of society that are too lazy to support themselves. Many male political figureheads have gone as far to say that government largess to poor mothers ruins character, breaks up families, weakens the economy, and bloats the budget (Abramovitz and Piven A23). Many blame the country's economic problems on the huge burden of welfare. They want reforms to cut welfare spending, but with the welfare rolls stabilizing in the 1970s, funding for the welfare program only accounts for one percent of the annual federal budget (Buchsbaum 6). The public feels it is okay to receive social security, defense contracts, or bank bailouts, but welfare is seen as the root of all evil.
In theory, welfare's job is to help support those who are having some hard times until they can get back on their feet; in actuality this system is not even coming close to meeting its goals. In order to help a family over an obstacle, welfare benefits must be at least equal to the poverty line standard, if not over it. Today, the average monthly welfare...