Americans want a safety net for those in need. Yet increasingly, government programs are not providing short-term assistance to a small population that is struggling to endure a hardship. Instead government aid programs are becoming a regular source of income for average American families.
The rolls of those receiving government assistance, including Social Security disability benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, housing and welfare payments, has ballooned during the last decade. As the number of those receiving benefits has climbed, so have the programs’ costs. Those high costs means that these programs require an increasing portion of federal, state, and local budgets, and are a growing burden on taxpayers.
In an era of trillion-dollar federal government deficits, and states and localities faces their own budget crunches, many of our social welfare programs are on an unsustainable course. In the future, absent reform, these programs may no longer be available to the people who really need them.
Americans should also consider what this trend of growing dependency on the state means for citizens in terms of creating incentives for hard work and thrift. Programs that discourage people from taking entry-level, skill-building jobs can become an impediment to climbing the economic ladder toward independence and greater personal fulfillment. Americans should seek to reform programs so they serve as a true safety net, but do not discourage the independence, ingenuity and innovation that have been our country’s greatest assets.