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“Work” is Not a Dirty Word

When did “work” turn into a four-letter word?

Did I miss something? I thought working, so you could be independent and not have to rely on others, was a good thing; apparently not according my colleague Erika Smith at the Indy Star.

Smith penned a column about changes that are coming to Indiana’s food stamp program.   The big change is that if you are an able-bodied adult with no kids, you can only get food stamps for three months out of a three-year period, unless you’re working or in a job training program for at least 20 hours a week.

The federal government had waived work requirement for Indiana, but the state decided not to reapply. However, if the economy heads south, it can.   It’s estimated this would impact about 65,000 of the 877,000 people on food stamps to the tune of about $102 million annually.

Smith laments this change, saying we’re picking on the poor, and because there’s no living wage, there’s no incentive for people to go to work. Here’s an incentive to work, survival. If you want to eat, you’ll work.

Work is also not just good for body, but it’s good for the soul. Remember your first paycheck and how you felt that it was money that you earned and the feeling of independence that came with it?   I still have a photocopy of my first check from my first full-time broadcaster job.

And on top of that, if you don’t give people a reason to get off the dole, they never will. It’s the family member who stays on your couch and keeps telling you that eventually he will look for a job. If you don’t light a fire under his rear end, eventually he will take root.

And by the way, this isn’t the first time the state has had to light the fire under folks. A couple years ago, the Department of Workforce Development changed the rules so that when you filed for unemployment you had to report to Work One center on a regular basis to prove you were looking for work.   Guess what? A few thousand people dropped off the unemployment rolls. Imagine that. Even in the latest HIP 2.0 proposed expansion the state has incorporated a jobs element so individuals can become self-sufficient.

So requiring someone who is able-bodied to either get a job or let the state help them find one in order to get assistance is not a bad thing. And yes, we should look at removing some of those barriers that keep those who made a mistake decades ago from finding stable work. But don’t tell me that it’s better for an able-bodied person to get government assistance rather than gainful employment.

The last time I checked, welfare and food stamps were supposed to act as trampolines, not hammocks.  Work is not a four-letter word, but lazy is.

 

 

 

 

  • Doug

    Just noodling here, but doesn’t this put downward pressure on wages for those on the lower end of the economy who are, nevertheless, motivated to work under the current structure. And, does it also dilute the pool of quality workers for employers to choose from — making it more likely an employer is going to get stuck with a dud, doing the bare minimum, motivated only by bare survival?

    Doesn’t necessarily mean that, overall, the best thing to do is pull the rug out from under the deadbeats (as opposed to the merely down on their luck), but those considerations might go on the “cost” side of the ledger.

  • James C

    Doug,

    Chiming in here:

    “Doesn’t this put downward pressure on wages for those on the lower end of the economy who are nevertheless, motivated to work under the current structure.”

    -Short answer: Yes. You are, in a sense, increasing the available labor market which would increase competition for jobs and lower wages. However, I don’t know the exact number of people currently on Food Stamps at the moment or the number affected by this change. Good for employers because now there are more people to choose from, but perhaps, not necessarily good for employees. However, I would wager this effect would be negligible as the change only affects workers without children.

    “And, does it also dilute the pool of quality workers for employers to choose from — making it more likely an employer is going to get stuck with a dud, doing the bare minimum, motivated only by bare survival?

    -Short answer: Debatable. Since workers are competing against one another, in theory, they would want to work harder to keep their job because they could now more easily be replaced. Also, since there are more workers to choose from, if an employee is stuck with a dud, they can fire them and easily replace them with a more efficient (and perhaps less expensive) worker.

    Hope this helps.