Social Policy Class

Connection between the concepts of poverty and welfare

There can be no doubt as to the fact that the concepts of poverty and welfare (social assistance programs) are innately interconnected; however, the question “Doesn’t welfare cause poverty?” appears as being improperly formatted. Giving away money to unemployed or incapacitated citizens cannot possibly make them poorer and one does not have to hold PhD in mathematics to be able to recognize the validity of this statement. At the same time, it would not be an exaggeration, on our part, to suggest that welfare facilitates poverty, because it increases people’s psychological dependency on social assistance programs, as the only source of their income. In their book “Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy”, Diana DiNitto and Linda K. Cummins provide us with the insight on historical origins of social assistance programs in America: “Originally, the Social Security program covered only retirement benefits for workers in about half of the labor force; many farm and domestic workers and self-employed people were exempted, as were state and local government employees” (DiNitto, Cummings 127). In other words, what initially used to qualify American citizens for welfare in thirties was their previous extensive work record, because only people, who had proven their willingness to work hard in the past, were assumed as eligible to receive a monetary assistance from the government, in order to be able to get back on their feet. This can be explained by the fact that, ever since the founding of United States in 1776, the designing of socio-political policies in this country was firmly based on Protestant existential ethics, which derive out of principle: “if you cannot help yourself – no one can”. Therefore, it is important to understand that originally, America’s Social Security programs were being conceived as “stimulant” rather then “help”. Nowadays, this is no longer the case, because government considers welfare as simply a practical tool of building a “fair and tolerant society”, with American citizens being expected to “celebrate diversity” as their foremost priority. Whereas, before the outbreak of WW2, the issue of poverty has been viewed through the lenses of both: sociology and biology; today, the causes for poverty are assumed to be strictly of environmental nature. In their book, DiNitto and Cummings make a perfectly good point when they state: “Although inadequate income has always been a concern during economic depressions, poverty has been a political issue only for the last 45 years” (DiNitto, Cummings 81). Even though that there is a plenty of evidence as to the fact that biological factors play a very important role, within a context of defining people’s social status, the very thought that citizens’ racial affiliation affects the particularities of their lifestyle, is now considered taboo – it is namely this that results in modern Social Security programs being utterly ineffective. People are not being forced into the poverty, as we are told by promoters of neo-Liberal agenda – very often, living in the state of poverty simply corresponds to their mentality. For example, the drop out-rate among Hispanic students in high schools accounts for 45%, and as practice shows, these students consciously choose in favor of dropping out of schools, simply because they want to pursue a career of drug dealers, while understanding perfectly well the consequences of such their decision. They know that in America, only people with university diplomas have a chance of obtaining steady and well-paid jobs, yet the prospects of fast and illegal enrichment cause many Hispanic students to be willing to sacrifice their future. In its turn, this explains why Hispanics are being affected by poverty to a significantly higher degree, as compared to representatives of other ethnic minorities.

DiNitto and Cummings standpoint

Apparently, there is a good reason for DiNitto and Cummings to refer to poverty and the lack of education, as such that derive out of each other, while relying on data, obtained during the course of various sociological surveys, to substantiate their point of view: “According to Greg Duncan of the Survey Research Centre at the University of Michigan, a “tidal wave of inequality” has been occurring between those with more skills and work experience and those with of both” (Ditto, Cummings 94). Greg Duncan does not specify when did the “tidal wave of inequality” started to define socio-political realities in America, even though that the answer is obvious – it all began after the dogma of “multiculturalism” has gained an official status in this country. It is only academicians like Duncan who think that it is quite impossible for people to meet ends, while relying on Social Assistance programs; however, the welfare recipients, 35% of which consist of newly arrived immigrants from Third World countries, have different perspective on this issue. They are quite satisfied to be getting $500-$600 worth in welfare checks on monthly basis, without having to work, because it is more then enough to satisfy their primitive needs. And, in case they run out of money, they simply conceive more children, whose birth will automatically qualify parents for substantial increase in welfare payments. It is not a secret that many Hispanic families have turned “child-making” into a full-scale commercial enterprise, while thinking about the idea of looking for work as ridiculous. Therefore, even though that the concept of providing citizens with social assistance, while they are in need, is absolutely appropriate, the realities of multicultural living in today’s America had deprived it of its beneficial effects on nation-wide level. This is the reason why it is appropriate to suggest that America’s modern welfare system actually facilitate poverty in this country, because politicians in charge of designing it, do not seem to be concerned with anything else but increasing their chances of getting reelected. In fact, the turning this country into a welfare state has become an official agenda of America’s new Presidential Administration. However, given the fact that this agenda does not incorporate a scientific understanding of people’s biological nature, as its essential element, it will fail, just as it happened to numerous neo-Liberal social initiatives in previous years.


DiNitto, Diana and Cummins, Linda “Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy”. 6th Edition. NY: Allyn & Bacon. (2007).

Rubenstein, Edwin “Hispanic High School Disaster – The Evidence Mounts”. (2003).

Vdare.Com. (2009). Web.

Rector, Robert “Despite Recession, Black Child Poverty Plunges to All-Time Historic Low”. (2002).

The Heritage Foundation. (2009). Web.

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