“Blessed be he who considers the poor!” (Ps. 41:1). Many people have chosen to forfeit this blessing and to persist in ignorance of the true condition of the poor in our land. President Nixon, however, has shown his consideration for the poor by his recent address to the nation and in the subsequent outlines of his proposals to Congress. A generally favorable response has greeted his suggestions for revamping much of the present welfare system. Critics have found fault more with the limitations on the funds to be spent than with the general direction of the proposals. It is difficult to imagine any legislation in this area that could not be faulted for failing to provide enough to those in poverty and enough to the states and cities with their desperate need for funds. As we all know, however, programs to which the government commits itself have a way of escalating their expenditures. The fundamental question is not, How much?, but rather, Is this the right direction? In general, we think it is.
Two things about the present programs of Aid to Families with Dependent Children have been especially reprehensible. Many men found that their families could obtain more money on welfare, small as the amount was, than they were able to bring home from their poorly paying, often irregular jobs. To make the family eligible for aid, however, the man had to leave home. He had to break up his family in order to provide for it. The President’s proposals for family assistance eliminate this predicament. Also, present programs generally reduce welfare aid by the exact amount of any earned income. At first glance, this might seem to be only fair to the taxpayers (leaving aside the problem of the substandard amounts given ...1
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