Arguments Against Social Welfare

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While many believe that social welfare in the United States began with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan, the first American movement towards welfare came from a different Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt. He stated in his New Nationalism address that “every wise struggle for human betterment” objectives are “to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity... destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and the commonwealth” (Roosevelt). Behind such a speech with charged language about democracy and fundamental equality, Roosevelt was instituting welfare programs such as limiting word days, setting a minimum wage for women, social insurance for the elderly and disabled, unemployed social insurance, and a National Health Service. After his proposal came Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom initiative, FDR’s aforementioned New Deal, John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society (Historical Development). While social welfare is steeped in America’s history, there is a very contemporary debate on its effectiveness and ethicality. People argue that the reason welfare has such a long history in America is because it helps people get out of poverty, equalizes opportunities, reduces crime, and helps children; in essence, that welfare works. Many in opposition to welfare disagree, citing that the system creates a culture of dependence, is easily abused, hurts the middle class and costs the government too much on a system that isn’t wholistically addressing the needs of the American people.

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