In 1996, President Clinton signed a bill ending welfare as we know it; however, its true demise remains
yet to be seen according to James Payne. In his new book, Overcoming Welfare: Expecting More
From the Poor--and From Ourselves, Payne explains the problems with government operated
welfare programs. The bill signed by President Clinton is not the first attempt at welfare reform. Payne
argues that after more than a century of welfare reform efforts, we continue to develop and implement
the same type of public assistance--hand-outs. He explains that our welfare system has resulted in a
segment of our population expecting something for nothing; which, in Payne's eye, is not charitable but
harmful both socially and morally.
The author defines two types of assistance--a right and a wrong way to provide for the needy. The first
type is sympathetic giving as exemplified by government-operated welfare programs. Sympathetic
giving is providing for those who are in need without expecting anything in return. The opposite
approach is expectant giving--providing for the needy, but expecting something from them as well.
Payne argues in his book that the latter type is more beneficial to the recipient and that our welfare
system is a disservice to those it serves. Unfortunately, sympathetic giving weakens the social
disapproval of harmful behavior by appearing to endorse it. He points out that must forms of such giving
are done with good intentions but creates dependence.
Payne analyzes the philosophy of nineteenth-century charitable workers, ...
... middle of paper ...
...nment regulations and rules}programs must serve everyone equally. Payne argues that should not
be the case. He compares and contrasts the methods and effectiveness of private charities or
organizations that have embraced the concept of expectant giving and the government's system of
Payne's book is thought provoking and insightful. He portrays a country that has had good intentions,
but in the end failed its needy. Payne does a excellent job of identifying the inherent weaknesses in
America's public programs and the highlights the value of expectant giving. America's system of public
assistance will continue to be flawed until we can reform our understanding of poverty. Welfare reform
must become a system of giving the needy a hand up rather than a hand out.
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