Rawls stipulated that that very basic principles of justice must be set, the constitution to codify these guidelines must be put in place, laws will then be enacted based on this constitution and then judges/administrators will then implement these laws as enacted by duly elected Congress-people and signed into law by the President (Rawls, 1985).
A lot of that framework is already in place in the United States but some of the execution and interpretations that are being done relative to TANF and other simply programs sometimes border on the atrocious. However, as it relates to needy mothers being abused by the system, there is entirely too much top-down and simply ignorant rules being made. It is noble to make sure that rules and guidelines are easy to follow and as basic as possible but there is such a thing as making things too simple and too basic in a way that leads to people being cutoff when they should not be under the laws of ethics and morality (Rawls, 1985)
In a historical context, it is clear that absence of programs like unemployment insurance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families was a blight on the history of the United States and it's unthinkable in a more modern context NOT to have programs like Social Security, Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and unemployment insurance. While it is not unreasonable to expect TANF and other programs to allocate and spend their money wisely, it is unconscionable to cut off needy mothers because when years of damage are not undone in less than the usual two-year limit for TANF benefits (Burns, 2010).
The institutions that are involved with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are mostly federal in nature but many state and local jurisdictions are in play as well. Stakeholders include the people that need the benefits, the taxpayers that are funding said benefits and the politicians that ostensibly have an interest in the program "working," or at least does not subject them to vitriol from people that are unhappy about how the program is run even if the complaints are based on deficient logic and equity theory for all the parties involved including the taxpayers (CDSS, 2013). Even so, many of the concerns voiced by advocacy groups are genuine and real and the "veil of ignorance" mentioned in the proposal prior to this report should be attacked head on if and when it reveals itself (Vermeule, 2001).
Author Linda Alcoff also made a very salient point when she said that speaking for others often means speaking "for" others and when there is a clear disconnect between the true thoughts and opinions of a mother or other person affected by TANF cutoffs and what is coming out of the mouth of a politician who says they represent said perspective, it rings hollow to the people that know they are being marginalized and discarded through ignorant, if not arrogant, perspectives (Alcoff, 1992).
There is a limit to how far the enforcement can go because if a person is getting a regular paycheck, even if it's smaller, there is no limitation (nor should there be) as to where they can spend THAT money, but this is where the education and skills creation comes in. In short, there needs to be a balance between going too cheap and cutting off people before they are ready and educating them as to how to prevent the vicious cycles of poverty and desperation. There needs to be a more holistic and heart-filled approach and a lot less bureaucracy and ignorant people crafting rules and public policy (Burns, 2010).
Contrary to the advice of many, gutting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a bad idea but something that can and should be done is condensing programs that clearly overlap. Rather than taking the simplistic and mindless approach of just looking at bottom-line expenditures and cost to the taxpayers, there also needs to be some consultation the single mother recipients themselves, social welfare/service workers, and so forth because these are the folks that are on the "front line" either through direct witnessing of what is going on and/or the people are themselves going through it. These front line people should not be unapologetically and blindly treated like taxpayer money gluttons. This is not to say that there doesn't need to be some sort of analysis or forethought paid to what they have to say. However, treating single mothers receiving TANF money like leeches on the government dole or those that enable the same is not helpful or fair and can sometimes border on sexist (Kaufman & Nelson, 2012)
One tactic that can keep expenditures lower while at the same time helping all those that really need it is to cut down on duplicate programs and expenditures that do much the same thing. For example, many of the people on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would be a lot of the same people that are on Women and Infant Children (WIC). It begs the question why there is (or must be) two different programs that seem to address the same general group of people. WIC and other programs that clearly overlap with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families should be melded into the same program so that money and resources are administered from a single source. This will prevent waste at the governmental level as well as abuse from recipients that use all of the programs at the same time. This is clearly an example where government bureaucracy should be pared down and the programs made more efficient and well-running and this can be done without cutting off single mothers who really do need TANF money (Burns, 2010)(Toft, Hollister & Martin, 2013).
It is clear that many people actively need and require Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money and those people should not be forsaken. Treating welfare recipients like second-class citizens just enables arrogant and heartless views that help no one. It is true that TANF is funded by the largesse of the United States and its taxpayers but the Difference Principle, as forwarded by Rawls, stipulates that this is as it should be as the people that are disadvantaged should have the deck stacked in their favor for as long as is needed to allow them to have a good life without the government giving them a healthy nudge in the right direction both monetarily and in other ways. Rawls' principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity is not realized when the people that are disadvantaged are not in public office and the people that are act like they speak for the downtrodden when they either do not know better or otherwise care about the people they claim to advocate for (Rawls, 1985).
As for single mothers and college money, the colleges that can be used are wide and varied and there are plenty of funds in other programs for college attendance and the loans extended for said college are usually not credit-based and the interest rates are very low. There is a ton of overlap in governmental programs and just because a person is poor does not mean that they should be getting college course money free. Perhaps an exception can be made for single mothers in very tough situations but if a person is truly interested and motivated to get educated, then they should be using the customary programs. However, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or some other regular program perhaps can be used to provide child care so that the person can attend college (Burns, 2010).
Even so, the ability to attend college online in whole or in part may negate the need for that in the first place. In short, people that are doomsday-esque and say that such suggests are foolish need to be honest and open about what they are really saying. Even with all of the above, the TANF cutoffs need to be relaxed if a single parent is trying to better themselves and they truly need extra funds for daycare or other noble expenses. These are the kind of people that will turn into productive and fruitful members of society and a little money up front will lead to a healthy taxpayer with a strong family unit in the near future (Wilson, 2011)(Burns, 2010).
Any Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipient needs to be educated about the best ways to get ahead in life in general including parenting classes, college classes, and being responsible with money and general behavior and this truly takes time which is why TANF time limits should be looked at very intensely. Unless new and unique situations are kicking the proverbial can down the road (unlikely, but possible), then the time the person is on the benefits should be fleeting and not perpetual in nature but it should…