welfare provision -- government vs. voluntary provision
The welfare structure within the U.S. has undergone certain noticeable changes in the last twenty years or so. Perhaps the biggest change has been the shift of the control of the social welfare policy from within the hands of the federal government and its financial planning for the low-income earners in the states to the management of these low-income earners to the voluntary federal organizations that can help them get into the higher paid labor occupations. Even though, a majority of the control still lies in the hands of the federal government, the state government too has played its part in this shift to the voluntary providers of welfare, which displays not only perceptions of their moral judgments but also the overall worth of labor in the U.S. Furthermore, this shift also reflects the government's efforts to decrease their overall expenses that surfaced due to the high level of globalization. The chart below shows the total welfare expenditure of federal and state governments (voluntary organization included) for the fiscal year ending in 2000. The chart clearly shows that the federal government still makes the most contribution (71.6%), financially, for the improvement and provision of the welfare benefits as opposed to the voluntary providers or state providers (28.4%). The reason behind could this be the fact that the government has had control over the welfare benefits for a long time as opposed to the voluntary providers who have only been given some power and control in the past decade.
This overall transference of the welfare provision that is taking place within the U.S. As well as Canada from pure federal support to the social service placement, volunteer-ship and even internship for the welfare benefits has been one of the two key elements that has contributed to the entire restructuring process of the welfare services. Furthermore, the other key element that has helped in the restructuring of the welfare services within the U.S. has been strictness applied to the rules of eligibility for welfare by the government. This, however, is helped by the volunteer organizations who continue to help play a very important role in the overall communication between the government and the people to soften the rules and make exceptions. It is important to note here that the volunteer structure of the welfare benefits is not very strict and rigid when it comes to the application of rules but since they still have a limited level of power in the provision of welfare benefits, they choose to represent the clients on the federal front if the welfare provision is beyond their power. This is why the communication between these volunteering providers of welfare benefits and the government is important.
The main focus of most of these volunteer organizations is the overall alterations in the strategies or the management structure that need to be made because of the application of a corresponding new welfare policy for the low-income earners as well as the single-parent families.
The primary aim of this paper will therefore be to discuss the current scenario of the welfare system in the U.S., as has been discussed above, along with the overall reformation of the welfare system because of the roles played by the government and the voluntary sector in States. This is so because over the years, the voluntary and inter-social service placement organizations in the U.S. have proven to be crucial in the recognition and provision of the welfare demands and needs of a society. I will also personally relate my own experiences as an intern at the office of Congressman Michael E. McMahon District 13 NY and what I learned there about the welfare structure and its weak points as applied by the government organizations for welfare provision. I will also discuss a major incident, along with other minor ones, during my professional endeavors at the Project Hospitality in Staten Island where I volunteered and worked with a team of lawyers and learned about the welfare structure from their point-of-view i.e. The point-of-view of the voluntary organizations. I will also compare the opinions and viewpoints I came across working at both offices.
Welfare structure in the U.S.: liberal setup
There are some researchers who categorize the United States as a "liberal" welfare structure with its key features being the means-tested reimbursement strategy as well as the background, yet long lasting role of the state government (Esping-Anderson, 1990, Myles, 1996). Other researchers call it a "liberal" welfare state because of its rights-based welfare paradigm where the citizenship and needs of an individual are the main determinants of the reimbursement strategy used (Ware & Goodwin, 1990). I have to agree with the former group of researchers and say that the U.S. is a "liberal" welfare state because of the means-tested structure that it uses. I say this, after the experience that I got at both the office of Congressman Michael E. McMahon District 13 NY and Project Hospitality in Staten Island where I understood that the following features were the primary factors that made the United States a 'liberal' welfare state:
Restructuring of the welfare structure and its impact on the government and voluntary provision of welfare benefits
Relative research on the same topic, government vs. voluntary provision of welfare benefits, within the U.S. has shown that the restructuring of the welfare structure has been more or less negative as opposed to positive and has sprung on the federal government some unforeseen problems that still threat the integrity of the welfare structure. Also the social service-placement and voluntary organizations have not benefited much form the restructuring either. In fact the overall demand for intern and volunteers has increased so drastically that now most of these service-placement and voluntary organizations find it hard to provide the community with the services that they need when they need them. This is so because 1) the financial structure of these voluntary organizations is not as strong or consistent as the governments; 2) the overall demand for employees and volunteers to complete undertaken projects is rising faster then the supply; 3) the overall communication and management structure is not flexible enough to incorporate new market trends into the welfare structures for better provision of welfare benefits.
Furthermore, this sudden and rapid rise in demand has forced many service-placement and voluntary organizations to outsource their services which in turn has negatively affected their overall management, communications, understanding and responding to the clients' and community's needs as well as their overall percentage of public policy contribution (Abramovitz, 2002; Alexander, Nank & Stivers, 1999; Bischoff & Reisch, 2000; Curtis & Copeland, 2003; Withorn, 2001). This is something that the governments haven't had to face because of the fact that they have a very strong financial structure set for the provision of the welfare benefits which provides the backbone for all their work and welfare projects.
Personal Experiences at government and voluntary organizations setup for welfare provision: agreements and disagreements
Impact of poverty and bankruptcy on welfare provision:
Speaking from personal experience, perhaps the most important part of the welfare structure implemented by the U.S. government is the overall social security strategy applied. As an in internee at the office of Congressman Michael E. McMahon District 13 NY, I realized that not a lot of Americans fully understands the importance of social security as a welfare provision sector. That is perhaps one of the main reasons why we see such a drastic rise in the overall poverty ratios, not only within the United States, but across the globe. The only aspect of social security that I learned when interacting with people in New York and neighboring areas while serving the Congressman was the aspect of income insurance that most people believed was the phenomenon of getting back their income when they are unable to earn. Howeever people don't really recognize how a well-designed welfare structure can protect an entire community from experienced poverty or low income rates. Furthermore, in comparison many of the voluntary and service-placement agencies feel that this lack of knowledge is one of the main reasons why the use of charity is fast becoming a cripple to the empowering of people and the management of the government (Abramovitz, 2002; Evans & Shields, 2000; Reitsma-Street & Wallace, 2004). Hence, both the government and the voluntary organizations understand that the recognition of the social security as a welfare provision sector is important to eliminate poverty and improve the overall provision of the welfare benefits.
Poppendiek in his research explains that the phenomenon of the charity makes "it easier to government to shed its responsibility for the poor, reassuring policy makers and voters alike that no one will starve. & #8230; It is not an accident that poverty grows deeper as our charitable response to it multiply" (Poppendiek (1998:5-6). Hence, in my opinion and experience, discussing the strategy and policy behind a successful welfare structure is an increasingly important issue to tackle. Below is a diagram that shows…