Society\'s Restraint to Social Reform



Society\'s Restraint to Social Reform


Of the many chatted words in the social reform vocabulary of Canadians
today, the term workfare seems to stimulate much debate and emotion. Along
with the notions of self-sufficiency, employability enhancement, and work
disincentives, it is the concept of workfare that causes the most tension
between it\'s government and business supporters and it\'s anti-poverty and
social justice critics. In actuality, workfare is a contraction of the concept
of "working for welfare" which basically refers to the requirement that
recipients perform unpaid work as a condition of receiving social assistance.
Recent debates on the subject of welfare are far from unique. They are
all simply contemporary attempts to decide if we live in a just society or not.
This debate has been a major concern throughout history. Similarly, the
provision of financial assistance to the able-bodied working-age poor has
always been controversial.
On one side are those who articulate the feelings and views of the poor,
namely, the Permissive Position, who see them as victims of our society and
deserving of community support. The problems of the poor range from personal
(abandonment or death of the family income earner) to the social (racial
prejudice in the job market) and economic (collapse in the market demand for
their often limited skills due to an economic recession or shift in technology).
The Permissive View reveals that all participants in society are deserving of
the unconditional legal right to social security without any relation to the
individual\'s behaviour. It is believed that any society which can afford to
supply the basic needs of life to every individual of that society but does not,
can be accused of imposing life-long deprivation or death to those needy
individuals. The reason for the needy individual being in that situation,
whether they are willing to work, or their actions while receiving support have
almost no weight in their ability to acquire this welfare support. This view
is presently not withheld in society, for if it was, the stereotype of the
\'Typical Welfare Recipient\' would be unheard of.
On the other side, the Individualists believe that generous aid to the
poor is a poisoned chalice that encourages the poor to pursue a life of poverty
opposing their own long-term interests as well of those of society in general.
Here, high values are placed on personal choice. Each participant in society
is a responsible individual who is able to make his own decisions in order to
manipulate the progression of his own life. In conjunction with this opinion,
if you are given the freedom to make these decisions, then surely you must
accept the consequences of those decisions. An individual must also work part
of his time for others (by means of government taxing on earned income). Those
in society who support potential welfare recipients do not give out of charity,
but contrastingly are forced to do it when told by the Government. Each person
in society contains ownership of their own body and labour. Therefore anything
earned by this body and labour in our Free Market System is deserved entirely
by that individual. Any means of deducting from these earnings to support
others is equivalent to criminal activity. Potential welfare recipients should
only be supported by voluntary funding. For this side, welfare ultimately
endangers society by weakening two of it\'s moral foundations: that able-bodied
adults should be engaged in some combination of working, learning and child
rearing; and secondly, that both parents should assume all applicable
responsibilities of raising their children.(5)
In combination of the two previous views, the Puritan View basically
involves the idea that within a society which has the ability to sufficiently
support all of it\'s individuals, all participants in the society should have
the legal right to Government supplied welfare benefits. However, the
individual\'s initiative to work is held strongly to this right. Potential
welfare recipients are classified as a responsibility of the Government. The
resources required to support the needy are taken by means of taxation from the
earnings of the working public. This generates an obligation to work. Hence,
if an individual does not make the sacrifice of his time and energy to
contribute their earnings to this fund, they are not entitled to acquire any
part of it when in need unless a justifiable reason such as disability is
present for the individual\'s inability to work. The right to acquire welfare
funds is highly conditional on how an individual accounts for his failure in
working toward his life\'s progression by his own efforts. Two strong beliefs
of the Puritan Position are; Firstly, those on welfare should