in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Develop welfare programs that foster interdependent generations
From: Ajay B., Minneapolis, MN
"Take good care of your children...they will choose your old age home," reads a bumper sticker. We are interdependent on our family and society. At the level of a family, parents take care of the children, each other and grandparents. At the level of a society, the working population pays for the welfare of the preceding and succeeding generations. A child can be conditioned to be altruistic towards a parent and the public. The government has a prominent role in this conditioning.
Government assistance can add to whatever parents are able to provide, allowing children to reach their full potential. This makes children productive citizens, and gives them a feeling of gratitude towards their parents. Government assistance can also replace parental provision, which may weaken the sense of obligation and gratitude towards parents. Thus, the government has to do a balancing act with regard to its various welfare programs. For example, recent research has shown that welfare programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) might have unintended consequences which go beyond nutrition.
Designers and administrators of welfare programs in state and federal governments need to provide a more coordinated package of programs. Then, and only then, will the programs achieve their goal of increased welfare. Providing better management and resources to the welfare programs might seem like an additional burden on government resources, but integrated management of programs will likely yield personnel and office space cost savings. Also, different generations taking better care of each other might save the state on expenditures on seniors and foster care.