Yes, you read the title correctly. We can cut the cost of government and expand upon entitlement programs at the same time. As we struggle to reduce our Federal Deficit and reduce State budgets many are casting about for ways to do so. In the process we are seeing very unpopular things being done and government services being reduced to very poor levels in some cases. In others we are seeing cuts to essential services or non-essential services that we would like to see continued. This does NOT need to happen. In this article I intend to show how that can be done and why it would be better for all involved.
1) People fall upon hard times and deserve Society's help to get back on their feet.
Things happen and often through no fault of their own people will find themselves in need of temporary assistance. A factory may close, a car accident, and any myriad of misfortunes can happen to place them there. We cannot and should not turn our backs upon them in their time of need. This is a major part of any civilized Society and the degree to which we help those in need is the benchmark we will judged by future generations.
2) Entitlement programs cost money.
No one denies this. The more help we give, the more it costs by way of taxes. So how do we reduce the impact of greater demand? I propose a program of exchange of labor for the assistance received. In other words, have people work to earn the money they get. Whenever possible, it should be exchanged at the same time as when the assistance is needed. In the case of a debilitating injury, it can be done at a later date when the injured party is able. We could also offer an option to repay the assistance in cash in the case of those who receive a lawsuit settlement or who return to their former occupation and opt out of the work-for-benefits program.
3) Government Needs Skilled and Un-Skilled workers.
From clerks to grass-cutting, government needs people to perform the various duties of government and this costs money. Right now, there are literally tens of thousands of government positions that are either unfilled or have been eliminated due to budget cuts. This affects communities in numerous ways from slow service, bad service, to garbage collecting along roadways. We could actually increase the number of people in service positions through implementing this plan thereby speeding up governments ability to respond in many areas to communities needs. All without increasing the cost of government. In actuallity, by identifying the positions that can be filled by these Temporary Workers, we could possibly eliminate the need for full-time government employees, thereby "downsizing" government without reducing or eliminating the services it provides.
4) People receiving assistance usually want to work.
Most people would prefer to earn what they get. When they find themselves in an unfortunate position, they would prefer a hand up instead of a handout. Just in case they are not so inclined, by setting the rate of "earning" their benefits at a slightly less percentage of what they would receive in the private sector, we would encourage them to be seeking full-time employment elsewhere. I propose that the rate of earning the benefits be at the same level of compensation they received at their last position minus say 10-20%.
5) Getting people out into the community will increase their chance of landing a job.
Networking is the number one way people find jobs. This is according to every survey or study ever done. People usually find a job by word of mouth much faster than through Want Ads or Employment services like CareerBuilder.com. By getting these people out of their homes and into the community they have a greater chance of finding out information about open positions through the people they meet while performing the government services.
6) By requiring people to work for benefits, we can eliminate most abuse of these programs.
Someone who is receiving benefits that they have to work for will have less time to work under the table for unreported income. This will eliminate a lot of fraudulent claims and save us money-billions of dollars-every year. Knowing that any assistance received must be re-paid will make everyone reconsider filing false claims. By reducing the number of false claims, this will free up investigators to actively pursue those that do occur. This will also help to reduce the false claims as people realize their chances of getting caught has significantly increased.
7) By eliminating full-time government employees we will reduce the associated costs of their job benefits.
Fewer people working in full-time positions in government means that pensions and health insurance cost to government are also eliminated further reducing budgets.
8) By putting these people in to temporary positions first, Government has the ability to pre-screen potential employees.
We've all seen an example at one point or another of someone in a role in government whose work ethics leave lots of room for improvement. This Work For Benfits Program would give those responsible for overseeing the operation of government services to identify those most qualified to fill a position on a full-time basis who are well suited to the task. The current system of 1-3 brief interviews of applicants or just taking the first person who applies would end. This would help to ensure that the best of the best is hired instead.
9) This would give people an opportunity to explore other potential career paths they might not have considered.
While most people have a set view of what they are good at, many times they are unaware of possible careers where their talents might be utilized. Take for instance a person good with their hands and at problem solving. Before, they might have worked as an auto mechanic, never realizing that their skills could be used for repairing elevators or escalators. If we take this to the next logical level, former occupations will serve only as a guide to what skills are possessed and not necessarily what job will be assigned. Should someone be assigned a task they do not like or cannot perform, there should be a system in place to address the problem.
Now I really don't expect any government official to step forward and embrace this idea because they will think that it would alienate the poor demographic element. I don't think so because most of the people who are struggling want to work and don't want to be "on the dole". The Welfare Queen is a myth. What we have are many struggling to make ends meet who would LOVE to have a good paying job, if only they had the chance. This would eliminate the stigma that some people feel is attached to handing over the food stamp card. It would encourage them as well as enable them to leave these programs faster. Not many people want to be told how they can spend the money they have worked for and current regulations would do just that with this plan. They still wouldn't be able to buy gas, TV's, cigarettes, or alcohol with the food stamps, but now they would have to earn that money. Like I said before, IF they are working for it, they want to be able to spend it on whatever they want. They are faced with a choice-get a job in the private sector earning more money and spend it any way they want, or accept the help with the purchasing limitations that go along with it.
Okay, here it is in rough draft form. What do you think we could do to improve upon the proposal?