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Flat Broke: Will work for food

Sharon Hays on the Real cost of Welfare reform in the United States

An interview by Pat MacEnulty, The Sun, August 2004

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"Welfare reform is evidence of the triumph of market logic. We believe that the free market is the solution to all our problems, but the more it takes over, the more trouble we're all in."

"A founding principle of our nation is the idea that, although we might have disdain for the poor, we are still obligated to keep them from starving to death. When welfare reform came along in 1996, it implicitly said, "If poor people can't achieve self-sufficiency, then that's their problem." Period. It's similar to what the federal government is saying to the states right now: "If you can't make it on your own, then you deserve your fate."

In this interview article Sharon Hays vividly unfolds the hidden dimensions to the 1996 US welfare reform titled Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and how it adversely impacts on poor single mothers and their children. This Clinton administration reform has been applauded by many market-fundamentalist policy-makers and researchers who favour: targeting, means testing, fixed time periods and the application of rule and sanction-based welfare systems. Hays's reveals the consequences of this type of system on its clients - poor single mothers and their children - when they encounter the welfare office, infringe the rules and time runs out on them.



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