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.