Letter #7: Welfare & Government
Dear President Trump,
I definitely don’t have as much money as you do, but I am pretty lucky. I had great parents that gave me a great education. I went on to chose a field of study that is highly valued monetarily. And, I know you’ll appreciate this, I’m also pretty good at it. I now have a great job, a beautiful house, and three happy little boys living under my roof. We never have to worry about where our dinner is going to come from; we don’t have to worry about if we are eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables; and, they always get seconds — especially on nights after Tae Kwon Do. They also have clothes, diapers, running water, and sharp pencils. We are really blessed.
I write all of this because I recognize the riches that we have, and we realize that not everyone is so lucky. Most Americans are a handful of paychecks away from being homeless. Additionally, The Hill reported that, “In the last two decades, income volatility has increased by more than 30 percent overall and even higher for lower-income households.” This means that if there are unplanned expenses or problems with finding a job that people can be in serious financial trouble.
To deal with the rough times there is a preconceived notion that people can rely on welfare. That for the short period of time hard working people can pick themselves back up through a government program where people can receive health, food, and housing benefits. Welfare is supposed to be the crutch that helps people when they need it the most.
What I don’t think most people know is that how welfare dollars are spent is decided state by state. That means that while one state may spend all of their welfare dollars on food, housing, and healthcare for the needy another state may decide to spend their welfare dollars another way. For instance, one state may choose to spend their welfare dollars on programs to prevent abortions or to help with keeping marriages strong. While these programs may be valued, they are being supported through welfare dollars — which isn’t what most people think of when they think of welfare. This federally funded program provides money to states, and then states with different politics spend those dollars on programs that they feel are necessary, rather than where the program was intended.
That money is desperately needed by the people of this country to help pay for their basic needs. It just isn’t being spent that way because of state discretion. For instance, Market Place reported that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that for every 100 families in poverty, only 23 of them were receiving welfare dollars. Additionally, they reported that in 2014 only 51% of all welfare dollars went towards cash assistance, work support, and child care.
I know you talked to hard-working Americans about how hard it is to find a good job right now — particularly in the rust belt. I know you have talked to some amazing people who just need a bit of help and you can understand the value in giving people that help. I also know that there is a common misconception that people who are on welfare need to ‘just go get a job.’ It just isn’t that simple. We are talking about vulnerable populations like veterans (who have doubled their use of welfare by 2014 according to Mark Duggan from Stanford), children, and the mentally unwell.
I’m asking for you to take a comprehensive look at welfare and to ensure that the money is being spent on those who need it. I’m asking for you to address the needs of hard working people in a time of increased income volatility. And, last, I’m asking for you to review state rights in terms of how welfare dollars are spent.
A version of this letter was sent to President Donald Trump as well as a few Senators and Congressmen. Feel free to use this letter and it’s content as a template for writing your own letter to the President and other elected officials.
President Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500