Hi Wenda, thanks for taking the time to read and for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Also thank you for your commitment towards helping others, it’s a valuable trait to have.
I’m writing to you from Australia so I’m unable to comment on the American context, but here our workfare programs are certainly not working optimally. It’s been demonstrated time and time again that attaching conditions to welfare negatively impacts individuals ability to esxape their circumstances. In a lot of cases it’s stripping people of their agency and forcing them into a cycle of welfare dependancy.
I totally agree with you and strongly believe that people need to strive for something to be regarded as a responsible and functioning member of society. The problem is that we have fundamentally tied this concept of ‘something worth striving for’ to the idea of ‘paid work’. What of the single mothers who don’t ‘work’ but raise good children who go on to contribute to society? How about the volunteers who dedicate their time towards improving their communities or the creative whose work inspires countless? As the system currently stands we’re failing to assist these people.
Should people be striving for something? Yes, definitely. Does the word ‘work’ adequately capture this idea? No, in light of the technological changes on the near horizon we need to fundamentally rethink the value we place on the notion of ‘paid work’ and critically reflect on how we reward certain activities. A UBI could be part of this reformulation. Thanks again for reading.