- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Every year we pay out enormous sums to keep welfare recipients across the country fed and housed. But are we really saving people or making a difference? And are we getting a return on that investment or merely creating a cycle of dependency?

I propose we think outside the box on welfare and try to break this cycle. This should be done by tying welfare programs to volunteerism, civil work, literacy and education. Some of the following ideas might help reduce welfare roles by making recipients independent:

c Roadside cleanup crews. Use a lottery system to get welfare recipients to clean up state roadsides.

c Snow-shovel brigades.There are areas of Northern cities where sidewalks go unshoveled. Mandate participation and tie it to a percentage of recipients’ welfare checks.

c Neighborhood Watches. Provide recipients with training and have them make rounds or call in when they spot trouble.

c Cleanup squads.Enlist welfare recipients to clean up around their communities. They must turn up on time or lose money on their checks.

c Military service. Recruit at welfare offices.

c Civic duty. Put up “wanted” posters and provide monetary rewards for information leading to arrests.

c Literacy and drug testing. Test new recipients and tie remedial reading classes to their continued checks. Test them for literacy and drug or alcohol use and get them help to remedy these maladies. Tie treatment to their checks.

Some of these measures will cost taxpayers more money initially, but all of them will teach a work ethic and ultimately lower the cost of welfare programs.

EDDIE JOHNSON

Royal Oak, Mich.

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