Of Workfare and Reform

Tom Bates's article on welfare reform (Aug. 18), concludes that workfare will not reduce the number of people on the welfare rolls. However, before the welfare rolls can be reduced, the rate of relief spending must be checked. Workfare is a good start. The compromise plan has an estimated cost of $136 million, but--as Bates failed to mentioned--it will save an estimated $272 million, or $2 saved for every dollar spent.

No longer can we afford the quick-fix, short-term solutions to long-range problems handed to the taxpayers by liberal Democrats. One need only look at where welfare has gone in the past 20 years under a Democrat controlled Congress. The statistics are staggering:

--California has the most expensive welfare system in the United States. In 1965, welfare was costing the state about $1 billion. Today it costs more than $12 billion. Health and welfare spending will be 12$ greater this year than last.

--In 1960, one out of every 26 children came from a family on welfare. Today, one out of seven children comes from a welfare family.

--In Los Angeles County, more than 204,000 families depend on government aid. The county distributes $1.2 billion a year in Aid for Dependent Children payments; only three states pay out more than that.

The new workfare proposal represents a fundamental change of direction in the way government handles social improvement programs. There is a saying that if you give a man some fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach him to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. By teaching welfare recipients job skills and requiring them to work, we will enable them to break out of the "welfare trap." Under San Diego's successful workfare pilot project, 50% of all AFDC recipients participating in the program got jobs, most of them in the private sector.

President Reagan has laid the foundation for an expanding economy that has created 8 million new jobs in the past 36 months. The economy will provide even more jobs once the Democrats break their old habit of spend, spend, spend.

For years, politicians have done a lot of talking and a lot of taxing, while the welfare problem has only gotten worse. Workfare, however, is an innovating idea and a bold step forward toward our goal of getting people off the relief rolls and onto payrolls.


Supervisor, Fifth District

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