Does Welfare Violate Civil Rights?

 Does welfare violate civil rights by supporting a form of slavery?  I think it does, but first I have to discuss the three forms of slavery.

 There are three forms of slavery. The first is chattel slavery practiced for thousands of years throughout the world and in England prior to 1066 when the Normans conquered the English. In this type of slavery a human can be purchased as property and physically moved to another location like cattle. This is the kind of slavery practiced in the United States prior to passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 The second form of slavery is known as serfdom or villeinage. After the Normans conquered the English in 1066 they enslave the defeated English, introducing the French form of slavery commonly known as serfdom. In Norman England serfdom was call villeinage. Under this form of slavery a villein was owned property but could not be moved to another location. A villein or serf was bound to the land. When a member of the aristocracy purchased a piece of land the most valuable assets were the villeins that had to live and work their entire lives on the same land.

 The third form of slavery is common in many nations today. Under this form a nation’s political and economic system is structured in a way that a small percentage of the population benefits from the work done by a large percentage. Most people are kept poor, politically oppressed, and uneducated. The few are rich while the many are kept “in their place” and must work for low wages in order to survive. This is the form of slavery practiced in the United States following the Civil War. It is my belief that this is the type of political and economic system supported by American welfare, violating the civil rights of the poor.

 The Fourteenth Amendment reads in part that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” “Equal protection of the laws” in my way of thinking means that government shall not enact laws that hinder citizens’ motivation to take part in the American dream. From the works of Abraham Maslow, Frederick Herzberg, and J.R. Hackman and G.R. Oldham we understand what motivates and de-motivates individuals. Giving money and providing salaries does not motivate even when people actually work to earn the money. Motivation comes from doing actual work and receiving recognition for it. Providing money, housing, etc. to poor individuals de-motivates citizens from striving toward the American dream. Let me provide a brief example from the realities of life.\

In our area of shipyards people understand having your name on an access list. If you are not on the list you cannot enter a facility to work. Suppose three workers are called to a shipyard because their unique expertise is needed. Their company makes a mistake and only provides two names but sends all three. One worker is denied access and spends the afternoon in a company vehicle in the parking lot. The other workers are greatly motivated by demonstrate their unique skills and eventually are given a recognition certificate. This motivates them and helps their careers. But the worker not on the access list is unable to demonstrate his or her unique expertise and receives no recognition or motivation. In fact this worker is de-motivated from the experience and does not do his work as well in the future. But they all receive the same pay for the hours spent at the shipyard.

 I see welfare having the same de-motivating effect on the American poor. Our legal system provides them with just enough money, housing, etc. from which they only receive negative recognition as lazy people. Actually they are not lazy; the legal, economic system does not take into account their fundamental need to achieve recognition and pay for their own accomplishments. Our welfare system violates their rights as citizens by doing and providing everything they need to barely survive, making them available to work for very low wages in un-motivating jobs for large American corporations while rich people make money through stock ownership.

 Our welfare system must be modified so that the American poor have better chances to pursue the American dream.

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 © By Joseph L. Bass, EdD and Barbara P. Starkey-Bass - 2016