Work is Not Punishment, It's Empowerment

Work requirements help the poor | IN 60 SECONDS
Work requirements help the poor | IN 60 SECONDS

While some have argued that work requirements for safety net programs are "cruel", AEI's Angela Rachidi argues that work requirements can help those at risk ...


A social safety net is not incompatible with free enterprise. If a person is laid off from his or her job or falls on hard economic times, helping that person weather the storm is and get back to self-sufficiency is a moral imperative.

However, when the social safety net becomes a hammock and too many able-bodied and capable people would rather stay on unemployment insurance or on programs like food stamps or Medicaid, rather than looking for other means to support themselves, the programs in place need to draw some lines. Critics often say that such stipulations are unfair to the poor. Is that so?

Angela Rachidi, a poverty studies researcher, says work requirements are the furthest thing from cruel — they're actually very good for poor people, and the vast majority of the American public, and the poor themselves, agree.

The truth is, work requirements are not punishment. They ensure that people who are capable of work stay connected to the labor market. Most states do this with people receiving unemployment compensation, and they should be doing it with safety net programs, too. Requiring work sends a clear message that if you can work, you should be working, while government assistance is there to support you.

Watch the video, and let us know your thoughts on her take.