The moral case for welfare


Dear Rebecca:

There’s a case that being truly pro-life means being in favor of government programs that assist the poor. Here’s the latest evidence:

A University of Kansas study supports the suspicions of lawmakers and advocates who believe there’s a link between additional restrictions on welfare benefits and an increase in foster care cases.

The researchers say their initial findings show that while Kansas was reducing the amount of time families could receive cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and increasing the requirements they needed to meet for that assistance, the number of child abuse and neglect cases went up. Abuse and neglect are the leading reasons why Kansas kids enter foster care.

“It’s remarkable. There is a mirror image,” said Donna Ginther, a KU economist and one of the study researchers. “As the Kansas TANF caseloads drop, the number of reports of abuse and neglect go up. And you see a similar relationship for foster care placements.”

Conservatives often say that such assistance shouldn’t be provided by government, but by churches and other private, optional associations. The problem with that? As assistance to needy families in Kansas has declined in recent years, nobody has stepped up to the degree needed to mitigate the harm.

So we have harm.

Feels like we can and should do better,

One comment

  1. A very interesting read.

    In some of the Catholic circles I’m in, “pro-life” often only means “anti-abortion.” But there’s SO much more to “pro-life” than that. I wait for the day that the definition of “pro-life” expands.


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