The American Dream is Alive and Well – Among Orphanage Alumni!

Over the last several years, national media have reported discouraging news on the survival of the American Dream. One study found that a sizable majority — just under 60 percent — of Americans have lost hope that they will achieve the American Dream. They are even more discouraged about their children’s futures. A recent study suggests a cause: The percentage of Americans earning more than their parents did at the same age has plunged since the 1970s.

Private Policing Options for the Poor

Protection against criminality is a traditional function of government. Where government fails, however, people often turn to the private sector. That is why there are three times as many private security guards as public police. The need for private security is greatest for low-income families, since they are victimized by crime more often than other income groups. In fact, the rate of crimes against households in poverty is three times greater than against higher income families, according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

The Jitney Potential: Transportation for the Poor

Low-income families need transportation. They need to get to and from jobs, medical clinics and schools — in addition to markets for other jobs and services. The automobile is the most convenient form of transportation, but it is expensive to own and operate. Fares for public transit, such as buses, are low, but the service is slow and inflexible — and the buses may not go where the traveler needs to go.

Increasing the Supply of Affordable Child Care

With more children spending time in nonparental care, concerns about the quality of out-of-home care have increased. These concerns have led state and local governments to regulate and license facilities and caregivers. However, these barriers to entry make it more costly to become a child care provider, driving up the price of nonparental care.

Is Occupational Licensing Necessary?

Restrictions on who can and cannot practice a certain profession have increased significantly in recent years. Occupational licensing — the most onerous restriction — requires people to pass tests and meet other criteria before they can practice a trade. It is a barrier to employment, disproportionately affecting low-income and immigrant workers, and frequently benefitting established practitioners by limiting competition from new entrants.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers housing affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of a family's income. Yet, according to HUD, 12 million renters and homeowners spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Many of these are low-income individuals or families. But in some areas even middle-income families find the supply of affordable housing limited.

Improving Savings Incentives for the Poor

Americans have been saving less and less of their after-tax income for the past 15 years. The annual personal savings rate averaged 8 percent from 1929 to 2000, but reached a historical low of 0.4 percent in 2005. With the onset of the 2008-2009 recession, however, the savings rate rose again to more than 6 percent.

Welfare Reform in Indiana

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed an agreement to outsource the administration of health, welfare and nutrition programs to a consortium led by the IBM Corporation and Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. Under the 10-year contract, these companies will receive and process applications for benefits received by one in six Indiana residents and provide technological support to the state's Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA).

Workers' Compensation: Rx for Policy Reform

Workers' compensation is the oldest government-mandated employee benefit program in the United States.  Costs are increasing because state systems provide incentives for employers, employees and others to behave in ways that cause costs to be higher and workplaces to be less safe than they otherwise could be. 

e-Welfare Reform

Texas is blazing a new trail in welfare reform that will improve access to more than 50 different programs, while reducing administrative costs. The state is using modern technology and private contractors to create a "one-stop" application process for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Food Stamps, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Long-Term Care and other programs. Texas' new system provides a model for privatizing the administration of social services in other states.

A New Frontier for Welfare Reform

In a major step forward for welfare reform, Texas is about to roll out an ambitious program using private contractors to streamline the process of applying for public health and welfare programs. The reform is expected to save taxpayers more than $100 million a year, while making it easier for people who qualify for social services to enroll in programs and claim benefits. Texas is the first state in the country to implement such a comprehensive, statewide reform and it could serve as a model for other states.

Housing for Hurricane Victims

Many people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are faced with the challenge of finding new housing with few resources and a lack of steady income, at least for now. The federal government spends billions of dollars a year on housing assistance and programs to provide low-cost housing for the poor. However, attempts to house homeless evacuees by expanding these programs would be a big mistake. Specifically, it would drive up demand for all low-income housing without increasing supply. The result: a large government expense with no reduction in need.

Aid to Katrina Victims: A Right/Left Consensus

People on both the left and right are using the tragedy of Katrina as a handy excuse to push agendas they favored long before the hurricane disaster. Here's a better idea: Put the normal political wrangling aside and seize the opportunity to enact serious reforms that can garner broad agreement.

Subsidizing Disaster

Hurricane Katrina has focused attention on the increasing cost of natural disasters. Some federal programs unintentionally contribute to those losses. Federal flood insurance and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' flood control and beach replenishment projects subsidize construction in flood-prone areas, encourage high-risk development and harm environmentally sensitive areas. These programs should be reconsidered.

Unemployment Insurance in a Free Society

Unemployment insurance was intended to provide a financial safety net for laid-off workers. But the way the system is structured encourages employers to lay off employees and discourages workers from seeking new jobs until their benefits are nearly exhausted.

Public Housing Reform

In 1996, for the first time in modern history, Congress ended a welfare entitlement. It replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the federal-state program that provided cash assistance to poor families, with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). An entitlement provides benefits to anyone meeting eligibility requirements, such as income. TANF put conditions on the receipt of cash, including time limits and work requirements — and in just a few years, enrollment fell by 54 percent.

Better Off Welfare

Welfare rolls nationwide have fallen by more than 50 percent since welfare reform was enacted in 1996. The goal of reform was not simply to reduce the number of welfare cases, but to move families on welfare – the vast majority of which are headed by single women – from dependency to independence through work.

Immigrants, Welfare and Work

Throughout its history, the United States has been a nation of immigrants. However, in recent years, and even more so since September 11, 2001, Americans have favored a stricter immigration policy.

Welfare Reform: Reasons To Stay the Course

The number of Americans receiving cash welfare – called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) – has fallen in half; the number of Americans living in poverty has fallen 21 percent; and the annual incomes of the poorest women have increased nearly $1,000.

Giving Patients More Control

Eighty-eight percent of Americans with private health insurance coverage get it through employers, and the employment-based health insurance system has served millions of Americans for more than 50 years.

Four Welfare Reforms

Unprecedented numbers of individuals have moved from welfare to employment since enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), making it the most successful welfare reform ever.

Answering Critis of The Welfare Reform Act

Critics say the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 goes too far, cutting too much from welfare spending and harming poor children and legal immigrants. Are the criticisms accurate? Let's take a closer look.

Welfare Reform: Building on a Good Start

Recently enacted welfare reform legislation reverses 61 years of U.S. welfare policy, ending a recipient's entitlement to a welfare check. It's a good start, and one on which the 105th Congress and the state legislatures can build a better future for millions of people trapped in the old welfare system.