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Sunday, September 26

Blog 3: State-funded programs in both countries.

Please visit the site "The welfare state" ( and give us your thoughts on an aspect of the "Social Protection" system that your country employs. For example, how do you feel about your social security or pensions program? Are they too generous or should they be limited? How about welfare services? Are they adequate,  less than adequate or abused? What about your health system? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied? Are you happy with the public education system or would you like to see changes? Or you may discuss whatever topic  falls under the umbrella of "state-funded" program.

Please remember that this week's discussion will end next Sunday evening (October 3).

Have a great week!


LaSandra67 said...

If one looks at the history of how Social Security was created you would say it was a pretty good idea. The reason why it will disappear in a few years is because the way money was put into social security is by jobs...You know that rare thing one seeks to get, you know, food, shelter, clothing? If there are no jobs there is no social security. If there are no jobs there is no Medicare nor Medicaid. That money comes out of the paychecks. Unfortunately its not much because the jobs available are service jobs. You dont make much money on a service job. You never make enough money in retail either. The good jobs are shippped out of the country .That means our livelihood. Whats next? Health care is more like health scare. I am amazed at those who want to repeal the new healthcare program. Preventive care is the only way that healthcare can improve. Its going to cost alot but we have to start somewhere. We have people having strokes and getting unusual cancers because, one, they may be unemployed.and two, lets not forget those service jobs that dont offer health insurance. If they did it would be so expensive they would have to sell a kidney. Whats a fulltime job?I havent had one in a while. If you are a part time employee, you really cant get insurance for a year, thats if they offer it. Welfare state? We are a welfare state. Too late. Education is not priority in this country...I think its a class issue. You have to sign for a lottery to get into a decent school. That is insane. The "haves" have done it again.

Lauren said...

Well, I wrote out an entire post a few days ago and I am glad I checked because it did not show up…weird. So I guess I will reiterate my thoughts. I think I will concentrate on our health care system. My dad passed in March of 2009 and before that he was ill for several years. Within those several years my family and I were at battle with our then health insurance agency. It disgusts me that someone or some company would sit back and see that someone is dying and that they need more help but yet so easily say “we refuse to cover more” or “I am sorry, that procedure is not covered” or “I am sorry but we can only cover 10% of the cost” and so on. Why should there be a limit? To me, health care is a given right. It is disgusting that America has enlisted a system to where private sectors profit from peoples’ ailments and deaths. Through out the battle with my dad, I became disgusted with America and how easily she could watch her countrymen fall. I always had a sense of brotherhood and solidarity in my country. I am afraid that the way things are going now a days that all of that will be lost. So to answer the question “What about your health system? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied?” My answer is DISSATISFIED. Too many people are being denied health care, too many honest, good working people. My mother included, now that my dad is gone she is searching for a new insurer and is jumping through rings of fire. They keep denying her on the basis that she has a “pre existing condition.” Want to know what it is? A couple years back for about the span of 3 months she was considered a PRE diabetic. Not even a full on diabetic, just a PRE diabetic. A matter which she dealt with and took care of and no longer is. And because of that she is being denied. There are so many other excuses that they come up with in order to nix you off their list-including family history. America’s healthcare system sucks, and there needs to be change. I just hope I see it in my lifetime.

Athena Smith said...

The pre-existing condition obstacle will disappear when the health reform goes into effect.
here is the timeline of the changes implemented by thge new law

The preexisting condition is being eliminated this year!

Lauren said...

Thank you professor for the site! It really is helpful to get a better grasp on when we should see the changes. I often get lost in all the news broadcasts of what is and isn't going to happen, so to see it straight forward and divided by the year is much more retainable.

Jayme said...

I have read the post by Lauren and LaSandra67, and I agree that our health care system needs to change. Although I agree with this, I also see our healthcare as advanced and I believe we take it for granted in the United States.

There are other countries where the health care can be advanced, but in others it is so behind or lacking in supply. In the US health care is an industry designed, in our capitalistic society, health is unfortunately a business and the goal is to make a profit.

I have worked, previously, in nursing homes for two years and I was so unhappy and shocked. I remember a woman who had to have her teeth pulled because Medicare would not cover her having them fixed. I sat with her while she cried, because she wanted to keep her teeth, but needed the pain to stop. When you are in your senior years, what you can do and what you have means independence.

I feel that our country needs to focus on humanitarian acts and not what can be gained though the profit margin. Generic prescription drugs can be offered at four to ten dollars, but brand name prescription’s can be fifty to hundreds of dollars more. People in the US have one of the best health care systems, but we also have a depressing distribution of access to it.

I believe that our system is 80% bottom dollar and 20% health focused.

Lauren said...

I see and agree with your point that our healthcare system is better than what you would find in some other countries. I guess I just get disgusted and really sad that so many people are suffering because people decided to become greedy and suck the life and the money from patients. No matter what my frustrations and angers are though, I must keep in mind that things could be worst and that I should be thankful for what I have...sometimes it is just really hard to do that. Especially when it hits so close to home. Know what I mean?

Chantal said...

I think the U.S. has a very unorganized welfare system. to start with,the welfare services are inadequate. They are not meant to truly help the disadvantaged. They also make it hard for people who really are trying. Of course there are those who try to abuse the system, so I understand they have to make limitations on time and assistance.i feel the type of assistance they offer could be better validated if they would not give people such a difficult time and give them a chance to get some education or job training that is adequate. The U.S. system is described as being very liberal but definitely not unified. There needs to be a better structure and goal for its people. I feel they could be more generous but do understand there need to be time limits so people don't abuse the system.
I have to agree with LaSandra's that social security will disappear especially now with the job shoratge. Those that are employed pay for the social security benfits so with so many unemployed people toady there is no way for the system to catch up.
Education is definitely lacking here in the U.S. Unfortunately for our children the budgets are inadequate for the schools and this allows very little room for them to get the books and proper supplies and upgrades they need. Of couse, the private schools are doing good but the public system definitely needs work. It also needs more organizationa and structure for teachers and students.
Our health care system is lacking. I wish we had a system like Canada. Although I do understand their system has its problems too,I think preventative care is very important. I have to say,I am one who is not too sure about our new healthcare system we are to have. Overall, the idea that one can not be turned down because of previous conditions is great, I don't agree with the mandatory coverage part. What if we cannot afford the rates? That is another added bill that may put you into debt.I understand it is to be free if you cannot afford it but who determines that? I see what these young people have to already go through with our welfare system making absolutely nothing yet they are still turned down for public assistance because the state says they are over income. So I am a little scared at what will be considered in determining what one can afford.

Vee said...

The public education system has many wrongs, but also many rights. The public education system is used to educate our young children so that they will grow up and acquire the knowledge needed to have a successful job and support their families. The big question is, are they really educating? Many statistics have been taken years after years with outcomes that may not surprise any of us. Florida was ranked 29th in 2006-2007 with Vermont ranking 1st. I firmly believe this is because our teachers are “teaching the test”, at least their teaching we all say right? Wrong! Teachers need to go back to teaching life skills and information not just on the FCAT. I do however admire the passion our teachers do have to teach. They are teaching the test because that’s what they’re told to do. But I believe they do a great job of it. The public school system I believe would be in better shape if things like downsizing in classrooms took place. I understand that we are already in the process of building more schools to lower the class size number, but compared to private schools where there are only 8 or 10 students in a class our numbers are still pretty large.

Vee said...

Jayme, I agree that healthcare especially for the elderly seems to be lacking. I wonder if the people who are in charge and get to say “she needs her teeth pulled, we are not covering that with Medicare” would ever be willing to come watch this poor old lady get her teeth pulled, and if they’d be willing to sit with her while she cried.

Vee said...

LaSandra, I long for the day that we have free healthcare for everyone. I personally would be willing to pay big tax money for something as useful as this. It would not just be benefiting those who do not have insurance, and the money to pay, but it would be benefiting me because I wouldn’t get the viruses, and diseases this sick people carry. But I guess if we were all healthy why would we need doctors?

Athena Smith said...


You are looking at the negatives... Think of the positives as well.
First of all, you are in school!
Second, outsourcing has a double face. Let's take the call centers in India. Thomas Friedman wrote in his book "The world is falt' that when he visited some big ones, he saw that all the support was done by US-made software and PCs. They made a calculation how much the US was earning out of this and for every dollar that was outsourrced, the US was getting back 1,12.

We are going through a recession but the good news is that it has come to an end. Things will be picking up slowly during the next years. So bear up. And smile!

Athena Smith said...

Indeed the teachers are teaching to the test but I don't think that the low performance of many students is due to the lack of innovation in class. A lot of Fs are directly related to lack of studying. I don't know why parents blame teachers as if teachers are supposed to be stand-up comedians who are supposed to keep the kids entertained. Kids have to be disciplined, learn to do homework and be respectful. I am sort of disappointed by the attitudes I have observed in primary and middle schools.

I do not believe in this dichotomy good school vs non-good school. You get out of an institution what you put into it.
And if one is willing to work, he will excel, no matter where he is.

Athena Smith said...

As for obligatory health coverage, the problem arises when one falls very ill and he is not insured. Chances are he will get his treatment without paying his bills, but his bill, -indirectly- is eventually paid by the insured, as hospitals raise their prices to make up for their losses.

I was reading about a hospital that became so desperate to recover debts that it started charging hundreds of dollars for toothpaste.

Junglist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junglist said...

I agree with Athena's assessment that an uninsured person who does not pay his bill indirectly raises the cost of health care for those who are insured. I was recently reading an article on Medscape about how Emergency Room doctors can expect <20% of their bills to be paid. The article spoke about how many doctors look at this as their “service to society”, though I think from a hospital administration point of view the business will look to make up their losses as Athena said.

Junglist said...

Continuing with thoughts on health care my experience with Medicaid was actually a very positive one. When my wife and I had our first child we both worked in a restaurant and did not have insurance. She had access to a private room, a three day stay at the hospital and what I would characterize as very good medical care. However with our second child we had health insurance, she was put in a shared room, was checked on much less and was out of the hospital within 24 hours. Now I understand some of this is because after the first birth the subsequent births usually carry less risk, but I think some of it had to do with the fact that liability encouraged better care under Medicaid.
We have had health insurance since before our second child was born. What bothers me about the health insurance situation though is the disparity in coverage. When I worked for a major auto insurer we had Aetna insurance, access to a doctor at ten dollars per visit and a wonderful discount on medications. However now on my wife’s insurance doctor visits can cost over one hundred dollars per visit, and the same asthma medication I was on with the Aetna plan that cost $25/month now costs over $150/month. I know that part of the reason for the disparity is due to how much an employer is willing to pay for coverage for their employees, but sometimes I wonder if the several hundred dollars a month we spend on her coverage really is worth it. I believe this type of thinking is what encourages people to use Emergency Room doctors as their primary care physicians, where we end up with the situation discussed earlier. Hopefully the health care reforms will correct some of these imbalances, but with the requirement for insurance taking effect in 2014 I don’t see how all this can be accomplished in the time frame specified. I wonder how much harder or easier it would be to move towards a socialized medicine model, such as they have in the UK, rather than reform what we have. I do not think socialized medicine would lead to better care, but that perhaps it would be more realistic.

Athena Smith said...

My ideal universal health coverage would be medicare for all. Which means, if you are under 65 you are allowed to buy medicare paying the normal premiums. We would have millions of young people choosing medicare but not using it extensively (since they are the most healthy group) and thus the extra cash would balance the losses the system suffers due to the overuse by the elderly.

Some people say they don't want insurance because they are feeling pretty healthy. Don't bet on it. One out of three will eventually get cancer and your chances of proper treatment rise dramatically if you are insured.

Athena Smith said...

I would also like to add my experience from both systems as I have lived in Europe and the US. In Greece, universal health care was simply inadequate and I was forced to buy extra private insurance so I would have the option of going to a private hospital instead of a public one. But in Belgium the system worked beautiful. My daughter was born there and my impressions were positive. I suppose effciency correlated with development (Greece is not as developed or modern as Belgium).

In the US I saw medical care that is advanced from a technological point of view but excessive. Usually doctors prescribe many unecessary tests. An 85-year old who camplains about hearing loss gets an MRI in order to eliminate the chance of a brain tumor...
Or if her knees hurt, she gets arthritis shots that have not been proven to work but cost us $3000.

The abuse of the system is mind boggling.

How do you prevent abuse? A high deductible that varies according to your income seems like a good idea.

Your thoughts on battling abuse?

Nicholas Kieper said...

My biggest problem with state funded programming is the atrocity that is our public school system. Every year the need for teachers rises and the funding that they receive is cut. Education should be one of the government’s top agendas, but it seems that they are more interested in a quest for war wherever they can find it. My mother is a special education teacher in Delaware and has been employed by the state as an educator for almost twenty years. During this time, she has strived to further her education and received her masters degree a few years ago. This meant a pay raise of about five percent. Last year, the state decided that in order to save money, they would cut teacher’s salaries and mandate that all of the teachers have to pay for their own health insurance, previously covered in their benefits package. This cut meant that she is now making less than she was with her regular bachelor’s degree in special education.
This may be one of the reasons why more and more “teachers” today are barely high school graduates who went through the state testing program to teach and never received any type of college education. Is this who we want teaching the future of our country? Studies showed that in 2005, the United States ranked a staggering 13th in the world education ratings (we are probably even lower now with all of the cuts). For being one of the richest countries in the world, we sure are dumb. I think that if less money was wasted on waging wars and keeping immigrants out of this country, and more was spent on education and the future of this country, our future might actually look a little less grim. (I understand that because of my mother, I may seem biased in this situation, but I felt this way long before she ever had her pay cut or insurance taken away.)

Nicholas Kieper said...

To comment o Dr. Smith's last comment, my mother taught kindergarten in Belgium about 25 years ago as part of an abroad program and she says that even then, the health care system was amazing. She wished the US could come be like Belgium in that aspect one day.

Athena Smith said...

Her insurance was taken away? That is HORRIBLE!!!!

Athena Smith said...


I have come to realize another dimension to the causes of our poor academic achievement (although it would be impossible to believe it when I read your comments... guys you are superb!!)

Oaky, here it comes and no offence to anyone.

poor parenting skills. Some parents are simply not around. Some however believe they are raising princes who should be exposed to learning by fun. Not by studying hard. If a teacher gives hard homework, do you know how many upset parents are calling her?

Once I heard an interview by Thomas Friedman where he was discussing the attitude of the American parent towards homework vs. the attitude of the Easter European or Asian parent. He said that on parents' day, in an exclusive high school, Mr. and Mrs. Smith showed up and told the teacher that little John plays baseball and tennis three times a week so the homework is excessive. Could she please lower her demands?

From the same class Mr. and Mrs. Young and Mr. and Mrs. Kavoski told the teacher that they went through their son's homework book and they found it inadequate. In stark terms they warned her that if she does not give out more homework they would pull their kids out of the school.

True story.

Some say we are raising a narcissist generation. I find it hard to disagree. All objections are welcome

Chantal said...

I agree with the healthcare for all, but why Medicare? Overall, it does cover many procedues and medications but it as most insurance has its limitations. I worked in a hospital for many years and saw how doctors would give more preferential treatment(as far as medicines, and testing) to those who had insurance versus those who did not. I believe the care you receive should not be based on $$.

Athena Smith said...

I mentioned Medicare because it is governmentally run and thus you eliminate the middle-man (private insurance). That would bring the cost down significantly.

yulia8na said...

Welfare services are services that are provided by the government for the welfare of its citizens. For example, financial aid is a welfare service for students to help pay for their schooling. It comes in forms of grants and loans. Grants do not have too be paid back while loans do.

Personally in my opinion, I think financial aid is less than adequate and also abused. The problem with getting financial aid begins with a person’s tax return. They must submit their last year’s tax information to even be qualified. The tax information does not show the person’s environmental status or current status.

My dear best friend is twenty-two and she has only worked for six months (by choice) since dropping out of high school. She became pregnant last year and just started to go to school this semester. Because she has a child, and is considered to be single, the state offers many grants and scholarships for her to go to school. What the state doesn’t know is that she lives with her baby’s daddy who makes above average money and lives life better then most.

However many of my friends and myself live on our own and work to pay for daily and living expenses and our tuition's. Because I was not in the military or married, I am still considered as a dependent even though my parents do not help one bit. So my taxes and my mother’s taxes combined (which I have to include) I cannot qualify for any grants.
Maybe I should become pregnant and move back into my mother’s apartment?

Bryon Bewsher said...

Until erlier this yer, I had very bad feelings towards the insurance and welfare/social security/state funded insurance programs. Please let me tell my story.
As I have posted in the past few blogs, I have a "disability" now in that I am legally blind. When this first happened I was working 80 hours a week as Executive Chef of The Tampa Convention Center and making great money. I paid for health insurance for my whole family and we used it quite a bit. After all, I am diabetic and i have other constant scripts as well. Then when I had to miss two months of work for emergency eye surgery, I was told that my insurance would not cover the procedures because of pre existing conitions( I had been told three years precious that this might happen and they considered that a pre existing). Then, due to the preexisting again, I was not able to be covered for short term disability. What to do? I went back to work before I was supposed to and had another messive hemmorage in my eye. I had to leave the position I had and gothrough a divorce. I hated life at that point. I had all of these new surgeries that were going to happen and they had to be stopped because I now had no insurance. I had filed for permanant disability through the Social Security Admin, but had not heard anything back to that point. I contacted the Division of Blind Services and was told that they could help. I could be covered by the state for the next year or until I had figured out how to manage insurance without the abilioty to work for a short time. I was approved for full time disability because of my state of vision and was eligable for medicaid until I healed and got back to work (I am considered retired now, so I can work up to a certain amout as long as the job falls within certain guidelines. Now, it seemed there was hope for the future(and insulin). Here is where it gets interesting though. I was approved for disability, approved for medicaid, and Ssi. tHEN, A WEEK LATER, i WAS TOLD THAT MEDICAID COULD NOT COVER ME UNLESS i WAS SPENDING 1800.00 A MONTH ON MEDICAL SUPPLIES. What??? An I was also told that I was meking too much income on the disability to qualify for SSI and medicaid was stopped. Now, back to square on. This after a year. what a tricky and scheeming system it is/was. Hopefully there will at least be changes coming to make it more understandable. Now, I am going through school on grants from the state for disabilities. I work 30 hours a week and school fulltime, I still pay taxes like the rest of the working class, but I can't be covered for anything except disability.

yulia8na said...

As upset as we are about the health care in our country is, I do have to agree with Jayme in which many of us do take our health care for granted in the United States.

When I volunteered in Romania at the orphanage I met a remarkable young women who had lupus. I was told her story that she waited YEARS for proper medical care. There were just no funds or resources.

At least in America even if u had no money there would still be some type of treatment and payment plan options.

Bryon Bewsher said...

@ Nicholas- I think you are correct. Schooling and education should be one of the primary goals of the government. America is falling behind in the world from where it was years ago. We were the front runners in technology and education , but now it is reaching a critical point. pres Obama has been talking about the importance of education in the world and how we are falling behind. Is it because the education requirements have changed? I think so. We are not inthe frame of teaching the four r's anymore as primary education. Now, it is creativity, computer skills, marketing skills for entertainment purposes and the list goes on and on. I am shocked at some of the things that my daughter is learning right now inthe school I have her in and she is three. THREE!! asn she can count to one hundred and count to ten in Spanish. Crazy. But, all of this is for nothing if the jobs that used to be here in America are ttraveling abroad because of cheaper labor and more technologically advanced countries. Out children need to think outside the box and make a move for new thinking and ideas to stay competative, and that starts with education. prof Smith, I also agree with your comment about proper parenting. Parents drop their children off at daycare or school buildings and get involved with lates, texting, work and social life and forget that they might need to show their children what a number line is or explain why he/she should not jump off of the table onto the dog. Parents need to bring back the respect, listening skills and understanding for their children. I am doing my best with my daughter and she has some issues at her daycare. My ex wife and I were talking about it tonight and we are both goiong to take time from work to sit with her teachers and find out what we can do to help her understand these basic things. I would not feel very good about myself if I just let the teachers tell her right and wrong, that's where the lack of respect comes into play with children. They don't look at the parents the same as they look at the teachers if teachers are left to raise them.

Bryon Bewsher said...

Truse Yulia. I would probably be dead with out some of the "between the cracks" programs that are out there. Thanks for helping me see another side!

Ben Sigal said...

These are some intense posts! If there is one way to get American's talking, it is by hitting their wallets, their health and their rights. :) Perhaps it is because I have never been particularly patriotic that I do not feel the burning betrayal that some of you have mentioned. Honestly, I am hoping that it is more my desire to be able to acclimate to any idea or philosophy and view it as a native would.

On healthcare, in all honesty, we have it good. You can complain and moan about the disproportional compensation and allotment to the public. However, at the end of the day, any of us could go in to an ER and get some sort of service (no promise on the quality of service though). My wife is a Type 1 diabetio and though I may not agree with every thing President Obama does, he has made it possible for my wife to have good coverage again at a much, much lower rate than just a few years ago.

It is true that healthcare seems to work best for the wealthy, but that is true of any industry in capitalism. The wealthy will always get wealthier and that is how our systems were founded. To be frank, it's not all such a bad thing as any of us could suddenly come into our own wealth through a variety of means. This is something that would be impossible to consider in communism or even more socialistic societies. It is not a fair fight, but to a degree, at least we all get the chance to put up a fight.

Social security will probably not be around much longer, but you know what, that's probably not a bad thing either. More people need to look at little investments and working longer into their live's anyhow. It has been proven scientifically that working into your 70's cuts your chances of developing some forms of dementia and other mental illnesses by huge percentages. Also, SS could never keep up to keep us all afloat. That is why we have families, and as much as we love our independence and love to be the givers more than the receivers, children were meant to help their parents along to some extent in their "Golden Years."

Public schools have major issues, but to me, the bigger issues have become that schools and teachers are treated as daycares and nannies. No longer given the freedom to challenge and encourage a child mentally, much more of the school program is based around herding children around from one room to another and one event to another. I take great pride that my daughter could read on her own by the time she was five. I believe that it is still the parents jobs to be the true educators and that teachers are meant to be the out reach and communicators of these principles.

While I do not believe that the world is sugar sticks and gum drops, I also do not believe it is the evil of tomorrow versus the "glorious loyalty of yesteryears." I feel that there is much opportunity for growth in all these areas that we are discussing, but when we step back, what are we doing to try to encourage change? If we are worried about healthcare or see someone in need, are we there trying to raise support and charity? If we see that the school district we live in is falling apart, are we taking steps to encourage our youth to learn more than twitter, facebook, pandora and the latest video games? If we know that the support we need in the future might not be there, what are we doing to try to stave it off? I am not flaming anyone, but I truly feel that until we are not afraid to lose the little treasures we have, we will never grasp the greater things in life.

Thank you!

P.S. I hope it is okay but I wrote my original post and my replies all together as one longer post. Thank you!

shoegirl1010 said...

agree with you that the health care in the country is better than most third world countries, however because we are such a great nation, we shouldn't be compared to those nations. When we compare our health system to other thriving countries we are lacking. I think health care is a huge issue here in the states but like many of my classmates have stated, the education system is the biggest issue we have in this country. Underfunded, overcrowding, high drop out ratios and a declining graduation rate is not a good thing. According to the HBO documentary Hard Times at Douglas High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card, 1 out of 4 schools failed to show improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act. I have a big advocate against the "No Child Left Behind Act" and the "teaching the test" methods which have been incorporated because of this act. About 1.2 million children drop out of school each year. Inner city children are at a huge disadvantage to children who live in rural areas. 17 out of the 50 US major cities have graduation percentages less than 50%. For example Baltimore has one of the lowest graduation percentages under 35%, yet Maryland as a whole has been ranked the #1 state for education. The act has promotes ineffective instruction, lower achievement goals and motivates teachers to teach the test.
Funding for the education system is limited. The GOP website states that the 2008 Federal budget allotted $56 billion for education. Compare that to $481 billion to the DoD and $145.2 billion for the Global war on terror. A good example of where our priority lies is the recent uproar in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg has spent $28 million dollars to change the street signs from all capital letters to a combination of both. The NYC public school system is one of the most underfunded in the country however, they are obeying a FEDERAL mandate. This is ridiculous! When you combine the lack of funding with a poor teaching methods, tired under paid teachers and a slim curriculum, you get a formula for less graduates. This all in turn will create less innovation and forward movement in this country. If we have less children graduating, then we have less entrepreneurs, less engineers and less doctors.

Chantal said...

This topic is truly more interesting than I thought it would be!
Byron, I'm sad for your case and what you have had to deal with about your disability. Unfortunately,this is exactly what I was referring to in my post. It's like they want to see you doing bad or just getting by. Just as he was getting somewhere they snatch it all away and make you wonder about your next move.

But I do agree with Ben, with all of its faults of our system I wouldn't want to be anywhere else I just wish there were some major adjustments here.

Athena Smith said...


No pregnancy!But moving back with your mom is not a bad idea... (that's the mom in me talking) ! :)

Athena Smith said...

What an ordeal you had to go through!

I admire your courage!

Athena Smith said...

It is more than okay!
Quite a post! Impressive!

(Although I am not sure that we have it that good on health coverage matters...)

Athena Smith said...

I have not heard about Bloomberg's decision. I can not understand it. What was the rationale?

Isaiah Merritt-Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaiah Merritt-Harris said...

I believe, although necessary in some cases, welfare services are somewhat abused by certain members our generation. There are families that genuinely need assistance, and there are individuals that take the system for granted. Some individuals refuse to become self-sufficient knowing that the government will always be there to take care of them. It is very hard to distinguish between individuals that are really sincere and genuine about needing the help, and those who are not honest. I am very dissatisfied about our healthcare system as of now, though I am optimistic about the future. It is sad to know that the US is one of the world's most developed countries, but lacks an effective healthcare system. I do not agree with individuals being denied the care they deserve based on financial issues, or insurance companies taking people's lives into their own hands. Everyone deserves a chance to receive quality healthcare regardless of their income. Hopefully Obama's administration can bring significant changes to healthcare. I am satisfied with the public education system (being a product of good teachers and supportive counselors). I am satisfied with Social Security, as it ensures that the older generation is taken care of. I just hope that it is around when I retire :)

Isaiah Merritt-Harris said...

I also agree with yulia8na about financial aid being inadequate. I worked 20-25 hours a week during my senior year of high school, and my mother made less than 20,000 a year. However, because I worked and made about 10,000 that year, I did not qualify for assistance (other than loans), because they used my mother's income. This is the reason I have to work to supplement my education. I also know that many people abuse this benefit. I feel that the qualifications for aid should be revised.

Jayme said...

I have one additional statement about our healthcare and insurance. Insurance companies are providing a service and we purchase the product. I believe that it is the “cost” of our healthcare which is has gotten out of hand. If the cost of medicine and preventative care was lower, maybe we would all be able to afford to take care of ourselves out of pocket and eliminate the necessity of insurance.

As to Dr. Smiths comments on raising children, I believe that parents have, for the most part, become too relaxed. I am a Mom of two and I have rules which they need to follow. I had a neighbor come over with her son; he did not want to listen when she told him not to unlock the front door. He proceeded to scream and kick my walls. I was irritated that she did not respond by correcting or discipline him in any way. Also, she did not offer an apology; needless to say I have not let them back into my home.

Joel Thomas said...

In regards to the welfare programs of the United States, I feel that a lot of the time these programs and abused by a lot of the citizens that use them. For example, where I work we answer for Government Housing that is located in Tampa, FL. The people that live in the government housing not only get to live there for free but they have maintence men on call 24 hours a day for any little problem that they may have like an AC unit out or a refrigerator not working, all of these services provided free and paid by tax payers like me. Another good example is unemployment. The unemployment program was established to help citizens out for a "brief" period of time until they find another occupation, however some will sit for 2 years on unemployment and not even bother to look for a new job. As for the public education, I would venture to say that it depends on which state you are in. Most of my schooling was in Pennsylvania however for my junior and senior year of high school I went to school in Florida and I could definitely tell a difference between the two schooling systems. Florida has a much lower standard when it comes to public schooling.

Robert Smith said...

Hello everyone. Personally I believe everything in life is not free. If you want something you have to go out and get it by any means. There's nothing given to us besides death. As far as the social security I believed it will be non-existance in a couple of years. It was only set up during the war for housewives. Now everyone depends on it as a retirement plan The welfare services is too generous. I was raised and been around below poverty families all my life. The welfare services is like the lottery in my area. Welfare brain washes people into zombies to stay the same because they know the government will always give them free money for their neccesity like food, shelter, and water. As far as the health system I believe it's great. If you want the best program you will have to meet the requirements and that's it. A lot of people agrue that it's expensive or they don't have a job, but at the end of the day your situation was created by your actions you made yesterday. No hospital owe you services if you don't have the proper insurer. That's why you have to plan for the future and provide a better situation for yourself and family instead of complaining that the world want give you something for free. As far as the public system it's completely ridiculous. High school is a completely waste of time in America. I just want to make one statement on this subject. People go to high school for 4 years but, my health doctor drop out in 9th grade and two weeks later received his G.E.D. After that he began college at 15 years old. Doesn't that sound weird especially someone who attended for 4 years.

Robert Smith said...

Hi Joel Thomas. I agree with you about your thoughts about the government housings. There are actually teenagers in Tampa, Fl who look forward to living off the government for a way of living. I have several friends who stay in government housing and all they have to do is come up with between 50 - 75 dollars a month just to pay the light bill and they are comfortable with that. Amongst these places there are a lot of crime. They next step is to get pregnant to receive child support which they use that to pay the light bill. Joel you are right about the school system in Florida. The work high schoolers do in florida middle schoolers can do it in other states.

shoegirl1010 said...

It part of a federal mandate by the Federal Highway Administration. Here is one of the news links I found on the topic:

Athena Smith said...

Thanks Shoegirl
I copy: "
Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say."

I believe it may make sense now. Indeed we are prone to misread texts that are written in capital letters.

Athena Smith said...

Although I do agree with you that we all should work to make sure we can pay for our premiums, let me give you two examples that demonstrate the impossibility in certain occasions.

At HCC we are insured with CIGNA. HCC pays the total premium for the employee and has negotiated a group rate for family members. These premiums are paid by the employee in their totality. I copy from their site:
If an employee wants to insure the spouse he/she has to pay 479.33/month
If he/she wants to insure only child/children he/she has to pay $359.50/month
If he/she wants to insure spouse and chldren he/she has to pay 789.81/month.

So far so good.

The problem is the following. These premiums do not vary according to your salary. So we have employees that make $22,000 and some that make more than $200,000. For those who have a high salary the premiums are more than affordable. For those who make 22,000, can they afford to insure the rest of their family? Or they are forced to leave them uninsured and pray for the best?

You may say the spouse should be also working so he/she could qualify for insurance. However the truth remains that many empoyers do not provide it. If you want to buy it on your own the premiums for a good package (especially if you are over 40) reach $800 a month.

Secondly, under the previous system an insurance company could kick you out when your contract was up for renewal, if you had gotten seriously sick and very expensive to them. CEOs of major insurance companies testified before Congress that not only were they encouraged to do so, but they were rewarded with bonuses when doing so.

There is no easy solution. I am relieved tht insurance companies can not kick you any more under the new law out because of expensive illnesses (as my husband and my daughter suffer from conditions that require expensive yearly exams and long-life medications).
I would also rather have contributions made according to your income.

That is only my opinion of course.

Aaron said...

Hello to everyone!
I think that the social protection system offered in the United States is somewhat disappointing. I feel that we should take the approach that Germany has implemented in which one is covered only if one is employed! In the United States our welfare is way too generous. I wish it would be mandatory for all people to visit a third world country, because as soon as you arrived you understand what real poverty is like; furthermore, people would understand the unjustified nature of their many pity complaints. I have learned in my previous Sociology class that more than half the World’s population lives on less than two dollars a day. So if we put that into perspective, the poor living in this country are not doing so badly after all.
Our welfare program is by far more abused than fulfilling its original purpose of contributing to the overall good of all the people. In our country I have witnessed firsthand too many people taking advantage of the system, while in my experience as a full-time employee and student. I think that it all comes down conformism and laziness.
Regarding the health care system, it has gotten out of control. That is why our country is in a state of crisis, with the rich get richer and the poor becoming poorer while dismembering the middle class through taxation and lack of support. I am so happy that United States’ President finally listened to the people and cared about reforming the health care program. The reforms were designed to provide health care to everyone and abolish the idea of being rejected due to preexisting conditions that were basically the gimmick of the insurance companies to deny people coverage.
I have personally would welcome the implementation of the health care reform in the state of Florida because since January of 2010 I was dropped from my medical insurance through my employer because they decided to change the eligibility requirements by adding extra hours to the average of hours worked per week. As of today, I am highly unsatisfied because I am still without medical insurance; I cannot afford private third party insurance while as a student, and the ever ending power struggle between Republican and Democrats make implementation of helpful solutions into lengthy court sagas.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel Thomas said...

Agreed! A lot of the jobs that I have worked at perviously have been service jobs, and no they did not offer any insurance, barely any benefits if any at all and not to mention the pay is not very well. Anything regarding medical attention in the United States is going to be insanely priced, same goes with college and trying to extend your education.
One of my professors at HCC is originally from Nigeria and I remember her telling me that even in Nigeria, a for the most part thrid world city, free college education to a certain extent.

Margeux said...

It seems like every trip to the grocery store yields an eye-opening experience concerning the United State’s welfare system. There’s always a person or family dressed to the nines, covered in brand names that pulls out food stamps at the check out, while at the same time, a family who is obviously struggling has to give up some of their items to pay their bill. This just doesn’t seem fair. Of course there’s always going to be those people that will milk the system for all it’s worth, a fact made evident by welfare. Truly needy people are constantly being turned away or given less and less each year because people are taking advantage of the opportunity. Even some of my co-workers, mostly college students like myself, say it’s easy to qualify for food stamps. They use the money saved on groceries to party with. It’s irresponsible and, honestly, it borderlines on morally wrong. I can understand that for many American’s it is all about their individual pursuits over communal goals, but when people need help and the government steps in to lend a hand, these “individualists” need not take advantage of the program. People in need are not receiving adequate help because of the individuals who are are abusing the system.

Margeux said...

Aaron - I, too, understand the woes of health insurance. Although I have never been covered by an employer, I do have a pre-existing condition which currently eliminates my chances of getting adequate coverage with any company, even if I could afford it while being a student. We also agree on a major part of the welfare system, the abuse. The original intent of the program has been skewed, or even considered lost, thanks to the abuse of the program.

Ben Sigal said...

Shoegirl, I do agree with you about a comparison study between ourselves and other countries; it isn't fair. However, I do believe that if you studied the health and education systems of other leading countries, you would find that they are not much better off than ourselves. The only difference why we are held to such a high standard is because we pour out so much money and capital into these programs and do not seem to get much better results than other parts of the world. In some cases, such as education in Japan, they spend much less than we do and score consistantly higher than we do. I personally believe that this is more of a cultural mindset than a showing of educational prowess.
The fact is that some of the brightest minds in the world sleep on the streets and eat out of garbage cans. This realization leads us to see that America is not alone in this. The world as a whole has these issues to face together and can only overcome them together. We are in a global economy; we need to set some global goals. AND FULFILL THEM!=-D
Thank you!

Anthony said...

I feel I should focus on social security because I feel it will be an issue in the near future. Social security is based on the idea of money being put into it over the course of someone’s working life. The problem is when some of the higher paying jobs are being moved out of the country. While it is possible to find work, higher paying jobs can be rarer to come by. What we’re left with are lower paying jobs. This leaves the social security with a major problem as now less and less money is being funneled into it. Unless this is addressed as more and more people retire , the social security fund may run out. I can’t really see an easy fix to this. In my opinion either the government will need to interfere somehow, or more higher paying jobs need to appear. Social security is a good thing as it provides for the countries elderly, and gives them a means of income into their later life. So I do think the overall idea is worth saving, I just don’t see how it can be at this point. The fact that we are also taking social security funds and using them on government projects is not helping the situation.

Anthony said...

In response to what Margeux said. I think that’s a good point about how some people do try to abuse the system. Because some people do try to take advantage of things, there’s less to go around for the truly needy people. The saddest part is there doesn’t really seem to be much concentrated effort to fix this.

asmith9 said...

Finacial Aid is a great example of a state-funded program to help students in need of financial assistance. Obama clearly stresses the importance of everyone having an equal opportunity to attain an education. In the US there are people who have grown accustom to state-funded programs and simply decided to live of it. Some peole abuse the system and others use it as a stepping stone. Im sure state-funded programs differ in many countries, but the ultimate goal is the same.

Liz A. said...

I believe that welfare services should be more reserved when choosing candidates to help. It is very simple to receive some sort of welfare, which I find to be unfair to those who work hard. In many cases it appears that in order to receive welfare you need to be doing nothing to help yourself. This gives many incentive to continue to sit around. Because I mean who wants to work? I am not entirely satisfied with the new health system that has recently been passed. I do like the idea of everyone having free health care. Who doesn't want free stuff? Yet where will the incentive come from for doctors to excel in their fields. Doctors are paid a lot and yes some of them do take advantage of their patients. Yet what will happen if there are no doctors that are good in their field? It will be that much more difficult for rare diseases to be treated. Everyone looks at a doctors pay and say they want that to be them. Yet what will come of it when there isn't that large pay? What has happened to the school system? That is free as well. Is that the future of the health care program?

Julio Torres said...

After reading “The Welfare State,” I feel compel to give my opinion about the “Social Protections “in the US.

I would start by saying, just like the reading stated, that the US system is pluralistic, meaning there a combination of efforts to ensure social protection at the Federal and State level, as well as, extensive private, mutualist and corporate interests. In that respect, in my opinion, we offer more comprehensive welfare provisions than the differential protection system based on one’s position at the labor market of France and Germany, but we fall short in comparison to Sweden’s Institutional-Redistributive Model. Although, the Swedish system may attribute its success to effective redistribution of their high taxation as well as to the fact that it is a very well educated homogenous society.

In America there is plenty it could be improved. Beginning perhaps, by working on finding a solution to the immediate scare of a near future depletion of the social security system. It is very frustrating to me not to be able to see retirement as a “sure thing,” but rather than a wishful thinking due to this problem and the current state of the economy and the job market.

Julio Torres said...

I do agree with Aaron and Margeux, in the notion that the welfare system in the US has been abused by many. In this country there are many jobs available, if you want to work there is someone who is always hiring, however, many people are negatively reinforced by the system to stay home and do nothing but making more babies that they cannot even able to support, adding additional burden into the system. There is something very wrong when a “poor person” not working, can live better off from social assistance programs, than a middle class person who works one or more jobs to support their family because since they work, they are then disqualified of any social benefits. I would ambition a system in which if people receive any benefits from the government and they are “unable to find a job” then it would be mandatory for them to work in community projects such as environmental cleaning, and many other voluntary basis jobs. I believe if the community provides then the community must receive in return, it is only fair.

As a final thought, I would like see the government to step in and intervene, just like President Obama (which by the way it is probably the brightest US president in the last 20 years) did in regards to the health care system reform, into the educational system public options which are becoming more scarce, more expensive and less funded by state and federal efforts, making it even harder for the average American to obtain a high quality, competitive post-secondary education.

Does anyone reading could offer other alternative ideas in order to correct our welfare system problems in the US?

Junglist said...

I agree that there are people that abuse the welfare system as many have said. I think this is human nature though, there will always be people looking to get the most out of what is available. Some of these people may not even actually need assistance, and it does rankle a bit to see them getting it. However, if the systems were not there in the first place think how many would not be helped.

Athena Smith said...

The welfare is indeed abused by many but it also assists those truly in need. As you know under Clinton it was limited to 5 years maximum and that has limited the abuse to a good extent.
Is it possible to control the fraud? I don't think so. For the same reasons that you can't eliminate crime.

Now, the problem emerges when you have people out there who would rather collect a check than go to work. A very serious character flaw.
My question is: if someone with such a character flaw is deprived of his monthly free check, what does he do?
Goes out to get a job?
Or turns to crime?

Hard to answer.

Your idea on volunteer work is excellent. If they don't have kids that is who neeed supervision...

Gabrielle C. said...

As ashamed as I am to say, I have known people in the past who have abused the system. They were two brothers whose mother made them pretend to be mentally disable at a young age to collect a disability check every month ranging from about $600. This check also made them eligible for food stamps and other forms of government assistance. They have grown up and are now 26 and 23 and still depend on this income. Neither of them have any desire to go and get a job and it seems they never will as long as this income is being provided. Their mother is a drug abuser and also sells drugs to make money on the side apart from the money the government gives her. It is such a shame to see people who live this way but everything is being given to them and they see no need to go and make a living for themselves or go back to school. I'm not sure what can be done to stop this problem but the taxpayers' money is funding quite a bit of scam artists such as these three. I know they could at least drug test people looking for assistance and that is only the minimum.

Preston Guillot said...

I like having social security, but I sometimes feel like it can be too easy for criminals to steal personal information from individuals. I am not very satisfied of our new healthcare system because I believe it gives more people a reason to not work hard for a higher income. However, I do believe it is essential for everyone to be able to receive medical attention for any kind of medical situation. There will always be people who agree and disagree on how things are ran, and not everyone will be pleased. I think it is important to stay in the middle and not stick to one extreme of a political issue.

Brandon said...

Honestly I hate talking about state-funded programs. I am a pharmacy technician and I am around medicare, medicade, wellfare, and other programs every day. I do not enjoy discussing it because it has been my experience that almost all people who discuss these programs do so with very little knowledge about how they actually work. The people who aren't on the programs jump to irrational conclusions based on the little bit that they think they know, and the people who are in the state-funded programs usually aren't smart enough to be completely fluent in all aspects of the program. I feel that talking about any of these things is pointless if you know what each program does, why, where the money comes from, who the money goes to, etc. I can tell you they're more complicated than just reading an article on them. One thing I will say however is based off something I have seen first hand. I would say that around 80% of recipients of state-funded programs are lazy people who don't deserve anything that is given to them. I have seen people pull their iphones out of their coach bags while they pay for food with food-stamps and let amerigroup pay for their condoms. These are the social leeches that ruin systems that were set up to help people who couldn't help themselves. State-funded programs have been completely destroyed by lazy people who have the means to support themselves but as long as someone else pays the bills they have no motivation to do anything.