Promote work, not welfare

I believe it is time to usher in a new era of social responsibility and accountability by changing the way Georgians think about the function of government assistance.

Welfare-related programs were always intended to support responsible, short-term assistance by providing a “hand-up,” not a “hand-out.” Most Georgians and Americans are compassionate and desire to help others. I serve in many charitable organizations and believe the faith-based and civic community do a better job than government.

The adage is true: “Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.” There will always be extraordinary circumstances, such as those with special needs or the elderly. However, the great majority of Americans can and should be employed.

Over the past six years, American has seen the largest increase in welfare-related programs in history. I was shocked and saddened when I heard radio advertisements encouraging people to sign up for government “food stamp” programs even if they had a job. What is wrong with this picture? Rather than encourage hard work, we spend hard-earned tax dollars to promote entitlement programs. I often think about our Greatest Generation and how their work ethic helped save the world and shape our nation. Are we moving backward from their defining moment in our history?

When Kari and I first married, we worked a total of seven jobs between us. Our goal was to buy a home and prepare for a family. We worked hard, and our tenacity paid off. Many of our first jobs were minimum wage. Minimum-wage jobs are important to create opportunity and experience for Americans. I am working to increase wages for all Georgians, but minimum-wage jobs are critical to provide stepping stones for career growth.

Some have called for dramatically increasing the minimum wage, but this argument is flawed and will decrease available jobs while increasing costs for working families. Hard work can solve many problems; the Albers family is an example.

Some will agree with this article, and others will have a different opinion. My concern is some will immediately take these words out of context and read emotion into the print. Some will ultimately try to change the conversation from truly helping people to promoting entitlement. Here is the reality: True compassion is doing what is best for people, not easiest. Programs to help people in their dire time of need are important and should be for a defined and short period with incentives directed toward self-sufficiency.

You will be hard-pressed to find someone more compassionate and committed to my community, state and country than me. However, it is long past time to reverse the course and promote workfare over welfare.

Sen. John Albers, a Republican from Roswell, represents Georgia District 56.

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