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Welfare Programs

1A. Differences between AFDC and TANF Welfare Programs

According to DeParle in his book American Dream, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was an entitlement program that was established in 1930 to guarantee benefits to recipients, whose income and resources would not meet the eligible state-determined levels. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) was enacted in 1996 in both the Personal Responsibility and the Act of the Work Opportunity Reconciliation, which replaced AFDC. Whereas state-determined levels of eligibility under AFDC were subject to limits set by the federal government, DeParle observes that TANF gave states power to determine the eligibility of the recipient of the benefits. In AFDC the recipients were entitled to the benefits of the welfare program. Since TANF is not an entitlement program, it is not mandatory for states to apply uniform rules while determining the financial needs of different families.

Another difference between AFDC and TANF is that the latter was enacted based on several objectives, which were outlined in the Act that was put into place. For instance, the state family assistance grant was based on the history of how the state had been spending the previous grants. It also had a lifetime of up to five years depending on the decision of the state after which the recipient would not be eligible for life. Additionally, TANF was backed with bonuses on the state that could meet its objectives. TANF also provided for a bonus for states that could reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock births together with decline in the rate of abortion. On the overall, AFDC was a matching grant, whose lifetime was indefinite, while TANF is a block grant, whose lifetime could not exceed five years depending on the state regulations.

1B. Welfare Reforms and Poverty Alleviation

According to DeParle, welfare reforms including the abolished AFDC and the TANF were programs that had clearly defined goals to help reduce the number of people, who could not meet the lowest set standard of income. It is notable that these reforms have helped a lot in ensuring that people with needs in the society are catered for. However, in his book, American Dream, DeParle also notes that the programs have failed in eliminating poverty level, as people are pushed further into the state of desperation without jobs.

DeParle provides an illustration with women like the three cousins Angie, Jewell and Opal, who were under TANF program and failed to cater for the needs of their families as they struggled to look for jobs in up market. Opal, who is a drug addict, tries to make a living in a society that is faced with economic difficulties. She is a single mother of three children. The three ladies are faced with a thread of economic and relationship problems, which go back into six generations in Mississippi. The three women are faced with illegitimacy issues, lack of husbands, sexual abuse, and violence coupled with general family breakdown. Notably, these problems are persistent beyond the TANF welfare program, which sought to help them overcome problems.

Similarly, DeParle notes that TANF has failed to meet the objective of alleviating poverty, as women like Opal, who is a drug addict, are drawn into sadness and despair. It is notable that Opal and her children really could not meet the bureaucratic requirements of TANF. In this case, it is clear that the privatization of social welfare program like TANF provided a way to push poor people further into poverty.

2A. California Three Strike law and the Rise in Western Incarceration

According to Bruce Western’s book Punishment and Inequality in America,  California Three Strike Law is among the harshest sentencing schemes the country has ever enacted. As its sentencing scheme, the law has the third and second strikes cases, as well as holding the prosecutors accountable for providing proofs of every strike allegations. The law takes strikes as the kinds of convictions like violent felonies, convictions occurring out of state, and sustained juvenile petitions, as well as having a number of strikes in one trial. It was initially thought that the law would be instrumental in preventing recidivism among criminals. The law gave the justice system power to convict an offender to serve for 25 years in prison on their third convictions. Bruce observes that these included convictions for such petty offences as kidnapping or being found in possession of a stolen property.

Bruce further observes that there have been a lot of controversies over the legitimacy of this law with its proponents insisting that the current reduction rates do not in any way imply that the law is effective in fighting crime. He even points out that the success of the case that was filed to challenge the constitutionality of the law in the year 2003 even casts more doubts on the legality of this law. 

According to Bruce’s argument, this law is closely connected to the increasing rate of incarceration, which has been witnessed since 2007. He specifically observes that an estimate of one person in every four people serving in California prisons is a mere striker. He also notes the argument by the proponents of the law that due to the fact that any conviction of felony can trigger sentences attributed to the strike; the law has continued to convict people to life imprisonment even for petty offences like being found in possession of a stolen property or kidnapping. This law has, therefore, been argued to be the major cause of the increasing incarceration in California.

2B. Other Factors that have led to Increase in Incarceration

Bruce notes that apart from the fact that the United States spending on social welfare programs is very minimal, the major cause of the highest incarceration rate in Californian and entire United States is greatly attribute to racial factors, as young men and women of color dominate prison department.  He notes that incarceration in the United States is dominant among the African American populations as opposed to their white counterparts. He points out that racial imprisonment of these people has adversely impacted on their societies, especially regarding their social well-being. For instance, since the incarcerated African American is normally poor, subjecting them into prison quarters weakens their earning power, which in turn lowers their families into intense poverty scale. He points out that families, whose sons and daughter have been incarcerated, suffer from increased economic strains, as most of the capable personalities are put behind the bars.

2C. Social Consequences of Mass Incarceration

According to Bruce, incarceration normally results in irresponsible social networking in the affected families. He points out that families can lose their social ties, especially in cases where a loving and important member of the family is incarcerated.  For instance, incarceration has been documented in California and entire U.S as resulting in breaking family ties between parents and their children, which in turn has led to both emotional and social isolation. He notes that children, who develop social isolation due to stigmatization, normally venture into street immoral practice, from which they either contract sexually transmitted diseases or become criminals. Even though the remaining family members use their social and economic capita to stabilize the social networking in the family, such do not effectively address the emotional and social isolation they encounter.

On the other hand, Bruce points out that families, whose members have been incarcerated, are subjected to economic strain even after the release of the incarcerated members. According to him, it is normally difficult for imprisoned men and women to be employed into average income generating industries. In that respect, family’s effort of capturing the labor market diminishes due to the negative effect of conviction and as a result their annual earnings reduce.

Social Services and Educational Disparities

According to his book Racial and ethnic stratification in educational achievement and attainment, Kao notes that social services have a way of improving education to children from poor families. From a case study at Harlem Children’s Zone, it is found that children from poor families are able to perform equally well like those in chartered schools, who come from middle class families. He identified the running social service to poor children in this zone as including early childhood programs that encompass parenting classes and after school programs for students who attend regular schools and other social services like health components. Such activities will help children from poor families to be motivated because they will be able to access services like fitness program, asthma management and nutrition program, which will encourage them in schools

On the other hand, Kao finds that neighborhood programs, such as organizing tenant associations and counseling to poor families, are likely to increase the level of awareness of these communities that they can take their children to schools. It is observed that the performance of student in schools depends on various factors, which may include the character of the student and the attitude of parents towards education.

In addition to the above social services, in his book Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life, Lareau observes disparity in factors like the level of involvement in such learning activities outside the normal school programs. He advises that there should be more investment in various enrichment and monitoring programs especially, in poverty stricken areas. He argues that this would be the best way of helping to improve the observed poor performance of the less fortunate children.

Lareau proposes some outside academic mentoring programs like that of giving the children access to technology. He argues that this can play a crucial role in realizing the alleviation of educational disparities among poor families. He notes that technology centers can help in teaching both the teens and the adults the necessary job related skills, thereby providing them with a holistic knowledge, which can make them be self-reliant.

Similarly, Lareau argued that it is also important to ensure sustained mentoring programs for the students in the poorly developed areas. He also noted that there is a need to include people from the poor families in fighting problems like unemployment, violence, failing schools, and broken homes. Additionally, he affirms that it is also important to note that social services can boost the education of children in poor families, as it seeks to change the long held policy of education, which is formed around a misguided notion of schools being able to fully offset the impacts of low social and economic status of poor families.

It is evident that new policies, which are aimed at education-related social and economic activities of the poor, might greatly improve the performance of schools and lead to higher achievements of students in these schools. It is obvious that the condition of the poor families is a result of the persistent failure by policy makers to act on the numerous evidences, which negate the policy of school-based approach to learning. However, Lareau has noted that social services can only assist in alleviating education disparities among poor families if the services receive funding from the authorities and stakeholders in education sector.

Possible Implication of Mass Migration of the Blacks from San Francisco

According to Leonhardt, migration of African American from San Francisco will have big implication on the social and economic status of the city in future. Conley (3) warns that studies that imply negligible impact should not be taken at their face value. For instance, it is clear that the migration of people from the city will have a negative impact on the high wage earners. This is because they will lose the manpower, which was provided by the people who are moving out now. Similarly, the large-scale migration of African Americans from the city will cause the stringing of the economy in this area as demand for labor rises.

Leonhardt notes that another problem is the emergence of the white class, who will be required to take up the jobs left by the migrating African American people. It is also observed that these people had a foothold in some vital areas, which are left vacant despite the fact that they cannot be left un-operational. These positions can be the notoriously undesirable areas like the sweatshops, construction, health care industries, building and maintenance and even in government service. It is clear that government services have long been sustained by blacks in the areas of the city. Leonhardt concludes that even low wage jobs, where the blacks were dominant, will be left vacant, and, therefore, the city will be forced to rely on the whites, who prefer white-collar job.

Leonhardt further argues that another implication of this massive black flight from San Francisco will be the emergence of many adult people, who would break out of college without degree, even though it is established that most of them do not go back.  Studies have shown that one in every three Americans in their mid 20s would want to go back to study. This number points to the increasing number of people, who want to migrate to better areas in search for better job opportunities. Majority of people returning to colleges to get a degree come from poor families. Leonhardt asserts that it is important to note that most elite Universities are now filled with women, blacks, and Latinos, who were largely excluded from these facilities.

Pattilo-McCoy argues that his rate of change in education preference among the African American can be seen as a way of defining the mobility movement of people, who were once viewed as poor. Interestingly, the findings by researchers on people’s economic mobility indicate that people move out because their income has reduced. This is where people are moving to new places in search of education. Similarly, it can be seen that the massive black flight from San Francisco implies that children are more than ever following the paths of their parents.

Pattilo-McCoy observes that a notable implication for people who remain in San Francisco is that they will be more exposed to class rather than race factor when looking for services or jobs. This is because the demand for their services will be high, and they are likely to accumulate wealth to help them move from one class to the other. Another important implication is that black children, who remain in San Francisco, are likely to drop out of college as they intend to pick readily available jobs, which are left by the migrating African American.

Another implication for people remaining in San Francisco will be emergence of new class, as these people become labor providers in areas, which were previously reserved to the whites. Pattilo-McCoy notes that because of this, social stratification will be changed and conditions of the poor African American will be improved.

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