What others say

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2001

True welfare reform will take more time

It seemed so simple. Get work or get off welfare. Congress passed the law, President Clinton signed it. ... Three years after the most comprehensive welfare reform in U.S. history, the structure is threatening to fall apart.

We're learning that it may take as long to solve a major social problem as it did for that problem to develop. That's a revelation politicians don't want to hear in an era of quick fixes designed to get instant voter approval.

Family heads who found jobs -- on threat of losing welfare payments -- are having just as much trouble paying for food, rent and utilities as those who remained on the welfare rolls, according to a national survey.

And ordering people to go to work doesn't mean it will happen. The survey of families either on welfare or just departed from welfare shows that major obstacles face people with little education or work skills when they apply for a job.

They either get no jobs at all or they get the lowest-paid, most menial jobs. And the majority of those menial jobs are the kind that don't allow for growth or development of skills. ...

What we've got is a welfare reform program designed to produce immediate success aimed at a problem in which expectations of immediate success are totally unrealistic.

Poverty, illiteracy and social disadvantages were generations in the making. It will probably take generations to erase those disadvantages.

The kind of education that will lift people out of poverty takes 16 years to acquire for the first generation alone, and it takes another 16 years for the second generation to follow the footsteps of the first.

It can be done -- with time, patience and a lasting sense of responsibility.

-- American Press, Lake Charles, La.,

July 9

Technology infringes on individual liberties

The U.S. Supreme Court recently put the brakes on police departments seeking to use heat sensing cameras to detect marijuana plants growing inside someone's house. The court said police must have a search warrant before they can use technology that lets them see what is going on inside a person's home.

But new technology is spurring all sorts of government initiatives to keep track of people.

-- About 60 communities now use cameras to catch people running red lights.

-- The National Park Service is testing a program that uses a combination of radar and cameras to catch speeders on park roads.

In theory, this sounds good.

But the price in terms of lost privacy is very, very steep.

-- The Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio

July 8

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