GOV. WILLIAM Weld of Massachusetts spoke about his sweeping welfare reform plan at the request of the American Enterprise Institute. Several social welfare professionals and academics critiqued his ideas.
Here is what Governor Weld said in conclusion:
"Are these community service jobs going to be something more than 'make-work'? In Massachusetts, the answer is 'yes.'
"Part of the reason is that we have a highly developed not-for-profit, private human services delivery sector, and partly it is a result of privatization of government services that began and went quite far under Governor [Michael] Dukakis, my predecessor, and which we have continued.
"But I have met with representatives of school, hospitals, food pantries, shelters, day-care providers and environmental organizations, and I am satisfied that there's a crying need for responsible and rewarding work out there.
"These are the community service jobs for people who do not find jobs in the private sectors.
"In answer to the question 'Doesn't your plan still create a lure to go on welfare, even though there's not much training, and get the guaranteed job?' -- all of our police, our tax policies, our housing policies, are aimed at helping the working poor.
"The disjunction between people who are just poor enough to qualify for everything and people who are working to make ends meet and raise a family but get nothing is one of the disgraces of American social policy today.
"I agree. But the same disincentive or perverse incentive exists in the current system, and my plan doesn't make it any worse; as a matter of fact it makes it a little better by taking away the cash grant that is part of the allure -- let's be frank."
(From the July/August issue of the American Enterprise.)