Advance English Lessons six

Todd talks with Rachel about how people feel about welfare in the United States.

Rachel: So what about America? If you lose your job what happens?

Todd: Well, we have what you have. It's not called the dole though, it's called welfare, and basically what happens is if you lose your job, you can get money from the government, but it's really short-term. I think it's only six months or a year, but the biggest difference I think between Europe and America is the word. We call it welfare. And welfare is really negative. If you tell somebody that you're on welfare, or even on unemployment, then people really look at you negatively.

Well, actually let me clarify. There's two: There's welfare which is kind of more long-term like if you have children, and then there's unemployment which is money you get from the government if you don't have a job. If you're on unemployment, it's not as bad but people still kind of look at you like you're a loser. That you should go out and find a job., and if you're on welfare, it has a really negative connotation. People look at you like you're just lazy basically.

Rachel: Is that true if you're in a community where, like, the majority of people are on welfare? Are there any places like that in America?

Todd: Yeah, there are some really impoverished areas that have a lot of people on welfare and I imagine that they probably look at it differently but I think that maybe deep down they probably wouldn't want to be on welfare. I mean the main problem is those people probably weren't given the same quality of education. They don't have the same job opportunities, so deep down they probably wish they had a better job, but they don't, so they're kept in this vicious cycle that keeps them down, so I think that there might even be resentment and because they have resentment for basically the terrible hand they've been dealt in life they look at welfare almost like an entitlement because that's basically the predicament they've been given.

Rachel: Yeah, that sounds similar to areas of Britain with like extreme deprivation. There's places like that where three generations have been on the dole sort of thing.

Another problem is for single mothers. Sometimes, the cost of childcare means that it's not actually worth them getting a job. Is it the same in America?

Todd: Yeah, definitely. We don't have any government supported childcare. And actually there's been instances where law enforcement people like sheriffs and police officers have said that they actually prefer that some single mothers are on welfare because if they're not then it leads their children to be more susceptible to crime or to life in crime, so if they don't have a strong parent figure at home, it could really have affects, you know, later on on in life, so it really is sort of this vicious cycle for single mothers in poor areas that they don't have child care. They don't have education. They don't have job opportunities, and so it's really kind of hard for them to get out, and they feel almost hopeless.

Rachel: Yes, it sounds like we have somethings in common even though our welfare systems are so different, but I hope these people, their children especially can get out of this cycle.