Give Welfare Recipients Skills, not Just Jobs

In "Off Welfare Rolls, Into Real Jobs" (Aug. 8), the author writes that US businesses are "contributing to a dramatic reduction in the number of people receiving public assistance." While United Airlines is listed among the corporations currently employing former welfare recipients, so are Burger King, Sears, and McDonald's. Few entry-level positions in the retail and service industry pay wages that allow families to be self-sustaining. The Monitor, like the country, needs to look beyond declining welfare caseloads and realize that changes in federal and state welfare legislation have created a system that professes to encourage self-sufficiency, but instead undermines it.

"Reform" suggests change for the better. However, changes to welfare often force recipients to take minimum-wage jobs or lose the food stamps and Medicaid benefits that they can continue to receive during the early stages of employment.

In a series of reports published this summer by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), we show that the majority of welfare recipients must take jobs which do not allow for long-term self-sufficiency. UUSC's Welfare and Human Rights Monitoring Project has found that many states deny recipients the long-term training and education that they need to find and keep "living-wage" employment.

The article says that job training is "the key to success in hiring welfare recipients." However, the six-week training example cited is insufficient for many recipients who have been out of the work force for many years. The UUSC report calls on all states to allow recipients to receive training and education that will provide them with skills to do more than flip burgers. Perhaps then corporations will provide jobs for former recipients that are worth lauding.

Richard S. Scobie, PhD

Cambridge, Mass.

Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Think ahead - don't cut taxes now

Your article "Why Big Tax Cuts Prove so Elusive on Capitol Hill" (Aug. 3) on the federal budget quotes Marshall Whitman of the Heritage Foundation: "Nothing so excites the grass roots as the prospect of tax cuts."

I am one of the roots, and frankly I'm not excited. Yes, my weekly withholding hurts a bit. But I realize that a reduction in federal spending on highways, schools, or farm subsidies would, in a few years, hurt even more.

The major problem with American politics is that very few people bother to consider what problems current policies will cause five or six years down the road.

Al Harrison


Unnecessary war movie

David Sterritt's review "Spielberg Takes Viewers to the Front Line of Combat" (July 24) about "Saving Private Ryan" was one of the very few reviews I've read that did not give blanket praise and glory to Steven Spielberg's movie.

I just saw this movie and I thought it was the worst movie I have ever seen. Reviews and comments that say this flick "showed the reality of war" absolutely baffle me.

Why does every individual need to relive the horrors and brutality of WWII? If you spoke with your average veteran, I'd bet he'd be unspeakably grateful that his family did not have to go through a battlefield experience. Yet Mr. Spielberg brings the war to all of America and we're supposedly better off because he's done this? I don't think so.

We don't send women and children to war. But Hollywood has sent war to women and children and men and all.

Our world already knows enough about killing and brutality and horrific violence. The great need is for man to learn more about peace, brotherly love, and compassion.

Rosemary Thornton

Alton, Ill.

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