Panelists Debate Welfare Reform
A professor, a legislator, and a political activist disagreed sharply about how to reform the welfare system at a forum neid yesterday afternoon in Burr Lecture Hall.
George Wiley, executive director of the National Welfare Rights Organization, claimed that the objective of welfare should be "to get more money to poor people." Citing a Labor Department statistic which places a desirable minimum family income at $5500, he said that President Nixon's proposal to raise the minimum welfare income to $1600 was "totally inadequate."
Edward C. Banfield, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Urban Government, agreed that the proposed $1600 minimum is "too small," but added that a blanket hike of minimum payments would accentuate other problems of the present system.
Banfield claimed that welfare now enables many workers to avoid regular employment, and that it has caused "more and more broken families" because welfare regulations do not allow husbands to live with recipient families. He suggested that funneling welfare funds to "those who most need it," rather than increasing the current level of payments. would more effectively solve these problems.
But State Representative Martin A. Linsky (R-Brookline) disagreed that welfare deters steady employment, nothing that in Massachusetts, only one out of every 111 men on welfare is "able-bodied." He proposed that legislators seek to increase welfare allotments "along with those for health, education, and other competing claims."
Nathan Glazer, professor of Education and Social Structure, who was the scheduled moderator, entered the room two hours late. "There was not an adequate work incentive for you to come," Wiley quipped.