Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Undeserving Versus Deserving" by Laura Derr

What constitutes deserving or undeserving?  Why is a single mother more deserving of assistance than a single father?  Why is a US citizen more deserving than an illegal immigrant?  Is it okay to provide help to a single mother instead of a single father?  Is it okay to provide food to a citizen, but let the other person starve?

So much of the debate on social services and welfare services is on whether or not the people deserve the help.  Yes, there are a few people who take advantage of and abuse the system, but most people don't!  Is it okay to blame 1,000 people for something that 5 do?  No!  I think that everyone is deserving of help and it is not fair to either not provide any services, or to not provide sufficient services to the lower income and poor.

There are so many people out there who work at least 40 hour work weeks, doing the jobs that we scrunch up our noses at, and they get minimum wage and unaffordable benefits.  Why are these people undeserving?

Why is it okay to force a single parent to work a 40 hour work week and then take away his or her children because they couldn't afford to place them in childcare?  The affordable childcare that is supposed to be available is not.  Then, if the parent chooses to stay home and collect assistance in order to take care of his or her children, he or she is labeled as undeserving of receiving any assistance because they are lazy.

Much of society only sees the black and white of this issue, but there is so much grey!  There is no set choice!  How many of you would leave your children in the hands of unqualified strangers so you could go to work?  Would you leave them home alone?  Would you stay home to ensure their health, safety, and well-being?  If you had to choose between a day of work or your children, what would you choose?

Why does all of this matter so much to so many people?  This country is so set on taking as much as possible that we have stopped considering our neighbors.  This country was founded on Christian values, and yet the social assistance programs and welfare programs are really anything but.

Are you going to let people go hungry, get sick, and live on the streets just because you judge them, without knowing them, as undeserving?  Are you going to deny people of their inherent dignity and human rights?  Or will you set aside your criticism and judgement and help people pick up their feet?

This blog posting was based off of information found in our textbook:
"Social Welfare Policy and Social Programs - A Values Perspective" By Elizabeth A. Segal,  Chapter 6


  1. Bravo Laura!!!! I can feel the passion behind every word and I hope those who read this will experience some type of empathy and revisit their bias about the deserving and the undeserving. Human rights and social justice are efforts I hope our peers are striving for because it is painful to hear about the black and white but no one stops to think about the gray, especially from social workers.

  2. Wow!!! very powerful message Laura. I have been a Muslim all of my life, but I love the message in the Bible that says, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mathew 19: 23-26. This was based on a young rich man asking Jesus how to gain eternal life, and Jesus stating that among other things the man should, "sell off his wealth and help the poor, and the man, becoming saddened by this command, refused to do so and walked away." It is hard for those that are not "struggling" to not only open up their eyes, but to also open their hearts to the plight of the less fortunate. Quality of life is deserving of us all, and to systemically deprive segments of our society of this through oppressive, and repressive means is criminal. You've touched on some very real issues that continuesly go ignored in peoples justifications for their biases. There are far too many working class men and women, who put in 40 hour work weeks, but still only have enough to pay rent and one of their other bills. Sadly in our society, inflation and recessions allow for the exploitation of the Proletarian. Great Post.

  3. This is a very interesting topic because, as you stated, there is so much gray in this topic. As you have said who should decide what constitutes as deserving and undeserving? As a person who does QA for my agency that provides foster care, I know that how we service our clients is by the rules and regulations set forth by DPW and DHS. These rules are put in place so that we are giving the best service to our clients however these rules are made for situations that are on a black and white basis. Now I understand that we, as social workers, must have a standard to follow when servicing our clients but sometimes this is difficult because not all situations are black and white. For example, we have a kin-grandparent fostering two of her daughters children that are ages 1 and 2. These children are sleeping in bunk beds because this is what the grandmother had. The rules state that these children must sleep in cribs or toddler beds but grandmother cannot afford to purchase these items and because of this, she could potentially have her grandchildren put into a new foster home until she provides proper bedding. This is harmful to the children as displacing them even further could set them into a downward spiral mentally. This is a gray situation being that we, as an agency, are required to make sure these children have proper beds for their ages but we, as social workers, know that keeping these children with the grandparents is best practice for our clients.

  4. Hi Laura:
    You made a good point in speaking on the issue of inequality that unfortunately exists in many facets of our American society. Another unfortunately reality of our society is that because it is structure in a way that promotes unequal distribution of wealth, goods and opportunities, there will always be an uneven distribution of those who will benefit and those who will not. Whether it is because of education, income, or race; like it or not it is the nature of our social system (capitalism). A social system that encourages and rewards those who are at the top at least (financially), allowing them to make a profit at the expense of those who do the actually work (working class people). In order to effectively address this social injustice we as a society must put forth every effort, be it through voting, changing the prevailing value system of our society; even contacting our lawmakers whatever it takes. We must make our voices and the prevailing issue of economic inequality that exist with-in the masses; "HEARD"!