Summary: We have seen the signs. "Will Work For Food". Would it be unreasonable to suggest "Must Work For Food"?
Some have suggested that the able bodied poor should perform some sort of work or community service to receive benefits. Of course, others have opposed it. FDR created the CCC and WPA which were pretty much working welfare programs. Indeed, it was a fulltime job and not easy labor.
Lev_19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Deu_24:21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
God provided for the poor, but they had to go into the fields and harvest it. The gleanings were not gathered up in a basket and handed to them.
Ruth_2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Ruth_2:7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
This lady was to be an ancestor of Christ and yet she worked the field in her poverty.
Ruth_2:16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
Even when Boaz was starting to love her and he had his people increase what she could glean he did not hand it to her. She still had to work to get the extra blessing.
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Notice he did not say those who could not work. Truly disabled people and the elderly would be provided for since they could not work. Widows over 60 who had no relatives were cared for by the Church and other poor in the culture sought alms. True, we are not a people who find begging appealing, but we have many beggars in this country. I was often asked for money even as I was walking into my job or on my way to perform jail ministry.
Many will not work because they do not like the salary they receive for the type of work they are able to do. There was a time I worked for $2.25 an hour. I took whatever I could get because I had a wife and two kids to support. I could not afford to be picky. There was a time I could afford to work or afford to die, but I could not afford to be unemployed regardless of the salary. I have gone to work with 102 degree fever because I could not afford to lose out on a day’s pay. I have even endured persecution at a job because I needed the money until I could find another job. I was never able to afford quitting a job until I found another one.
If you are receiving public benefits, I see no reason why you cannot perform some sort of labor to give back to the public who is helping you. It will help you as well when you can look back at the end of the day or end of a project and feel a sense of accomplishment rather than sitting on the couch doing nothing and being depressed because of your situation. It may also help you land a job because the employer knows you have been working and able to take instructions and accomplish tasks. He has a referral from the supervisor with glowing reviews. Working for your benefits can only help you, not hurt you.
We also need to adjust our system so that the person is encouraged to get off the welfare program and progress, not stay on it and stagnate. It should be an help, not a solution. Indeed, it should be just enough to maintain you until you can get a job and thrive, not something on which you can learn to survive. People were designed to thrive, not just survive. Even in Paradise, God had Adam and Eve working. The difference before the Fall is that they enjoyed it. Since then, it has been difficult to find our ideal career so most of us long for wealth to where we can quit or retire to do nothing. One person said that we rust out quicker than we wear out so our dream is really a nightmare. We just don’t know it. People who are busy in retirement are happier than those who just vegetate on the couch. Work is good for us so we should not deny the poor the opportunity to work.