This is the letter a friend of mine wrote and is sending out. I was just curious what you all think about his views, the good, the bad and drawbacks to any ideas. Dear Sir or Madam: My name is ****** and I am a member of the armed forces stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I have never written a letter to readers of such stature as you and your colleagues before but as a citizen, taxpayer, and voter, I have recently become compelled to do so. In a nutshell, the topics I wish to address are the domestic issues of welfare, drugs/drug addiction, and the cost (both monetary and non-monetary) associated with them. My girlfriend of two years was on welfare when I met her. Her three children all have and/or still do smoke methamphetamines. Ive been to the housing project where she lived, witnessed the court hearings, adult correctional facilities, youth correctional facilities, drug treatment programs, and all the other programs and facilities that exist to deal with these problems. As person who was raised in a middle class, rural farming community in western Kentucky, and therefore have no prior experience in dealing with issues such as these, I feel I can offer a fresh perspective. The bottom line is this: the system as it exists now does not work. In the next few paragraphs, Id like to point out some of the major things I have seen and (like any good list of complaints) offer what I think are viable solutions. The current system encourages persons on welfare, food stamps, low-income housing, etc. (hereafter Ill refer to these programs wholly or in part as benefits) to NOT work. Any increase in a persons income (i.e., getting a job) will result in a reduction in their benefits. Also, for single mothers, the cost of daycare would equal or exceed the income gained. So, the decision becomes either stay at home, do nothing and receive (for example) $800/month or go get a job and receive $350/month. The basis for this process is the assumption that people have a real desire to not receive benefits and are receiving benefits only because theyre down on their luck, or its just until I get back on my feet. This is not the case. Whole generations of people in my girlfriends housing project have grown up to fully believe that the mailman is the familys provider and theyre passing that way of life to their children. Compounding matters is that benefits also go up upon having more children. We have created a veritable breeding ground of people who consume massive amounts of the systems resources but dont put any positive contributions (taxes, children with good work ethic) back in. This captive audience of low-income people with expansive amounts of free time and desires to have the material things of their favorite music artists creates an ideal environment for the illegal drug business. Drug dealers operate with relative impunity due to lack of law enforcement presence and the attitude (reality) that even if they are caught, theyll only get probation or a similar slap on the wrist. Something has to change. PROBLEM 1: Persons receiving benefits are discouraged from working for fear of losing benefits or because they have no options for childcare. POTENTIAL SOLUTION: Once a person/family becomes eligible for benefits, they will receive a set amount of benefits in exchange for a 40 hour work week at the housing project by every able bodied family member. The work will be physical in nature and therefore not something a person would desire to do indefinitely. The housing project shall have an on-site daycare facility for those with small children. For every verifiable hour of outside employment or attempts to gain outside employment (i.e., job interviews), that person is excused from one hour of project employment. This plan does several things: 1) Offers incentive to find legitimate, taxpaying employment vice penalizing the effort. 2) Provides childcare for single parents so they can work during the day. 3) Doesnt allow receivers of benefits to be idle all day therefore limiting opportunities to find trouble to get into. 4) Provides return on the governments investment by having general property maintenance done at no extra cost vice having to contract it out. 5) Most importantly, eliminates the mindset that a person can do nothing and just wait for that check on the 1st and 15th. Children will grow up seeing their caretaker get up and go to work everyday to provide for the family vice marking off days on the calendar. PROBLEM 2: The entity of a housing project is inherently conducive to illegal drug activity. POTENTIAL SOLUTION: We have to start treating the housing project for what it is: a government installation. Just like those living on a military base, the residents need to be held accountable for what happens in their assigned unit. This includes random inspections and inquiries by the staff. Dealing drugs is done for one purpose: to make money. The kind of money and associated material items that will stand out in a housing project. If a $35,000 SUV shows up in the parking lot of a housing project or the Sears delivery truck drops off a 57 HD television (as Ive seen in my girlfriends former project), someone should be looking into that. Every time I see or think about things like that, it just makes me sick because I see my pay stub at the end of the month and see my tax dollars going away to subsidize this. Normally, Im completely against the government intruding into the lives of its citizens. However, these people have shown an inability and/or unwillingness to manage their lives on their own and are living 100% at the expense of the American taxpayer. I understand that in some cases, there may exist legitimate, temporary reasons, but this just offers even more incentive to pull themselves out of this situation. Bottom line: if you want the governments benefits, youre going to put up with the governments rules. (Strangely familiar to my situation in the military.) PROBLEM 3: Lax enforcement of lax laws offers ineffective deterrent for those thinking about of drug activity. POTENTIAL SOLUTION: We have to create a viable deterrent to those who are thinking about dealing drugs. My suggestion is that if youre caught with above a certain amount of drugs (an amount large enough to not be for personal use), thats 10 years in a federal penitentiary. Period. No parole, no three strikes, nothing. Also, the grounds of the project shall be subject to more strict laws similar to school grounds. If youre convicted of a drug-related offense on the grounds, the punishment shall be at least a factor of two greater. These people are poisoning our population and with current levels of punishment and enforcement, its actually worth the risk in the minds of some people. Also, our jails need to lose the Club Med environment and get back to something everyone would consider a deterrent. When the average 12 year old kid sees his drug dealing role model with the cool car and the nice necklace get hauled off and not come back, and then hears about the 10 years of hell waiting for him, maybe hell think twice about getting involved. If he doesnt get the message, then he can be the example for that next 12 year old. In the early stages, arrest rates and prison population levels will skyrocket while people figure out that theres a new sheriff in town but in the long run, our nation will be better off by far. If the cost of that is building more prisons to house those who want to poison others for their own financial gain, then so be it. In conclusion/summary, I feel it is time to shift the paradigm with respect to how we deal with our countrys domestic problems. Make it real simple. You dont work=you dont eat on the governments expense. You want to sell drugs=youll spend 10 years in a concrete box. You want to sit on your butt and do nothing while the government takes care of your needs? Buy a passport, because its not happening in this country anymore. I am sick and tired of seeing my tax dollars effectively thrown into the trash. In my personal investments, I would not invest in something I know will never return any dividends. Im not willing to sit idly by and watch as my financial contribution as a citizen is invested in exactly that manner.