case study report

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Welfare Cases: You may choose one of the following cases or do a comparison of two of them.  (from Contemporary Moral Problems, 4th ed., James E. White, pp. 298-299)
 
 
1) The Boarder Baby Scandal (As reported by Andrew Stein, president of the New York City Council in The New York Times, Saturday, Jan. 17, 1987).
 
New York City is the most prosperous city in the world with a 21-billion-dollar budget and immense private and community wealth.  Yet it has a very serious problem—abandoned and homeless children.  At the end of 1986, the city officially counted 11,000 such children and babies living in municipal shelters, decrepit welfare hotels, and hospitals.  Many have been living this way for years.  They are known as boarder babies because their parents abandoned them in hospitals.  Due to a lack of certified foster parents or couples willing to adopt them, they are likely to remain there.  Others have been removed from their homes for their own protection; reports of child abuse and neglect (including a 250 percent increase in cases of drug-addicted babies) have risen so dramatically that welfare offices are overwhelmed with children, often keeping them overnight in the offices or placing them illegally in group foster homes.
What, if anything, should be done about these babies and children?  Explain your recommendations carefully.
 
 
2) A Case of UnemploymentJohn Smith and his wife Jane have three small children.  Until recently, John had a good job in a factory in Dallas, Texas, and a good life: house, car, T.V., new furniture, and so on.  Unfortunately, he lost his job when the factory closed.  He has sold all his possessions, exhausted his unemployment compensation and cannot collect AFDC.  (Married men and women do not qualify for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC); in fact, no welfare at all is available for him in Dallas.)  Jane tried working as a waitress, leaving John to care for the children, but she did not make enough money to pay the bills.  Now they are living on the street and getting one free meal a day at the Salvation Army.  The children are suffering from exposure and malnutrition; John and Jane are tired, hungry, dirty, and depressed.  Should such a family receive welfare benefits?  Explain your answer.
 
 
3)  A Homeless Person.  (Reported in the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, Oct. 6, 1989.)  Sharon Lenger, forty-eight, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an associate of arts degree in drug counseling.  She worked as a residential counselor in a home for abused and molested adolescents in California until she was severely assaulted by one of the residents.  As a result of the injuries sustained in the attack, she was unable to work in the home and moved out.  She received worker’s compensation, but this was not enough to live on in California since it was based on her low salary and did not take into account the free room and board provided at the home where she had worked.  She moved to Minnesota to live near her sick and elderly parents.  Then the state of California stopped her worker’s compensation payments.  She needed further surgery because of the assault injuries, so she applied for medical assistance and general assistance.  Now she receives $203 a month in general assistance payments, not enough to pay for food and a place to live.  Currently she is staying at an emergency shelter run by Catholic Charities, and describes herself as one step away from the street.  In other words, she is a homeless person.  Does Sharon Lenger have a right to adequate shelter?  If so, how should this be provided?
 
 
World Hunger and Poverty
 
 
Case 1: The Poor in Brazil
 
The population of Brazil is growing rapidly.  If its present rate of growth of 2.8 percent continues, it will soon become the most populous country in the Western Hemisphere.  Although Brazil is rich in natural resources and has significant economic growth, most of the benefits have gone to the rich.  Forty percent of the population is under fifteen years of age, and unemployment is high.  Population growth in the cities has made it difficult for the government to provide education, health care, water, sanitation, food, and housing for the poor.  What steps if any, should be taken to provide for the poor and needy people in this country?
 
 
Case 2: Periodic Famines and Somalia
 
The view of Malthus and his followers, like Hardin in the readings, is that famines are caused by food shortages which are in turn caused by drought or other natural disasters.
There is a long history of periodic famines which seems to bear this out: Potato famines in Ireland in 1846-1851, China’s famine in 1928 after a drought, Ethiopia’s famine in 1973 after a drought, Bangladesh’s famine in 1974 after floods, and the ongoing problems in sub-Saharan Africa (including Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia) after a prolonged drought in the area.
The view that famines and food shortages are caused by natural disasters has been challenged by Amartya Sen and others.  Sen argues that world food production has kept ahead of population growth, and that famines are not caused by drought, flood, or other natural disaster.  Typically a country that has people dying of starvation has enough food to go around.  The problem is that the starving people cannot get the food because of high prices, unemployment, distribution problems, civil war, or other human factors.
Consider the recent and continuing starvation of hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia and Sudan.  The United States and other countries have contributed a massive amount of aid, probably enough aid to prevent starvation, but the relief efforts have been frustrated by the continuing fighting between various rival political factions.  Many foreign-aid workers have been killed in the fighting.  The United States led a military intervention in Somalia in December, 1992, but the coalition force failed to ensure peace.  Bandits continued to rob or extort money from relief groups, and rioting and clan fighting continued to interrupt food deliveries.  The situation seems to be even worse in Sudan   where there is enough food to feed the people, but difficulties in delivering it to remote villages.
The pessimistic view of Sen is that military intervention will not solve the problems of countries like Somalia and Sudan.  The only lasting solution is a stable democratic government that protects the poor and lets farmers grow.
Do you agree with Sen or the Malthusians (or do you have a different position from either)? 
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