From Cradle to Grave, is referring to how people who were born onto public assistance, raised on public assistance, have kids before they are ready to raise them and live off of public assistance as adults as well, that we literally have had generations of families who’ve lived off of public assistance. Because they have never gotten the skills that they need, to be able to leave public assistance. Meaning they would have the skills that they need to get a good job and not have to live off of public assistance, because they have the means to be able to take care of themselves and their kids.
A lot of this is a result of the safety net that was created in America, in the 1930s with the New Deal and the 1960s with the Great Society. Where you had all the social insurance programs that were designed to help sustain people while they are in poverty, but not do anything to help these people to get themselves off of public assistance and out of poverty once and for all. This is what public assistance was in America, pre-1996. The TANF Law, Temporary Assistance For Needy Families, better known as Welfare to Work, changed all that.
Its not a question in my mind and I believe many other Americans minds, of whether we should help people, who for whatever reasons can’t fend for themselves. The question is how to we do that. Do we just give them a few hundred bucks each month and expect nothing from them. Other than using that money to pay their basic needs, but continue to allow them to make the same mistakes, that they’ve made and while they are on public assistance. Having kids when they aren’t ready to take care of them, having more kids, when they can’t take care of the ones they already have. Using their public assistance checks to buy alcohol and other drugs, or do we instead help them help themselves, so they no longer have to live on public assistance.
Do we empower people to now have the skills to take care of themselves instead of what we’ve done in that past. The first question is what we were doing pre-1996. The 2nd question is what we’ve done ever since. This is what Libertarian Professor Milton Friedman was focusing on in his movie Free to Choose. And interviewed people who hate the current public assistance system and want to see it ended. People who were happy with the current system and people who were speaking in favor of the reforms that happened in 1996, that Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis ran on for President in 1988.
PBS: Free To Choose- Milton Friedman: Cradle To Grave