Saturday, September 07, 2013

Why this hard working American supports aid to working families

If you've been on the internet at all in the past 24 hours, you've probably seen the following. I feel a need to speak to it.

Before going on I should tell you where I'm coming from and am. I was raised by my mother and grandmother, and my mother received food stamps and welfare and eventually, disability. I was on free lunches at school. In my adult life I've been on state aid once: when I worked for UCP in California, which was a state agency, and the state failed to pass a budget, cutting my pay down below subsistence levels. We've straddled the line for most of the years since we had kids; we've had various bits of help here and there from family, friends, and my church. Even when we've qualified for food cards, my husband's damnfool pride kept us off them (and I *do feel* that if you have one parent employed FT and the other PT and STILL qualify for aid, you should feel no shame taking it). I have been working since I was 14. I currently three part time jobs alongside knitting and chocolate making on commission.



Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good.."

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND While you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.


My first thought when reading that is that this author doesn't actually know anyone on assistance. Of course, that's statistically unlikely and it's more likely that she has some friends who just can't make ends meet on their own but would never dare mention that they get food cards in front of her, because look at what she thinks of them! You would think the average assistance recipient is a blinged out, drug addicted, LAZY, breeding machine! This CBS report shows the inaccuracy of those myths.

I know and have known many people over the years who need to use aid in the long or short term. Is there occasional "user"? Of course, and there always will be. Same thing goes for corporate welfare.  This website cites welfare fraud as falling in the 2%-3% range. Note that this is a conservative website! Is it worth letting 97 people go hungry to catch the three who are milking the system?

As for drug testing: even if it seems like a good idea, the states that have tried it have lost money. The New York times reports that Florida LOST more than $45,000 on their drug testing program: Oklahoma found that only 2.2 % of recipients tested positive for drugs. In both states, the percentages were lower than for drug use in the general population. Even if you have no moral qualms about requiring drug testing, the numbers don't recommend it. (Now, if someone gets brought up on drug charges or walks into their social worker appointment under the influence, that's a different matter)

It seems that in light of those numbers, anyone who still supports mandatory drug testing and denying assistance because of the chance of fraud must be more concerned with sticking it to 3% than with the best use of government money. 

Going back to the CBS report...I don't know where the idea that the poor are poor because they're lazy comes from. Perhaps that fiction is more comfortable than admitting that there are not enough living wage jobs, that many of the jobs that *are* available still leave gaps that need to be filled in, and that neither good or bad jobs are falling off the job tree. Recipients of aid, state or charitable, have many different stories and if you don't know them, you have no place from which to judge. I encourage you to read these client stories from Northwest Harvest. 

I hope that no matter how conservative you are, these numbers will at least convince to that this "21 year old female" didn't research her position very well, and and that you should do a little of your own. But for me, it's not about numbers. It's about my faith. You see, every person I've seen post this is a Christian. I don't don;t get this. So I will leave with this list of over 100 Bible verses about caring for the poor and let it speak for itself.


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