I didn’t want to weigh in on the Mitt Romney 47%-of-the-country-is-a-bunch-of-government-dependent-lazy-good-for-nothings controversy but I just can’t bite my tongue any longer. This post isn’t directed at Mitt Romney or about what Mitt Romney said or even about Mitt Romney. It’s about the people who believe him and are now posting socio-economic discriminatory things on Facebook/blogs that really have me steaming. And I just have to say
It is completely hypocritical for you to complain about those taking some form of Government Assistance when you have yourself!
I write this after someone I know who is on Medicaid, because they have medical issues and are self-employed, complained that those they deem as “welfare queens” should only receive temporary aid from the government and we should institute a system that helps people become self-sufficient instead of dependent. Well, I agree with them but the ironic thing is we already have that. What they think of as “welfare” is called TEMPORARY Assistance for Needy Families. Yeah, that’s right…it’s right in it’s name…temporary. Federally, those receiving TANF can only access it for 5 years total for their entire lifetime. However, it varies state to state and each state can decide how to distribute that. I live in Utah where TANF can only be accessed for 3 years total in a person’s lifetime.
I invite anyone who doesn’t understand welfare and more importantly the welfare reform that took place 16 years ago in this country to do more research on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. To get started you can view this cursory outline of it on Wikipedia. And why do I know so much about this Act? Besides being a social worker, I spent an entire semester researching this policy for my Policy Class a few years ago (and this policy has not changed in those 6 years), specifically the TANF portion. Forgive me if I believe I might know more about this than the average person spouting off about “welfare queens” on Facebook.
So what’s up with the title of my post, right? Surely Risa is not a “welfare queen.” No, she and her husband both have good jobs, make more money than the average middle class family, live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and don’t appear to have any wants or needs. And that is true. Now. But let’s rewind seven years ago. And Risa and the hubs were working crappy full-time jobs that barely kept a rented roof over their heads. Daycare costs were high, working back breaking jobs weren’t getting them anywhere, and they often borrowed money from Risa’s parents just to have milk in the fridge. Then the hubs got a new job that made more money than the two of them combined had before and Risa and the hubs decided that since she was only 2 years away from having her BA in Social Work to send her back to school. So Risa decided to quit her full-time job and go back to school full-time until she finished (Risa likes to say God decided because she received a very clear and direct prompting on this matter…if you believe those sorts of things like Risa does). And Risa and the hubs, GASP!, took government money in the form of Pell grants to pay for her tuition. During this time, Risa and the hubs’ children qualified for reduced school lunch. Another government program! And they took it, because they could afford a 40 cent lunch but not $1.50 lunch every day. And once Risa graduated from college, the Pell grants ended. And once the hubs started moving up in his company and making more money their children no longer qualified for reduced school lunch and Risa and the hubs started having to pay full-price, which was a great blessing to them that they had the money to do so. (Okay, all this talking in the third person has gotten very annoying). Let me assure you, all of this aid was very, very temporary and allowed us to better ourselves and our situations to become, dun dun dun, self-sufficient! Wow, wasn’t that the goal of these programs? The Pell grants allowed me to finish my education so I could better myself and my family’s situation and the reduced school lunch program helped our children eat lunch during school hours without breaking the bank. And now that we’re in a better situation, we don’t need these programs anymore. They were temporary.
And because of this, I will never, ever criticize someone for utilizing a government program because, a) I’m not an expert in their lives and I don’t know their specific situations or their specific needs, b) you can’t judge someone from their appearance and just because they don’t look like what we stereotypically view as a “welfare queen” doesn’t mean they don’t really need those services provided, and c) it would be completely and totally hypocritical of me to complain about the person in line in front of me at the grocery store using food stamps, or the new mother receiving WIC, or the pregnant woman accessing pregnancy Medicaid, or the recently laid off person accepting unemployment insurance, or the disabled person accessing Social Security to that they can, you know, live, or the elderly couple living on a fixed income of Social Security (which, by the way they paid into their entire lives and I resent it being called an entitlement when it should be called an earned benefit), because me, myself, and I at one time benefited from a government program. However, that hasn’t stopped a lot of people I know who have accepted public assistance at one time complaining about others who do. I know what it’s like to struggle and sheepishly fill out the conspicuous pink form that enables your children to received reduced school lunch, and I will never, NEVER, fight against or try to deny or complain about a fellow citizen who might need help in a different way.
The funny thing about Mitt’s statement about the 47% is that many, many young BYU and/or Mormon families accept some sort of government aid so that they can go to school while raising families. Because not all of these families can just sell stock, like Mitt, to pay for their educations and families at the same time.
This article at Addicting Info pretty much sums up how I feel about those who demonize the poor. However, there are a lot of swears that are not suitable for those with delicate sensibilities.