Are you serious, America?

11.07.2012


Let's talk about welfare for a second. I really wanted to keep my mouth shut on the subject after the election was over, but I cannot simply sit here reading ignorant comments anymore. For example, on CNN's Facebook page, they asked "What did you learn on election night?" The following are real-life answers from American citizens:

"That it will pay to quit your job and get welfair." 
(Yes, they spelled "welfare" wrong.)

"The good news is your Welfare check will arrive on time..."

"We learned that people vote out of selfishness, not love of country. The entitlement society is here to stay. Why work for what you want when you can vote for a living?"

"Beware of ignorant people in large groups. Especially those that want gov't handouts..."

Are you serious, America? Are we seriously still on the topic of welfare, a program that the majority of people have absolutely no clue about how it works. I am quite curious where people came up with this idea that people on welfare are living the high life while abusing the system. It's like Americans legitimately think that a woman sits in her brand new townhouse, eating steak and shrimp every night, doing crystal meth, and never working a day in her life on their hard earned taxes.

Before we discuss the "welfare" that people are typically making this generalization about (TANF), I feel it is important to mention that over 90% of Entitlement Benefits go to the elderly, disabled, or working households. That means, most of the money goes to people who are working or who are actually unable to work.

The programs that people tend to have the biggest problems with are Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF - cash assistance), food stamps, child care assistance, etc. These are used to help families with children in their time of need. Or as most people see it, allow uneducated mothers to pop out 10 kids and get rich from government assistance.

I have been on welfare. I have gotten cash assistance, food stamps, child care assistance, energy assistance. As a teenage mother with basically zero support from my child's father, I have had to use welfare as I make my way through college. Without this assistance, I would not have been able to continue my education past high school. There is just no way. But I never looked at this assistance as a "handout"....I saw it as an investment. My country was investing in my future, and I knew that one day it would be my turn to invest in others.

My experience with the welfare system is vast. I have gotten various benefits and services in three different states (KS, MO, TX) at different times. Anybody who sits there and thinks getting benefits is easy should call your local Department of Children and Family (DCF) and get an actual person to answer the phone. Ever. These programs are completely underfunded and understaffed. It took over 90 days for my childcare assistance to be approved and my phone calls never got returned. The process is frustrating, stressful, time consuming. It would never be described as "easy".

There are also a million rules that you have to follow and one mess up could result in your benefits being taken away. Before an individual can even receive cash assistance, they must do 20 hours of documented job searching. Once approved for benefits, they must spend 20 hours per week of job searching and/or training in order to remain eligible. All of this must be documented and proven, otherwise, no benefits. 

Not to mention, the money you get is barely enough to survive. The most cash assistance I have ever been given was $246/month for two people when I was unemployed. Please, explain to me where people get the notion that this is a substantial amount of money. How does a family of two live the high life with that? They don't; they survive. Nobody can live luxuriously on less than $3,000 per year. I hate to burst your bubble, but this is just not possible.

Then everybody acts as if people can just stay on welfare forever. Like they can just mooch from the government for decades. This idea is completely and utterly wrong. Since Welfare Reform in the 90s, adults may only get benefits for 60 months (5 years) during their lifetime. There are time constraints so people don't just live off the system for their entire life. 

So what are people so afraid of that they feel the need to belittle and berate people on welfare? I fail to see the motive behind it all, and the amount of disgusting comments about the matter that I have seen scares me. Are Americans really that cold and cynical of helping feed children and families? Do we want to let them starve, let them freeze, let them stay in poverty? The majority of the people receiving benefits are not drug-addicted, dishonest mothers who dream of popping out babies and getting a welfare check. Most of them are single mothers trying to make ends meet, trying to suck up their pride and provide for the children that they love, they are working towards making a better life for themselves and their families. Granted, not every single case is like that...but this is the majority, not the junkies and the abusers. The system does so much more good than harm. So instead of whining and complaining about your tax dollars being spent to buy someones drugs or tattoos, how about you take five seconds to think about it? Think about the children that you are helping to buy food for, who would otherwise go hungry. The mothers you are helping make a better life for themselves. The families that you help keep warm in the harsh winter cold. You did that. We do that. In America, we help our own. And I think it is about damn time that we find some pride in that.

2 Responses to “Are you serious, America?”

  1. You truly hit the nail on the head. I've been on welfare for about 6 months--until I got a job where I didn't need it anymore. I did not qualify for food stamps or any other assistance except child care assistance, and I barely got that. I've been laid off and I still can't get assistance because of my severance package.

    Am I complaining? No. Not one bit.

    People fail to realize that they never know when something'll happen to where they are in a situation where they need help from those governmental programs that they despise so much. (I've even ranted about this on FB.)

    I will say this: Obama being re-elected has really allowed me to see people's true colors. And it was sort of hurtful to be blindsided like that. . people I thought were peaceful, loving people turned out to be the opposite.

    But, I won't ramble any longer. Very informative post! Thank you!

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