Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welfare and Cell Phones

I swore when I started this blog that I wasn’t going to post anything controversial on it. I was going to keep everything funny and upbeat and simply thought provoking. Yet today, I’m going to stir the pot, and probably piss at least some, if not most of my few readers off.

This article started it all. Please read it first before you go any further on my post.

I think that welfare is a wonderful tool. Unfortunately, I think that there are people who are on welfare who seriously abuse the system. Then again, my opinion is seriously biased.

My dad had a heart attack at 51. He wasn’t planning on it, it just kinda happened. A few weeks later he had a 2nd heart attack. He was told that he was retired, permanently, and whether he wanted to be or not. He was the sole income provider for him and my mother. While my mom manages a family farm that she inherited from her parents, any farmer knows that sometimes farms cost more money than they are worth, she doesn’t work. With my dad traveling for his job, it worked out to their advantage, because they were able to spend time together when he was home, and I think that my mom is part agoraphobic anyway.

With their only source of income suddenly retired, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, they could no longer afford to put food on their table, or pay their bills. So, while they weren’t dancing a jig in the street about needing food stamps, they filed for assistance. They weren’t picky, they would gladly take what they could in order to save their house, pay for my father’s $900+ monthly regime of medications, as well as put groceries on the table, not to mention things like electricity and water. For a few months, they were able to receive food stamps, in an amount, that I’m still not sure how they managed to use it alone to pay for groceries, considering that I spend that amount plus some at least twice a month for my own family. They managed to get an electric bill paid by the county as well. Then someone decided that they could just sell the farm that has been in our family for several generations and that they would be fine. Apparently they didn’t get the memo about the recession.

While they weren’t proud of that fact, they needed the help, and at the time didn’t want to need family or friends to bail them out. Thankfully, it did provide them with some assistance, but in my opinion, not near what it should have.

Yet, on the other hand. I know someone of a couple who, once again, in my opinion abuses the system. They have two kids, one parent works, while the other stays home. Neither of them have a college education, so they wouldn’t be making oodles of money either way. And when both kids were young, and would have required full time childcare I can understand the need for a parent to stay home, instead of putting their entire salary towards daycare. As the children have aged, and are both now in school, and have been for several years, the family is still on assistance. Do they go without things to provide necessities? Absolutely. Could they both find a higher paying job, or a job at all? Because yes, even though both children are in school from 8-3 daily, one parent is still unemployed; could the other parent get a job? Absolutely. They could even find a job that let them be home in the afternoons when the kids get home from school.

My husband and I even applied for assistance. At the time he worked for an ice company, and their job is very seasonal. Things are much slower in the winter than in the summer. And one winter was particularly bad. I worked for the local newspaper delivering papers. We were not getting by. Yet, we were told that we didn’t even qualify for temporary assistance. We couldn’t make our house payment and buy groceries, we had $4 dollars in the bank, and they told us that because we owned 2 cars, (one was a 1993 Oldsmobile, and the other was a 2000 mini van, and this was in 2002.) that we could sell a car. Hmmm, we still owed money on the mini van, and how much do they think that a 1993 Oldsmobile was going to go for? But we both had a job, and apparently things like electricity and water were optional, we could do without those to buy groceries and make our house payment.

Yet we have all seen someone who is standing in line at the store with a Gucci bag and paying for their groceries with food stamps. Then we watch them walk out and get in their brand new Cadillac Escalade, while we are standing behind them with clothes from Wal.Mart on, and a handbag that should have been thrown out in the 70ies, and we drive a car that wasn’t made in the last 10 years.

As far as the original article goes, cell phones are kinda a necessary evil; especially if home phones aren’t an option. I don’t think that all people enjoy being on welfare; I do think that some people use it as an opportunity to better their own situation, and then there are others who take complete advantage of the system.

I also agree with one of the commentors, yes, the clothes could have came from goodwill, and the car borrowed, but, on the other hand, that makes so many of us "assume" things about them, and the welfare situation.

All I'm saying is that some people take advantage and some people don't. But then again, doesn't the majority of things in life work out that way too?

What do you think? Do you think that Welfare should have more restrictions and requirements to qualify? Or do you think that everyone should be eligible, whether they need it or not?

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