The Extravagance of Welfare

23 Sep

I’m not a deadbeat. I’m not a drug addict.

In fact, overall, I’d like to think I’m a pretty good person. If a see a lost dog wandering around, I’ll stop and look for the tag and call the owners, or, if there’s no tag, I’ll call a no-kill shelter to pick it up so the poor thing doesn’t get hit by a car. I volunteer with the Girl Scouts. I give food to homeless people. I read to my kids. I vote.

I’ve been to college and have a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Administration. I even graduated  with honors (magna cum laude) and I was my class Valedictorian.

I’ve worked in marketing for Procter & Gamble, interned (briefly) at the United Nations Environmental Programme, and held various sales positions, among other things.

Yet, despite everything, I am currently a welfare recipient, something this country tries to make you feel ashamed about, as if no one who is intelligent and/or hard-working can ever fall on hard times. But this is a lie. It can happen to anyone… and it happened to me.

So, what’s my point?

Well, currently on almost any given day you can see both politicians and pundits making claims about the poor people “living off the system” and “getting a free ride” as if those on welfare are living it up, or like this is a choice people gladly enter in to.

The fact of the matter is that I would love to be working, but with a stagnant economy and high unemployment rates, I was not able to find work. Then, when I became pregnant with my twins, my options were even smaller. I needed Medi-cal to safely deliver my babies. I needed to be able to feed and shelter my kids. I swallowed my pride and applied for social services. After all, isn’t that what they’re there for? To help us through the tough times when we’re in desperate need and have no other options or choices? Isn’t this what the taxes I paid when I was working helped to pay for? Why should I be ashamed? It wasn’t as if I wasn’t trying, but sometimes just trying isn’t enough.

Still, most people in this situation are loathe to admit it, let alone talk about it. There’s a stigma associated with welfare. We are supposed to be ashamed and hide it. We’re a burden on the system. So much of a burden, in fact, that this is one of the areas that spending needs to be cut. Mention raising taxes on the top 1% and you’re engaging in class warfare. Heaven forbid we suggest multi-billion dollar corporations have a few tax loopholes closed. No, we need to make the nation’s poorest, already struggling to just survive, live on even less.

But before you all get in a huff about this, let me elaborate on exactly what “less” means, and how little help is actually received.

I’m a mother of three. I have a 14-year-old teenage daughter, and twin boys, currently 7 and 1/2 months old. This means I have a family size of four. Me, and my three children, two of which are in diapers.

So, how much does the government deem is sufficient for a family of four with no other income? How much do I actually receive from Social Services to live off of and support my three kids and myself each month until I get back on my feet?

$725. A month.

Let me repeat that: a month.

This is meant to cover rent, utilities, transportation, diapers, any clothing needs that may arise (which for those of you with children, you know is something kids need; trivial items like clothes and shoes), school supplies, and any non-food products. You know, little things like soap, shampoo, toilet paper, feminine products, etc. I do get a separate amount in food stamps, which – thankfully – is enough to make sure we’re all fed, but absolutely everything else is meant to be covered by that $725.

And according to the GOP, that’s just too much. They want to cut it even more.

Now, I manage. I’m resourceful. I’ve found a way to stretch that tiny amount of money as far as I can, and so far, we’re getting by, but there are plenty of others who are not able to. A single mother with only one child only gets $473 a month to live off. For those of you that live in California, I’d like you to think about that for a moment.

$725 a month to support three kids.

Could you do it?


Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Budgeting, Money, Politics, Welfare


Tags: , , , ,

11 responses to “The Extravagance of Welfare

  1. Michele Price

    September 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Yes, I know all about stretching a dollar. Yes, this is a rough time. Even more so for women who cannot just leave their children alone or if they are unemployed to go find a job, as day care cost money.

    Too many times it is easy to say “make do.” I agree you want to find room for more revenue. Then close some tax loop holes.

    Better yet, all that money that was given in bonuses that our tax dollars baled out for financial institutions , how about pay of people’s mortgage instead. Imagine how we as a people could thrive if we could focus on how to create new business solutions, invent new products if we were not worried about paying our mortgages and were able to invest in our own small businesses?

    What could a small business accomplish if they could invest the monthly mortgage in a small business seriously think about it!

    We need to find a new answer. Trying to blame your own citizens who “played the game” as you told them ( get an education and get a job) to, then having companies who are thriving off bale outs while citizens are living in squalor is plain ole a shame.

    What is the answer? Not taxing the poor or cutting their benefits. Where is America’s Robin Hood?

  2. Anthony Thomas

    September 27, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    My only question would be where’s your husband???? How come you didn’t marry your daughter’s or your twin’s father? –

    • needtospeakout

      September 28, 2011 at 1:11 am

      My first reaction to your question was to start to explain the unique situation that brought me to this point where I am here, alone with my three children. But then I stopped, because the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter “how” or “why” I am alone.
      The very fact that the question is being asked to begin with is just one of the societal stereotypes so many people embrace, as if being married or being with a partner in and of itself can magically fix a bad situation. Often times the extra burden or added expense for another person is just too much strain to handle with the limited increase in funds one would receive. Then there’s the assumption that “the man” (be it husband, father, etc) would be able to support “the woman” and/or find work where she could not – and this, quite often, is also not always the case.
      The simple fact of the matter is at this point in time, I’m doing this alone – and I’m not the only one. There are plenty of single parents out there, male and female alike, for a myriad of reasons. People separate. They divorce. Some leave abusive relationships. Some part amicably. Sometimes people pass away. Other times mothers can’t even track down the father of a child. Not everyone who becomes pregnant is married, and not everyone who has children together gets married, nor should they.
      As a side note, if you do receive child support from the father of your children (and you collect welfare) you are expected to turn it over to the state to “reimburse” what they are paying to you in benefits. So any help from the father of the children does not go to help cover additional costs that the tiny bit of welfare does not cover, so you end up with the exact same (little) amount of money and the state pays less.

    • camanokat

      September 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I don’t see how that is any of your business.

      • needtospeakout

        September 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

        Thank you. I also didn’t see how it was relevant.

  3. Janette (Cleoest)

    September 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    It isn’t any of his business, But I’ll leave my questions for privacy. You do have friends here, unfortunately we’re in much the same situation as you. But I love you and I support you *hugs*

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