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It Could Never Happen If…

I was originally going to make my next post about my spending priorities, and how I look at purchases (and that post is still coming as well, as I was almost done writing it), however, there was a comment in reply to my first post which was frustrating enough, that I’d like to dedicate a pieces exclusively to addressing this misconception.

The comment in question asked this: “My only question would be where’s your husband???? How come you didn’t marry your daughter’s or your twin’s father?” *Original punctuation of poster left intact.

Now, those of you that know me personally already know the rather complicated answer to this question. However, I personally don’t see how my relationship issues are anyone’s business, nor what they have to do with the welfare situation in this country whatsoever, and therefore I’m not going to go into the specifics of them here, because it simply isn’t relevant to the issue.

What does being married (or not) have to do with the fact that a family with three children is expected to live off of $725 a month?

Whether I was, or am, married to the father of my children, and/or where he is at (or why) isn’t the point of this blog. The purpose of my writing is to give a realistic description of how hard it is to live and support a family off of a very small amount of money, and to illustrate accurately what social services (i.e. welfare) truly provides to its recipients. I’m doing this because most people are not truly aware of what welfare truly consists of, and have false impressions of both what is given, and about the people who receive it.

My original first reaction to the question when I was about to respond to the comment 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 – economic or otherwise. 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 bad relationships. Some part amicably. Sometimes people even 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.

No matter what the reason is, it’s not really anyone’s business. The story is worth hearing, and the issue still deserves attention. This whole idea that marriage fixes all, or it could never happen if you were married is down-right absurd.

As a side note, and further evidence of the inadequacies and injustices of the welfare system, if you do receive child support from the father of your children (and you collect cash aid, food stamps, or Medi-Cal) you are expected to turn it over to the state District Attorney 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 not covered by that the tiny bit of welfare you do receive. So you end up with the exact same (little) amount of money that social services deem is adequate, and the state actually pays less out of their own coffers.

So tell me again, if you believe this is an adequate and fair system to the benefit of the children in proports to help?

I always welcome comments. (Link is at the top of each post.)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Family, Marriage, Money, Welfare

 

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The Extravagance of Welfare

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?

 
11 Comments

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

 

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