Wednesday, October 29, 2008

racist

OK, instead of hijacking someone else's blog where this discussion is taking place, I'd just like to point out something.



The fact that I don't support a welfare state does not make me a racist. I love (oh, I really do love) how people jump to the conclusion that because I think many people who are on welfare do not need it, and that many people who are on welfare are not getting the benefit of being able to work with their own two hands and make something of themselves, I am a racist.



Most people who are on welfare are minorities, one commenter said, so therefore, I must be a racist.



Hmmm...let's look at this for a minute.



The system is currently set up so that if you are on welfare, you are making more money than you will make if you have a minimum wage job. How is that empowering people? Can you tell me? Oh, you can't? That is because, quite simply, it is not. You ever heard that old adage about teaching a man to fish instead of handing him the fish and making him dependent on you to get the fish for him? Who is that helping?



It is easier to call me a racist because I do not support Barack Obama than to see that the welfare state helps no one. I have a friend who was raised by a mother who needed that welfare check to get by. You know what I think? I think that welfare SHOULD be used by people who are needing it. Yes, yes, and yes. The mother who is working two 40 hour jobs and still isn't making enough? HELL YES! But if you are able-bodied and are able to have a 40 hour a week job but you are just sitting at home collecting checks, you should have some sort of job. The state should REQUIRE that of you before they hand you money. How do people have a problem with that?

I love how we look at work as a negative in this country. Really, it is not. How satisfied do you feel when you have worked all day for your money? Why do we insist on taking this right away from people and creating dependents?

Thank you to those of you who have left helpful, informative comments. I am finding I just can't get into debates with people who call names and jump to negative conclusions. It makes my blood pressure and stress level rise. And really? SO not worth it. I have a couple of Obama supporter friends whose ideas I find interesting. I think the exchange of ideas is SO vitally important to help each of us grow. (Do I sound like grandmother willow, or what?)

Oh, and I love that people pull the racist oppressionist card out when they have nothing else constructive to say. Really? It's getting OLD.

**Sigh**

22 comments:

Jess said...

The best point that you made is that people on welfare can receive more benefits than earnings if they had a minimum wage job. Um, that is because minimum wage ISN'T A LIVING WAGE. The book Nickeled and Dimed is a great one to illustrate this point.

I don't believe you are racist however (and I've emailed you about this in the past) white privilege does exist in this country whether you or anyone else want to admit it. (Remember that Peggy McIntosh stuff I sent you?). And the assumption that the vast majority of people who receive welfare benefits are somehow bilking the system is unfair. In the last 8 years the divide between the working poor and the rich has steadily grown. The middle class is shrinking. And don't get me started on corporate welfare - what we spend on social welfare is pennies by comparison!

Many welfare recipients are hardworking, decent people who need a little help. Both my parents utilized social services when they were younger - my father actually survived on social security, medicaide and food stamps for the last couple years of his life. Sure, some recipients may have created their circumstances and made mistake but this is where your religion and having a charitable heart come into play. Couldn't you compare this to the salvation offered to every single human being no matter how heinous their acts have been previously? I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are mostly good and trying to improve. And for those who aren't - maybe they just never had any sort of role model to show them the possibilities of what they could do in life. Think of how differently your life would be if your parents had had lower expectations, they didn't give you any sort of emotional support and your home was either abusive or broken. This doesn't mean I want people to be surviving on welfare, but just denying benefits without attempting to correct the core problems that create the assistance need is shortsighted. How about we go about trying to fix the root problems instead of just believing these people are lazy?

-Get involved in the community, volunteer and "adopt" a child via an outreach program for outings, tutoring, etc.

-Volunteer at a local health/services clinic to help prepare teen mothers for parenting.

-Volunteer to provide free childcare to a woman trying to re-enter the workforce or go back to school who cannot afford childcare on her low wages.

-Work at a food pantry or at a soup kitchen.

-Start a group at your church that targets couples in trouble to provide support, childcare, or ministry counseling to bolster their marriage.

-Volunteer in an inner city school.

These are all things most of us can do which take some effort but the end results could be really positive and collectively make a change. I know we both have little kids so we can't at this time do some of the above, but I can make meals to donate to the city food pantry, I can donate my time to help teen moms learn about breastfeeding, etc. I should have you make me accountable to do something to get involveded! People are not going to improve without education and access to resources. As long as inner city schools are far inferior to those in suburbs and richer areas those kids are getting a much reduced chance out of the gate to overcome the odds of their upbringing and deficient education to become self-supporting, contributing members of society. Segregation still exists in this country because of how public schools are funded, but that is a topic for another day.

Pipsylou said...

Oh Jess, come on now, that's a cheap shot. ;) I believe charity is so important, you know that - just not government mandated "charity". Much of those funds don't even get to the people they are supposed to help.

I suppose my views on this could be paralleled with my views on abortion. I believe abortion is wrong - but the idea of the government telling a woman that she cannot do that to her own body troubles me, too.

Maybe what is most troubling to me is the idea that people don't have the sense of personal responsibility that they used to have. The very idea that a woman would WANT to do that troubles me more, I suppose, which points to the very base breakdown of morality and the concept of truth in our society as a whole.

I just don't like the government mandating this or that, period. Which is where we fundamentally disagree. I don't trust the government to be the end-all, be-all for everyone. Too much of history has shown me that this approach usually ends in ruin (USSR, communist China).

We shall see, though, we shall see.

Jess said...

I don't view government supported welfare and charity as the same thing. All charity I wrote about stems from personal responsibility from individuals to perform voluntary acts to improve their individual communities.

We can't all complain about social welfare if we don't want to help change the core problems associated with it. The point is- either we teach people how to do better or we support them with welfare programs. You stated that you don't like the government getting involved - well, are all these people just not supposed to have food and shelter? Aren't those basic human rights?

Communities need to step up (per the conservative view of how to replace social welfare) and help out their own poor, we need to increase the minimum wage, we need to offer FAIR and EQUAL education to all our nation's children. I don't see that anything will change otherwise.

I know my father was deeply embarrassed to have to depend on the government to survive his last couple years. And the income he received was paltry - a little over $600 per month. Had he not lived with my grandfather and pooled their two meager SS checks together and had a mortgage paid off in a very modest home, there is no way he would have been able to make it. I think your understanding of how much money the government is dishing out to individuals is skewed, the reality is not what you think.

Karin said...

Rach-

I could not agree more with your post!

Everyone in this country has a chance at the "American Dream", all they need to do is put some effort, hard work etc. into realizing it. I am so tired of hearing about inner city kids not getting the same education as kids in the burbs for starters. Where are these kids parents? I was a single parent for many years, I worked hard at my job living paycheck to paycheck but I always put my kids education concerns first--I never missed an evening of helping my kids with homework, projects etc. Never missed a Parent/Teacher conference etc. A parent is the FIRST teacher that their kids have and that job does not stop once those kids enter school! The problem with todays education system is that too many parents don't give a hoot about their kids education---they blame it all on the schools/teachers etc. They need to step up to the plate and accept responsibly for their kids!

Ok I am done with my rant...

Jess said...

Karin - Do you understand that the funding most inner city schools receive is much lower than that of richer areas due to local taxes supporting the schools? The funding and resources offered to a lot of kids in this country is far less in some areas than others. This is not my opinion it is a fact.

I get sick and tired of hearing people state that everyone has the same shot in this country - they do not. And, yes, parents should help their children and be their child's first teacher, I couldn't agree more. But if a single mother is working 3 low paying jobs to support her kids (and stay off welfare!!!) then she isn't going to be home to provide that extra boost. You can't have it both ways - tell people to work hard and earn their own way and stop bilking the system yet be home to educate their children if we are talking about people who are living below the poverty line.

Jess said...

P.S. - This is my last comment, I promise!

Rach, you make a great point towards the end of your post that our welfare system is broken. It shouldn't be an all or nothing thing. We should give a little assistance to help people who are working and making huge efforts to be self-supporting and yet can't quite make ends meet. Programs like WIC, food stamps and Head Start are a good start but we need to figure out how to rescale monetary support based on effort to either become educated or find a job.

Sort of like unemployment, you can't be on it forever, you have to prove that you are actively seeking employment, etc.

Sorry I have been overtaking the comments! :-)

Karin said...

Jess--

Karin - Do you understand that the funding most inner city schools receive is much lower than that of richer areas due to local taxes supporting the schools? The funding and resources offered to a lot of kids in this country is far less in some areas than others. This is not my opinion it is a fact.

So what are they lacking? fancy buildings? better educated teachers? fancier clothes? varsity sports, what?? A lack of funds is never an excuse to not have the desire to want to better yourself or want to learn, IMHO.


I get sick and tired of hearing people state that everyone has the same shot in this country - they do not.


Actually they do, I am sorry but I have to disagree with you on that point.


And, yes, parents should help their children and be their child's first teacher, I couldn't agree more.

Yup, so where are they?


But if a single mother is working 3 low paying jobs to support her kids (and stay off welfare!!!) then she isn't going to be home to provide that extra boost.


So where are the kids father? Why isn't he helping support HIS children?? It did take TWO folks to make these kids right? Oh wait did the woman in question make BAD choices in her life and get knocked up by 3 different guys? Perhaps she does not know who the kids father(s) is/are? Is the father sitting in jail because he thought breaking the law was a smarter choice?? What? Once again, I was a single parent, I worked hard, lived paycheck to paycheck some days I even went without food because there was not enough $$ to feed me and the kids but somehow I made it--why?? My kids made it--why?? I did not take handouts/ go on welfare etc. but I did have a support system of friends and family and Church. I did not HAVE to have the latest fashion in clothes nor did the kids--I did not need the cable t.v. or to eat out or have name brand products in my home--if you want to make it there are ways but you need to prioritize what is important to you/family.
Now I do agree with you that jobs in this country (blue collar) do not pay well--but whose fault is that when these companies can make more money producing products overseas for low wages. Who set up that system that benefited BIG corporations but hurt the middle class??


You can't have it both ways - tell people to work hard and earn their own way and stop bilking the system yet be home to educate their children if we are talking about people who are living below the poverty line.


Rolling eyes here...sorry.
Actually you can--how hard is it to instill values in your own kids? How hard is it to tell them that an education is VERY important?? How hard is it to set a good example for your kids?? Education is more than reading, writing etc. The point I am trying to make is that too many kids just don't get any support/morals/values etc. from their parents--why?? And do you really think that the government is gonna instill these things in your kids? Do you really want them to? I know I don't!

Karin said...

P.S. - This is my last comment, I promise!

Rach, you make a great point towards the end of your post that our welfare system is broken. It shouldn't be an all or nothing thing. We should give a little assistance to help people who are working and making huge efforts to be self-supporting and yet can't quite make ends meet. Programs like WIC, food stamps and Head Start are a good start but we need to figure out how to rescale monetary support based on effort to either become educated or find a job.

Sort of like unemployment, you can't be on it forever, you have to prove that you are actively seeking employment, etc.


Thumbs up! Could not agree more and as an FYI you can not be on welfare indefinitely any longer, they did away with that back in the 80's

Anonymous said...

Though we have different political views, I whole-heartedly agree with you, and I do not think you are a racist . I agree that welfare should only be given to those truly in need, and that the people should be made to use the tools available to get out there and work, and wean themselves off---unless they are working fulltime and still can't make ends meet. I cannot tell you how many times I have been at the grocery store (I live in Philadelphia) and I see the person in front of me, all dolled up in designer clothes, loads of jewelry, nails impeccibly done, buying steaks, shrimp, etc., and then pay with their food stamp debit card, only to drive away in their Cadillac, Lexus, or Hummer. I kid you not. I find this infuriating, because I as a mother of 4 whose husband works in excess of 70 hours a week to provide for our family, can see plain as the nose on my face that these people are abusing the system, and here we are living on a budget, working hard, sacrificing, and these disgraceful people get to live high on the hog. Enough is enough. Something definately needs to be done to correst the blatent abuse of the welfare system, whether they are white, black green or purple!

Anonymous said...

P.S You said the key words Rach---Personal Responsibility! No one seems to have any these days! If you keep giving everything to them, of course they're gonna keep taking it. They are given no reason to do otherwise. And how about the elderly? Most of them don't qualify for food assistance, even though they really need it. Thats why you always see the elderly buying so much cat food. It's cheaper than tuna. A little lady told me that while shopping when I was 22, and I've never forgotten it.

Rachel said...

As a teacher who taught in the inner city I can attest to what Jess said! You may be sick of hearing it, but it is true life and school is harder for those kids. We had a big gorgeous building; lots of teachers that were great and wanted to be there; Many of the students were better dressed then me (others were barely put together). There were many days when I felt that not much teaching was happening. These kids have so much going on in their lives. Many don't know where their next meal will come from-except at school. They don't know who they are going to encounter around the next turn. They don't know what or who will be at home when they get there. They have so many worries at age 8 that it is hard to concentrate on learning. Many times education isn't viewed as number one in the house- survival is.
I agree with Rachel that the welfare system can be abused. I also agree that it helps out many people that need it. It is broken. Like Jess said if you have 3 kids and have to work three jobs to try and care for your family- you will never see them. Plus you will have to find daycare for all those hours- which takes away so much of your pay anyway. Will raising the min wage fix our problem? Probably not, but it sure would help.

Woli said...

I applaud all of you on how well educated and well versed you are on your views of this subject matter.

It appears that everyone agrees that the current welfare system is broken. I would like to have a system in place where as there is a limit on the time allowed to be in welfare. Let's throw out an arbitrary number like . . . 5. Within five years one can enter the system, be given an education and job training and weened off of welfare. Along the way benifits are decreased as the "student" meets time deadlines of increasing independence. This is of course for those who are physically and mentally able to do so. Anyway, that is just my two cents worth.

Oh, I hear "The View" is in search of some new hosts. Perhaps all of you should interview!

Anonymous said...

I got a kick out of your post and the responses... :) but I agree with you completely!

Rebecca Batey Fradin said...

What's funny about calling someone a racist is that it's truly name-calling...I mean, when has anyone ever admitted to being racist? Well, other than on Maury Povich. But prejudice on the other hand, I think it's human nature to be prejudice...as in to pre-judge situations and people based on past experience, acquired knowledge, or societal norms. It's part of survival. It means you see a little old lady and think she's sweet and nice. It means you see a big dog and worry that it's aggressive. Sometimes it means you hear the word "welfare" and think of a minority, a drug addict, a drunk, etc. Only I know what my prejudices are...and only you know yours.

I'm not sure what to think of welfare. I know it helps a lot of people. I know it hurts some, too. I grew up in Appalachia in an area with no industry and a 30% unemployment rate. When Wal-Mart opened up over 4,000 lined up to apply for a job. As a young person I couldn't even get an interview to work for McDonalds or the grocery store. There just weren't any jobs. I had free lunch at school, but other than that my family never did the whole welfare thing...probably due to the stigma (glaringly evident in this post and comments).

I think where prejudice (or even racism) can seem to emerge is when we start talking about "them" and "they" instead of "us" and "we." After all, aren't we all subject to hard times? Aren't we all at risk for needing welfare at some point?

If welfare isn't the answer, I wonder what is. What would help you out during difficult times, yet still empower you and give you a sense of pride?

I think about it a lot.

Karin said...

Obama and his supporters love to throw the "racist" card out there--they have been doing it since day 1! Anybody that is not voting for him is considered racist as per the Obama crowd.
So no Rach, you are not racist because your not voting for Obama!

Now let me tell ya, I am not voting for Obama for the simple reason that he does NOT value life !

today is the present said...

My biggest beef with Obama is the abortion issue but I tend to agree with you, Rachel. I also think that the racist card is usually used when they know they are appealing to the votes they WANT badly-the minority vote.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to clarify something----I DO feel welfare should be there for those who truly need it---NOT those who are driving a Lexus, Mercedes, or Cadillac. I do not judge those who receive welfare, but I do judge those who ABUSE IT!!!!

Previous anonymous poster

Mamajama said...

Hey Rach, I've been meaning to write you since that whole thing started over there. What a great discussion you've got going over here. I finally got a minute to sit down and actually write out something well reasoned.

Tommy told me that you had written this post, but I went ahead and wrote mine before looking at it. It's really interesting that you and I see a lot of the same problems, but have different solutions to them.

Hugs to you. I'm sorry if the commenters hurt your feelings.

Oh and just to add a bit to the discussion, my parents were also on food stamps/medicaid/WIC for a while, but were able to work their way out of it. I agree that personal responsibility is important, but I think that the solution is to rework the programs, not cut them.

mom of 3 said...

I don't think that you are racist, and I also believe that there are way to many people who are milking the system. I would just like to open your eyes to a different situation. My husband, who is the sole provider, as I stay at home with our 3 small children, was laid off at the beginning of October. We own our house, our vehicles, and even though we don't have alot of extra things, take care of our children first, and go without for ourselves on most things, just so they are taken care of.

I went to our DFC office 2 days after he was laid off, because we were now going to lose insurance, and the pay for unemployment maxes here at $350/week.....we were getting $900/week. The DFC immediately set us up with medicaid for all 5 of us, food stamps and TANF money, opened that day. I was so humiliated! I should not have to do this, or take this, but what am I to do? What about my children? Thank God that my husband is starting a new job on Nov.10th and I will be stopping all of the assistance, but I just want you to see that there are some people who really do need the system, and get looked at and treated by everyone like we are just low life, lazy people...because that is what the system has been reduced to.

Now that I have had to use the system, I will think twice about saying something hurtful about someone who is using the system, until I know more about their situation. I know how much that hurts to have someone see you swipe your foodstamp card to get your kids some groceries, and then you get that look, and then the conversation stops, because they are thinking exactly what I used to think, and probably the same things that you all are thinking. It may be a small percentage, but there really are good people who are just using the system because there are no other options right now, and who will also get off as soon as they possibly can, because they know how good it feels to pay for your stuff with your own money...I am one of those people.

I'm not asking you to not question the system, there really are alot of lazy, worthless people in there, and you can usually tell who they are, but just remember, some of us are not, and we are already embaressed to be using this, let alone by the way everyone looks at us. Just give it a little thought

Pipsylou said...

mom of 3 - You are obviously a hard-working family, and I am so glad that safety net was there for you! Honestly? I think this is what was intended when the whole welfare idea came out of the chute.

The difference between you and someone who uses it strictly as an easy source of income is, I would hope, glaringly obvious.

I am hoping you can get through these hard times safely, and thank you for sharing your story.

Kiki@Seagulls in the Parking Lot said...

As someone who has been on public assistance, while Drew was in school, under grad and grad, I still have mixed feelings regarding it.

We were on state health insurance (2 different states) and WIC.

It was humiliating. And I hated every minute of it. I didn't like going to the clinic that we had to go to because we had to wait so long. (3 hours was normal for OB appointments) The doctors were mostly residents (in the second state) and my kids rarely saw the same pediatrician.

But, at the same time, it was God providing for us. Kolby was born on the state health insurance, we paid nothing for his birth. We also paid nothing for 2 plus years of his club foot treatment. We wouldn't have been able to receive the care we needed if we didn't have that.

Also, I didn't vote for Obama because he wants to spread the wealth around. Drew and I have worked hard the last 6 years to get him through school and grad school so that he can get a high paying job, support our family and give our money away to programs, churches, etc that we want to. We are still struggling and will for how many years to pay back our loans for the choices we made. And now, to think of someone coming into office and taking even more of our hard earned money, makes me feel ill.

And, it makes me think, why should we work hard and sacrifice for our schooling and work hard only to have the government take more money away from us. And if I'm thinking that, then why won't others. So then we end up with a country where no one works hard to make a lot of money because even if you make a lot of money you have no power or control over where that money is spent or not spent.

Kether said...

Don't get me started about welfare. I work with a welfare to work program and the amount of 'bilking the system' makes me sick. Sure, I have a lot of good students who work hard and are working to get *off* the system. But there's also plenty who drive around in Escalades and use their $4000 earned income credit at tax time to buy flat screen tvs and fishtanks. (once I had to take out a loan to pay my taxes while my students on welfare got big screen tvs. I had to go home sick because I cried about it so much).
I believe in welfare, and that's why I work where I do. But there needs to be reform. I think my county in particular, in Southern California needs a cold, hard look so that the money can go to people who need it, not people who merely want a handout. I feel the same about Financial Aid. Many of our community college students quit coming the minute the checks come out. And for some reason the government keeps letting them get Financial Aid. We're finally starting to cut the cord, but yeesh. I would LOVE for that money to be channeled to good students who work hard and want to make something of their lives.
*sigh*