Uncategorized — February 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

When social welfare works the way it should


I was reading Reddit’s politics page this morning when I came across this Self Reddit:

Thank you unemployment benefits.

Because of you I was able to pay my rent wash my clothes, eat, and today was offered a job for over 100k. I’ve been unemployed for almost 2 years. I will happily pay my taxes, and not cry about it so others will not be left drowning. Thank you again, taxpayers. I will do my best to make good on the gift you gave me.

It got me thinking about my mother, something I am already doing a great deal lately since I’m in the midst (well, beginningst) of writing a book about my life with her. She got pregnant with me when she was the tender age of 16. An honor student taking Latin and Calculus in high school, she dropped out to have me. Struggling with manic depressive illness, she spent the next couple of decades in and out of failed marriages and raising two kids.

During some parts of that time, she was a single mom, trying to bring up her boys, get an education and keep the lights on and the family fed. This meant being on welfare for some of that time. Food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), things like that.

However, she eventually got her college degree (and nearly a Masters) and went on to be hired by two different automotive companies. When she took early retirement in her early 50s, she was a well-paid executive at the Chrysler Corporation. During that time she more than repaid the “gift” given to her by society when she needed help.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s how it most often works. But all we tend to hear about are “welfare queens” (a myth created by Ronald Reagan), societal parasites and leeches, mooching off the public dole.

But that’s not who America is, not really. Most Americans want a good job. Most Americans want to be self-sufficient. Most Americans want to give their kids a better life than they themselves had. Sometimes they need a little help. But it’s an investment our society makes and it’s a good one because, in the end, the gift is paid forward in profound ways.

This is something that, apparently, totally escapes Republicans and other conservatives in America.

I’m just sayin’…

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