Friday, August 9, 2013

The Face of Welfare

To all my Facebook friends who post the statues, memes, etc.
To all the Republicans (and some Democrats...but, lets be real, mostly Republicans)
To the general public.
To anyone who views poverty as some sort of divine punishment or something to be ashamed of...that looks on those who receive public assistance with disdain. Who declare "welfare was not meant to be a career opportunity" or-even worse-adamantly insist that people on welfare are at the heart of all that is wrong with this country.


I'm at the heart of all that is wrong with this country. The ruination of the American economy. The nightmare of the American Dream.


You are right. I look pretty dangerous.

Before you vehemently deny it, before you say I'm different, before you protest...let me explain that a large number of welfare recipients look just like me. Not like me as in facial features (weird) but as in demographics. Family size. Situation. Hopes, dreams, desires. Dirty dishes, dirty laundry.

So let me be completely and maybe a little too transparent. Because I really, really want you to understand. Because some of you seem to believe that welfare is quite generous and definitely the way to go if you don't want to work. Apparently some of us are making a good living this way.

So here is what living on welfare looks like for me.
$300 a week unemployment. $267 after taxes.
$271 a month food stamps.

Your right...I'm really rolling in the dough!

More complete transparency. For one month I had absolutely no income and got $490 in food stamps.

I'm curious what you spend on groceries every month.

Let me break this down for you:
Rent $650 month
Lights/Water average $250 month
Cell phone $50 month
One tank gas $50

Now, I haven't stalked people at the grocery store to see if they pay with food stamps so I can question them about their budget. But studies and my understanding say that this is a common story.

Also, know that as soon as I start making $2069 (gross) a month, we don't qualify for anything.That's $24, 828 a year...a little over $5000 over the poverty line for a family of three. In case you are interested, according to 2013 statistics, $19,530 (gross) is poverty line for a family of three. $23,550 for a family of four.

I don't know what you had in your head about how much people are living on or are allowed to make, but here is what it looks like. This is what poverty looks like. And because we live under that invisible line, we are a target for every politician who wants to wag his finger or individual who has never stepped foot inside the DFACS office. People who don't really do research, get to know welfare recipients or want to...because it is much easier to believe that those living on welfare, struggling to survive, stretching every dime into a dollar are actually scam artists living the good life on taxpayer money. Because if they are anything else, you might have to face the reality of poverty in America. Because if they are anything else, it might be up to you to do something. Or just because the idea makes you uncomfortable..

Am I saying that no one is scamming the system? Of course not. What I am saying is that the public wants to believe those are the majority of recipients and studies show they are not just a minority but a very small percentage of those living on assistance. Additionally, I am not saying that there aren't people stuck in the welfare system and poverty cycle. But what I think needs to happen, instead of you judging them, is that we need to look at why they are there and how to get them out instead of judging them so harshly. I am saying that even those living on welfare deserve dignity.

And I am asking, that the next time you point your finger, you realize you are pointing it

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