Lately I’ve been reading a lot of letters to the editor of The Wichita Eagle, where people are either stereo typing the poor (Poor choices) or letters by people who work with the poor and who are tired of seeing the most powerless people in our society stereotyped with lies (Who are the real freeloaders?). Politicians are constantly and blatantly falsely accusing welfare recipients of purposely living of the dole, sucking up taxes by hard working people and misusing the aid that is given to them. This is convenient for the politicians and their big business clients who get generous tax breaks at the expense of the rest of us. There seems to a lot of people who don’t question these accusations and seem downright nasty towards the poor and those on any kind of government assistance. There are also those who believe anyone on assistance should live like a monk—no TV, no alcohol of any kind, no cigarettes, no pets and no tattoos. (Are they supposed to remove them if they already had them before getting assistance?) They are supposed to eat only bland low grade tasteless food. In other words being poor is some kind of crime and they should suffer as much as the people in prison. The following article contains plenty of facts on government assistance.
The poor's problem is a lack of money
By Mike Marlett
January 16, 2014
I was scanning Facebook the other day and was somewhat shocked to see that a friend of mine had posted a snarky image about poor people. I know, I know, how could I have been shocked to find an asshole on Facebook? Well, the person wasn't an asshole. They had just bought into some asshole's bullshit. And that happens a lot. So I think it's time for us to all just take a breath and deconstruct this issue. It's less likely that you are in danger of falling for it; it's more likely that someone you know and care for will fall for it and you will just be unable to come up with the words to nip this in the bud. The asshole's bullshit This image exists in many forms, as does the sentiment. You can find the Rotten eCard that says, "If you can afford beer, cigarettes, new tattoos, drugs and cable TV, then you don't need food stamps or welfare." Your punctuation may vary. The implication is that poor people — people on public assistance — do all of those things all the time and that they shouldn't get assistance for it. That the assistance, in fact, supports amoral and illegal activities. The implication is that poor people don't deserve help — that they are, in fact, immoral. It's the kind of idea that you throw out when you want to tear down a system. But this is why it's bullshit: most people on welfare are either old, disabled or children. The snarky paragraph plays to a stereotype in our heads. It even builds the stereotype. Its whole purpose is to make you, a hard-working American, despise this lazy, no-good welfare recipient. You are probably also picturing an inner-city black person who has been on welfare their whole life. That's just your stereotype filling in the gaps. In fairness to my friend, when I pointed out that welfare mostly went to people who tend not to be in the "new tattoo" demographic, he just deleted the whole post. Good man. But there's some real danger in not understanding this, so I'm going to really spell it out. Maybe your friends need more data before backing off of their stereotypes. What is welfare? The paragraph moralizes that anyone who would dare put the demon alcohol on their lips doesn't deserve "welfare or food stamps." Those are two different things, and there really isn't a thing called "welfare." Federally, as of 1996 what one would consider welfare is known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF emphasizes the temporary. By federal law, you can only get it for a total of five years in your whole life.
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