Friday, August 20, 2010

Welfare Rant #1

A friend of mine on facebook "liked" one of the groups or threads or whatever that tied together welfare and drug-users, basically complaining that our tax dollars are subsidizing drug abusers.  And that pushed a button--my rant button. 

I am no expert on welfare, but I did have to teach about it for several years at Texas Tech, so I did try to find some stuff out along the way.  I may not be entirely accurate here, but as I understood it then (and I doubt it has changed much), the single most common event leading someone into poverty and onto welfare is .... divorce.  Becoming a single mom is the event most associated with needing some sort of welfare program.  One of relatives got a divorce from an exemplar of a deadbeat dad, and she needed help from her state to get by.  Food stamps made a difference until she was no longer eligible (I have to say that limit of eligibility was mighty, mighty low) once her deadbeat ex was required to pay child support of around $165 a month.  The good news about this low assessment* is that it was small enough not to be missed that much when he didn't pay.  Anyhow, so she got food stamps for a while, she got free counseling for her kids, her kids still are on Medicaid, and she has gotten subsidized day care and day camp so that she can continue to work. 

Now that she has an hourly job, she is making too much money to get as much assistance from the state. What she could really use would be housing subsidies, but that does not seem to exist, I guess, in her state.  She, of course, is also getting assistance from her family (her mother, us), and her deadbeat husband occasionally kicks in the $165 or so that he owes her but not regularly, not monthly.  And so far, he has gotten away with that.  We may have had a cultural shift in attitudes about deadbeat dads, but the actual enforcement is blunted when counties facing budget problems want to keep their prisons clear of folks who merely default on their financial obligations to their families.

Good times.  So, pardon me if I do not really care if some tax dollars make it into the hands of folks who use drugs.  I care more that some of this money actually does make it into the hands of single moms (and single dads, too) that have incredible responsibilities, difficult choices, and few options.

*  The lesson is not to marry someone who owns their business because they can easily hide/deny their income.


Steve Greene said...

This is just a fundamental liberal/conservative split. Liberals understand and accept that in any program to help people some of that money will always go to people that don't deserve it. We're dealing with humans, not cyborgs. Conservatives, on the other hand, are so aghast at the prospect of money going to undeserving folks, that they are perfectly willing to see deserving folks go without. I'm pretty sure there's a PS paper in here.

Anonymous said...

You're going to have some error.

The key decision is whether you prefer Type I or Type II error.

Mrs. Spew said...

Actually, she pays for daycare, but it's cheap because of the government and charity. And if we had not had any of that help, it wasn't only her and her kids who were going to be effected. It was a tiny amount of money, but it was critical.

Nobody gets anywhere in life without help, without people who support them, invest in them, pitch in -- raise the walls of the barn. And for the 98% of us who aren't extremely wealthy, if your neighbor sinks, you sink with long term consequences for all.

Anonymous said...

Great rant! Why aren't we concerned with people wasting their own money on stupid consumerist sh#@I when it could have usefully been reallocated to someone needy by the state? Also, I understand that as a matter of fact child support payments are rigorously enforced in Canada.