We vote for it, don’t we?
The other day I spotted comments at BlogHer defending a homeschooling mother of four on welfare. Being the bleeding heart liberal that I am, I immediately went to her blog, The Joyful Chaos, to voice my support.
Then I read her blog and the comments proceeding it, and was confused…and annoyed. Both the writer and her readers seemed to be blaming the government, or “Big Brother”, for the predicament that she was facing. In this case, she felt humiliated by a WIC form that implied that she was not properly feeding her youngest child, who is underweight. Yet, the program does not allow her to buy whole fat milk, which I agree, should be left up to the families receiving the aid. She lamented all the “hoops” she went through to participate in the program, including appointments and being told what she could buy with the money.
But who’s fault is that? Some say the “government” — which again, is voted in by us. I say the people who voted it in: people lamenting the lack of “accountability” and “fraud” in the system.
Too much taxation? Well, as someone who has traveled to places where the taxes are very low to non-existent, I can tell Ms. Joyful Chaos that no matter where she goes on earth, someone is going to “own” her whether it be a warlord, drug lord, the church, the government, or the private sector. My guess is her husband’s job “owns” him as he is not free to come and go as he pleases.
The power of the private sector in this country has always astonished me because my family pays thousands of dollars per year in insurance premiums with no guarantee that we will get the services we paid for. I am looking at you, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance. At least I see where my taxes go, including public education, sanitation, the department of defense, social security, medicare, public libraries and swimming pools, and yes, welfare. I don’t have a problem with people accepting assistance when they need it, which gets me to the crux of my post.
What is up with people being ashamed of asking for help? In Joyful Chaos’s post, many homeschooling moms admitted to receiving welfare at one point or another, yet disparaged the program as being “defrauded.” Well, defrauded by everyone else other than them, of course.
In all fairness, I think they are rightfully responding to something in our culture that teaches people that asking for help from — gasp! — the government is not okay. In return, this breeds resentment, hatred really, of people on welfare.
Growing up, I heard a lot of disparaging remarks about the program and the people “on the dole”, including from my own family members collecting food stamps. They were the deserving poor, you know? They resented the fact that they worked so damn hard, were struggling, and did not qualify for the rolls. Ronald Reagan’s made-up story about the “Cadillac welfare queen” didn’t help any.
As I got older and realized almost everyone around me had received government assistance at some point in their lives, I sensed another uncomfortable feeling: guilt. We were raised to believe that as long as we pulled ourselves from the bootstraps, we didn’t need the government. Never mind that we pay taxes for these services and even the strongest among us sometimes need help. Having witnessed layoffs and “downsizing” during a recession, I can tell you that the markets are not perfect. In this sense, I am sad for Joyful Chaos and other moms who need assistance, yet are continuously bombarded by negative messages of them asking for help.
What say you? Do you think the myth of the “self-made man” is something we can debunk in the United States? In our lifetimes?