War on the Poor

It comes to my attention that there is an on going War on the Poor in this nation. I have seen many signs of it. One correspondant in Indiana reports that “to cut costs the schools around here, kids on free lunch have to drink their beverages out of plastic baggies the ones who pay get cups.” Other’s wage it by humiliating those on food stamps when they purchase items that they do not approve of.

Do you believe there is a War on the Poor? What evidence for or against the existence of the WotP do you see? If there is a WotP is it a just war? Are you angry at the Poor? Do you ever battle against them? Are you or have you been poor? Ever see the battle first hand? If you are against the Poor and do wage battle against them, how and why do you do it?

IMNSHO, the only (or the major) “War on the Poor” being waged is by those attempting to convince “the poor” (who are, let’s face it, a pretty fluid group in the U.S., with an ever-changing membership) that they must rely on a bunch of rich people in Washington or their respective statehouses for all their food, clothing, shelter and education needs, and that the only way they will ever better themselves is to steal from rich people.

At the school I went to ALL the kids drank their milk out of plastic bags.

War seems to be to strong of a word, but there are some downward adjustments taking place in poor-aid programs. I think this is part of the normal flow of things, also food stamps are up both in per person and total amounts.

To start let me say I have never been poor unless you count my college years and I think that hardly qualifies.

The bit about the plastic baggies is obscene if true. Styrofoam cups are hardly what one would call expensive. Taken in conjunction with the cost of baggies I imagine the price differential has to be negligible. To clearly mark children in this way as a ‘lower class’ is despicable and whoever is responsible for it needs to be smacked upside the head.

As for ‘humiliating those on food stamps’ I’m more of a mixed mind. On the one hand it is not for me or anyone else to determine what the person using food stamps requires. On the other hand I can see raising an eyebrow if a saw a person buying lobster tails with food stamps. That would clearly be an inefficient use of public funds in my mind.

You may think the lobster tail thing is silly but I have seen similar examples to this. I tutored a child from Cabrini Green (one of the more notorious public housing projects in the nation). The child, his mother and his grandmother were on welfare but this kid was walking around in a pair of $100+ Nike sneakers and wore a Chicago Bears Football jacket. I actually asked the child where he got the duds and he told me his mom got them for him. So, either his mom has another source of income that she’s not bothering to tell the government about or she is wasting taxpayer money. There are plenty of jackets and sneakers that cost far less and would still adequately protect that child.

As for ‘War on the Poor’ that is a loaded term I need to dissect. If you mean a war against paverty then that’s fine…I think everyone could agree to that concept even if they disagree on the methods. If you mean war on the actual people then I need to break it into two categories.

Category 1: Those who are busting their ass to climb out of poverty.

Category 2: Those who have no real intention of ever getting off the dole.

I have all the sympathy in the world for those in Category 1. While I’ve never personally experienced poverty I can imagine it’s a bitch for those who are stuck there and trying to get out. For these people I have no problem seeing tax money used to support and/or aid them in addition to other non-profit organizations to aid them.

For those in Category 2 I say screw 'em. If you’re not going to even try to help yourself I have a hard time seeing the justification for helping you. Resources are finite and scarce and there are a ton of people working to help themselves who would be better served by financial aid then those in Category 2 would.

That poverty in America, the richest nation in the world, exists is an undeniable truth. That legitimate avenues of escape exist from a lifetime of poverty and habitual welfare abuse is eqully true. All that is required of an individual is the will and drive to make it happen.

I don’t think it is the obligation of society to make being poor a comfortable and pain free thing. If plastic juice bags is what it takes to motivate a person to rise above his status quo then juice bags for everyone.

The problem, Quick Silver, is that it’s the CHILD that is being publicly singled out for his/her PARENT’S poverty. so you’re aiming your gun at the wrong target.

Two topics come to mind here. The high cost of education in this country and elevating the poor by raising their standard of living.

Both of these items are relative hot buttons with me.

Education cost are artificially high. In fact, they are ineffectively high.

I hate to cite a TV newscast, but CNN recently made reference to the cost of public educattion being near $7,000/student. With an average class size of 35 students the cost to the taxpayer is $245,000/year per classroom.

Personally, I think that if I were handed 35 kids and then given a quarter of a million dollars to teach them for a year, I could manage to buy all the required supplies and still make a tidy profit. (It certainly demonstrates why the teachers’ unions are so afraid of charter schools and vouchers.)

Back to the topic, when I hear/read reports of kids drinking out of plastic baggies, teachers buying supplies out of their own pockets, and schools not being able to buy enough books, etc I get images of fraud.

Is there a war on the poor? Absolutely. But the school example in the OP isn’t a war on the poor – that’s more a war for publicity.


Apparently there is supposed to be stigma associated in participating in programs for the poor. It is all part of the design. More evidence there is a War on the Poor.

My family was poor when I was a child. I know what that means. Children my be young and inexperienced. They are not necessarily stupid - well, at least not all of them. I am proud to say that I have achieved far more personal and financial success in my life so far than my parents could have every dreamed. They are proud of me and have always encouraged me to do the best I could. My children do not know poverty and hopefully will never have to experience it themselves. I encourage my kids to excell and to the best they can - for instance my oldest (4 year old) is the best in her class at puzzles and counting :).

I don’t think there is anymore a war on the poor in this country than there is a war on the stupid.


Boy,if it were that simple, don’t you think it would have been done? I mean, what’s a little personal humiliation when your future is at stake! Gosh, let’s put all kids in programs designed to embarass them, to make sure they understand that being poor is so simple to avoid!

When I was in school, we didn’t have plastic baggies to drink our milk out of! We had to drink milk out of hollowed-out rocks! And we liked it!

It has been done any number of times - it’s just not as newsworthy to report that many people improve their lot in life by sheer personal effort.

Better yet, let’s put all kids in programs that will educate them and help them appreciate the value of effort and applied knowledge.

Let’s stop accusing and excusing kids of/for ADD and assign the blame where it belongs… parents and teachers with ADD.

maybe this is an out of date reference, and i admit it could be a ‘tall tale’, but what about abe lincoln educating himself in a log cabin? extreme, to be sure, but good evidence that money does not equal good education. could it work in today’s world? the only useful thing I learned after first grade was social skills… and there are those who would argue even that i was unsuccessful even at that:-)

I’ve read that if you ask the average American how much a mother on welfare gets, their estimates range from half again as much to three times as much as that family would actually receive.

No wonder some people are pissed about welfare.

Once I was talking to my fiance, who was stressing about financial matters. He said something along the lines of “Hey, why don’t we just get you pregnant and then neither of us would have to work, we could just go on welfare. We’d probably make more than we do now.” He grew up upper-middle-class, so I guess I have to forgive him for not knowing any better. My sister was on AFDC for about six months while she was pregnant and just after my niece was born, in the period of time before the father of the baby could be convinced to begin child support payments. She received an entire $500.00 a month. This was not enough for her to live on her own, not by a long shot. If she had been co-habitating with the baby’s father, there’s no way she would have even been eligible for even that much. Just because a woman is pregnant, and thus can’t work for a few months, doesn’t mean the father gets a “free ride,” too. As a matter of fact, if he is in the picture, he will probably disqualify her from even the free medical care because of his earning potential. If he isn’t working, they will know the reason why. Also, my sister was required to go back to work at least part time before my niece was even six months old. Do you think she considered that a desirable way to raise her child? Welfare is not fun, my friends. Some people do adopt it as a lifestyle, but for the life of me I can’t understand why. Right now I make nearly twice what a friend of my mother’s gets from welfare for herself and her two children (about $800/month), and I have a hard time making ends meet sometimes. I don’t know how these families do it!

Speaking to the jacket and shoes bit, these people are still human. They cannot function with their emotions perpetually in survival mode. Sometimes, in spite of their extremely limited resources, a parent can still be moved to give their child something that they want, even if it is not a necessity. Maybe the jacket and shoes were a gift. Maybe the mom deliberately went short on something else so as to give this to her son. Having been there myself, it seems less than fair that the child should have to go to school every day and be mocked by the other kids (oh, you better believe it!) because their clothes indicate a low income level. They aren’t responsible for the parent’s being on welfare, they can only suffer the consequences, at least until they are old enough to earn their own way. Maybe the mother just wanted her son to feel as normal as possible, regardless of their actual condition.

I think a lot of people in this country don’t really understand the emotional impact of being poor in the richest country in the world. I’m not trying to make excuses for these people. I’ve worked hard to make a better life for myself, and I know that it’s possible for anyone whose willing to work hard. I’m just saying, it can be depressing. Some of us have had other experiences because of our poverty that effected us long after the poverty itself had been overcome.

If all you collect is AFDC then you are correct. However, when adding up welfare payments you need to include subsidized housing, Medicaid, food stamps and a bevy of other programs the poor can take advantage of. While you may not be living the high-life it is clearly possible to survive on government aid alone.

As for your response to the ‘jacket and shoe’ bit I couldn’t disagree more. While I understand a parent’s desire to provide nice things for their children this woman’s priorities are whacked.

First off her children go to school with other poor children from Cabrini Green. The whole school is filled with poor children so it’s not as if they will be rubbing elbows with rich kids and be made to feel bad for being poor in that regard.

Second, the child was 10-11 at the time. He will outgrow his fancy clothes in no time. The jacket is especially in question as conspicuous consumption since it is probably worn only six months out of the year. It’s doubtful if he’d get more than one season’s use out of it. At least the shoes may be worn year round (and I have to admit that child took care of those shoes as if they were made of gold).

Finally, all kids get teased and at that age they’re not likely to distinguish between being teased for being poor or being teased for being small. Besides, there are plenty of acceptable, stylish jackets that can be bought without the price premium of having an NFL logo on the back. Frankly, if they are teased about not having ‘cool’ stuff that might light a fire under their butt to make something of themselves so they can come back someday and tell everyone who mocked them to kiss their ass.

IMNSHO (<–I like that one pldennison) that mother isn’t thinking straight. She wants to provide nice things for her kids? Fine…take that money and save it for their education. Those kids would be FAR better off with that present down the road than a jacket now. Heck, she could even apply that money to learning a skill or two of her own so she could earn more and then provide nice stuff for her children.

Besides, there are plenty of acceptable, stylish jackets that can be bought without the price premium of having an NFL logo on the back…

If the kid was wearing a Bears jacket anytime over the last four years I doubt the taunting would have stopped if the thing was dipped in gold.

I caught the tail end of an TV expose the other night on homelessness. It profiled a mother and her son. They had been homeless for YEARS! Now they are living in a one room apartment, and thankful for it. The mother related a couple of stories about her son growing up homeless. One was about him wanting a pair of hundred dollar tennis shoes. She got them for him. After all a lousy 100 bucks wasn’t going to get them a house. She talked about him having to give directions to his home for a civics lesson, they were living in the car at the time. The kid just made up an address and gave directions. She talked about being paranoid that she wouldn’t have gas money to ride around on a cold night. I didn’t listen to it all. But I had heard enough.

Back a few years ago, right after I left my husband I was living on 23,500 a year. I had two kids and getting no child support. It was during the time right before “welfare reform”. I remember distinctly an article in the paper outlining the “welfare income” of a mother with two kids in my state. They figured that with food stamps, medicaid, housing etc. she was recieving about 19,500 a year. What burned me up about the article is that the tone of the piece made it sound like this woman and her two kids were living “high on the hog” on someone else’s money. I knew better because I was working for more and had to live with my mother to make ends meet. What also really fried my cookies about the whole deal was that here I was working, struggling much the same way this other hypothethical “welfare mom” was and I didn’t care. I didn’t care if a little portion of my tax money went to help her and her children. Yeah, what fried me about the deal was that the people doing the most bawling and bellyaching about the system were the ones farthest away from it, the upper middle class. Guess you might have to be one paycheck away from it like I was at the time in order to see the value. Really easy to condem the “unwashed lazy masses” when there is very little chance of ever becoming one of them.


SO these people not only want to be given free food, but want it delivered in a special way? IF someone is giving me free food, the method of payment and the container is of little consequence.

People have to take some responsibility for their actions. When my wife worked at the Juvenile detention center, I was amazed by the number of teens who were intentionally having babies. I wantd to say to them, “hey, you have no job and a criminal record. How the hell are you going to support them?” the answer is of course that they planned on using social assistance paid for by people like me.

I don’t feel too bad if they are embarasses to use food stamps.

I have been poor. Phantomdiver can back me up on this one. Jelly was a luxury. We ate lots of lentils.

Styrofoam cups aren’t really reusable. Plastic baggies are incredibly cheap and can be used for lots of things besides liquid storage. You can’t put a sandwich in a styrofoam cup; you can put it in a plastic bag.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised (no offense meant to the OP) if someone came through with a Snopes link. I don’t have itme to find it. I have a Crew meeting to go to.

N2K, I saw that show as well. While I don’t really agree with some of the things she spent money on, I can also tell you that people who look poor get treated that way. We liv in a very visual society. Perhaps she thought she’d get treated more fairly if she looked wealthier.

You’re being a little unfair Needs2know.

Speaking for myself if you read my earlier posts I have no trouble with welfare as long as it isn’t your way of life.

Although you didn’t specify in your post (I’m trying to read between the lines here) I assume that things are better for you and your family now than they were a few years ago. If so that’s great. I would also hope that things are better for the welfare mom in your example. If, however, the welfare mom has done nothing to improve her and her family’s lot in life then I have little sympathy.

If she tried and failed that’s one thing. If she didn’t try at all then she’s lucky to have what little she does. I have never thought that welfare cases lived high on the hog but neither should they expect to. As it stands the United States has the best off poor people in the world. It may still suck but it could be worse. In many places people flatout starve to death.