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.