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Trauma is unique to each individual

By Edited May 6, 2015 0 0

There are many different kinds of people who end up on welfare. Some are second and third generation welfare recipients who have never had a role model in their life to show them any other way to live. Some suffer from mental illness or physical trauma which makes it difficult for them to support themselves. I had one friend who suffered from borderline personality syndrome. In outward appearance she seemed capable of working. She had two arms to legs and a reasonable education. She came for a middle class home. But her mental illness held her back. She felt unable to interpret the world without fear and paranoia. Holding down a decent job turned out to be so difficult she eventually found herself homeless. Another one of my friends was injured in an accident. After suffering her head injury, she is unable to handle stimulus such as bright lights, loud noises, or multiple conversations. She came from an upper middle class family, had a better than average education, and yet she too found her self needing assistance.

The trouble with so many social services is that taxpayers tend to paint all welfare recipients with a broad brush. We imagine they are all mothers of multiple children by multiple fathers, losers, liars, and no doubt, some of them are. After public funding for abortions became unavailable in the state of Illinois, there was surely a spike in births on welfare. And surely some of those babies were unwanted, and neglected, and sadly abused. Some people end up homeless and on welfare as early as their teenage years because their parents are unwilling or unable to care for them. Each recipient brings their own unique trauma to the table.

I know three different young women who ended up on welfare merely by circumstance. Each came from relatively well educated well off birth homes. Each became a single parent and did not receive support from their partner nor parents. For these three individuals, welfare was received for the very short term between pregnancy and when the child was old enough for school. Politicians like to believe that was what the program was intended for, short term, emergency help. One of the problems is, a whole subculture of poverty has been created by the very system that meant to alleviate poverty in America.

Why? For one thing, once a person gets used to government benefits it gets very difficult to get used to having to pay for things. Section 8 housing means one can live rent free. If one is not paying $400 to $1000 a month for a living quarter, then one can spend that same amount of money on gas, food, clothing and entertainment. The first day off of Section 8 housing, the person has to find a place to live and coming up with a deposit, and first and last month's worth of rent can be very daunting to someone who is not used to even including this in their budget. Sure you can rent a much nicer place, no doubt, if you have lots of money and choice. But if you have little money, as people who are just getting off of welfare are usually poor, their choice of housing is bleak. Unable to jump the gap from below poverty to middle class, they mire themselves. For the lucky few a friend or family member will intervene to assist, but many do not have that option.

For one of the young women I knew, she was lucky enough to have a brother who took her in until she could get back on her feet. Given that she was a single mother, this could not be accomplished quickly. They lived together for years, with him providing quite a bit of free child care. Another one of the women I knew met a nice man who got engaged to her and then financially supported her. This is probably the dream of most of the women who want to get off of welfare. It's certainly a romantic dream, bolstered by many a Hollywood movie. But there again it's a fragile journey fraught with problems.

Ask yourself truly, what kind of a man dates a woman on welfare? Is he usually a great guy, eager to support financially another man's child? Or is he someone who is on the make himself, hoping to avail himself of her food stamps and free rent? OR worse yet, is he someone wanting to molest her children? There are some nice guys, of course, willing to overlook a woman's financial problems, if the woman is very pretty or very nice – but how many women can really retain basic sweetness after being pushed around the "system?" It is a little crazy making, and over the top demoralizing to be on welfare. Some of the people on it turn to drink and drugs to drown their disappointments. Are we supposed to stand in harsh judgment of that? Are we still expecting them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when every day represents more government paperwork, more requirements. The best people at figuring out the system are definitely the professionals.

Some of the paperwork is so invasive and annoying no normal person wants to put up with it. In Hawaii, the state requested to see bank statements from a single father I knew who was requesting assistance. I can see how the taxpayers wouldn't want to give money to someone who had a lot of assets, but my friend was very put off by his lack of privacy. Who would want to show a government worker a copy of their bank statements? Who would want to go into a bank and ask for statements for the purposes of applying for welfare? Probably no one. The more savvy welfare recipients just don't have bank statements.

If you expect another check next month, after all, why bother saving? If you are going to be kicked off the system for having too many assets, why bother saving?



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