Guest post: They are disposable humans

Originally a comment by iknklast on He calls all of them “welfare.”

Of course, it isn’t just conservatives who refer to that all as welfare; I see the same pattern in my liberal (or so-called liberal) friends who often describe situations of people being “on welfare” for life, even though welfare benefits are only available for 5 years under the Clinton-era “reforms”.

And the way they do the work requirement under TANF is disgusting and counterproductive. When I was unemployed, having just come off an extended period of disability (complete with Social Security, so I was recognized by the government as disabled), I tried to apply for TANF to help support myself and my teenage son until I could find work. It was…an eye-opener.

This was right after the new laws were passed, in the mid-late 90s. I was told I was eligible for $75/month, but could not receive that unless I applied for and interviewed for 10 jobs a week…and I could not tell them that there were any hours I could not work. I had to take any job that was offered, regardless of pay or schedule, or I would lose any benefits. I asked if they were saying I needed to drop out of college; they said, well, it doesn’t always come to that, but…yes. Job training was an integral part of that “reform”, but…they got to select what sort of jobs you could be trained for. And I wasn’t eligible for that, anyway, since I already had a bachelor’s degree and was working on my masters – which was my hope for lifting myself out of the poverty we were living in.

In the end, I turned down the $75. I struggled for a few months, and nearly lost my home, but managed to find a job at the eleventh hour. It wasn’t a great job, but it was decent pay, above minimum, and I was still eligible for food stamps, so that worked for me. But a lot of people wouldn’t be so lucky. I was fortunate to have the requisite skills to look for, and find, a job that would pay me a below-poverty level wage that was just enough to keep us from drowning. And it gave me just enough to talk to a lawyer and file papers on my ex to get him to start paying child support, which gave us a little breathing room once the checks started arriving.

The goal of these programs isn’t to end poverty, it is to maintain it by forcing people into ever lower-paying jobs. It feeds the job pool with desperate applicants who won’t say much about working conditions or salaries because they have too much to lose. It stigmatizes poverty, a condition in many ways created by those who support these obnoxious views. It generates a permanent class of citizens who are unable to enjoy the full rights of citizenship because they are unable to participate significantly in the market economy that serves as the God to which our country genuflects. They are (I was) disposable humans, not worth giving any thought to, and seen as a suck on the money that the corporate leaders believe rightfully belongs in the pockets of the already wealthy.

The entire system is a disgrace. In the richest country in the world, no one should be going to bed hungry at night. And no one should be callously covering the world with cheap, tacky gold while refusing to give even a crumb of food to the starving people that go largely unnoticed in our world.

Have I said today that I hate these people? If not, it’s time to rectify that. I hate him. I hate them. I want to see them pushed out of office, and preferably thrown onto the tender mercies of the programs that they have gutted, while their assets are redistributed among those who once populated those programs.

2 Responses to “Guest post: They are disposable humans”