I know this post is probably opening a can of worms. I may even make some people angry, I may even upset a friend or two or twenty, or cause people to comment and fling insults at me about my lack of knowledge on how government systems work. Darn straight! They would be right! I don’t know it all. I don’t know enough. I witness much and it makes me sad. Be gentle, I am just venting.
A good friend was telling me the other day that statistics show that a minimum wage earning family has more “expendable income” than your average middle class family of 4 earning $60,000 a year.
Here are a couple links to stories discussing this:
Years ago, I would have been surprised by that but now now. Being a member of the middle class, and having had to help others seek public assistance…I was not. I regularly speak to “middle class” families who live paycheck to paycheck that have had some situation (illness, injury, divorce, unforeseen repair, utility increase, inflation, etc…) that has thrown a wrench in their budget and because they “make too much money” there are no government agencies that can/will help them.
I could give a whole list of the things that our family personally does not have or do because we try to stick to a strict budget…but really that is none of anyone’s business.
I will say this though, there are opportunities given to and luxuries enjoyed by people that “qualify” for government assistance and scholarships based on their income that can sometimes frustrate me. Especially when there is a sense of entitlement that accompanies the receiving of these gifts. Is this some sort of jealousy? Maybe. We work very hard for what we have and we have a good chunk of change coming out of our paychecks that go toward taxes. Guess what pays for those government programs?
When I think hard about it, I guess what frustrates me is that we have these great programs and some people who qualify for them use them as a permanent solution rather than a temporary means to an end and then teach that same mentality to their children. There is no foreseeable consequence for it. No reason to change the trajectory. Just continue teaching their children which systems and programs to rely on rather than instilling a good work ethic.
The latest headlines regarding banning junk food from being paid for with food stamps, drug testing people who receive welfare, and illegal immigrants receiving government assistance have caught my attention.
I struggle with the fact that I struggle with it. I feel that it is being judgmental and I don’t want to be judgmental! I want a solution!(Don’t we all?)
I have occasionally thought that maybe, just maybe there could be a tiered assistance program. One for those who need the assistance long term to survive with a strict structure to pull them up above the line. I mean, for instance if there were standards stating that if you receive this type of assistance which includes higher education for your children then there is the expectation that the generation of children whose parents benefited will not be allowed to receive those benefits as adults from the same program. I know, “But Dawn, how will they survive as adults if they choose NOT to participate in the education provided – well, how about WITH THEIR PARENTS – the ones who instilled in them how to survive in the world. I have the history from both of my parents who were each 1 of 11 children who tell tales of very small homes and sharing beds and floor space and hunger that to this day is a deep seeded fear that causes my mom to feel she needs to go shopping if she has ANY shelf space in her cupboards. Let me tell you, that taught them to WORK, and not have more children they could not afford.
There should be a middle class tier/fund for those who need occasional assistance who live beyond the parameters of the “poverty line” or live below it but somehow find a way to not receive government assistance (Because I know there are families out there doing that!) – a system of support for keeping the middle class alive. With structure as well, maybe a max limit per year or maybe limiting how often the fund can be accessed (once or twice a year but not exceeding X dollars and by the way, what luxury are you still living with?). I know, I know – how will it be funded and staffed and monitored? I have not thought that far but if you are limiting assistance to a specific generation odds are that might free up some funds right?
I may very well be wrong. Seriously. I am kind of nervous about posting this – but I am going to anyway.
I don’t HAVE the answers. I have a lot of questions. I have a great deal of frustration, but not with the people receiving the assistance. There but for the Grace of God go I. It is with the system by which it is given.
2 thoughts on “Struggling with the struggling”
Excellent observations and post, Dawn!!!!! I have felt this way for some time….it is like I wrote this myself. (okay….admittedly, I had to skim over some of it because of time constraints…and i am really hungry…but I get the overall idea of what you are saying and agree). My eyes have really seen some upsetting scenerios in the grocery industry regarding food stamps/WIC/etc. There are definitely the families that are humbled by their need to rely on a program….using it until they get their feet back on the ground after job loss or illness, etc. But the others…..the others….ughh. One of the most infuriating things I witnessed in the last 6 months was a gentleman using food stamps to buy a case of Red Bull…..he spent $27 on Red Bull….with FOOD STAMPS! Daily, I see loads of garbage filling carts……nutritionally void junk to feed their families…with FOOD STAMPS!!! At least the WIC program is very specific and strict…regulations are in place and enforced and it is not convenient at all to utilize the program….it is time consuming and a pain…so you can see the appreciation and the need more clearly. I am not trying to judge…but as a single mom trying to make ends meet and telling my children no more often than not, buying consignment clothing, turning off lights, foregoing vacations and outings, etc….it is hard to watch the lack of discipline and appreciation. Ughhh…so many thoughts on this….but I must dismount my soap box now. 🙂 You go girl!!!! 🙂
You should not apologize or feel bad at all about this. You are a wonderful woman with a great head on your shoulders, a huge heart, a beautiful family and deserve more…but you would work for it if you wanted it, right? Love you, you are okay for having the questions and for being frustrated!