Poverty in the United States is getting worse each day and not enough is getting done about it. The readings from “Babies and Benefits” by Sheila Holbrook-White, the article on poverty by Michael J. Paquette, and “Keeping Women And Children Last” by Ruth Sidel made me view the issues of poverty in a different way. I never realised what kind of people were living in poverty, and the true reasons why they are there. What amazes me the most is how much these people need help, and how little the government is doing to help them.
The government should set up work programs for these people to help them get better jobs and make enough The politicians in Washington D.C. and all over the U.S. want nothing more than to cut back on government funding for the people in poverty. The government doesn’t believe that most of the people actually need this money from AFDC. They can’t get it because they don’t meet the proper criteria set by the government.
Either they’re not poor enough, they’re not poor in the right way ‘ or they need the money for the wrong The reading in the book Keeping Woman and Children Last, showed time and time again the shocking stories of how people fall into poverty after living a middle class life for decades. Reasons pertaining to illness, death, unemployment, divorce and accidents left these people with nothing and the government would refuse to help them. These people are called the “New Poor”(Sidel, 1998, p.60).
Their social security and pensions are not enough for them to live on so they must rely on these funds to help. “With marriage being touted today as a central route out of poverty, few critics of the choices and behaviour of poor woman speak about marriage as a path into poverty.”(Sidel, 1998, p.60) I never thought that marriage could lead to poverty until I read this story from “Keeping Women And Children Last”. A welfare worker married one of her clients and ended up on welfare because of her marriage. She married a man who had “ little education, a drug problem and an alcohol problem.”(Sidel, 1998, p.60)
Their marriage fell apart because of his abuse to his wife and children and the woman was forced to go for help from the place where she used to work, a welfare office. They got back together eventually after he came out of a rehabilitation program. He then started with the drugs and alcohol again and she was force to leave him to apply for “Those who are stigmatising welfare recipients do not point to all those young mothers who are valiantly caring for their children on meager AFDC checks while struggling to complete their education.”
Parent who receive AFDC checks that are going back to school to better qualify themselves for better jobs in order to better provide for their families. One woman came off the streets of New York City and went from begging at supermarkets to attending Columbia University through their Higher Education Opportunities Program (HEOP). “ She is constantly fearful that HEOP will be cut back and that “welfare reform” will force her to quit school and go back to work full time.” (Sidel, 1998, p.64)
These people need help while they are in school, but welfare reform is not the kind of help they need. These programs should receive more government funding to not just better the people and help the children but to better society. Some people are also saying that single mothers have more children to receive more money from the AFDC. This is where the term “woman have babies for benefits”(Holbrook-white, 1998, p.1) comes from.
Politicians like Bob James and Robert Rector believes that these women are cheating the system. Study’s have shown that even though AFDC benefits have fallen across the nation 47% since 1970, single mother childbearing has nearly doubled. Statistics in Alabama show that more than half the babies born in Alabama are unplanned. I feel that these cutbacks on welfare reform are just excuses to spend less on the poor and more on the wealthy.
The statistics on specific ethnic groups are ridiculous. 33% of Hispanics live in poverty. Sidel shows that that the average white family income is $20,000 more than the average black family income. She also shows that “Connecticut, one of the richest states in the nation, has since passed one of the most restricted welfare bills adopted by any state.” (Sidel, 1998, p.62)
Our government and the politicians who run it care more about weapons of war and dinner parties than investing that wasted money on the people of their nation. The government sets up programs aimed to help the If it were up to me I would set up special working programs for these people who need the help. They would be trained for better jobs and they would receive childcare assistance while they worked. They would be paid and receive full benefits and then when they are ready the would be helped in finding a job that meets their new qualifications, that paid well enough to support their children and receive medical benefits.
A program like this would be costly but everyone would benefit from it . Woman will be able to support their families, and the children will have an opportunity at a better life. A life where they could receive Christmas presents, where they didn’t have to worry if they were gonna have dinner at home. Where they could have new shoes and some new clothes.
The government has to help these people the right way. They have no right to let these poor people live like this any longer. I never realized how much of a problem poverty was in our country. These readings made me truly see how wrong our country is and how soon we must make it right. Because if we do not make it right soon we may not have another chance to do so, and these people would have suffered like this for nothing. Their examples should make a difference and change things. Our government needs to pay more attention to its needy people and do something about it.
- Holbrook-White, Sheila. Babies and Benefits. http:’’www.mindspring.com’-stanjj’babfac.html
- Paquette, Michael J. 1998. Staten Island Poverty. Staten island Advance, 18 Sept.
- Sidel, Ruth. 1998. Keeping Women And Children Last: America’s War on the Poor. New York: Penguin Putnam