Poverty in the United States is getting worse each day and not enough is gettingdone about it. The readings from “Babies and Benefits” by SheilaHolbrook-White, the article on poverty by Michael J. Paquette, and “KeepingWomen And Children Last” by Ruth Sidel made me view the issues of poverty in adifferent way. I never realised what kind of people were living in poverty, andthe true reasons why they are there.
What amazes me the most is how much thesepeople need help, and how little the government is doing to help them. Thegovernment should set up work programs for these people to help them get betterjobs and make enough money to survive. The politicians in Washington D.C. andall over the U.S. want nothing more than to cut back on government funding forthe people in poverty.
The government doesnt believe that most of the peopleactually need this money from AFDC. They cant get it because they dontmeet the proper criteria set by the government. Either theyre not poorenough, theyre not poor in the right way or they need the money for thewrong reasons. The reading in the book Keeping Woman and Children Last, showedtime and time again the shocking stories of how people fall into poverty afterliving a middle class life for decades. Reasons pertaining to illness, death,unemployment, divorce and accidents left these people with nothing and thegovernment would refuse to help them.
These people are called the “NewPoor”(Sidel, 1998, p.60). Their social security and pensions are not enoughfor them to live on so they must rely on these funds to help. “With marriagebeing touted today as a central route out of poverty, few critics of the choicesand behaviour of poor woman speak about marriage as a path intopoverty.”(Sidel, 1998, p.60) I never thought that marriage could lead topoverty until I read this story from “Keeping Women And Children Last”. Awelfare worker married one of her clients and ended up on welfare because of hermarriage. She married a man who had ” little education, a drug problem and analcohol problem.
“(Sidel, 1998, p.60) Their marriage fell apart because of hisabuse to his wife and children and the woman was forced to go for help from theplace where she used to work, a welfare office. They got back togethereventually after he came out of a rehabilitation program. He then started withthe drugs and alcohol again and she was force to leave him to apply for AFDC.”Those who are stigmatising welfare recipients do not point to all those youngmothers who are valiantly caring for their children on meager AFDC checks whilestruggling to complete their education.”(Sidel, 1998, p.63) Parent who receiveAFDC checks that are going back to school to better qualify themselves forbetter jobs in order to better provide for their families.
One woman came offthe streets of New York City and went from begging at supermarkets to attendingColumbia University through their Higher Education Opportunities Program (HEOP).” She is constantly fearful that HEOP will be cut back and that “welfarereform” 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 reformis not the kind of help they need. These programs should receive more governmentfunding to not just better the people and help the children but to bettersociety. Some people are also saying that single mothers have more children toreceive more money from the AFDC. This is where the term “woman have babiesfor benefits”(Holbrook-white, 1998, p.
1) comes from. Politicians like BobJames and Robert Rector believes that these women are cheating the system.Studys have shown that even though AFDC benefits have fallen across thenation 47% since 1970, single mother childbearing has nearly doubled. Statisticsin Alabama show that more than half the babies born in Alabama are unplanned. Ifeel that these cutbacks on welfare reform are just excuses to spend less on thepoor and more on the wealthy. The statistics on specific ethnic groups areridiculous.
33% of Hispanics live in poverty. Sidel shows that that the averagewhite family income is $20,000 more than the average black family income. Shealso shows that “Connecticut, one of the richest states in the nation, hassince passed one of the most restricted welfare bills adopted by any state.”