I am proud to introduce June C. Straight Crosby as my first guest blogger! Read on for June’s rant about our welfare system and be sure to check out her blog, Christian in Progress. Guest bloggers are always welcome on Cocktails With Hemingway so please email [firstname.lastname@example.org] if you are interested.
“The health department is never a fun place to be. No matter who wealthy the municipality, how comfortable the seating, how organized the staff, any health department on any day is a bad place to be, at least for me.
See, the thing about the health department is, if you’re there it’s either because you need something checked out on the low or you can’t afford the care or services you need. And like you, everyone else in that waiting room is in the same predicament. It’s a bad scene.
So why am I ranting about health departments? Well, I’m just trying to set the scene. My rant for the day is on the quickly spreading and ridiculous notion that welfare recipients should be drug tested.
Several states are pushing bills to push the poor through more hoops to get the little help they can to survive. I know, I know … health departments.
As I ran across a story today reporting that Missouri — my current location — was considering a similar bill, I got
mad as hell a little upset.
More than a few of my peers agree with this stipulation, so I’ve heard the argument before. “If they’re taking hard-earned tax-payer dollars, they shouldn’t have a problem proving they’re not just using the money for drugs.”
Since most of my views on politics are completely irrational and emotional, I usually try to avoid talking politics with my professional peers and colleagues. But today, coming across that story, I kind of felt the need to speak up.
I mean, it wasn’t that long ago, that I was “taking” hard-earned tax-payer dollars. I was 21 when I had my daughter, in college and making a whopping $8,000 a year. I got a job straight out of college making a slightly better $24K, but after taxes, I was bringing home about $18K a year. My husband (then baby’s daddy) was getting his start as a professional tattoo artist and neither of us were in a position to pay for health insurance, or anything really outside of the rent, car note, and utilities.
So, being the responsible mother I am, I signed my daughter up for medicaid and WIC, because milk, cereal and juice become luxuries when you’re broke and on your own.
I remember spending hours at the health department, every three months just to get WIC vouchers and shots for my baby. Hours I had to take off from my job that already didn’t pay enough. Hours I had to sit in a room full of other mothers with their sick, whiny and fidgety children to get what I needed to keep my child healthy.
It wasn’t a fun situation. Most days, the place would be so full I’d spend at least an hour on my feet. Then after the three hour wait, I’d get a 5 minute visit with a case worker, another hour wait and a 10 minute talk with a doctor or nutritionist.
I’m not complaining. I’d have done anything to keep my baby fed. But I can’t imagine on top of all that, being asked to piss in a cup to prove that I’m not too much of a lowlife to get vouchers to feed my baby.
I don’t know much about welfare, by the time my daughter was 3, I was making too much money to qualify for WIC or Medicaid. And even with the little I was making before, I never qualified for anything more.
But I do know that the people I am acquainted with who receive public assistance are not ballin’ out of control.
They’re not buying dope and pinky rings with their Section 8 vouchers and EBT cards.
Frankly, I don’t understand what the correlation be drug use and public assistance is, but I don’t like the insinuation of this bill — that hiding in the welfare system are a bunch of lazy junkies.
On the flip side, it’s going to be interested watching this “attack the poor” strategy backfire. The economy’s downward spiral has changed the face of the stereotypical welfare recipient. I’m not just talking about race here, but also socioeconomics. In case the tea-party politicians haven’t noticed, it’s getting hard for the middle class to feed their babies too. A lot of them are losing jobs, facing foreclosure, and already using food pantries and thrift stores. I wonder how some of these “respectable” constituents are going to feel when after years of giving away their hard-earned tax dollars, they find themselves pissing in a cup for groceries.”