November 08, 2013
photo credit: Shutterstock
Some rich brats at Salon were recently bitching about the “GOP-shredded safety net” they claim has forced moms into the workplace. In a typical example of bourgeois naiveté, they assume it’s the libertarian lack of government that’s keeping us poor and tearing apart families.
This is false for at least three reasons. One, the government can’t create wealth. It can only make people poorer. Two, the poorest we have are single moms, and it’s the left that glorifies that lifestyle, not the right. And three, the poor aren’t even that poor.
Despite a hundred years of evidence that big government equals big losses, people still think that welfare works. Even many Republicans say tax dollars were well spent in FDR’s New Deal, despite the fact that Reason exposed how it made conditions worse for blacks. Work and government are diametrically opposed. The less work they do, the more jobs we have.
One of the only sane responses to my insistence that women would rather stay home was, “Yes we would, but we can’t afford it.” We’re told families need two incomes to stay above the poverty line. Why? You’re already paying rent for your place. Add another person in there and all you need are more groceries. And if you don’t eat shitty food, groceries are still pretty cheap. Judging from the size of your average American poor person, they’re not exactly starving to death. As John Stossel asked in a recent episode, “So our biggest problem is that our poor eat too much?”
“Asking for something is not the same thing as needing it.”
When we think of true poverty, the famous picture of the migrant mother in the Dust Bowl comes to mind, but today’s poor look more like Honey Boo Boo’s mom. They live in big houses or subsidized apartments. They play video games. They watch TV on a massive screen and they stuff their faces.
I grew up middle class in the suburban 1970s and our lifestyle then would be considered dirt-poor today. We had one black-and-white TV, one phone, and no air conditioning. If you check the welfare lineup today, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone living under those conditions. We had one car while growing up and my mom used it once a week to go get groceries. When my jeans got a hole in the knee, she’d iron on a patch. We only got presents on our birthday or Christmas and if it was something big like a bike, you’d be delirious with gratitude.
Being a single mom whose man walked out on her is about the worst financial situation a family can be in, but Democrats and the liberal media consistently turn a blind eye to the 70% single-parent rate among blacks and choose to sing “Sisters are doing it for themselves” instead.
I contacted a single mom in the Puerto Rican neighborhood next to mine in Brooklyn and asked her how much welfare money she gets. She told me she gets $400 a month, but the state handles 90% of her rent and food stamps handle about the same percentage of her grocery bills. She claimed she had to clean the occasional apartment for extra cash and I took her word for it that there was no extra boyfriend income feathering her nest. She told me it’s a myth that women get lots of money for having kids, as the state only adds $125/month per kid. She said scamming among other single moms was rare but admits she’s seen a few who get up to $800 a month in food stamps. This sounds like a dumb way to scam the state until you realize many will exchange the food for cash. Many Dominican moms use their stamps to send barrels of food back to their homeland.
They do it so often that grocery stores will supply the barrels themselves. The Dominicans they send it to don’t eat it. They sell it. So $400 a month after expenses is about as bad as it gets. The woman I spoke to has kids who have several times the creature comforts I had as a kid. They get just enough to get by, which means it’s just enough to continue the single-mother welfare pattern forever. Many Hispanic kids in the projects will be third-generation welfare. Can you imagine not knowing any relatives who ever had a job, including your grandparents? Many assume denying benefits like free lunches will lead to more hungry kids, but studies show there is little incentive to improve your standards when you’re being paid to squeeze by. According to TIME magazine, a recent Harvard study discovered “people are most likely to find a job just as their unemployment benefits run out.”
The single-mother predicament is about as bad as poverty gets in America, but having your rent and food paid for ain’t nothing to scoff at. Drive around slums in Philly or Brooklyn or LA, and you’ll see poor single moms living in five-bedroom houses with a front and back yard. Here in New York, we are inundated with towering projects where families pay only a few hundred dollars a month depending on their income.
I recently shot a movie on one of the poorest streets in Brooklyn and the single mom’s house we shot in was gigantic. She had four kids and each had their own room. One room appeared to be some kind of shrine to the matriarch and the walls were festooned with pictures of her from throughout her life. The fridge was packed, the porch went on forever, and the TV was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. We shot all night at that location and I was startled to see her teenage son playing Batman on his Xbox at five in the morning. I hadn’t noticed him because he didn’t get up until five PM. When I was his age I worked at a gas station and if I wanted to play a video game, I’d bring a dollar to the arcade. Only spoiled brats had an Atari at home.
Simply stating the vast numbers of people on government assistance is not proof that we have a poverty problem. Kiyras Joel is the poorest village in all of America and it’s all Hasidim taking advantage of free welfare money and food stamps. They’re already doing fine with donations from “the community,” but if God’s non-chosen people are offering free stuff, why not?
Even if we did have the kind of poverty problem we’re told we have, the government would be the last place to look for a solution. The Washington Examiner recently pointed to the knuckle-whitening incompetence that has come to light recently via Obamacare. Our government is wasting billions on scammers and appears to have no intention of fixing it. This should be the story of the century, but the media refuse to go near it because it’s not an empowering Aretha Franklin song about sisterhood.
The government spends over a trillion dollars a year on welfare, but liberals say that’s not enough. Their proof is, “Look how many people sign up for it.” Yes, well, it might be time to consider the possibility that asking for something is not the same thing as needing it.