Saturday, January 02, 2010

Why Welfare "Reform" Was a Crappy Idea

It's easy to think, during an economic expansion, that people won't need cash assistance during hard times. That there will always be some kind of job. That people who have kids will be always be able to get a job that pays for child care as well as paying the rent.

Take a look at today's Times story on people whose only income is food stamps, and weep. And think about the deterioration of the social safety net over the last 20-odd years.

P. S. Personal to Rep. Linder: a $300/month food stamp benefit in no way risks creating a class of people who are "comfortable getting by living off the government." I suggest you give it a try for a while and see if you feel like you're being "paid to sit around and not work."


Henry Holland said...

I'm not extravagant about buying food, I subsist on rice, pasta and a little meat, no $30 spices or any of that and $300 is about my monthly food budget. If I had any dietary restrictions that would force me to buy expensive rarities or had to feed someone else on that, no way.

It's amazing how much mileage the Republicans get out of the "welfare queen who gets in her limo to go buy liquor" lie.

I saw George Clooney's Up in the Air the other day and it's got some heartbreaking scenes with people who have lost their jobs.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Agree on all points. Amazing that the Republicans can lie about basic economic facts and get quoted in the NY Times, too.

Anonymous said...

It's just grotesque. And not only that people are in this situation, but that so many people simply have no real idea about how money works in this society and never seem to think very rationally about it (I should probably include myself in that set). Although I totally fault the banking industry for the loan meltdown and ensuing recession, you still have to wonder, what were people thinking? It takes a lot of extremely unrealistic people on all sides to create that situation.

I have this terrible feeling that many Americans have been living in a sort of magic reality that is collapsing around their ears, and they seem not to comprehend why or how that could be.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yes, certainly, I do wonder what people were thinking when they signed up for very large loans, loans with giant balloon payments, etc. I don't think they thought about it, for a variety of reasons, from actively misleading marketing to poor or hard to understand disclosure forms to lying real estate agents to lying mortgage lenders to their own inability to understand the numbers involved.

(Anon, your voice is vaguely familiar. :)