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What are your thoughts about welfare? Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Do people get "dependent" upon it as many who oppose the program suggest?

Is the program one that provides a helping hand at a critical time of need , or is it something that people get addicted to and become wholly reliant upon?

Ronald Reagan talked about "Cadillac Queens" who abuse the system. Is that fact or fiction? Are there people "living large" on welfare?

In general, should there be welfare to help the disadvantaged, or should people merely be responsible for themselves or look to private organizations for help? Do you care if there are people living in poverty? Do better off Americans have any responsibility to the neediest of us?

What do you think?

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela


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I believe that welfare was originally needed because of the great failure of "the reconstruction era" in the South. As you know, blacks could not get jobs and didn't have much in opportunities available. People were literally starving to death. The "great depression" that occured- I believe in the twenties- didn't help the situation either. Something had to be done.

Now there definately is a such thing as the "cadillac queens" that Reagan refers to. They do abuse the system.

I think that welfare can be weeded out slowly if done correctly and if there are changes made to American society.

The changes needed are:

Limits to the number of jobs that are being moved to foreign countries by American companies or free-trade reform

Affirmative action type programs that continue to provide opportunities for minorities who are still fighting the legacy of slavery

EVERY child must receive equal access to quality education

Banks and mortgage companies must truly be equal opportunity lenders

Abortion must be kept legal

People who have bad credit should not be discriminated against and denied jobs from companies

Companies should continue to be forced to provide adequate facilities for the disabled

The minimum wage should be increased every year to keep up with the increase in the cost of living

Social security should continue to be available and fully funded by the government as well as medicare/medicaid

The insurance industry should be reformed because it's a problem (homeowners, health,etc.)

I'm sure there are other things that can be done. The very people that fight the above changes are the same people that do not support welfare. They fail to see or even care that many of them are creating the need for welfare.
Ooh! Too bad I gotta run right now. But I will say this.

I do not believe in people using these programs as a lifelong crutch. While there is a legitimate need for welfare programs, I think we as a society need to find a way to make the system as what it should be, a program to help people when they hit a bad spot until they can get on their feet again.

I think we need to change the culture aroung welfare, where as now, many people think it is a RIGHT that the givernemnt support them. We need to make it so that people are weined off of welfare into productive jobs and can be productive citizens, and the programs that claim to do this don't seem to be working. One of the biggest problems in our community is that many black people believe the hype, that they are lazy and inferior and have lost pride and self respect, and if you have pride and self respect, you will do everything possible to be self supportive, or, if you do fall onto bad times, do what is needed to get back on your feet. sadly, many of us seemed to have lost that these days.

Watched too much football yesterday (damned UVA!!) and now I gotta do the work I should have started yesterday, but I will be back. broscream
I think welfare should be available to those who need it. It isn't problem for those who whites who live in rural areas and live off of welfare, or even the young white girls who have babies in suburban and urban areas. Also there wasn't a problem with welfare when it was applied to help white people move up the economic laddder and was denied to black people. There is definitely a double standard here. I think that the entire issue of welfare shows the racism that still exists in the U.S.
If you need welfare or any other form of public assistance and you have put in the work go ahead and get yours. For example now with the layoffs, there are many more people on food stamps. Is that wrong?

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
As this is discussed, whatever your viewpoint, always remember that the welfare system was created long before most of you or your parents were born, duing the Rosevelt era. What a lot of people fail to know or chose not to speak of is how many whites in this country took advantage of this system for decades; it was not until the propaganda machine targeted blacks to look as if they were the primary benefactors of such programs. My mother was widowed and divorced before I grew up, so in all intents, she was a single mother raising 8 children in the deep south. We did not receive welfare, did not even know it existed until a family moved into our neighborhood and the subject was brought up. Up until after the civil rights movement, most blacks would have also been discriminated against in receiving benefits; it is a myth that the majority of blacks were or are on welfare; it always was and still is majority white. Now, as far as an opinion: it should not be used as a crutch or ever considered a permanent income source; when we criticize recipients, always include corporate and foreign welfare recipients. Remember that it is a myth that most people on welfare want to be on it. Usually, people find themselves in the welfare office after they have exhausted all other avenues. I am speaking from the experience of working in the Dept. of Social Services in my state. Their will always be those that are only getting over, you will find that in any program, business, job, area, etc. Welfare should be there as a safety net for American citizens (however, not be hammock). What I notice is that every time the propaganda machine show negative stereo-types of people of color in this country, even the people of color believe it. As far as welfare being thought of as a right owed American citizens; our government feels it is its right to tax its citizens, send our child off to die in wars, to overspend and squander tax dollars as it see fit; the least a free nation that relies on the tax dollars of its citizens as it sources of revenue can do is extend a hand to its citizens who are in need.
Less that 5% of revenues earmarked for all the social services of this nation combined are welfare payments. Politicians exaggerate the amount of monies spent on welfare; as long as they can keep Americans focused on contempt for a stero-type, then American will not wonder where all of the rest of their tax dollars are going.
Another thought, we shoudl focus on how to help people get off welfare permanently and not short term or temporarily; it would be better for a single mother to stay on welfare and complete a degree program while her children are very young and insure herself a job paying enough to support her child permanently than for her to be forced to take any job now that does not help her get off the system entirely and almost insures she will need to return to the system in the future. There is a welfare to work program in my state that encourages young mothers to go to work under the threat of not receiving assistance or being able to receive on 2 or 3 years of benefits; they take a single mother with maybe 2 kids, send her to work making minimum wage with the system still having to pay for daycare, transportation, foodstamps, public housing, so she never really off welfare. If they would say, leave her on welfare and assist her to complete a degree program in a field that would guarantee her enough income to be totally independent, that would wind up costing less money in the long run and almost guarantee that her children will not be the next generation in line and the welfare office.
Sunnubian, that's so true. Our people were writing Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt begging for assisstance and none was forthcoming. For at least 35 years welfare was only for whites which propelled them to middle class status, while black people worked earnestly to get a middle class status.

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
I will re-iterate what Yssys and Sunnubian have said...


Do they know that only 17% (proportionally overrepresented) of welfare recipients are black? and that the average welfare mom is a rural white woman with children? look up the stats and stop believing white hype! Welfare helps children in poverty eat, and have access to medical care...why would we end that? The overwhelming majority of welfare recipients are white females...... and it really pisses me off that black people love bill clinton and he was the one who ushered in the era of "welfare reform" which really hasn't created any jobs for the welfare recipients which were kicked off the dole. "Welfare reform" was bill clintons "willie horton" -like buzzword which was code for "hey white people, vote for me, i'll whip these nigras into submission"....
As I said, there is definitely a need for welfare in this country, but as I also said, we need to change the culture around welfare, where some of OUR people lean on it too much.

I understand all too well whites make up the majority of those on welfare, but that should not be used as an excuse to STAY on welfare. "Whites and foreigners are on it" SO WHAT? Yes, we as black people have EVERY reason to fail, but what makes me want to strangle people is a lot of people use those excuses to STAY in their present situation or not even try. Talking about racism, or "the man" holding us back." Yeah, it true whites have and continue to exploit blacks in relation to all the ills of society, but don't argue about that when you are standing on the corner all day. Argue about it when you are in CLASS, or helping your children with their homework, or involved with some organization that will contribute to CHANGE of blacks in American society. Don't talk to be about being held back when I look down and see your feet aren't moving.

Believe me, I grew up around people who literally worked themselves to death rather than be dependent on programs like welfare, and people who busted their ass to get off of it, but I also grew up with people who became dependent on it because of low self esteem and low expectations rather than laziness or shiftlessness. And I see their children heading in the same direction. Until we change the negative self-esteem of our people FIRST and FOREMOST, I don't see a way out.
Welfare is a system for European Americans. African American got welfare because European Americans could justify not giving to African Americans. Please do not believe otherwise.

When I was a child, there was no welfare. It was called Relief. when I was in elementary school the Superintendent of the School District would make rounds to the various schools. She and other administration offials (principal etc) would handout fruit to prevent scurvy, and other malodies resulting from malnutrition.

Relief is a system that is humanitarian, but only in part. Relief prevents riot. Capitalism is about profit. To maximize profit, you reduce cost. The largest percentage of cost in business and industry is labor, upwards of 80% as an organizational average. When you put people out of work, they have no means to legally get the necessities for survival. If they can buy, they will take it. If you prevent them from taking it they will fight you. Riot.

Welfare will not go away.

As technology replaces people, there will have to be something to keep people from vegetating. When droves were in the streets, projects were found to build and maintain the infrastructure of society. There MUST be work for people. To have people sitting around, doing nothing that is gainful, is a social sickness.

Public projects will ultimately have to be developed. The contractor industry will fight it because that's what they do. The smart way to do it is for government for employ the people doing the work rather than paying someone else.

By the way, in my county welfare is 92+% European. The face of welfare however is non-European.


Jim Chester

You are who you say you are. Your children are who you say you are.
I understand that African Americans should not let issues facing us keep us from progressing; I do believe however, that you can know and discuss the racism in America, the racist stereo-types of America's propaganda machine and point out the varied welfare recipients of American taxpayers dollars without using the facts and discussion of the realities as an excuse to not progress. Most African Americans who absolutely do not want to do anything but hang on a street corner, etc., usually do not discuss or have anything intelligent to say about racism and politics that have a direct affect on their lives. I discuss racism and instances of how "the man" is trying to hold us back, often, and all the while I have worked since I was 12 years old (often 2 and 3 jobs) and so have my friends, family, aquaintances...
But, I do not feel that African Americans are super human beings that should put anymore effort forth than anyone else; the racial ratio of welfare recipients pointed out is just a reminder that we are not the welfare problem; what we sometimes forget is that we are African "American"...and just like white Americans, Asian, Hispanic, Native, Americans some of us will be very prosperous and some of us will not; some of us are lazy and some of us are not; some of us understand the politics of racism and some of us do not...just like any other group. When you speak of how some blacks are lazy and don't want to do this or that, if you want the lazy black to not know about, see or discuss racism, discrimination, or the man, then say lazy Americans, not lazy blacks. Roughly the same percentage of all groups of Americans are the same way and do about the same things; crime, illegitimancy, won't work, don't go to school. We just need to be careful not to beam so hard on the negative of blacks when it comes to issues. I am no more or less outraged at African Americans who are "lazy" that I am at Whites, Asians, Hispanics, etc. A certain percentage of the entires human population will be lazy, criminal immoral, etc., blacks deserve no more outrage at their ethics than anyone else. If it does not matter how many whites, foreigners/foreign countries receive welfare; then you should have the same attitude towards blacks who are receiving welfare.

I respect your opinion, but I'm not worried about what the other is doing. I'm worried about my people. Face it, we are at the bottom of the social ladder in America, and doing what others do is going to keep us right there. We HAVE to but much more effort than the next man in order to get on the same level. Most of the great people in out community did not get where they are by being satisfied with keeping up with everyone else. I had a black professor who had a doctorate degree, a law degree, and a medical degree from HARVARD who was regulated to teaching black studies (not that I am implying that black studies is not a valid class). The man was in his early thirties. A white professor with that status would have had his choice of Ivy League universities as well as law practices. That old saying is true that blacks have to be twice as good to get the same recognition. Our leaders in the 60's knew this, but it seems we are starting to forget that and take our status as AMERICANS for granted. Equal opportunity for all? Sure.

I'm not saying that racism does not have a factor in African American community. Believe me, I am not that naïve. But we are not in a position to take it for granted that if we put as much effort as the next man, we will get our just rewards. Look at our history and you tell me where that has be a constant truth.
Sorry if I misunderstood. Self-esteem and knowledge of how to change their circumstances (and belief that it can be changed) is more of the stumbling block than laziness or lack of desire than most people know or believe. I am still amazed at how young people look when I breakdown how inexpensive it is to attend college (a small, local or technical college) if they really want to go and how much free money is there to assist students and as a last resort - student loans (which will be the lowest interest rate most people will ever get on any loan for anything). Often the people hanging around doing nothing just don't know what they can do or that the people that go to college or work certain jobs possess nothing more amazing than they have in order to accomplish it. Disinfranchisement has left a subconcious belief in the minds of a lot of African Americans(which is inherited by young African Americans) that certain accomplishments are for other people; people who did not grow up in the hood, who are "smart," who are not like them, don't dress like them, etc. We have to tell them what opportunities are out there for them, boost their self-esteem; knowledge is power, knowledge is also self-esteem.
I think the welfare system of old, before Clinton ushered in Welfare Reform was horrible; at least in my community it was. Yes, it put food in the mouths of needy children and gave them medical coverage but tooo many people using the system became stagnant. Like someone posted, people actually believe the assistance they get is owed them. They dont look at it or didnt look at it as a temporary assistance program, it was a way of life. Welfare has become a way of life for many of us. At least now there is a time limit and programs to teach home health care, security, clerical and other office skills. Many of the older 35 and over ladies on Welfare have been on for decades, yes decades. How can any program that allows you to do nothing and still have shelter, food and medical coverage and money for years and years be good for you, your community, or society.

I really dont care how many White people are on welfare, I care about the lack of thought and ambition that has been lost in our communities due to this system.

I agree, the current system has flaws and is not designed for the majority to succeed but if you take advantage of the opportunities they give, you would be better off. The work programs are another form of slavery in my oppinion. They have you work for cents and will probubly never give you the position permanently. They have people cleaning the parks, subways, even the streets. The people who work for the city are paid very well to do the same jobs and the welfare workers are not paid at all or paid cents on the dollar per hour. Yes, I think this is wrong; but aint it better than this person doing nothing everyday. Just getting out into a different atmosphere, learning new thing and gaining valuable skills for employment.

The welfare system is needed in this country and some people do use it as a stepping stone, but I do believe the changes were needed.
The time limits are bogus. Whether you like it or not, there are going to be those who are going to be completely incapable of working no matter how much training or attention they recieve, so it's not wise to cut them off after X number of years. Also, most people were leaving the welfare rolls after two years or less, so there was no need for time limits.

About those "Caddilac Queens", perhaps they DID exist, but if they did, the news media had a hard time finding them, as evidenced by the fact that they found NO ONE who owned a Caddilac and is on welfare.

Also dispense with the stereotypes that welfare mothers are somehow irresponsible since welfare mothers have less children on average than mothers not on welfare.

Finally, welfare is needed because our capitalistic system guarantees at least some people to be out of work, no matter the abilities. If too many people were employed, the job pool will be calcified and runaway inflation will ensue. That's why Greenspan raised the interest rates during the salad days of the late nineties, to "cool down" the economy.

My view does not come from some dispensed stereo type. I am a ghetto child that had to come up. I was raised in the projects and have seen for myself. I watched three generations, meaning the grandmother, the daughter, and the daughters daughter live on welfare for decades and they all did nothing. I would get up in the morning and see them sitting on the project benches. Now if you can be up at 9:00 in the morning just talking to your friends you can be doing something to try to better yourself.

Furthermore, I know a lady that has diamonds in her ears, on her neck, on her fingers and 2,000 dollar diamond bangle braclets on her risk as we speak and receives public assistance so please. I am surprised you think people cant get over on the government. The statistics you speak of probably comes from the forms they have to fill out when they apply for public assistance. I dont think they make house calls anymore, and if they do, you know there coming.

Im sure results vary from state to state but please let me know were you got the info stating the average person was getting of off welfare on the average of two year.

Furthermore, I dont care about how long a white, mexican, chinese etc. have been on welfare. The welfare system is not a problem to me.

Lastly, I am blessed. God has been good to me. I have overcome many obsticles. Im not a conservative and do think the government should help its citizens in need but I do believe you have to work for what you want in life. Nothing worthwild comes without hard work.

My gandmothers taxes on her house just increased. My grandmother is 70 years old, she gets a social security check, my grandfather died in 2001, shes sickly and cant get medicaid because she owns a house. She pays almost 200 dollars for her medicine each month, the taxes on her house have been raised to $347 a month, she has a light bill, gas bill, phone bill and has to be fed, clothed, buy things like paper towel, soap(daily needs). My grandmother worked all of her life until she was well into her 60's. SHE GETS NO HELP FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

When I was in the projects my mother had to pay over 700 dollars in rent and the person on public assistance rent after they got there assistance was 60 something dollars. For many years I was resentful, I am now a grown women and know this system is needed but, I sometimes feel conflicted when my 70 year old grandmother who is now unable to work cant get medicaid and home girl down the street is straight. Well Im not going to say straight because I know welfare dont give much but she got food in her stomach from welfare and my grandmother has to pay for hers. I do somewhat feel conflicted when I have to go pick up my grandmothers prescription and pay 178 dollars and home girl is going to go get what she needs and give the pharmacist 50 cent(thats the cover charge). Now this perosn is most definately in better position to provide for herself than my grandmother. What are your thoughts on that? By the way my grandmothers social security benefit is between 350 and 400 dollars a month, you do the math.
I understand the conflicting feeling regarding recipients that do not need assistance. When I was a young single mother working two and three jobs, I had to witness similar types and know that people purely getting over do not deserve assistance. But, all in all the majority of recipients are qualified and in need of the assistance. I know that there are some people who are so irresponsible and ignorant that if it were not for welfare, they would be homeless...but, also would their children...should the children suffer because parents are not doing all that they can do? Also, you may neet to look into medicaid a little deeper (freespirit), it hard to believe that your grandmother would not qualify for medicaid. Also, the example of the woman with the diamonds, etc., I'm sure is not the norm of women on welfare and the ones on welfare that have expensive diamonds and are "straight" are probably doing something else other than collecting welfare; and as I stated before, there will always be those who get over...on the system, their taxes, unsuspecting customers, family, friends, etc. That is the problem with stereo-types, all are wrongly grouped into one big stereo type. There are even people who have so much contempt for "people on welfare" and lump them all into one group, that free-spirit's grandmother, who worked all are life and paid taxes would be seen in the same light as the diamond wearing welfare queen referenced. I just think that it should be their as a safety net for Americans, not as a permanent source of income. I do not advocate that people should rely on the system unless they have no other options. If there were not such system in place, does anyone out there think that Americans would walk miles each day to stand patiently in hunger lines that may or may not be given out of the goodness of the hearts of strangers? - No. The US government also knows that. The welfare system is not just a humanitarian program (as also stated in an above post) it is a crime control device as well. There are some people whom welfare is their only source of survival at the time and their are some people whom welfare is the only thing keeping them legal.
My grandmother has been turned down for medicaid. She gets medicare, she's not available for medicaid. Medicare pays for hospital stay and she also has a van come pick her up and bring her home when she has doctors appointments.

Sunnubian, I am not talking about this from the outside in. I can only speak from what I have experienced. I am not belittling people who collect welfare but I have seen what it does to the people. Im am from a place most people only read about in newspapers. Welfare was the culture. You say you think people should rely on the system unless they have no other options. Im coming from a place where welfare was the first option and thats dangerous. Im not lumping everyone in the same category, Its possible I may need to collect welfare in the future. I know what it can do to people to a community. I lived it.
FREESPIRIT - did you see any "success stories" from welfare? Did you see any people who used it as a temporary crutch and then moved on when they got back on their feet? Did most everyone become "addicted" to it?

Also, someone in the thread talked about people feeling that welfare was "owed" to them? Can you elaborate on this?

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
How do I apply for Medicaid?

How do I apply for Medicaid?

The Medicaid Program - General

Medicaid is a medical assistance program that is partially funded by the Federal Government but run by each State. Medicaid pays for basic medical care for people and families with low incomes and resources. People who are blind or disabled, age 65 or older, children, or members of families with dependent children may be eligible.

Using broad Federal guidelines, each State runs its own Medicaid program. The State decides who is eligible and the amount of medical care and services it will cover. Representatives in your local public assistance office can tell you about eligibility for Medicaid and whether you qualify. You may also want to ask them about other assistance in your community for which you may be eligible.

For more information on the Medicaid program, see

Medicaid for SSI Recipients

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia provide Medicaid to people eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI ). In these States, the SSI application is also the Medicaid application. Medicaid eligibility starts the same month as SSI eligibility.

The following jurisdictions use the same rules to decide eligibility for Medicaid as SSA uses for SSI, but require filing a separate application: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Northern Mariana Islands

The following States use their own eligibility rules for Medicaid, which are different from SSA's SSI rules. In these States a separate application for Medicaid must be filed: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia.

For more information on Medicaid for SSI recipients, please see:
Freespirit, you may find out through info posted/site url more information regarding your state's medicaid qualification specifics. I do believe, however, that medicare covers more than hospital stays. There may be problems in your state, as in mine, with people sometimes having trouble finding a doctor that will accept medicare or medicaid insurance (most doctors feel that the amount of paperwork and rigid rules and regulations are not work the extremely minimal amount it pays). Also, I can relate to your experience in how you have seen undeserving people getting over on the system. I just believe that if Americans have such a big problem with single mothers on welfare, etc., they should have just as big a problem with corporations, special interest groups, "foreign aid," contracts where the government pays 600.00 for a toilet seat, etc. All I am saying is a citizen getting over on the system of welfare is no different from the corporation, special interest group, over-charging government contracts, etc. And hats off to you to grow up around so many people taking the easy way out and sticking to your obviously intelligent decision to work for what you want and not get snarled into the welfare cycle. I think that you can see it for it short-term fix for a long term problem.
Me personally, I know more than a few single mothers who have quit low wage jobs. They quit because they KNEW that they wouldn't starve, because some form of government assistance would be there. I personally know women who had babies in part because they knew that their benefits would increase. I know people who ate better than I did growing up because they were getting stamps and my parents couldn't afford the name brand product.

A lot of the people I know who were on welfare got off only to get back on and off for the majority of the time I knew them. People that I know or have heard of that have gotten off welfare for good had one thing in common: PRIDE. If there is no shame or sense of pride, what is the incentive to give up free money? If there is no self respect (there's that word again), why should one care about now they are perceived within society?

And this may offend people but I will say it. We REALLY need to stop relying on these numerous excuses about how the state of America causes blacks to fail. Even if they are valid, it's not going to change a whole lot. Life for black people in America is not fair, the last few hundred years should have told you that. I honestly believe SOME people think that because we as black people have been wronged so by whites and America that right will eventually prevail and we will get that is coming to us, so SOME lay in wait. I am not saying we don't continue to advocate for our rights and fight discrimination and racism within American society, but I see too many people use that as an excuse for not realizing your full potential, even in a society that doesn't always reward us for doing just that. And I ˜m not just talking out of the side of my neck; I have had far too many conversations with young men and women IN COLLEGE who express those same feeling.
whatzgoingon - you raise some great points. The interesting thing is how do we expect people to willingly leave welfare when often there is a financial incentive to stay on it? While there is probably a hit to one's pride, I can easily see where folks "get over it" and take the cash.

Question: Is it somehow wrong or bad to receive welfare? If the money is there, why not take advantage of it? Certainly when corporations take their form of welfare there is no sense of shame. Quite the contrary, they often have a sense of entitlement about it! Should people feel bad about it? What do you think?

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
It's not wrong at all in accepting help when you hit a bad spot. Everybody is not fortunate enough to get through life without hitting a few really bad spots.

It is nothing sort of a travesty when you come to depend on welfare to make it through life. Being satisfied with living off the government, your parents, your wife, whatever when you are an able bodied person does not make you a valuable portion of society, it makes you a parasite, and, worst of all, it shapes your children's future to be satisfied with being parasites. That thing with "the hell with pride, I want to get PAID, NOW, the EASIEST WAY POSSIBLE" mentality is why we stay stuck at the bottom and until we change the (say it with me now) SELF ESTEEM issues within our community, it doesn't look as if our place within society will change.

I have said it many times, we as black people are not in a position to expect to get by doing what every one else is doing. I think the big difference between the successes of immigrants that come to this country and the state of disarray in black America is they don't have that sense of entitlement that Americans tend to have. And I mean all Americans, not just Black Americans. These immigrants know that life isn't fair and the only way they are going to make it is by hard work and sacrifice. Whites can get by with their sense of entitlement because they have killed, raped, and pillaged and plundered for centuries to get to the point where their position at the head of the table is assured and they can afford to assume that the world owes them something. Black people are certainly not in that position, yet we share those same delusions of entitlement.

That why the West African can come over here and work 18 workdays, and the African American will work 8 hours (or less) and feel like they have done what is needed. It's not that American blacks are lazier than American whites. Americans are spoiled and lazy overall, but it is that whites already HAVE everything, and blacks assume that by doing the same as whites, we are entitled to everything too!
Debunking the Myth of the
Welfare Queen

by dean spade

One of the most powerful tools of the recent war on the poor and the dismantling of poverty alleviation programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, and Medicare has been the demonization of poor people. Media sources and welfare reform backers have relied on portraits of public benefit recipients as lazy, irresponsible people who refuse to work and would rather "live off the state." Especially powerful has been the image of "welfare queens," women who purportedly get rich off welfare by reproducing rampantly in order to receive more and more benefits. The welfare queen mythology involves a notion that people get trapped in a welfare cycle, breeding generation after generation of welfare recipients who "leech" off the state.

The Twentieth Century Fund has compiled statistics about welfare to debunk the lies about welfare recipients that excuse the travesties of welfare reform. I've picked some of the facts I think are really useful for activists, but you should look at them all. I recommend using these facts to create your own sticker campaign, graffiti, e-mails, poster/wheatpaste campaign, to educate your friends and family and classmates and whoever.

Who receives federal welfare benefits?
* The 1992 welfare caseload consisted of 9.2 million children and 4.4 million adults (most of them mothers). About half the children in welfare families are under 6; one-quarter under 3.
* There is no federal welfare program to provide income to able-bodied adults without children.

Does welfare make people have huge families to get more benefits? No.
* In 72.7% of families on AFDC, there are 2 or fewer children. The average AFDC family size has decreased from 4.0 to 2.9 persons since 1969.

Are welfare families "loading up" on benefits? No.
* The maximum food stamp benefit, received by only 23% of all recipients, amounts to about \$1.06 per meal per person. The maximum food stamp allotment for a family of three (the average size AFDC family) is $295/month.
(special note to non-welfare recipients: did you know that you can't use food stamps to buy toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, tampons, or anything else that isn't food that is vitally necessary? see the "Food Only" article for more on that.)

Does welfare cause dependency in the next generation? No.
* While women whose mothers never received welfare are statistically less likely to apply for welfare as adults than women whose mothers did, statistical research has not established that welfare causes dependency in the next generation. Researcher Peter Gottschalk and his colleagues have noted: "Because families receiving welfare are poor - indeed, poverty is a condition of welfare receipt - we would expect children from welfare families to have higher rates of poverty and welfare use as adults than children from nonpoor, nonwelfare families. Intergenerational correlation, therefore, does not necessarily indicate a causal relationship. . . .For example, if both mother and daughter grow up in neighborhoods with poor-quality school, both will be more likely to have lower earnings and, hence, a greater need for income assistance. . . . Changing the quality of the school her daughter attends. . . .will raise her income and, in turn, lower the probability that she receives public assistance." (I would add that taking away her meager welfare income and health benefits will probably not bode well for her children's education, health, employment future or general well-being.)

How much does the government spend on welfare?
* In 1993, AFDC cost the nation as a whole \$22.3 billion. Spending on AFDC consumed about 0.35% (that's less than half a percent) of the gross domestic product. From 1970 to 1993, administrative costs for AFDC remained about the same: $3 billion (adjusted for inflation).

Are welfare recipients "addicted" to welfare? No. Does welfare create a dependency on a welfare "way of life" that people get stuck in? No.
* The data show a very dynamic welfare population, with many different people entering and leaving.
* 50% of recipients exit AFDC in the first year of welfare.
* 75% of recipients exit AFDC in the first two years of welfare.
* 30% of welfare recipients leave welfare permanently in less than two years.

How much cash do welfare recipients receive?
* Since 1970, states have allowed inflation to erode 45% of the value of welfare payments. In addition, many states have cut benefits: In 1970, the average monthly welfare check per family was \$676 (in 1993 dollars). In 1993, the average monthly welfare check per family was $373. Most AFDC households purchase shelter, clothing, transportation, personal hygiene, household needs, school supplies, and medical expenses not covered by medicaid/medicare out of an annual benefit income that averages $8000 for a family of 3 when AFDC and foodstamps are combined. (Living like "queens"?)

I hope these facts make you outraged at the portrayals of poverty and poor people that have come to dominate since the Regan era. While the government spends next to nothing alleviating poverty, educating poor people, and providing vital medical assistance, and works hard to cut these programs, more and more money goes into prisons, big business, and militarization. Get smart on poverty politics, share your knowledge with your friends, and create new radical responses to the war on the poor.
Thank you sunnubian,

I hate it when we buy into that Newt Gingrich mindset that people on welfare are lazy and dependent. They are just people with unfortunate situations who need assistance. I know of many welfare cases of kids who have strived hard and succeeded to agreater extent than many who did not. People are sorry and are always castigating someone else in order to make themselves feel better about who they are. I say they need to achieve on their own and get self-adequacy not at the expense of others. Nothing has ever been spent on social programs under a GOP administration...the schools are falling down, hospitals are closing and kids do not even have medical care.....and these flag waving fools sit by and cheer W on as he gives all the money to his rich cronies, endangers the country more with his middle east escapades, and lets the infrastructure of this country go to waste....well, black people in texas voted for him the least of any demographic, including black people nationally (5% and 8%, respectively)so I shake my head and just say wow, as much as black people are decried for voting democratic, we can sit back and say we did not help politically contribute to the downfall america is presently experiencing.
I just know that the stero-type of the lazy welfare queen is not true. Even if it is true for a minute amount of people, all people truly in need should not suffer or be stereo-typed because of a few bad apples. Also, I will bet money on the fact that no woman is having another baby to get what amounts to an increase of about 40.00 to 150.00 per month (depending on the state) in welfare benefits; if there is then this woman is working with the mental capacity that the system was designed to help. Also, I know that there would be no welfare problem if the fathers of children on welfare would pay child support and/or take equal responsibility for the children they bring into this world. When women are being demonized for receiving welfare, somehow it escapes any critic, the fact that the child has two parents, however only one swallowing her pride to come into these agencies to seek assistance for her child. When this country demands that men take equal financial and otherwise responsibility for children they bring into this world, people will see the welfare roles dwindle. This subject also gets to me because in my opinion, it is only an avenue for hidden sexism, as in "how dare women be sexual, have babies outside acceptable religous or social dictates, therefore, they must be politically stoned for their transgressions. If politicians would put as much effort into child support enforcement as they do in demonizing poor mothers, most of the mother receiving welfare would not even qualify for it in the first place, but oh, that would be proof that if both parents take full responsibility for any child they bring into this world, all children would fair about the same in life; whether they were the child of single parents, married parents, or divorced parents.
Thanks Sunnubian and Kevin41 for bringing some logic and rational thinking into this issue...

I think the issue of whether welfare is necessary in our society


teaching people to be able to nagivate this society and access resources to rise up

are two different issues entirely

yes welfare is necessary to keep poor children from going hungry and dying from lack of medical attention

but we also need knowledge of how to navigate society, access resources, pool resources, open businesses, manage resources, and rise up outta poverty.

poor people have pride too
Yes Negrospiritual,

When placed into the same situation, it would be very interesting to see how many considerations many of us would want in order for others to understand our plight and how we got there. When the shoe is on the other foot, many of us act like we cannot understand others needing those same considerations in terms of what shaped their life's outcomes.....people are not very humanistic in nature any more........
Havn't had a personal experience with welfare I understand its intent and how many people come to reply upon it as a life long benefit. While the overwhelming vast majority of people on welfare are not "welfare queens" they nevertheless do exist. As many on this board have indicated the government makes it so easy to get on and so very difficult to cut it loose. While pride and in some cases even shame motivate some people to get off, many are quite happy to stay on welfare and have Uncle Sam take care of them.
I say redesign the program as opposed to looking down on a group of less fortunate people, whether they abuse it or controls in the system where it is not possible. Even the people abusing welfare pales in comparison to the welfare corporations and oil cronies receive.....pennies versus billions..which is the greater crime....poor people getting some free clothes and jewelry or the filthy rich with tax cuts getting even more money which could have gone to some honest, poor people who would have utilized the money to truly improve their lives? It doesnt't take much thought to figure that one out.............
I think I read somewhere that welfare is only like 2% of the federal budget....much less than defense, research, education, etc.

how is it that millions of voters are being led to believe that the 2% spent on welfare is just way too dayum much?

I guess as long as voters are up in arms over 2% of the budget, abortions, and affirmative actions, fatcat types can continue draining billions from the economy, fraudulent wars can be waged, and brown/black people around the globe can be killed to maintain our "freedom"???
How can we approve hundreds of billions for Iraq, yet disapprove of 2% for those in this country who ain't got pot to piss in nor window to throw it out of?

that's bass ackwards ain't it?

It just shows how little americans read and how easy that fact has been used to manipulate their thinking and at the same time line the pockets of people who have money already. That is why when people rail on welfare recipients more than they do Haliburton or Enron types, I just look at their azzes and say to myself, "please shut the hell up"........
Not to spark an outright argument with anyone, but as far as my opinion in this matter, I am speaking from the viewpoint of a person who grew up in a household where welfare would have been an easy alternative and from the viewpoint of growing up in a community where I experienced firsthand how low self respect and low expectations have and continue to contribute to the negative plight in OUR community. I didn't come by my observations by reading about the welfare culture in the newspaper.

My father and many of the proud, self respecting people I was influenced by didn't have time to read and observe how welfare was being manipulated by corporations or how whites are the majority on welfare or contemplated on the Right's media manipulation with "Cadillac Queens."

Want to know why?

Because they were working 14 hours a day, seven days a week in order to support their families.

It's not a matter of chastising or labeling those on welfare as lazy or incompetent. It's not really about welfare. It is about how are we going to get our people off the bottom, and it's not going to happen until we can revolutionize viewing our culture as a reaction to white racism to emphasizing the fact that we are beautiful people (and I don't just mean physically) with an extraordinary past and enormous potential for the future; WE are the world's greatest untapped resource
with all due respect...

the above post is weird to me...Help a sista understand where u r coming from, ok?

"...I am speaking from the viewpoint of a person who grew up in a household where welfare would have been an easy alternative..."

Exactly what does this mean? you were not raised on welfare? You don't have friends or family members who were? You assume posters on this board never experienced poverty? You perceive those who subject themselves to gov't intrusion, and jump thru gov't hoops, to access assistance programs are taking the "easy alternative"?

"I didn't come by my observations by reading about the welfare culture in the newspaper."

Since you were never on welfare, how did you come by your observations if not from media?

"My father and many...didn't have time to read and observe how welfare was being manipulated by corporations or how whites are the majority on welfare...Want to know why?...Because they were working 14 hours a day, seven days a week in order to support their families."

this scares me. It is African-America's responsibility to become/stay informed about policies, legislation, protocols, etc, which affect black people. With that said, my father worked long hours, planted and plowed fields to feed us, hauled wood on the side, was active as a deacon and sunday school teacher, in the church, and served on political action committees. He still found time to make us read books, encyclopedias, and newspapers b/c he felt knowledge was the key to the upliftment of black people. What does it mean that your father didn't make time to read newspapers?Isn't this the same logic which encourages black children to think reading and being smart is "for white people"?

It's not a matter of chastising or labeling those on welfare as lazy or incompetent. It's not really about welfare.

huh? that's exactly what this topic is about.

"...revolutionize viewing our culture as a reaction to white racism"

if we do not compare and contrast, then black americans will continue believing, that the majority of african americans are on welfare; when we are not, that welfare eats up a huge chunk of federal expenditures, when it does not, that affirmative action gives us an unfair advantage; when it does not, and that gov't reps act in our best interest; when clearly they do not. I think your last statement points to black americans needing a better understanding of who we are. I agree, but also place equal importance on of learning or unlearning, who we are not.......
I did not say that people who are on government assistance were taking the easy route. I said it would have been easy for my family to take the welfare route, and if would have been compared to the conditions that they had to work in. What I mean was that my family was above the line where poverty turns to lower middle class, but not by much. Meaning just as many people lived with welfare assistance as there were people living without it, and many more dipped from side to the other. I have had many friends and family members who were and are on welfare, and considering how bad it got in my household, it would not surprise me if we had been eligible more than a few times. Just because I did not use welfare does not mean I was not a part of the welfare culture.

2. It is easy for you to say when you didn't have to work 12-hour shifts doing manual labor, working all the overtime he could afford. Just because my father didn't have time to read to me didn't mean that he did not care about education. My father grew up the only boy with 10 sisters, and every one of them productive citizens, three went to college, two attended top 20 universities and are ALL are successful, positive black women. Not to mention his son who is about to graduate from graduate school and attend law school. I wasn't saying he didn't read the newspaper and be aware of political happenings. I meant that he didn't have time to sit and use the bad state of the world as an excuse not to try because he was too busy trying to keep lights on so his son could read at night. I could adult books before I was four, and that was without Head Start. Who do you think made that happen? My father (and mother) sacrificed a lot in order for me to be in the position I am.
3. I think you need to re-read what I have posted, because it seems as if you want to but me in a particular box, because nothing you said really refers to anything I have written. If you go back and read my posts, I hade it a point in disclaiming the stereotype that blacks are lazy and ignorant and the like. My point has always been that because of the lack of positive self-esteem and pride in our communities, we have internalized many of these negatives and therefore have not yet begun to realize our potential. I often wonder if many black Americans could identity themselves without having whites to contrasts. White people don't define me, and I don't need to use their treatment of us as a crutch, which many of us seem to do. Holding our heads up, doing what we have to do to get where we need to be is the ideal. Worrying about what others are or are not doing or burying our head in the sand or explaining away our problems is not what we should be striving for.

White racism put us in the position we are in, but a reaction to this racism is NOT all our culture is about, and the people who think it is (consciously or not) disparage the memory of those who came before up to give us this opportunity to define ourselves. Constantly contrasting ourselves against whites takes away from what is US, essentially, and when we build our self esteem and our pride, we won't have to define ourselves through white eyes or expectations.
Great discussion and presentation of information.

I appreciated garling1's comments...There is so much information, mostly negative concerning us about welfare. No one spends the time to discuss the impact of corporate welfare on this country's economy. Since the Reagan administration, we have been losing jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, to overseas countries, i.e., Asian where the labor costs are lower. The tax system enables companies to create loopholes to hide their profits, (Enron as a recent example). The bigger the company, the large the opportunity for "the hidden profits." This is why the SEC is looking into the ways accounting companies are doing the books.

I don't see how we can do away with welfare or some sort of public assistance programs. We just can't send people off to find jobs, when in the current state, there are no jobs. Since Bush II has been in office, the US economy has lost 2.7 million jobs, however, that doesn't say how many people have actually lost work. In that, a company can lay off a person here, hire a person in a foreign country. The company has not lost a job, the person living here has a way to earn a living. The loss of work for the American is probably much higher. Even though there has been a gain in production, much has been due to increased production of people working...rather than more people working. Companies are not hiring, but are working people longer and harder because people are scared of losing their jobs.

I probably got off on a different tangent, but if we are to get people off welfare, the skills to help them needs to be beyond many of the programs we have now. The ones I have seen are teaching them primarily administrative or service skills. A continuation of low paying work...a quick training program but minimal long term assistance. To truly get people off welfare, it is a total system process, including education of the youth (improved schooling in low income areas) and looking at the long term impact of having so many jobs go overseas or across the border (NAFTA).

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