1. Teenagers constitute a major percentage of welfare recipients.
2. Welfare makes up a significant portion of our Federal budget.
3. Most women who qualify for welfare stay on the program for more than eight years.
4. Welfare enables an average family to stay just above the poverty line.
5. African-American women make up the majority of welfare recipients.
6. The typical welfare family is a mother and three or more children.
7. Forcing a woman off welfare and into a minimum wage job will result in her making enough income to barely surpass the poverty level in 1995.
Okay, how well did you do? The answer to all the questions is false. Not one of them is true, but you would never know it from the constant rhetoric coming out of Washington. Now for the truth.
1. Teenagers account for only 8% of all recipients. 15% are over the age of 50.
2. Welfare totals just 1% of the Federal budget; 3% if you include food stamps.
3. Over 70% of women applying for welfare take benefits for less than two years; only 8% stay for more than 8 years.
4. The average welfare benefit is $367 a month. That's just $4404 a year. If you include $295 in food stamps that's a total of $7944 a year. Not only is that 31% below the poverty line but the value of those benefits have dropped one-third since 1979.
5. 38% of welfare recipients are white, 37% are African-American and 18% are Latin.
6. The typical welfare family consists of a mother and two children, the same as the typical U.S. family.
7. A job at minimum wage places a mother and two children $3000 below the poverty line but without health coverage.
Now you know the truth. The welfare reform that Congress is so hot about is a sham and a deceitful distraction from the true crises facing us. The only welfare reform this country needs pertains to corporate welfare and political campaign welfare in the form of PACs, special interest contributions and lobbyist's gifts. The poor are the targets of budget cutting only because they cannot afford to buy their own Congressman.
Understand, gentle readers, I agree with Congress on one major point; welfare needs to be reformed. Our difference is in the process. Congress want to destroy it, I prefer to reform the rules for qualifying and continuing to claim payments. Our representative's solution sacrifices the women and children in America who can least defend themselves; a fair and rational reform insures that only those who truly need the assistance will receive it. Congress seems to desire to increase the number of families forced out into the streets; I desire to change how America views the disadvantaged among us so that we pride ourselves more on how effective we are as a nation at reducing poverty, rather than on how well we can ignore the plight of the poor and supposedly save money.
Folks, if you don't let your representatives in Washington know how you feel then whatever nonsense they enact in the guise of progress is your fault. You can only pray that you, or someone you love, never need the assistance Congress is so intent on eliminating.
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