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Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Member since: Tue Aug 19, 2014, 11:02 PM
Number of posts: 3,732

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"A Social Worker Advised Me to Have a Baby if I Wanted Public Money"

This articles packs an amazing number of truths about poverty into a few short paragraphs:

Against the GOP shrug of "get a job", the article brings up the ramifications of age, gender, geographic location, particular education/career paths, how technology has changed the way we communicate and interact as a society. It gets right to the heart of what's wrong with all the political grandstanding over employment, all the lame "employment programs", the endless fluff pieces written by "human resources professionals": the entire system is predicated on ideas about local "social networks" that just aren't the reality for a lot of people anymore.

The part of the article that gets to the fundamental hypocrisy of our society, though, is the part where the author mentions - in an off hand way - how a social worker advised her to have a baby if she wanted "public money".

Most people know very little about the welfare system, or what's left of it. But I'm sure if they pass a beggar on the street, they justify not handing over any pocket change because "the State" will somehow vet their situation and give them something to meet their basic needs. After all, politicians are always screaming about "Welfare Queens" - Social Services must be writing monthly checks to poor people! This is untrue. While every county is different, by and large you don't get help just because you've run out of resources. In the county where I live, "general assistance" welfare is $336/month for 3 months out of the year. You can get that amount only if it's going to pay for housing: apparently it's much lower if you're homeless and using it for temporary shelters. Oh, and this money is a loan. If you get some small job, you can't save up because you will be paying back the State first.

But if you're a woman, and you have a child, suddenly you become eligible for programs for the child. You can also pool any aid you get with aid the child gets. Your situation is much more survivable as a woman with a child. You can stabilize your housing. You can get support to finish your education. There's a chance to lift yourself out of poverty. There is strong incentive for poor women to have children because everything in our current welfare policy is about crushing and destroying and outright torturing the poor instead of helping them.

This is why every time some GOP schmuck starts going on a tear about poor women having babies, I just gape in astonishment. How do these guys not understand that their own policies created this situation? Welfare policy gives women every incentive to have children, because the rules have made it abundantly clear that human beings have zero value in and of themselves. That baby is their only life line. Social workers do secretly give that advice, just as they have to give a lot of other advice to "work around" the utterly impossible system that's in place. If the GOP wants to change that, then the solution is a lot simpler than seizing control of every single uterus or implementing eugenics. All they have to do is realize that by making having a baby the only way for people to get welfare, they created an incentive for very desperate people to have babies.

The poor don't make "bad decisions". The rich are making bad decisions about the poor. The poor are actually making the most logical decisions in the set of circumstances they are being saddled with.

As a woman who has had to fall back on the welfare system because of the multi-year application process for SSI, I have resented the enormous pressure to have children to get any sort of survivable support. I frankly don't want to have children. I don't think this situation is fair for impoverished men, either.
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