Andy Driver's letter "What is our hope?" in the March 21 issue of The Moultrie Observer refers to welfare recipients as "lazy, filthy Americans." Mr. Driver obviously misunderstands both poverty and welfare and should respect our forefathers enough not to associate them with hateful speech.
Mr. Driver tells an old story about welfare: "[C]itizens of this country lie around and wait to be handed something from the government. Grown men and women not only expect a handout...but believe that is their right as an American citizen to receive one." This story is hyperbolic at best and based entirely on anecdotal data.
In the 1990s, federal welfare-to-work requirements increased accountability and implemented job training programs. When helped to find jobs, fewer citizens needed welfare benefits and recipient numbers fell drastically. Even during the last few years of recession, the percentage of Georgians on welfare has never risen to early 90s levels.
As well, most recipients are not on welfare permanently; it is most often a stop-gap during a difficult time or a "little boost" for those who cannot make ends meet while employed in low-paying jobs. While there are cases of able-bodied citizens who do nothing and receive benefits, we should not judge the whole by the few.
Mr. Driver also states welfare inhibits the pursuit of happiness and creates a world in which recipients thrive while middle-class America suffers.
Data paints a different picture. A typical family on welfare receives benefits that total about 60 percent of a poverty-line income or 70 percent of a full-time minimum wage job. I don’t know a single person who could provide adequately for a family on that, let alone find satisfaction.
Mr. Driver then offers a simple solution: vote out those who support welfare! However, both parties have pet entitlement programs, and welfare numbers have fallen and risen under Republicans and Democrats and in fat and lean times. Voting cannot be our hope.
Instead, if you want to change the system, consider solutions that eliminate both initial applications and "returnees" to welfare. Tighten job requirements while spending more on career training, child literacy and education, public transportation, and substance abuse programs. Help private organizations expand social services through sponsorship and tax credits. Promote job creation by supporting small business.
Focus on hardship cases; the weakest among us – the elderly and the disabled – shouldn't have to worry where their medication or next meal will come from. Encourage two-parent households. Children of broken homes are more likely to fall below the poverty line as adults, perpetuating an endless cycle of need.
Most of all, acknowledge success comes through more than just hard work. Many will never achieve middle-class stability because they can’t. Success requires a supportive family, education and training, role models, networking, and a few breaks along the way. Simply trying is often not enough anymore.
No, Mr. Driver, we no longer live in the country of George Washington. Our world is global, multicultural, and complex in ways he could never imagine.
His hope – his American dream – cannot be ours. We have to find our own and help each other to it. And labeling your fellow Americans "lazy" and "filthy" doesn’t do that.
It's time to put away name-calling, Andy, and work to see a real difference in the world.
One might find great resolve in Mandela’s life
There’s a scripture in the Bible that says “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
Whenever we think of Nelson Mandela, that verse should come to mind. Many would say he epitomizes that notion even though in his younger days he might have exuded much more spit and vinegar in pursuing a cause.
- Rant and Rave for 12/10/13
It’s true: Objects are closer than they appear
You know that little warning on your rearview mirror that says, “Objects are closer than they appear.” Well, it’s true.
- Rant and Rave for 12/06/13
How did those lame names happen?
I’ve often wondered what process is used to determine the mascot name for a football team. Is there a committee formed to do this? Is it thrown out to the public in the form of a contest to come up with a moniker? Were two drunks in a bar involved?
- Rant and Rave for 12/05/13
In retrospect, tragedy seemingly gains new light
It’s often said that hindsight is 20-20. Many of us have instances in our lives where that thought would have application.
Now comes the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. As you recall, Zimmerman, described by some as a cop wannabe who couldn’t make the grade, killed young Martin. The jury acquitted Zimmerman of homicide charges. Many felt the prosecution was weak.
- Rant and Rave for 12/04/13
Tis’ the season when scammers hone their deeds
It might be the season to be jolly, and we all might hope for peace and goodwill, but the fact is this is also the season for scammers.
- Rant and Rave for 12/03/13
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- One might find great resolve in Mandela’s life