A Better Way Four Interviews On The — страница 2

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to keep their babies, raising them as single mothers. Those who became pregnant and were able to make it usually did because their parents helped them out either financially or with childcare. But she says of her friends and peers “I don’t think they need it as much as if you qualify, why not sign up?” When I asked Sarah what she thought led to someone’s remaining on welfare, she drew from what she had learned in her Economics classes. She says that the government actually provides more of an incentive to stay on welfare than to join the workforce, this includes encouraging recipients to have more children. She admits that the problem is neither with individuals nor with the system, rather with a combination of the two. It is a situation of learned helplessness, she says,

that people lose self-esteem and with that goes the will it takes to get off. She thinks it takes twice the work to get off of welfare and then get a job than it does to go straight into the workforce. Personally, getting off welfare requires “strength and courage to make the effort.” She says gathering one’s strength would probably be very difficult because of the shame that goes with welfare. She thinks that a parent might “think that their kid perceives them as worthless.” Getting off requires a boost in confidence and the government should make an effort to “rebuild” their selfhood. The government could accomplish this with more money and personnel. People need more personal attention, tailored to their individual needs. If there was “career counseling for

direction, people would be inspired to work harder and the alone feeling might be eliminated.” In general, Sarah feels that welfare is “a necessary evil with misguided direction.” When I asked her if she was aware that welfare and non-welfare mothers have almost precisely the same number of kids, she was shocked at how that information conflicted with what she believed to be true because of the stereotype. She says especially in this country it is difficult to tell people what they can and can’t do, but that those receiving assistance should not be able to have any more children until they get off. When I pointed out the difficulty in attaining appropriate day care when attempting to get off of welfare, she agreed that it would be hard gave this process an economic term.

She said daycare, in this instance, is a “zero sum game” in which you end up spending all that you make. Her proposed model is a step-situation. It would gradually wean people off by allowing them to keep medical coverage and some benefits for a period of time after they got their job so that they weren’t pushed out of the nest too hastily. Also, she would stress the importance of not allowing children to be harmed by the cut-off. Interview #2 Kate is an upper middle-class white female who was born and raised in Marshfield, Massachusetts, with the exception of spending four years at a Massachusetts boarding school. She has a double major in Public Policy and French and a minor in political science. She says that she sees the stereotypical welfare recipient as an unemployed,

black, inner city mother raised on welfare who doesn’t perceive a life off of welfare. She has given up on the job field and is unhappy, but has resigned herself to the lifestyle. This stereotype spends money on extravagant things like “new nikes.” Though Kate doesn’t know anyone on welfare, she says this is the stereotype and it holds fairly true. Once on welfare, Kate admits, it is probably very difficult. Especially if one has kids, it is much easier and more lucrative to stay on welfare than to get a job, so she thinks that people just figure they may as well stay on. She points to many talk shows she has watched in which recipients say “why work when you can get by easy?” To get off of welfare, Kate says motivation, patience and willingness to start at the bottom

are necessary. It also requires making good decisions such as birth control. It would be helpful to know someone who has gotten off welfare before as inspiration and a role model. As far as identifying problems with the system, Kate admits that she really doesn’t know much about it. She imagines that people don’t have enough support and that since they have already demonstrated that their decision making abilities are poor, perhaps their decisions should be more guided such as by having vouchers which are designated for different purposes rather than a lump sum. She thinks that it is “weird that people on welfare smoke cigarettes,” for instance. A voucher system could hopefully ensure that people wouldn’t spend their welfare check buying drugs and ensure that children