Sunday, March 02, 2003

Victims All

Poor misguided President Bush. He thinks that welfare mothers are poor “because they’re single and mothers – and not working enough”. Yes, you would THINK that was true, if you analyzed the facts. But, we’re not in the land of rational thought, analysis or personal responsibility. No, you’ve left the region of thought, analysis, and natural consequences and entered, the realm of feelings -- “The Victim Zone”.

It seems that Rekha attended a presentation by Rickie Solinger last week. Ms Solinger is a “victim feminist” of the first order. She is one of the post modernist denizens of “Women’s Studies”, a place where every transaction, emotional and financial is based on victims and oppressors. She has the distinction of being quoted on the Maoist International Movement’s web site. In this world view, it is natural to believe that these women have no other choice but to have sex, have babies and go on welfare.

In their view it’s really the economy that causes illegitimate birth and more single mothers on the welfare roles. And this theory makes sense to them because they subscribe to the “blank slate”, nurture over nature view of human behavior. To them, all individual human beings start with the same potential. It’s only their environment that makes them succeed or fail. Your genetic inheritance has nothing to do with who and what you are. And we dare not talk about character. Character, the 0.5% of a human being’s condition that accounts for most of what differentiates them from any other person, is not even in the equation.

The core of Rekha’s argument is an attempted refutation of the:

…assumption that most welfare recipients’ behavior is to blame for their poverty status.

There it is writ large -- the utter denial of for the vital role that personal responsibility must play in a healthy and balanced society.

The problem with the pre-reform welfare system was that it provided a reasonable and tenable option to have children and live on welfare. If not, the welfare rolls would not have swelled with intergenerational welfare “families” for thirty-five years. The goal of welfare reform is to make welfare less and less of a reasonable option. And it’s working.

Rekha’s piece is simply another example of feminism based on victim hood. More money is needed. More support is needed. After all, these poor (in every sense of the word) women have no choice.

Think about this: You were born into poverty, raised by a single parent who didn’t graduate from high school.

That’s exactly the problem, but Rekha doesn’t see it. It’s time to break the cycle. And if you make the breaking the cycle all carrot and no stick… well, we’ll be waiting a LONG time for any cycle breaking.

…and had no network of contacts to help you land decent work.

That’s it. Yep, it’s all about contacts. No one can get a good job without some back room deal. It’s not like some major company would take a risk on a young black woman with talent and drive… especially if she comes from a background of poverty. Give me a break. I’m currently doing consultant work at a major financial institution in town and they have “Diversity” posters on every wall. The HR folks would love nothing better than to fill positions with qualified minority applicants.

You can’t afford college.

My God, she has GOT to be kidding. There is a phenomenal amount of financial aid out there for kids from low income families. Add to that being a member of a minority group and you are in baby. But… you have to do relatively well in and graduate from high school. And having a baby will almost certainly put the kibosh on that.

As a woman, you’ll earn less than a man, and if you’re a black woman, you can expect to make 65 cents on the dollar compared to what a white man makes.

This old chestnut again… please. For the same job…? Look, if you have no high school diploma, you can’t (or choose not to) speak Standard English and you can’t perform sustained, hard manual labor (which is valuable because not everyone can do it), you are screwed. It is just logical.

Now, do not take this to mean that I approve of the Religious Right’s influence in this welfare bill in terms of demonizing pre-marital sex. I have absolutely no problem with consenting adults (regardless of income level) having sex. I just have a huge problem with supporting the children they have because they choose to have them before they are ready to support them.

This consequence however is the natural result of the Welfare State. When “mommy” government is supporting you, “daddy” government has a vested interest in monitoring and modifying your behavior, because he’s paying the bills. When you give up a responsibility (supporting yourself and your dependents), you give up a right (choosing how you live your life). You can’t have it both ways. But that’s not what Rickie and Rekha think.

There ARE natural outcomes, based on behavior and choice. But no, not in Rekha’s world. The only way out is to have a baby. Your fertility is your only weapon.

Which leads to Solinger’s central argument: Poverty itself causes and sustains single parenthood; not the other way around.

For almost forty years we created, expanded and refined a system that separated human beings from the natural consequences of their behavior. Should we be surprised that people chose welfare when it was easier than working at a crappy job? Should we be shocked that women had additional children while on welfare when for each child their welfare check got larger?

What the government has been doing with welfare reform has nothing to do with making better lives for welfare recipients WHILE they are on the dole. The purpose of the reform is to get people OFF OF WELFARE, break the cycle of dependency and bring them back into the real world. The real world is a place in which character, discipline, and perseverance are rewarded, not by the government, but by a natural system of the real world. It’s called the marketplace.


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