Officials Unsure of Best Way to Drag Welfare Recipients Down the Aisle
Once again, a news update on an old cartoon (A Welfare Reform Fairy Tale). Now that the Bush administration has officially decided to divert $300 million (up from the $100 million they were previously asking) in already meager welfare funding to "promoting" marriage, officials have realized they're not exactly sure how to go about doing so. But they still claim to be sure that poverty is not caused by say, unemployment or low wages or lack of job training, but by NOT BEING MARRIED.
This delusion is nothing new. If you've ever read the so-called Welfare Reform Bill, you know that it has very little to do with money or economics, and everything to do with pathologizing single mothers and promoting abstinence-only education. It starts, not with "Poverty is Bad" or even "Work is Good", but with: "Marriage is the foundation of a successful society." And by the time it rolls around to abstinence education funding (condoms? what condoms?), it declares that such education "has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity" and that children must learn that "a mutually faithful [heterosexual!] monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity." (OK, they don't actually use the word "heterosexual," but that's clearly what they mean.)
According to these guys, the problem is that women just don't realize the benefits of being married, or haven't had it pounded into their heads enough that marital heterosexuality is somehow superior to all other ways of being in this world. They ignore the fact that most people realize that welfare funding is far better spent on job training, and that most women have perfectly good reasons for not being married, such as not wanting to be shackled to men that have abused them (not that they should need any reason at all). As the AP reports:
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that 79 percent of Americans believe government should "stay out" of these activities. A poll being released Monday by a coalition of liberal groups found that 86 percent of respondents prefer that any new money available for welfare go to programs that help people get good jobs, rather than programs that encourage marriage.
Single women who have been on welfare say the idea may make sense in theory, but there's no way it would work for them.
"It's hard being a single mother, don't get me wrong," said Kelly Siler, 31, who lives outside of Chicago with her three children. "But right now I'm happy to be single. I don't feel like taking care of a man who would act like a child."
The father of her 10-year-old son has been in and out of jail since the boy was born, she said. After her 5-year-old twins were born, she found out their dad was married to another woman.
There's no way she would marry either man, she said.
"If you gave me $15 million, it wouldn't be worth it," she said. Jaclin Kirkland, 26, who also lives outside Chicago, feels the same way. She can't imagine marrying the father of her 5-year-old son.
"We were Tyson and Holyfield," she said. "We're civil now, but marriage -- that's not even a thought.
Remember, the Bush administration is full of the same guys who have shown their commitment to the well-being of mothers by increasing the work burden on people receiving welfare from 30 to 40 hours a week--without providing for childcare. In other words, their real goal is not to promote the well-being of children but to abdicate the government of all financial responsibility for the poor by blaming single mothers for their own poverty, as this cartoon by Matt Davies suggests.