Saturday, April 07, 2012

Class warfare: poverty is, literally, days at the park

From this NY Times report on the nearly two decades since President Bill Clinton and the Newt Gingrich revolution combined to "end welfare as we know it":
One family ruled out crime and rummaged through trash cans instead. The mother, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, could not get aid for herself but received $164 a month for her four American-born children until their time limit expired. Distraught at losing her only steady source of cash, she asked the children if they would be ashamed to help her collect discarded cans.
“I told her I would be embarrassed to steal from someone — not to pick up cans,” her teenage daughter said.
Weekly park patrols ensued, and recycling money replaced about half of the welfare check.
Despite having a father in prison and a mother who could be deported, the children exude earnest cheer. A daughter in the fifth grade won a contest at school for reading the most books. A son in the eighth grade is a student leader praised by his principal for tutoring younger students, using supplies he pays for himself.
“That’s just the kind of character he has,” the principal said.
After losing cash aid, the mother found a cleaning job but lost it when her boss discovered that she was in the United States illegally. The family still gets subsidized housing and $650 a month in food stamps.
The boy worries about homelessness, but his younger sisters, 9 and 10, see an upside in scavenging.
“It’s kind of fun because you get to look through the trash,” one of the girls said.
“And you get to play in the park a little while before you go home,” her sister agreed. 
Something seriously wrong in these United States, where, as Warren Buffett noted
there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.

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