Mitt Romney’s disdain for “those people,” the 47% of Obama voters who supposedly don’t care about “helping themselves” was clear when a fundraiser poor old Mitt had no idea was going to be discovered hit the internet. You’ve no doubt read a lot about it and thus, don’t need me to explain it to here. Instead I’m going to talk about welfare and my mom.
When I was born in the 1960s, I was the third of four children to a mother who had all of us before she hit 25. With no child support and no job my mother was forced to go on welfare. By the way, before she went on welfare, as a teen mother, she worked the graveyard shit to take care of her son while her younger brother watched him at home. My mom has been a hard worker her entire life. But yes, after she met my dad and had three more kids she went on welfare. We were food stamps babies and medicare kids. We had lunch tickets at school that only poor kid had and we knew it. We shopped at thrift stores and we lived on the cheap. On the very cheap. But it wouldn’t be long before my got off welfare. Really, just a few years. She worked as a bartender, then studied to get her real estate license when I was in high school.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I had a mom at home during the day. Usually she came home after a hard night’s work at around 3 or 4 in the morning and slept through the morning and was gone before I got home from school. I finally got the “normal” parent when she became a realtor. I didn’t realize, really, how hard things had been for my mom until I grew up and had a kid of my own.
I had a choice to go on welfare too. And to tell the truth, I was so broke when my kid was born that I was tempted. I went down to the welfare office and I applied for food stamps. I never got any money from the government but did get a few food stamps. But I never really pursued it, the reason being it was just too damned hard. One thing people who never go near welfare don’t realize is that it ain’t easy. Critics of the program think you can waltz in, fill out a form, and suck hard working Americans’ money from them. But that isn’t the case. It’s at least a five hour wait in the dirtiest government office imaginable. I went through it, as my mother had done and I remembered being a kid and sitting around and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
For me, it was too damned much trouble. If it had been easy I might have done it. But my mother never said she was entitled to it. She always said she was lucky to have it. My mother has been paying taxes, pretty high taxes, for years now. She has more than given back what she took out. Maybe that isn’t the case for everyone on welfare, a tiny portion of what the government dolls out by the way, but for my mother, and for me, this wasn’t an entitlement. It was a gift. A kind, kind gift at a time when I know my mother could not have survived without it.
Here’s to hoping Obama wipes up the floor with Romney.