posted on Oct, 3 2009 @ 05:15 AM
I think people are intolerant of "lazy" welfare recipients for a couple of reasons. First, people don't like the idea that in fact, they're not
all that far from financial ruin. All that is needed is to lose a job or to experience a long-term medical problem making work impossible, something
of that nature. Miss a few paychecks, use up your savings, and suddenly you're in deep trouble. Most of us don't have a whole lot of money saved
up for an emergency. We may survive on Unemployment for a while, and our savings. But once those are gone, then what?
In order to avoid this scary thought, people find it comforting to pretend there is some inherent difference between them and welfare recipients.
They're of a different race; or they're uneducated. They're alcoholics or drug addicts, mentally ill, criminals, whatever. Anything but the truth
- which is they're ordinary folks who ran into a patch of difficulties, and couldn't get out.
Some years ago, I became homeless. I lost my job, and couldn't find another in time to avoid being evicted. I didn't need rehabilitation, or
medication, or detox. Just work. I just couldn't find any work, so I wound up on the streets.
Once there, it's incredibly difficult to get back off. My experience was far less traumatic than most, but I almost didn't make it. First, there
is the enormous, overwhelming sense of failure and shame, that can be utterly crippling. Then there is the lack of resources for job-hunting. If you
fill out an application, you have no contact information to offer. No address, no telephone number, no way for them to get hold of you if they do
hire you. You have nowhere to live, and nowhere to wash. Eventually you start to stink, no matter how you try to stay clean. Your clothes
deteriorate, your hair and beard grow out, and you begin to look scary. How do you go on an interview?
I was quite fortunate. I became homeless during the summer, when the shelters had plenty of room. I found one that helped its people get back to
work. Even so, I almost didn't make it. Despite being in relatively good shape - no drugs, booze, mental illness, or health problems - I was so
thoroughly demoralized that I could barely face the day. It's hard to go on a job interview, when you're feeling that hopeless. I had a whole lot
going for me - especially an enlightened shelter - and I still just barely made it. People who have problems, even relatively minor ones, may simply
What is a minor speed bump to a person who's working and has enough to eat, who is functioning well within society, can become utterly devastating to
someone who is struggling with joblessness or serious poverty. After enough hardship, even strong men break, lose hope, and stop trying.
I never treat the street people or the welfare recipients badly, because that was me. Had things gone just a little bit differently, I'd probably
still be out there, or dead. It's so easy to fall from grace, so difficult to climb back up. And to me, there aren't many "lazy" welfare
recipients. The worst thing most of them have done - and it's something I also did - was to give up hope.