I always believe that educating yourself on a subject matter is important, because so many people are mislead by misinformation or tend to base their arguments on myths, stereotyping or their own biases or prejudices, and not actual facts. I have recently seen a few posts that are incredibly harsh and misleading concerning people who are on welfare or live in housing projects and who are on food benefits programs. I would imagine that most who post such things have never had any real hardship in their life or have had to go through the process of getting on welfare, or food benefits so its easy to assume a lot when one is truly uniformed and buys into the myths so often played out in the media. **Some of the statistical information I post below are dated back in the late 90s and early 2000. However most of it still holds true even now, and if you google research it you will find the information is still accurate in some aspects and that the numbers still follow these patterns. One thing that has caught my attention recently is posts concerning the poor and some asking "why don't they just move to a place where they can afford to live"? As absurd as a question like that is, sadly there is no real thought behind it, and screams "biased and ignorant". If a person is "poor" and has a family it would be almost impossible to have the money to make such a move. Not to mention one may still remain jobless, or have difficulty getting a job that pays at or above minimum wage regardless where they may move to. Moving is incredibly expensive. Most people who are poor can barely afford the gas in a vehicle (and that is assuming they have a vehicle). In addition all things are relative, for example moving from California where the economy in that state is very high compared to Texas, still doesn't change the poor person's financial situation or ability to be housed. Jobs pay far less in Texas as opposed to California. So one is still stuck with the "housing affordability" situation regardless if rent is less in Texas compared to California. Most may not remember when during the Reagan era the term "welfare queen" was coined. In reality reporters tried to find the very person(s) that the president and others claimed to have committed the welfare fraud and found that no such person really existed. It was something that was essentially made up or "exaggerated" to push an agenda against poor minority mothers who were in the welfare system. Quote: The term "welfare queen" became a catchphrase during anti-welfare dialogue and eventually became a permanent feature of American folklore. Media hype from the 1980s to the 1990s also aided in perpetuating the idea. The term came under criticism for its supposed use as a political tool and for its derogatory connotations. Criticism focused on the fact that individuals committing welfare fraud were, in reality, a very small percentage of those legitimately receiving welfare. Use of the term was also seen as an attempt to stereotype recipients in order to undermine public support for AFDC. The welfare queen idea became an integral part of a larger discourse on welfare reform, especially during the bipartisan effort to reform the welfare system under Bill Clinton. Anti-welfare advocates ended AFDC in 1996 and overhauled the system with the introduction of TANF. Despite the new system’s time-limits, the welfare queen legacy has endured and continues to shape public perception". Some other myths and arguments concerning welfare recipients: 1) Welfare rewards people for doing nothing, destroying their dignity and character. Fact: A study by the Cato Institute claimed to prove that welfare paid better than work (at least, low-wage work) therefore logically no one would choose to work if they could go on welfare! The study, however, was later shown to be terribly flawed and statistically innacurate. See analysis of flawed report here: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-flawedcato.htm In March 1987, the General Accounting Office released a report that summarized more than one hundred studies of welfare since 1975. It found that "research does not support the view that welfare encourages two-parent family breakup" or that it significantly reduces the incentive to work. Note: The GOA report was summarized in Frances Piven and Richard Cloward, "The Historical Sources of the Contemporary Relief Debate," The Mean Season: The Attack on the Welfare State, Fred Block, Richard Cloward, Barbara Ehrenriech and France Piven, editors, (New York: Pantheon, 1987), pp. 58-62 The root of most opposition to welfare, among Conservatives and Libertarians, is the argument "The `Welfare State' is a threat to liberty. Welfare threatens to make all citizens dependent on a central government. The Welfare system gives government too much power. People who work for their own income are more independent. People who are not taxed to support others are more independent. Therefore doing away with the welfare system will promote independence and liberty." This argument is not subject to factual analysis. It is basically a matter of philosophy. Do you believe that human beings are interdependent on each other: that we are not only nobler, but wiser, when we help each other out over rough spots? Or do you believe that the human race is stronger when people who can not make it through rough spots on their own are allowed to die? Do you believe that each of us is the beneficiary of countless good things we did not create and gifts we did not earn: electricity, medical hygiene, computer technology, the printing press, to name a few? Or do you believe that you are entirely a "self-made person"? Do you believe that government is a social compact to keep us off each other's backs, or a social compact to care for each other? 2) Another myth about people who are poor or are on welfare benefits is that they do not pay taxes. They do in fact pay taxes. According to the congressional office budget data the poorest fifth of households paid an average of 4.0 percent of their incomes in federal taxes in 2007, the latest year for which these data are available — not an insignificant amount given how modest these households’ incomes are; the poorest fifth of households had average income of $18,400 in 2007. The next-to-the bottom fifth — those with incomes between $20,500 and $34,300 in 2007 — paid an average of 10.6 percent of their incomes in federal taxes. See article: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3505 Also take into account the sales tax that the poor pay for goods and services to live. 3) Welfare recipients commit a lot of fraud, at the expense of American working people. FACT: Besides the fact that a lot of welfare recipients are American working people, a study in Massachusetts showed that vendors committed 93% of welfare fraud. This aspect of the welfare system drastically needs reform: it is harming recipients as well as taxpayers. But all of the political attention is on limiting the amount of money going to recipients. And although the fraud by welfare vendors is terrible, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the burdens on the American taxpayer of military fraud, government waste, and corporate welfare. The Savings and Loan bailout alone cost $132 billion. And the bank bailouts of 2008-2009 4)Supporting welfare is a burden causing financial hardship to working class Americans. FACT: Together, AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and Food Stamps are by far the largest items of the welfare budget. Yet in 1992, AFDC formed only 1% percent of the combined state and federal budgets. Food stamps also took up 1% percent. (Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, "Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY 1990-92," Report 93-832 EPW and earlier reports.) If you expand the definition of "welfare" to include all one-way transfers of benefits for which no services or repayment are required in exchange (such as student grants, school lunches and pensions for needy veterans) then welfare takes up only 12 percent of the combined budgets. (Sources: Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, "Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY 1990-92," Report 93-832 EPW, and earlier reports; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Government Finances, series GF, No. 5, 1992.) What is creating a financial hardship on working- and middle-class Americans? The rising percentage of American wealth gravitating to the top 1% of the population. A counter-argument says that money given to wealthy citizens and corporations gets spent in ways that benefit the rest of the economy, and all people, including charitable donations. Yet money that is given to the very poor also gets spent: locally, in ways that benefit the grocer and the landlord and other small businesses. Money that goes to the wealthy often ends up being saved or invested overseas, circulated back into stocks that continue to drive up inflation, or spent on expensive houses that got built where affordable housing used to be. In 1990, the poorest income group -- under $10,000 -- actually gave the highest share to charity: 5.5 percent. (Survey by Gallup Organization and Independent Sector, cited by Boston Globe, "U.S. Charities See Increase in Gifts," December 16, 1990) This post is incredibly lengthy and I will stop here, but have so much more to say on this subject. The best I can do if you are interested in facts and understanding the "welfare" class and situation is to read as much as you can on the subject matter. One of my sources for some of the information I listed above is a very good (old article) online that you can view here: http://anitra.net/homelessness/columns/anitra/eightmyths.html There are numerous updated statistics and resources to read online if you want a better understanding. Bottom line is, it's easy to throw out biased arguments, and denigrate people who are on the lowest rung economically. It's easy to discount the actual facts but in doing so we do a disservice to our country and to it's people by not looking at things factually and working toward real resolutions that can help the poor out of poverty.