When my hubby was in grad school we had one baby when he started. We wanted me to stay at home with the babe and when we moved states we lost our health insurance and our cheap rent. So, because "everybody else was doing it" I went and signed up for help. My son received medicaid and our family got food stamps.
You know, people complain about the programs, the food isn't healthy, the food is too generous, the health care is limited, people get too much, people don't get enough, the slackers, the workers, blah, blah, blah.
This isn't a very intellectual response but my thoughts on social "welfare" (if that is what you want to call it) are simply that I hated it for ME.
I hated sitting in the office. I hated that it destroyed any sense of pride. I hated feeling like I was begging for money. I hated the way I FELT when I went to the grocery store and used that card instead of money we had earned. I hated the way it impacted our relationship with money.
Truthfully, I felt like it was bad for the soul.
And I just couldn't get over it. I never felt good about getting welfare. I guess you can justify it by saying it is "temporary" or "needed" or that we will "pay back into it," but none of those really jived with me.
I am glad those programs exist for people who need them, but it simply hurts my pride to be one of the people who needs them.
Later on, we moved again. We decided NOT to sign up for food stamps and health insurance this time. It bothered both of us, my husband and I, to receive those benefits when we felt we hadn't earned them. And let's be real- When you are on social welfare programs, many people inevitably start to...bite the hand that feeds them, so to speak. I know I noticed myself doing that after a while. And frankly, that is what bothered me most of all, the change I saw in myself.
I don't care if I DO pay taxes, I don't think that entitles me to an unlimited government bankroll for as long as I need it. And I hated to see in myself a growing sense of entitlement.
You know what- it royally SUCKED being poor and not having government help. But some amazing things happened. Our families helped us. (Yes, another blow to my pride.) We were more careful with money, because if we spent it poorly, there was literally NO FOOD. We ate cheap, we gleaned, I learned how to make things that I had never made before, we used our garden, we were GRATEFUL for every bit of food we had and we wasted less. I realized how the word "need" is really ABUSED in our country right now.
People think their 9 year olds need cell phones and their houses need TV's. Nice to have, need....not so much.
I had two babies without health insurance, paying with cash or trade to a home birth midwife, rather than getting "free" care at my local hospital.
And we were....dare I say it?....blessed. It will sound lame to some, but I did feel like we were blessed for our efforts to try to make it. It was extremely motivating to make money, and it was even more satisfying to start to get to a place where we were making some.
Was is stressful? It was probably the most difficult year or two in my short life. But we made it through- barely- but we did. And I guess that was my thought on it all- Unless we really NEEDED those programs, I would prefer they were used by people who did need them.
That, I felt OK with.
(This isn't a cap or a judgment on people who get government aid- just my thoughts on ME getting it. But if you need to tell me how insulting I am, I would love to hear about it. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)