Women in the American Welfare Trap

By Catherine Pélissier Kingfisher | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Us

A former public health nurse comments that people on welfare "dont' need to
have call waiting, they don't need to have TVs." She adds that it's frustrating to
see people living in filthy houses and using their welfare money to buy cigarettes
and pop.

A waitress in a working class bar tells of a woman she knows on AFDC who took a
weekend trip to Las Vegas. She says that welfare makes people lazy.

An apprentice hair stylist tells a similar story: his friend's mother takes weekend
vacations at Florida resorts on AFDC. Moreover, she won't allow her son to get a
job because she doesn't want to lose her welfare money.

A female educational researcher quips, in imitation of "welfare" reasoning, "If I
have another baby, I won't have to work at all!"

A social worker tells the story of a woman on welfare whose daughter got in an
argument with her about money and said, "well, I'll just go out and have a baby
so I can get a check of my own."

A businessman states that women need to be more responsible for their repro-
ductive behavior. He is in favor of programs that financially penalize women who
give birth after they are on the welfare rolls.

The above are typical of the negative responses I received from acquaintances when I told them about this study. The key issue in all of the responses is abuse of the system. The second and third examples, for instance, portray a flagrant misuse of funds intended for basic necessities. Trips to resorts, moreover, represent the unfulfilled desires of many people (thus such reactions as, "I can't afford to do that and I'm working!"). The funds that welfare recipients receive ultimately come from "us," so such trips are an abuse not only of the welfare system but also of the taxpayers who support it. The protagonists in the resort examples, as in the last three examples, which allude to the inappropriate

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Women in the American Welfare Trap
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Producing the World in Everyday Talk 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Welfare Trap I: Recipients 16
  • Chapter 3 - A Tenuous Advocacy 43
  • Chapter 4 - Us 56
  • Chapter 5 - Them 72
  • Chapter 6 - The Welfare Trap II: Workers 82
  • Chapter 7 - Good and (Mostly) Bad Clients 98
  • Chapter 8 - Further Productions: Attitudes and Policy 117
  • Chapter 9 - Trapped as They Are 131
  • Chapter 10 - Conclusions 157
  • Appendix A: Transcripts 163
  • Appendix B 189
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 203
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