08 November 2007
Why I pay the big bux for all this booklarnin'...
I am a peripheral member of the Non Traditional Students' Organization (NTSO, affectionatly known as "nutso" because we are.) I'm never on campus for meetings or activities this term, but I occasionally use the lounge and its coffeepot or computer. It's a nice place where I may not be the oldest person in the room (apart from the prof, and sometimes even then...)or be mistaken for faculty. It can be a great source of support, or a huge distraction. Today I was visiting with a woman my age, with as many kids as I have, raising them on her own. We get a little assistance with medical care, fuel and school lunches. As I look ahead to completing this degree, I wonder about starting a job with enough income to make up for that help, and start paying back student loans. Will I be showing a better income, but still be in exactly the same financial hole next year? It's troubling, but I got a good dose of perspective from my comrade in the NTSO. She recieves assistance with food and rent, but in order to keep her kids fed, she is unable to work. She wants to work. She is able to work. The second she earns any income to pay for a car or her utilities, she loses her food assistance. How the hell does this system work? Maybe in a metropolitan area with public transportation a vehicle is a deductible allowance. Try getting to a late doctor's appointment, or working a 3-11 shift in most small midwestern towns. Here is a woman working to complete a degree in social work to help other women just like herself, and she's shackled by the system that's supposed to be supporting her. Are there people who cheat on their welfare? Sure. Are there mothers who commit fraud for public assistance to avoid work? You bet. I could name some names. But for the love of mercy, how do we justify a system that is so inflexible? Rules are put into place to ensure equity and honesty, but how can a social worker look a mother or father in the eye and tell her s/he's ineligible for any cash assistance beause s/he is guaranteed child support by the court, but it hasn't been paid in three months? Crap. Someone knock me off the freakin' soapbox already. It's ruining my mood for the day.