Musings from an Orthodox Jewish work at home mom of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

I have a VERY unpopular stance on a very sticky issue and I need to vent.  It’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to.

We have two children.  Putting aside the fact that we can’t handle more than them at this point because of their special needs, my husband lost his job in 2008 and has been “under-employed” since then with no benefits (no health insurance).  We “make too much” for medicaid or other government help (food stamps, WIC), but don’t make enough to pay for our own health insurance.

So, we’re done having children.  Unless by some change of fate, he gets a job with health insurance, our kids magically get potty trained and their behaviors take a massive turn for the better, and we can come up with $5000 or so for a fetal embryo transfer (we conceived the twins with IVF and will get pregnant next time if there is a next time with FET— we’ve got frosties in embryo “daycare”)—– the shop is closed.

I cannot count on two hands the number of people who have told me that if I quit working, we’ll qualify for medicaid, food stamps, WIC, and other free goodies.  Why can’t I just sit back and let the benefits roll in?  We’ve paid taxes in the past.  We’re having a rough time now, and that’s what government help is for.

I cannot count on two hands the number of friends I have who are ON medicaid, food stamps, and WIC (some on section 8 too) who are continuing to have children.  We’ve closed up shop, and they keep on reproducing.

I have one friend who is on section 8, medicaid, food stamps, and WIC.  Not only does she plan to have more children soon, but she has a cleaning lady, and a cell phone with internet access, and a vacation every summer.  I have none of those things.

I’m jealous on one hand, and incensed on the other.  Jealous because I know that if I felt differently and didn’t care about what I truly believe morality requires of me, that could be us—- doing a LOT better financially than we are now—- no medical bills in collections, $600 or more per month of free food, my life a WHOLE lot less stressful without having to hustle for $$$.  Kids are in preschool for the next two hours?  Great, how much money can I make.  (instead of doing what other moms of special needs kids get to do— take care of cooking and cleaning and bill paying during those rare free times).  Incensed because why on earth is it our right to take the government’s money with no plan for getting OFF the programs?  I have a friend who says “NOBODY in my town can have a family of 5-6 kids without this help, so why shouldn’t we take it?”  Um, how about having ONLY the children you can afford WITHOUT this help?

I’m okay with people taking for a few months while they get back on their feet between jobs.  Or taking because they’ve lost a spouse.  But taking as a way of life?  Why can’t the government just give out free birth control to families on programs?  If you get pregnant, you’re off the programs.  Birth control didn’t work?  Give the baby up for adoption.  I told you my views are unpopular.

The typical Orthodox Jewish view is to keep having children and God will provide.  Most families who believe this who fall on hard times financially collect government benefits.  I wonder what the non Jews think about this.  It’s one of the thinks I think about daily.

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Comments on: "It’s Lonely Up On My Soapbox" (5)

  1. Mother's Helper said:

    I’m on the same page as you. Over the years, I have collected benefits when I needed them. At times I was completely unemployed, sometimes I worked, but not full-time, and sometimes I worked full-time, but didn’t make enough money to make ends meet. But I agree, you should not just think of this as a way of life, ie, ‘as long as I qualify I should collect’ or ‘why look for a job, I get enough from the gov’t’. I also don’t believe you should continue to have children if you can’t afford to pay for them. I think this is especially true when you are a single mom who just keeps having kid after kid w/a deadbeat dad(s).

    Here is what gets me about your situation. I will never understand why people think that if you “just quit your job” you would be better off living off the government! The ONLY way that would benefit you is in regard to health insurance.

    For a family of 4, you would qualify for about $600/month in food stamps. Food stamps will feed you…won’t cloth you, won’t keep a roof over your heads, won’t keep you warm in the winter, won’t put gas in your car, pay your car note(s) or car insurance. It won’t buy toilet paper to wipe your butt, toothpaste to brush your teeth, or deodorant or soap or laundry soap etc etc etc.

    You would likely not qualify for cash benefits, because Adam would be bringing home an income, and if you did, you might get $3-400. And to get that, YOU would have to go to a job training, or a sort of “volunteer” position. You would qualify for reduced MONTHLY payments for your heat and electric, but ultimately you still owe for what you use.

    For those people who are living on assistance that make it look easy, like having a cleaning lady and cable and cell phones (with or without the perks) and new cars and wearing clothes from Macy’s instead of Unique Thrift Store, I could almost GUARANTEE you they are cheating the system. They have a source of income (be it a baby daddy or untraceable cash) that they are not reporting.

  2. yep the gals I know who are on the system are also getting plenty of parental support. Thousands a month from the parents PLUS whatever they can get from the government. Nice.

  3. just fyi, I don’t see how those people in your community can consider themselves religious and steal from the government.

  4. postpunkchronicles said:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out how one would be able to afford a great life on government benefits UNLESS they were cheating the system. And by cheating the system I mean holding down a job and not telling the government b/c they wanted health insurance and food stamps as well as income from a job… and that isn’t just sitting back and watching the cash roll in. It’s hard work still!

    So you know what people do that? Mostly because working at can quickly disqualify you from food stamps and health insurance, but WONT always cover the cost of your rent/food/utilities/clothing needs. And staying only on government assistance wont cover the things it wont cover. If you have fallen on hard times you need both assistance AND a job.

    How do I know this? Because I work my butt off to make ends meet and I receive food stamps and medical assistance right now. The problem? We fell on hard times and can’t get out. If my husband or I get a job that doesn’t pay for ALL of our expenses, then getting the job is worthless b/c we’ll loose what benefits we have either way. We won’t be able to afford our rent or groceries. At least we have some money towards groceries and emergency medical needs right now. I don’t have rent assistance so that’s up to us to provide. That doesn’t at all help with clothing, over-the-counter medications, dietary foods (we are all celiac for instance), car insurance, gas, tires, diapers, laundry detergent, money for the laundry machine so you can have clean clothes to try and get a job in. Or internet (which in my case is the ONLY means of income I have right now and at $35 a month it is way over my budget.)

    The government is set up to almost prefer helping people who don’t work than to helping those who do. Every time you start getting on your feet they yank the help from under you so you become dependent on them again.Yet, you can never totally depend on them because they don’t give you enough. (This is why crime is SO high in welfare dependent areas.)

    About children–hey, it’s your blog and most certainly your soap box–but I can’t say I fully agree. I believe it’s about mindset and situation and intent and planning… and a whole host of things. But the idea of putting a cap on how many children you can have? Didn’t work out so well with China. The CHILDREN would suffer from the lack of benefits, not the parents. You can’t punish adults by withholding the children from food, shelter and a right to a good life–and that starts in utero.

    The benefits you get are a benefit to being a US citizen, we pay for them every day in one way or another. They are not in any way “free goodies”. They are benefits in which the trade off is that you allow the state to roam completely through your private and financial life in order to prove that your qualify for them. I found it to be a humbling experience to have to give the government the right to come into my home and look through my fridge, my bank account, and my kids rooms to prove that I was being forthright in the info I gave in my appeal for benefits.

    FYI the state will often give cell phones to people for free for work purposes because it has been shown that many employers will not hire you if you don’t have a cell.

    It could be that in your situation you can’t see why you would need the help. You likely don’t consider the help you do have. Imagine your husband suddenly without a job b/c he wasn’t as a young adult able to afford college and get a degree. Imagine you never finished 7th grade because you had to start working for to help support your family when your mom was too sick to do it. Imagine the lack of schooling and how hard it would be able to find a job. Imagine the payments on your house, car, and food all around you with no means to afford it. Imagine that every living person you know is as poor as you are and so there is nowhere to ask for help. Imagine you can’t read, can’t drive, and perhaps even are partially deaf or walk with a cane. Imagine you are diabetic and need insulin to keep you well or you have scoliosis and are unable to work a normal 9-5 because of the crippling pain. These aren’t the “rare” situations, these are the common ones.

    I mean really it’s just hard to judge a situation from the outside. The realities are much more complex. and though I very much understand your frustration with people who would take from the government and dip into local/Jewish resources and somehow manage a vacation too–I assure you that is NOT the norm. I have been below the poverty line nearly my whole life, and I am so glad that people didn’t stop me from having my three kiddos because I can’t imagine my life with out them. Poor people have a right to a good life too–and to a heritage and heirs. That means me, you, and yes even the lady with a vacation and cell phone–as much as you dislike her.

    I respected your thoughts (and your candid honesty!) and so I’m giving you my thoughts on your soapbox issue… hope that’s okay! 🙂

  5. postpunk— THANK YOU for such a thoughtful response! I appreciate it! You’re right that those on the take who also have vacations and internet cell phones and cleaning ladies aren’t the norm—- it just feels like it sometimes because the people I know who do that kind of thing are vocal about it (and very openly continuing to have children).

    No, I can completely see where I’d need the help and indeed I DID apply for WIC when we needed to spend $90 a week on special formula for our twins. They told us we “made too much money”. I applied for SSI for my son recently because I can only work part time now, not full time. Denied. I have no problem with people taking help. My problem is when people ARE on government assistance and continue to have children regardless— or do other expensive endeavors that aren’t up to America to pay for.

    Poor people absolutely have a right to a good life— but that doesn’t necessarily mean having children you can’t afford. Affording the life you live on government benefits is not affording your life—- on government benefits (in my unpopular opinion), the plan should be to get off. Quickly. Find a way, make a way.

    If my husband lost his job? Yes, we’d go on benefits—- temporarily—- I’d work more hours while he stays home with the kids while working his butt off to find another position quickly. If he couldn’t find another position quickly, we’d make more of a long term plan for me to work full time while he stays home (NOT his first choice). Everyday, the goal would be to get off as quickly as possible.

    I look forward to more of your comments in future posts!

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