Monday, October 17, 2011

The "Welfare Queen" is a Myth

We've all heard the decades old story about the "Welfare Queen" that goes something like this: An unwed woman, who is lazy, and doesn't want to work, keeps having babies in order to increase the assistance she receives from the government to maintain a lavish lifestyle. This type of characterization is sexist (often told with a racist spin) and denigrates assistance programs, taking aim at those in need when they are most vulnerable.

The NC Speaker of the House of Representatives, Thom Tillis, recently made a statement that closely models the myth of the Welfare Queen:
"When you go in and you see a woman in a wheelchair... who’s on the brink of losing her benefits, and you know that Health and Human Services are sending checks to a woman who has chosen to have three or four kids out of wedlock? Then at some point, we need to say first kid, we'll give you a pass, second, third, and fourth kid? You're on your own."

"What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you’re on your own." (1)