We face difficult times as a nation. Our economy is failing, our prestige in the world is fading, and our military is stretched almost to its breaking point. So it might seem natural to take away funding from that socialistic boondoggle known as “public welfare” and use it to buy some shiny new jet instead. After all, your fiscal conservative might say, “it’s their own fault they got themselves in that situation.”
But what I’ve had the privilege over the past two and a half years is to see this side of our nation. To see those less fortunate, down on their luck, or just plain made a bad choice. And what I have to say is how dare you make those judgments. How dare you use phrases like “welfare mothers.” How dare you say it’s their own problem. And how dare you say you’re outraged when a modicum of taxes are spent on improving someone’s life beside your own. You want outrage? You’ve got it.
I challenge you to tell the 98 year old widow-a woman who is able to keep her home tidy and take care of herself-that she doesn’t deserve a zero-interest loan to help fix up her house. A loan that will let her stay in her beloved house without having to worry about her failing septic system and that forced her to use a port-o-potty in the lawn.
I challenge you to oppose programs which allow single mothers, hardworking families, and retirees an opportunity to build their own homes, and become first time homeowners. They are not asking for, or receiving a handout, but an opportunity. 12 months later, they will have completed all of their homes, and move into the American dream.
Look into the eyes of that grandmother who is living in a substandard apartment-surrounded by drug dealers-and tell her despite her late husband’s years of service as a firefighter, and her own decades of service to the country, she doesn’t deserve a decent and safe place to live.
Tell the hardworking veteran who has a son with a birth defect that they don’t deserve a place to live. Even with his health insurance, costs are rocketing, and he struggles to keep his family clothed and fed. Tell him that even though he is unemployed and drives for hours every day looking for a job, he doesn’t deserve a place to stay.
Break the news to that retired woodworker who dedicated his life to his children that the home and beloved shop he worked so hard could have been prevented from foreclosure-but that you didn’t want to spend a few pennies on a housing counselor to help save his home.
Let the grandmother know that there isn’t any money for a zero-interest loan that will finance the home rehab she needs to keep her grandchildren safe. Tell the kids who have a mother in drug rehab that if they don’t have windows in their room, it’s their own problem. Tell their disabled grandmother-who tries as hard as she can every day to give them a good life-that she will need to find the money herself to replace the stove that threatens to burn down their home every winter day.
Inform the citizens who have dedicated their lives to public service, and tell the small business owners who believe so passionately about their town-that there’s no money for them to borrow to build a park, or to fix their community school.
Take away the shelter for battered women. It’s their own fault for being in that relationship, right? Take away their chance at fleeing that life and starting over again. To regain the pride and respect they lost at the hands of an abusive husband. Say to their face that you don’t want to help pay for their small and modest apartments while they go to school.
Will you be the one to tell the single disabled mother that she and her son don’t deserve to live at a place they can afford, and that they need to choose between heat in the winter and food? Can you look straight into their eyes and say that her and her 6-year old child need to fend for themselves? Why not use the “welfare mother” line, or the “lazy welfare family” phrase while you’re at it. Tell the son he doesn’t deserve a chance to make something of himself in life, because you don’t care. I’ll tell you something, that 6-year old boy is my father. A man who used his stable housing and schooling situation to go to college, to get a degree, and to contribute to society. Tell him that it was a mistake to have supported public housing, and that you would rather pocket the fraction of a penny you would save by cutting his housing as a youth, and lose the thousands of dollars he paid in taxes to repay he debt to society.
You can be selfish and care only about yourself. But how dare you attack those who we help. How dare you oppose funding because of the rare examples where people take advantage of governmental help. How dare you.