The True Experts on Poverty

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We’re proud to collaborate with The Nation in sharing insightful journalism related to income inequality in America. The following post appeared first in Nation contributor Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty” blog.


Congressman Paul Ryan recently said that Republicans “don’t have a full-fledged” plan to fight poverty “because we need to do more listening to people who are in the trenches fighting poverty.”

He had the perfect opportunity to do just that at a recent House Budget Committee hearing, “War on Poverty: A Progress Report,” which he chaired. California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee requested that Chairman Ryan allow Tianna Gaines-Turner — a mother and anti-poverty activist who has struggled with poverty and homelessness — to testify.

Tianna Gaines-Turner (Photo: Center for Hunger-Free Communities)

But Chairman Ryan balked.

“Ranking Member Van Hollen previously selected a witness to testify, and I won’t be able to make further additions to the witness list,” he wrote in a letter to Congresswoman Lee.

But the Chairman could have made additions to the witness list had he truly wanted to, he simply chose not to. He did, however, permit Gaines-Turner to submit written testimony.

The only problem with that is that written testimony normally sees about as much light of day as that old t-shirt with all of the holes that you keep in the back of your bottom drawer — the one you might take out again some day to workout in provided that no one you know is within ten miles of you.

Had the Chairman included Gaines-Turner at the hearing, this is what the American people would have learned:

Gaines-Turner and her husband both work and have three children — a nine-year-old son on the honor roll in 4th grade, and five-year-old twins who are entering kindergarten. All three of her children suffer from epilepsy and moderate to severe asthma.

She earns $10 an hour working part-time for a childcare provider, and her husband earns $8 an hour working the deli counter at a grocery store. They aren’t offered health insurance through work, and earn too much to qualify for medical assistance. She, too, suffers from asthma and writes that she “currently can’t afford to get an inhaler.”

Their children are covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and “take life-saving medication every day.”

“I worry about a day that might come where my children won’t be able to see a specialist because I can’t afford the co-pay.… Just like you want the best for your children I want the best for my children.”

She describes a time when their oldest son was hospitalized with seizures. She took off work to be with him while her husband took off to care for the twins.

“We were both unable to work, so we lost money that month, and ultimately had to make a choice — do we pay the rent or do we pay the light bill? Not to mention, how do we buy food…? Poverty is not just one issue that can be solved at one time. It’s not just an issue of jobs, or food, or housing, or utility assistance, and safety. It’s a people issue. And you can’t slice people up into issues. We are whole human beings.”

Gaines-Turner discusses a familiar story — low-income families working “two-to-three jobs to make ends meet,” with “wages so low and expenses so high” that sometimes work “may not be enough to even pay for the expense of child care.” She also describes what some call the “cliff effect” — when government assistance (such as child care) is taken away at the very moment someone begins to get ahead.

“Just when someone is moving forward, the rug is ripped out from under them. This cycle pushes people deeper into poverty than they were before they took the job. This system needs to change in order for people like myself to forge a better future for myself and my children, one where I will never need to turn to public assistance again.”

Like many of the Witnesses to Hunger I’ve had the opportunity to speak with, Gaines-Turner has particular expertise when it comes to food and nutrition issues. Witnesses to Hunger has chapters in four cities, including Gaines-Turner’s Philadelphia, where members use photography to document their experiences in poverty and learn to advocate for change on the local, state, and federal levels.

She describes families who “put their children to bed before dinner because there was nothing to eat,” and “others who look at food menus delivered to their door so they canimagine ordering dinner and trick themselves into thinking that they’ve eaten, when actually they haven’t eaten in days.” She says that most nights she and her husband “make our dinners on what is left over on our children’s plates — we call it ‘kids plate surfing.’ We are able to get by thanks to SNAP (food stamps) but we are not eating well.” Gaines-Turner argues against proposals to cut SNAP and offers data and her own every day experiences to make her case:

“The reality is that SNAP keeps us from starving. It is critical to the survival of the 50 percent of American children who will rely on the program at some point in their lives…. If my benefits are cut that means less meals and less nutritious foods. Cutting a person’s benefits by $10, or $15, or $20 might not seem like a lot to legislators, but it would cut meals out completely for families like mine…. I would still feed my kids, but it would be cheap Oodles of Noodles with lots of sodium…. They would not get fresh vegetables and fruit.”

In contrast to what I heard from legislators during the Farm Bill debate, Gaines-Turner mentions the very relevant Institute of Medicine report demonstrating that “SNAP benefits do not last, because the monthly SNAP benefit is not enough for a healthy diet.”

“My family, friends, and community could have told you that years ago. But people wouldn’t believe us because they would somehow think it was our fault.  The Institute of Medicine shows that it’s not our fault.  It is the system we have that needs improvement.”

Gaines-Turner asserts that “the issues of medical care, housing, and food all go hand-in hand.” She writes that she and her family have been homeless twice in recent years. When the twins were born, the first home they rented they chose simply because it was affordable. She said there were shootings and “children everywhere on this street.” There was also a “terrible rodent problem on the block — mice and cockroaches” which “are asthma triggers.” The family spent “too much money on an exterminator to no avail.” It wasn’t safe, so they used what little savings they had to live in a hotel or sleep on her mother-in-law’s couch.

During this time the family was actually approved — after waiting for 10 years — for Section 8 housing. But they didn’t know it.

“They tried to send the forms to our old address, but they had the spelling of the street wrong, so it never reached us. We didn’t know about this for months. And because we never responded, we were put back on the bottom of the waitlist. All of the housing forms are still paper-based. It is a system that is still in the Stone Age.”

Gaines-Turner writes that it took a call from a legislator’s office to correct the mistake, and that they “now live in a slightly safer neighborhood.”

“Yet there are still abandoned homes on our street, shootouts in the bar down the street, and several homeless people who stay under the bridge in the nearby subway.”

Gaines-Turner also responded directly to Congressman Ryan’s assertion in a recent interview that — as she paraphrased — “people need to get involved in their communities and help each other out, because [that] is much better than government benefits.”

“If you actually came into our communities, actually invited us to talk with you… you would learn that government benefits are actually helping us stay healthy. You would also see that helping each other out is exactly what we do, every day to survive. 

She describes how she and her neighbors recently received donated food and took it “to an abandoned house… and set up a place on the porch where people could come and get food…. If you were hungry, if you wanted food, we gave it to you.” She also checks in daily on an elderly neighbor who spends “her entire Social Security check [on] rent and utilities” and has little money left for food.

“Moments like these are not unique. They happen every day throughout our country. And if our government officials and policymakers took the time to really look at and try to understand the communities they are supposed to represent, they would see that.”

Before laying out her recommendations for fighting poverty, Gaines-Turner writes that she doesn’t want the proverbial “hand out” or “hand up.” What she and people in her community are looking for is a “hand in.”

“Include us. If you want to find solutions to the issues that people face while living in poverty, people actually living in poverty need to be part of the discussion when decisions are being made. If you do not have an understanding of the struggles, how can you try to solve them…? We are the real experts. We know American policies first hand.”

Gaines-Turner then offers six major recommendations: creating a bipartisan task force on poverty representing urban, rural, and suburban districts, and including people who live in poverty; investing in good jobs with good pay, so that working people are able to get off of public assistance; protecting and strengthening SNAP, which prevents more costly emergency room visits; investing in affordable housing; supporting access to health care; and promoting asset building, so that families can “build their own safety net” and aren’t “kicked off [public assistance] for just having a little more than nothing.”

Gaines-Turner closes by saying that “millions of Americans just like me will work with you to help you with the answers to poverty that you seek.”

“We invite you to come to Philadelphia to see where and how we live, to come to our grocery stores, childcare centers, and elder homes, and to visit with my neighbors. And then we can talk like equals, and join in the idea of putting poverty in the past, of investing in helping American people do and be their best. It’s the patriotic thing to do.”

I hope the Committee takes Gaines-Turner up on her kind invitation. You can read her testimony in a downloadable PDF.


Greg Kaufmann is the poverty correspondent for The Nation and a contributor to BillMoyers.com. His work has also been featured on Moyers & Company, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, NPR, CBSNews.com, WashingtonPost.com, Common Dreams and Alternet. He serves as an adviser for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
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  • Libby

    Ryan should be made to read this testimony, and he should be made to view the documentary, “A Place AT The Table.” He is light years out of touch with real people’s problems.

  • Rj Cole

    I wish we’d ban the GOP from making any decisions about human lives, they just haven’t a clue. Rigid, uninformed, ignorant thinking just has no place in a world where the needs are so great.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t sound very much like the lie of “takers” mooching off government assistance does it? This is the story of the majority of people receiving various forms of government food and medical aid. They are hard working people who can’t afford medical insurance and make so little, even working multiple jobs, that they are barely getting by.

    This is just one more example of why the system of employer provided medical insurance in this country is a terrible model. Too many employers use the rules to avoid having to pay for medical coverage for their employees leaving far too many uncovered. Of course, if they are rational, profit seeking employers why wouldn’t they do this? Corporations don’t care about people, they only exist to make money. They only started providing medical coverage as a result of employee shortages after WW-II. In an environment like today, where there are more potential workers than jobs, they don’t have to worry about not being able to attract workers if they don’t offer coverage. The system is NOT designed to provide adequate care for people, and never was. Obamacare was a start towards a more rational approach to providing medical coverage, but even with all of its shortcomings, in the long term the best answer is still a “single payer” type of approach, as is used in every other major industrialized nation.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Sadly, Ryan is so delusional, that it would not do any good. He, like the rest of his ilk…can only hear their own voices. Ryan is, by far, one of the worst.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    All of us who are human and feel compassion, understand this womans words and her pain. Ryan is a sociolpath. He is totally unable to feal empathy or to care about anyone but himself. His only concern in life is himself. It is a terrible psychosis…… people like this should be banned from public service.

  • steph bratter

    My son and I were discussing this very issue this morning after watching a place at the table. He meant well but the politician that tried the food stamp plan complained about headaches due to lack of coffee. this is how disconnected even those with good intentions are to regular families today. They just do not get it that being paid a minimum wage barely pays rent let alone food. That many families stretch the food for 2 weeks into 3 and then go hungry….and eating cheap garbage food makes them sick and runs up a new necessity…medical. Bill the truth is before these monster corporations seize control of our food and water we need to come together as communities to help one another and go back to roots to providing and relying on ourselves. Otherwise , just as they took our homes and life savings they will completely control our meager sustenance to live….our food and health…

  • Anonymous

    When the course of these types of people is run, the ones they snubbed and dubbed as unworthy of compassionate treatment via laws, regulation, and legislation, will be looking up to them with feeble, tear-filled eyes that depict how helpless they are to wipe away their own tears. They look down on poverty now (no matter how old, young, or innocent the faces are), but change comes and they will know it when they see it. The only way people (the ALEC’s of the world) can control things is to see to it that people like Paul Ryan et al., do get in office to break the law by making laws that break innocent people.

    Honest and honorable, virtuous and ethical, moral and “changed”
    people could not do this – they have consciences. That is why so much money is put in the arena to try to defeat them, their consciences, and their virtues. With the corrupt state of governing bodies, it is hard to believe the former statement is true. But don’t be deceived and avoid defeat (fainting in the mind). God always has some rams in the bush that he continually shades with his Right Hand (wherever they are) and upholds with his strong arm. All things change because we live in a universe of change. Every clock has a set time to “ring.” Their clocks will ring with loud, shrill voices – when the time comes.

  • Anonymous

    Ryan, et al are the real takers; they certainly are not producing or making.

  • Anonymous

    Well I think the answer is to vote them out of office in such #s that there
    will not be enough jobs on wall street or with lobbyist firms for all of them.

  • steph

    we can but we keep voting them in :(

  • Worried Mom

    I am a single mom. I’ve worked at the same place for 6 years. Recently my hours were cut to only 18 hours a week at $10.03 an hour. I live with my mom thank goodness, but pay my way. My son is highly gifted and a straight A student. I am about to be sued by 2 hospitals because even though I have insurance, it didn’t cover anything. I have high blood pressure… stroke level, but I don’t have the money to go to a regular doctor. I haven’t had my medicine in 6 months and I live in fear that I will have a stroke. I’ve dieted and lost weight just to get the few extra pounds off so maybe I wouldn’t have to take it. My son’s biological dad has never helped one bit. I’m on my own and live in fear. I was only getting $70.00 a month SNAP benefits until finally after reapplying two times I now get $208.00 a month. I cry at least three times a week worried about money. I’ve put in applications even at fast food places, but haven’t been called. I’m a 47 year old woman with a great resume. No one will hire me because they think I’ll find another better job. This pay day I brought home $340.00 for two weeks work. I only recently put my son on Medicaid as I’ve paid our insurance on my puny money until a few months ago. I don’t know what else I can do and I myself have gone without meals just to make sure my son eats right. No one knows what I go through because how can I tell anyone how bad things are? I don’t want a handout, I just need help. I never use my insurance that I pay for because I can’t afford the bills. I feel this woman’s pain every day of my life. My mom has a limited income as well and though she wouldn’t let my son ever go without food, I can’t bring myself to burden her. I’m at wits end. It’s not the way things should be. Why is food even taxed? Why is bread and meat taxed? It’s not taxed with my SNAP card, but when that money runs out I’m back to paying 10% sales tax. The food prices keep going up. Sorry, this hit a nerve. It’s hard. Life is very hard in this country, which by the way I served. Only for 2 years, but fact is I served my great country. Now I watch while the debt mounts. My debt is only from food and medical. I don’t own a Coach bag. I don’t own an iPhone. I actually don’t own anything aside from a 99 Honda civic. Sure,maybe I should have gotten a college degree, but is this what it’s come to? I never wanted a Hummer, or a Coach bag. I just want to have the ability to buy food and medicine. It’s all so overwhelming.

  • Sylvaneous

    The penalty for being poor or close to it, is so very severe in this country, no one can argue that it couldn’t be a great dissuasion to poverty. But it is so very hard to get out once you fall into poverty that anyone who does it is celebrated as a hero. As a wise man (Steve Webb; credit to you, man) told me 20 years ago: “you can’t be poor in this country anymore. You can’t throw up a shack in the woods and work you way out anymore”. Steve was from West Virginia. That explains the ‘shack’ and ‘woods’ thing. But he’s right. Our industrial Reich-Martials have sold-out the middle class. They have parted-out our industries, taking the mine and giving us the shaft. The same, regular people who could get by or do pretty well are left with few options and recovering from set-backs is really hard; rather rare. The real paying jobs are gone. Workers are powerless to negotiate with their employers because there ARE no unions or any representation. Some chinese crap gets cheaper but people fall further behind. We are on the 2nd generation of this and it’s only getting worse. Jobs won’t pay a little more so their employees and families can live. We need some European protest mentality and have a general National strike for a day. The Fat Cats in New York, Chicago and Bentonville will NOT listen until they have to. Why will they? There are not a whole lot of problems that just decent paying jobs won’t help.

  • Anonymous

    Your story is being repeated in various forms across the country every day. There is no excuse in a country as wealthy as ours for people to have to fight just to survive the way you are. There are lots of things that the government can and should do to help make things better for you and people like you. The answer is NOT, as republicans would try to make people believe, cutting government, cutting taxes for the rich, and relying on individual self reliance for people to pull themselves up out of poverty. The “free market,” when left on its own, results in wide disparities in income and wealth, not because it is efficient, but because of imperfections that exaggerate the impact of small differences. We need more government intervention to deal with those imperfections and level the playing field, not less.

  • L Ferguson

    Everywhere I find poverty, they are all Democrats. Did the GOP make them poor? It’s never thier fault. Does the GOP have all the good job? Do they control them? Look around and study what the poor people do…….and then don’t do it! Change improper language for proper language. Change your dress. Do what’s needed to get a better paying job, and you will get one. If people are not smart enough to know what is needed for a better job, they probably could not perform the requirements of that job. This is a sad situation. But, if people can and don’t, and still complain that it’s someone else’s falt, they have lied to themselves and their family.

  • Anonymous

    How is blaming the victim working out for you? Did you read these testimonials of REAL life? These people belief in self-responsibility but are met with medical needs and bills that are based on the greed of the hospital, drug and insurance industry – and a corrupt gov’t, with poor education and no money to return to school – no daycare, no extra cash, stuck in minimum wage jobs with no benefits, the rich who don’t pay their fair share for the infrastructure that keeps this a civil and livable society, a culture that is ending democracy and glorifying violence, a poor environmentalism that hits the poor who can’t buy there way out of pollution and unhealthy food and housing. There but for fortune go you instead of these people, and all you can offer is ‘learn how to talk better for a job you probably can’t perform.’ A heartless and ill-informed response that is actually costing this county in money and it will cost us a future.

  • Anonymous

    First statement: “Everywhere I find poverty, they’re all Democrats.” (Where? Provide evidence).

    2nd Statement: ‘Does (sic) the GOP have all the good job? Do they control them?” (What in the hell does that mean?)
    3rd Statement: “Look around and study what the poor people do….” (OK. What do they do?)

    Did you, L. Ferguson, read or watch TV in the last 4-5 years? (Save for Fox News, it seems). You do know there has been a horrible recession. There are NOT many ‘better’ paying jobs. Basically, they’re gone. I know because I lost my job 3 years ago before I FINALLY found a part-time job with NO benefits and no guarantee that I won’t get laid off tomorrow. I wasn’t poor. I have an extensive resume. I have a college degree. Now, I have no medical insurance (first time in my life). I’m close to losing my home. I can’t afford a better car (my current one is 15+ years old). I dress rather well. I’ve never done drugs.

    What the fork do you think I should do at my age?!

  • dolphinundrwtr

    He is a sociopath and an amazing liar. How people fall for his rhetoric is beyond me.

  • dolphinundrwtr

    My state, VT, is going to single-payer.

  • vicki

    There are two sides to every story! I’ve been homeless, regularly feed my children while not eating myself, don’t get medical care etc. and have never used public assistance. Our family is considered middle class, not poor. What I don’t understand is why anyone that can’t support themselves would choose to bring children into this life and expand the population needing assistance. My family situation is a direct result of our tax obligation increasing at a rate that our stagnant income can’t accommodate. Just look at family sizes, less income=larger families. We need policies to prevent the “poverty” stricken population from growing so that those that are being helped can get out of poverty without putting others that should be self-sufficient into poverty.

  • Anonymous

    That of course is the ideal solution. But unless people are careful to be aware of it, these people always throw focus off themselves and make the commons fight over things they should agree on – and then go vote them out of office. We have great hurdles (ALEC, lobbyists, et al. interest groups) but united votes can overcome them).

  • Anonymous

    I do not know where you are getting your stats but you are really wrong!! The folks I know who are long term unemployed or working poor are generally republicans. They have been suckered into the faulty premise that they don’t really deserve reasonable medical care or decent working conditions. They are frequently devoted christians in very conservative churches who have been taught – falsely I might add that if they are not thriving or succeeding it is god’s will that they suffer. Very Calvinist thinking and wrong.

    Letting derivatives, especially naked CDSs in their various forms, go unregulated thanks to Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin & Larry Summers was the major contibutor to the crash. Why, because it made it possible for G-S, JPM-C, Lehman to lend to mortgage brokers, package subprime Liars Loans pocket packaging fees and bet against their own securities.

    Without the derivatived the motivation to securitize subprimes is vastly reduced. The unregulated synthetic derivatives (naked CDSs) being invidible to everyone concealed the betting that revealed just how bad the triple A rated securities were.

    Without this motivation to lend to the least qualified, fraudulently boost income numbers and put people qualified for prime rates into subprime loans – an act of fraud by the way – the loans would never have been offerred. Most of the people defrauded by corrupt brokers were upper lower or middle income people who were used to thinking of mortgage offerers as trustworthy and mostly white.

  • Anonymous

    Ryan and the rest of his ilk have worked for the government all or most of their lives and will retire with a comfy defined benefit pension to a cushy conservative think tank job with a fat paycheck. They are hypocrites of the highest order.

  • Anonymous

    Ending exclusionary zoning is the single most important thing that could easily be done. But people are intolerant. Will Bill Moyers do a program on ending exclusionary zoning? NO! Will Obama take his oath to protect and defend the constitution seriously? NO! Even Detroit still has exclusionary zoning as does Dayton, Cleveland, Columbus, Jackson (MI) and just about every city in America. Exclusionary zoning is a cancer that is eating away at America and it’s only getting worse. A home that is less than 24 feet wide or less than 1,200 square feet is not a threat to anyone’s health or safety. So exclusionary zoning is an unconstitutional misapplication of police powers. But do you think the Supreme Court would ever hear a case on exclusionary zoning? Don’t hold your breath. Local governments and homeowner’s associations use exclusionary zoning devices to raise the cost of housing in order to exclude lower income groups deemed undesirable. End exclusionary zoning, make the housing market free and you’ll never have another mortgage crisis again. You’ll be able to buy a home as easily and as cheaply as you can buy a car. Simple as that. Also anyone who is poor should get their tubes tied (at least after one child).

  • Sue Em

    You have got to be kidding me with the “don’t bring children into this world if you can’t afford it”. My husband made a decent $55000 and we were just having children. I have a masters and was just entering the workforce with an equal amount of pay. At $ 90000 were well off. Than the oil spill happened and I lost my job and ever since we have been creeping making $ 24000 a year. What should we do? “Return our kids”??? I went to the Florida workforce innovation agency. Their recommendation was to take to Masters off my resume. Seriously. I was furious but unfortunately they were right – I cannot get a job paying $9.50 an hour because I am over qualified. So you tell me what to do with my kids now???

  • Sue Em

    Sorry – a college degree would not do anything for you except making you even more of a debt slave. The whole system is rigged. Read the laws and bills and you will learn that this system is made to only benefit the super elite. See the reply below which is so true. We need to ask for more government intervention and we need the resources of this county go to the people – not the stock holders. Don’t give up – participate in the discussion as much as you can!!

  • Sue Em

    You are so right. Free markets would not have to require us to push trillions into Wall Street. More regulation is the answer – not less government as big capital wants. The amount of propaganda we have to deal with is outrageous !

  • Anonymous

    lol, she is so naive..
    Gov’t officials want to eradicate the poor all together..enslave them in low income jobs to further fatten the elite’s wallets..Maybe make the for profit prison system a bit bigger to include just about everyone, especially the poor and/or colored percentage of the population;working for a dollar a day to ensure control of the masses, and especially profit.

  • Eileen Mackey

    You get a second job, and a third job if you need to. You do what you have to in order to support yourself and your family.

  • bowhunter

    You liberals are the problem always twisting or distorting the facts to fit your argument. The right wants to go after food stamp fraud and the incredible amount of waste so of course liberals say they want to take food from the mouths of the poor. This is much like the fake “War on woman” used during the last election. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Eileen…..Employers have the responsibility to provide a living wage so that you don’t have to work 2 or 3 jobs. We are not their pawns.. Employers have a responsibility to us the same as we have a responsibility to be reliable and do a good days work. The (Republicans) Right to Work laws have made it one sided, To just ACCEPT that you HAVE to work 3 jobs, is not being responsible…..it is being a slave.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    You have a choice, Eileen.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Find a job that has Union backing….they are out there….

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    It is up to all of us to stop this kind of hypocracy. ALLOF US. Action is starting to arise alll over th country……join it. No…College is not the answer……it makes a slave of us. We need to organize for Unions and Apprenticeship programs….. There are more of us than there are of them. Government intervention will happen when the government sees that the population will take action and do their part. We WILL see the end of this corporate slavery….people will not tolerate it……. It is starting and WE have to keep up the momeentum.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    The only way to stop them is to vote them out and make it clear as a population on the whole that we will not tolerate the oppression. Big business is trying to control the government from the conservative base…… WE CAN stop them….

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Bow Hunter…… You are a prime example of THE PROBLEM….. Ingnorant uneducated……running your mouth…parroting abominations like Fox, Limbaugh, etc Read a newspaper…..Read a book…I dare you!!!!! Try thinking!!!

  • bowhunter

    The typical liberal response I would expect from you. You are among the self anointed. You believe you are so much wiser and nobler than the rest of us. When someone disagrees with you you will claim that they are uneducated and ignorant. Again I will say, liberalism is a mental disorder.

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  • bowhunter

    Eileen, you are exactly right.

  • bowhunter

    Good points Vicki. There are far too many able bodied persons on welfare that should and could be working but choose not to and why should they? The Democrats have only made the problem worse by rewarding bad behavior over the past 40 years. They have been creating this entitlement society enabling the poor to stay poor by supporting them with taxpayer cash and even more cash for every child they have. Republicans have had better policies to bring the poor out of poverty rather than simply enabling them to remain content by sending them a check. This is a huge voting block for the Dems because the poor know they will get more free stuff from dems so most all of them vote democrat. I’ve always looked at it as the Democrats using our tax dollars to buy votes offering more and more in handouts with this current administration even advertising to attract more to apply for food stamps. In fiscal year 2012, there were more than 46 million participants in the
    SNAP program, compared to over 28 million in 2008, spending went from
    around $37 billion in 2008 to over $78 billion in 2012.

  • Deborah Lynne Downs

    Employers don’t have that “responsibility” especially not small employers who employ most of us. Generally, they have worked to build their companies and they did it to support their families and themselves. The people that they employ fill the positions that they offer, that they need, to run the company. They invest their time, energy and assets, and they take the risks that running a business requires. The employee has choices that the employer does not have, and an employee that is a valuable asset to the company is ususally compensated accordingly. You did hit the nail on the head though: Growing numbers of people believe they are owed, that the responsibility for taking care of them is someone else’s…

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    So, am I to understand that employers have no responsibility toward their employees???? Is that correct?? Employees should just be walked on so the employer can pad his bank account……GROW UP and get a clue. Business owners MAKE THE DECISION….to take that risk and invest their time and money. It is the responsibility of the EMPLOYER to create an environment where his employees can work to HELP him be successful…..They are NOT the employers servants. Wages and employee benefits are PART OF operating costs. If the employer CANNOT pay a living wage and provide health care, vacations…etc……THEN THEY DO NOT BELONG IN BUSINESS……period. Paying employees is no different than paying suppliers….they are all elements needed to run a business. Unforttunately a LARGE PERCENTAGE of small business owners know nothing about business. They have the ME FIRST attitude…..MY new home…MY new car. An intelligent business owner pays themselves a WAGE just like the rest of the employees…..the difference is,… when the business turns a profit (which sometimes takes 10 years) then THEY reap the benefits. That is the way business works. Most small business owners today skim off the top and then find they cannot pay qualified employees and suppliers…..THAT IS WHY SO MANY FAIL….. So, before you whine about how hard business owners have it…..EDUCATE YOURSELF. iF THEY DON’T WANT TO OPERATE THEIR BUSINESS REPONSIBLY, THEY CAN ALWAYS CLOSE THE DOORS…it’s a CHOICE!!!!! The employees DO NOT OWE the employer anything except a days work for a reasonable wage.

  • Anonymous

    what Eugene explained I cant believe that a mother can profit $6793 in 1 month on the internet. did you see this website w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Anonymous

    Making sure that everyone has a full belly is priority number one. Making sure that everyone has practical clothing is number two. Providing adequate safe shelter for everyone number three. Consoling the afflicted and suffering number four. These are fundamental human duties. Then it’s mutual respect, dignity, understanding and purpose.

  • 29South

    Keep your head up, and continue to walk up right.

  • PePe Williams

    Really? What would you say about the Depression? Were they intentionally not working? You need to stop and listen to what you are saying since you most likely believe that all welfare recipients are black and stupid. The problem with this thinking is that number 1, blacks are a small minority of those who receive welfare, and number 2, Make that a BIG number 2! These programs represent less than 1% of the budget from our tax dollars. Wonder where the other 99% goes? Military, Congress and their Corporate friends. Stop allowing yourself to be blinded by hatred for the poor.

  • PePe Williams

    Thank you! This person is brainwashed with blindness

  • PePe Williams

    so when do they care for their children? You hopeless hateful person! Why not ask congress to make the same salary and see how fast they change the way they spend our money!

  • PePe Williams

    What a hateful, spiteful snipe you are! I cannot wait until this gets to you! and it will! just wait since you believe you’re one of those hard workers who can’t be touched, but you will

  • PePe Williams

    Very thoughtful and well put. Thank you Sylvaneous!

  • moderator

    To the Community,

    Please avoid personal attacks and do your best to follow our comment policy.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • bowhunter

    A typical liberal response, to pull the race card. To claim I probably
    believe that “all welfare recipients are black and stupid”. I mentioned
    nothing of the kind. Try using facts rather than simply relying on your
    emotions, I know that’s difficult for a liberal. FYI…The racial
    breakdown of welfare benefits doled out by race is as
    follows: Blacks acquire 39.8% of welfare benefits. They are followed
    closely behind by whites at 38.8%; who are then followed by Hispanics at
    15.7%; those classified as other fall at 3.3%; while the Asians lag in
    at 2.4%.

  • PePe Williams

    where are you getting your skewed statistics? I can present another set of statistics that refute yours. So then where are we? I am not a liberal or a conservative. I am merely human with realistic outlook on where our country and our system is going. When you defend the corporate thieves and the prostitutes in our government, you are willfully hiding your head in the sand. You are making the victims the perpetrators when you heard, or should have heard, mit romney say he could get 80 million from the government – that’s your tax dollars as well as mine making a thief richer and devastating the poor working class. Wake up and stop being influenced by your white, racist, so called religious right…the Bible says take care of widows and orphans…I’m sure you’ll make something negative about this, so I’m finished communicating with you

  • bowhunter

    I saw these same stats from at least 3 neutral sources. Wondering where you get your info. You say “Wake up and stop being influenced by your white, racist, so called religious right”. Dude, you are way out there!. Again you make a lot of assumptions and inject Race. I would suggest that you are a racist.

  • moderator

    PePe Williams and Bowhunter,

    Both of you have made your points clearly. Let’s avoid personal attacks. It is time to move on.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Bowhunter and PePe Williams,

    Both of you have made your points clearly. Let’s avoid personal attacks. It is time to move on.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • PePe Williams

    Oops! Thank you moderator for the heads up! I can get a bit carried away with what I perceive as blind acceptance of news bites that aren’t truthful. I will refrain, in the future from engaging in ad hominem attacks

  • LostInUnderland

    She just SAID that it was SO difficult to get ONE job, that the Florida workforce innovation agency told her to remove her master’s degree, something she worked hard and paid to have. If she could just “get a second job”, would she have gone through that? Please think about REAL solutions. If there aren’t jobs, then getting a second job isn’t an answer, so what is?

  • LostInUnderland

    “Then we can talk like equals.” I bet a politician hearing that phrase from Gaines-Turner would be horrified and revolted. That is a big part of the problem. A person doesn’t become less human or less equal just because they have less money. We CANNOT value people according to their net worth instead of their humanity and expect to end up with a world in which humans want to live.