Three Steps We Can Take to Solve Poverty, From Someone Who Knows Firsthand

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Tianna Gaines-Turner watches as her twin toddlers Marques, left, and Marianna Turner (at the time, both only 1 year old) have juice, Feb. 26, 2009, at their home in Philadelphia, PA. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Tianna Gaines-Turner watches as her twin toddlers Marques, left, and Marianna Turner (at the time, both only 1 year old) have juice, Feb. 26, 2009, at their home in Philadelphia, PA. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Tianna Gaines-Turner, a child-care worker from Philadelphia, presented these three suggestions to Congress this week during the House of Representative’s latest hearing on the War on Poverty. What makes Gaines-Turner’s testimony different is firsthand experience. Gaines-Turner and her husband have struggled for years to escape poverty while raising their children — a 10-year-old son (who, she proudly noted, was on the honor roll), and two 6-year-old twins. Both parents work: Her husband is employed at a grocery store for $8.50 an hour, and Tianna leaves home each day at 7:00 a.m. to take care of children aged 4 to 16 for $10.88 an hour. Nonetheless, her family struggles to make ends meet and put food on the table. Twice, Gaines-Turner, her husband and their three kids have been homeless.

The House Budget Committee has been conducting hearings on poverty and the safety net since last year — Paul Ryan (R-WI), the committee’s head, has often declared that LBJ’s War on Poverty, now fifty years old, failed and must be replaced. Thursday’s was the fifth. Gaines-Turner was the first poor person to testify. She did so through the Witnesses to Hunger program.

Three recommendations for solving poverty

1. Provide living wages and family-oriented labor policies

I think we all agree: To get out of poverty, America needs jobs that pay a living wage.

Notice that I am not just saying we need “jobs;” we need “work.” We already have jobs, and they’re not enough. I am saying we need good jobs that pay the value of your work. So many American families are working — working full time, or cobbling together several jobs. But working families often cannot afford to pay rent; and sometimes they cannot afford to pay for food. I am talking about the working hungry. My friend Whitney has talked about being so hungry while she was taking the bus to work that the pain was unbearable. This should not happen in America.

America needs good jobs. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Give good tax breaks to companies that provide stable employment. 

    Companies need to stop the practice of hiring people part-time so they can profit more by not paying for health benefits and sick leave. So many hungry families have unstable jobs with unpredictable work hours. This practice must stop. Congress can help change this.

  2. Tianna Gaines-Turner, center, and her family.

    Tianna Gaines-Turner, center, and her family. (Photo courtesy of Witnesses to Hunger)

  3. Incentivize companies to provide paid sick leave and family leave. 

    When my son was sick, I had to stay at the hospital with him, so I couldn’t go to work; my husband had to stay home with our twin babies, so he couldn’t work. Here’s the problem: neither of us had paid sick leave, so we lost hours on the job, and we lost pay, too. The result was we could not afford to pay our rent on time, nor our light bill. From there, we became homeless. Imagine the stress our family felt. We need to see moms and dads less stressed about whether or not they’ll lose their job or their home when they have to take care of their children when they are sick. With paid sick leave, we’d see healthier, more productive working families throughout the nation.

  4. Subsidize affordable, high-quality child care. 

    Safe, affordable, quality child care is hard to come by in our communities. This makes it very difficult for parents like me to find steady work, or go back to school to further our educations. Child care for very young kids, and high-quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, should be a top priority for Congress. By high quality I really mean high quality. Early in his life, my son was diagnosed not only with asthma, but also with epilepsy. My husband and I could not find affordable qualified child-care providers. We suffered as a result. Providing for good quality affordable child care would not only help build a smarter, more successful next generation workforce, but will also help parents secure employment and support their families today. It makes today’s workforce perform better for America.Start by giving Head Start and Early Head Start enough money to reach all eligible families.

2. Invest in a safety net that supports and promotes economic mobility

I think companies that pay low wages should raise their wages, so that my family wouldn’t have to rely on government benefits. In the meantime, do not cut nutrition, housing or health care assistance programs. They keep America healthy.

Nutrition Assistance: One half of the people getting SNAP are kids. And 70 percent of two-parent families like ours that are getting SNAP are working. Without SNAP, my kids would go hungry; their health would be even more at risk. If you cut SNAP, you hurt America’s kids and you cripple America’s workforce

  • Increase the SNAP allotment. 

    The SNAP allotment should be larger so families do not run out of money for food before the end of the month. The Institute of Medicine did a study on the adequacy of the SNAP allotment. They proved that the allotment is not enough. People receiving SNAP have been saying this for years. But no one was listening. Now that the Institute of Medicine says it, maybe Congress will listen.

  • Keep WIC as is. 

    WIC is an excellent source of good nutrition for pregnant moms and young kids. WIC has helped many of my friends and their kids. I know that it prevents low birth weight and it promotes child development.

Housing Assistance: My family and I have been homeless twice in the last several years. During this time we had also been on the waiting list for Section 8 (housing choice vouchers) for over 10 years. When we were homeless, we were very stressed. You can see it in my kids’ faces here. After much hardship, we were finally able to move into a house in Frankford.

Health Care: My husband and I make too much money at our jobs to be covered by Medicaid, but our jobs don’t provide health-care coverage. For years we were uninsured. It was stressful. We had medical bills we couldn’t pay. If we could, we avoided going to the doctor at all. Just recently, we were able to get health care through the health care exchange. We are grateful for this coverage. It’s especially important as I have epilepsy and high blood pressure. Now that I have health coverage I know that I can be more productive. I won’t lose more days at work, and won’t lose money because I am missing work. I’ll also be able to take better care of my kids.

Improve the overall safety net in five ways

  1. Invest in 21st century technology and customer service. 

    I want to be really honest with you. The experience of applying for and maintaining public benefits is often painful and frustrating. Overall, case managers lack training in basic civility and kindness. They are also using technology that is not suited to the modern day. We need to move into the digital age, and there should never again be times where case managers shrug their shoulders and say they lost paper documents. Nor should a busy, working family be asked to hang on to tiny little paper receipts for years on end.

  2. Fix the cliff effect. 

    Let me tell you something that everyone who has ever been on public assistance knows. When families start to make a little bit more money on the job, they lose benefits too quickly. It creates an economic shock. Then families are worse off. This makes it practically impossible to build our way out of poverty. We need to fix the system so that we can get out of poverty. My friend Barbie experienced this firsthand when she got a job helping people apply for SNAP benefits. She was so happy to finally have stable — and fulfilling — employment. But her small increase in wages made her lose benefits so quickly that her family felt the effects of hunger more severely than before. This falling off the cliff caused her great depression and stress and more suffering for her kids.

  3. Invest in educational opportunities through the safety net. 

    The “Work First” policy doesn’t work. “Work First” to us means pushing us into low-wage jobs that get us nowhere, with no hope for a future, no hope for escape from poverty. There are not enough opportunities to improve our educations so we can make better wages. My friend Quanda from Boston was on cash welfare. She was just one credit away from finishing her college degree in early childhood education. Her caseworker told her she had to withdraw from college, or she would lose her cash assistance. They forced her into a training program for a low-wage service job. This is the wrong message, and the wrong thing to do. We need to invest in more educational opportunities that help move people out of poverty.

  4. Promote savings so that families can build their own safety net. 

    I’m going to tell you the truth. I didn’t have a bank account until a few years ago. I didn’t have one because I was afraid that our caseworker was going to take away the tiny bit of help we were getting to feed our family. I had a fear of saving a little money. We need to get rid of asset limits so that the case managers won’t scare us into hiding the tiny bit of money we make. People need help. They need encouragement. They need a program that is actually built to create economic mobility. Everyone who receives public assistance should be encouraged to save money. Each county assistance office should create opportunities for savings accounts and should promote entrepreneurship.

  5. Find solutions with a real task force. 

    I recommend that you invest funds into a special task force that has state administrators, public assistance recipients and employers. This task force would work to identify the barriers in our systems, and build something better to create mobility.

People living in poverty — those who were born into it, and those who are down on their luck — want to get out of poverty. We want to create our own safety nets, so we never have to depend on government assistance again.

3. Invest in community solutions, run by people who know poverty firsthand

People who are poor work so hard, and we do so against all odds. We use our wits, our strategy and our brilliance to survive and to feed our kids. We are great entrepreneurs.

This is why the most important thing that Congress can do is to create a system where people who are poor can work together to create their own solutions to poverty. People who live in poor communities should have official positions on community and state advisory boards that oversee the effectiveness of state and federal programs. Congress needs to think of people receiving benefits as expert shareholders. This brings me to my third recommendation: invest in the expertise of poor communities.

One of the most important aspects of the War on Poverty was the emphasis on the participation of people who are poor themselves. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s the federal government had the foresight to release funds through the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to low-income communities to ensure that that people who were living in poverty could be involved in developing solutions. But that money was taken away during the Reagan years, and later. This has created more difficulty for families born into poverty. It makes it seem to us that our policymakers want to keep us poor and uninvolved, and I am sure this is not true.

I suggest you start with the $8.5 billion dollars that was taken from SNAP in the Farm Bill and invest it around the country to encourage low-income communities to run health centers, feeding programs, screening programs and to partner with community-based organizations and state agencies to improve programs that are already in place. It will have the greatest return on your investment, because it will ignite brilliant ideas from people who know poverty, and who have a strong personal interest in ending poverty for good.

I am not talking about what you call “block-granting.” I am talking about added funds that are invested to ensure that there is accountability to people living in poverty at the local, state and federal levels.

Conclusion: Nothing about us without us

Congress should not make any decisions about programs meant to help families living in poverty without people who know poverty first hand at the decision-making table.

Thank you for having me speak today. Today is a bold first step. But we need to see more. There should be no bill passed, no law passed without a strong analysis of how it will affect family poverty and how it will affect child hunger.

When the Budget Committee meets again, I promise that my colleagues from Witnesses to Hunger, and our partners from across the country, will be happy to work with you to identify solutions to American poverty. Poverty is America’s most urgent security issue.

It’s time to call in the experts. My family, my neighbors and people like me know the solutions.

Thank you for inviting me in. I am happy to help.

Tianna Gaines-Turner is member of Witnesses to Hunger who lives with her husband and her three children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tianna has experienced many barriers to success, including homelessness and difficulty finding employment. Tianna regularly works to educate the public and policymakers, and has spoken at many conferences and hearings.
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  • Anonymous

    Wow. This woman wants the government to be involved in absolutely every aspect of her life and her family’s life.

    Housing from section 8. Food from SNAP/WIC. Health care from Obamacare. Savings accounts organized by the government. Child care provided by the government. Education, provided by the government. And so on.

    And she wants the government involved in the business of her employers. Mandated sick leave. Mandated minimum number of hours worked. And so on.

    Just wow!!!

  • Reno Berkeley

    And your point is?

  • AnnaFrieda

    Wow. If employers would pay living wages and benefits, she would not need government involvement. Just wow!!

  • Anonymous

    The point is that two able bodied adults want the government, rather than themselves, to take care of every aspect of their lives and their children’s lives – shelter, food, health care, child care, savings, number of hours worked, etc.

    Is that what passes on as being an American these days? Yearning for total dependency on the Federal Government?

    And is that what passes on as being a progressive these days? Celebrating a citizen’s desire for total and absolute government dependency for all needs?

    Wow, just wow.

  • NotARedneck

    This might be possible if the US didn’t squander more than a $trillion a year on the Military Industrial Complex and security state.

    Of course, the 0.1% pockets much of this money and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Krista Keosheyan

    Ninvestor, you seem to have missed the first point in Tianna’s recommendations: GOOD work that can alleviate poverty. Everything after that is about protecting people as they lift themselves out of poverty, and ensuring that they are treated fairly (not exploited) by employers so they do not fall back into poverty.
    You probably know that to “‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps”, a person needs a living wage, and access to decent healthcare. Or, maybe you know of a way around these
    two? If so, will you please share your alternative ideas? In my experience, if a person has cancer, and can’t afford healthcare, let alone even get it, they may have a hard time climbing the ladder of success. Or, if someone is an assistant manager at say, Taco Bell, which can be a very tough job – you may have never worked fast food – then that person should be able to at least pay for their rent and food, especially if the corp is profiting in the millions off of their labor. I wish that folks with your angry feelings toward the poor could imagine the benefits to our culture, economy, and real people that effective government might provide.

  • csteve59

    Making a check of $48500/month with online working,, you make
    money $81/hour from laptop in free time.My neighbour’s sister has been
    averaging $15750/months now and she works about 20 hours a week. i make $13900
    last month, it is realy easy and trustful ,

    ========>>>> MON­­E­­­Y­­­­KI­­­­­N.C­O­M

  • Anonymous

    Keep going ninvestor and, one day, it will be likes if me who call the tune. It won’t be a dance you’ll care for.

  • ArtistKate

    You got it! Krista.

  • Andrew C Livingston

    Wow? Really? That’s a few times you’ve used that line.

    I don’t read anything about the government being involved in every aspect of their lives. I’m sure you do though. You folks on the right see what you want to see, no matter how absent it is.

    I find it interesting that asking for a living wage is equated to the government taking care of every aspect.

    Frankly, we cannot afford your type of ignorance any longer. Your worldview is bankrupt.

  • Balance

    Wow, just wow-ninvestor-imagine two adults working full time, making slightly better than minimum wage and STILL can’t make ends meet, STILL can’t afford health care, STILL unable to see a doctor when they need one, and STILL NEEDING housing assistance and social services because TWO MINIMUM WAGE JOBS won’t pay the rent, utilities, groceries and transportation bills, won’t provide health insurance, won’t provide sick days. How can any employer pay wages another human being can’t support themselves on, not provide health care insurance, and sick time. Wow, just Wow-maybe that’s why we NEED government to get involved and ensure business either takes care of their employees, or pays taxes so society can help. Wow, just wow, I can’t believe anyone in this day and age doesn’t get that!

  • Andrew C Livingston

    Here’s a comment from you earlier:

    “Poor Nokia. So focused on building cheap phones for 7B people, they forgot to build truly desirable devices for the 700M people on the planet that really count.”

    Yup. Yours is a bankrupt worldview. It will be rectified soon enough.

  • Mark G

    You make me want to scream. If the government can do nothing to help poor people, then it is not government. It is just something that takes money.

  • Andrew C Livingston

    He’s an investor, apparently. They’re entitled to believe as they do, don’t you know.

    There’s your real welfare queen.

  • ArtistKate

    It always amazes me that people who have advantages FROM birth judge people who have never had those advantages to start from. By advantages I mean going to school fed. Going to a good school. Having warm clothes to wear when it is cold. etc, etc. A “level playing field” is totally a myth in America. The wealthy have ALL the money and ALL the advantages. I was raised in poverty and “married my way” out of it. Got an education and raised a son who never had my disadvantages…. But I am 65 years old now. It is harder and harder to get out of poverty even with both parents working sh**!# jobs. As a nation we can do nothing and stand back and judge and watch more and more people get mired in poverty or we can institute some programs that just begin to address some of the inequalities of our “democracy”.

  • Carla Stixs

    The poor are talked about like “takers” while the rich are promoted as “job creators.” Programs that help the poor are seen as “drains” while tax breaks for the rich are seen as “the path to prosperity.”
    “Welfare” is a word they detest. They paint anyone who needs government help as “the problem” while acting as if the greed of the 2% isn’t an issue. Except, it wasn’t the poor who sank our economy, it was the rich. It was greed. The same greed which their party continues to support and enable.
    So how is any of this representative of “Christian” values? Believing in God doesn’t make you a Christian. Jewish people believe in God, but they’re not Christians. Being a “Christian” means you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Defending the poor, helping the helpless, accepting those who are different, not judging, loving one another, being hopeful these are real Christian values.
    And they’re values which Republicans don’t live by. Republicans are fearful, angry, judgement, hateful, spiteful and base their entire economic ideology on feeding greed. Basically the complete opposite of everything Jesus Christ stood for.
    In fact, when I see Republicans talk about social programs, the disdain for the poor is evident. Almost every budget proposal Republicans support doesn’t touch the rich instead, it puts the burden of those cuts on programs that benefit the poor and middle class.

  • Carla Stixs

    The right-wing Heritage Foundation and others constantly harp on this idea that democracies providing government services for people makes them “dependent” as if people are squirrels who will lose the ability to find their own food in the wild.

    This idea that government services make people “dependent” is an insult to people, democracy and civilization. Does the government service of bringing water to your house make you dependent on not taking a bucket down to the stream or something? Does a road make you dependent on not walking your donkey through the woods to town? Do police and courts make you “dependent” on not having good swordsmanship or carrying a large club?

    If anyone is “dependent,” it is corporations that pay so little their employees have to come to the taxpayers for help buying food for their families.

  • The Thinker

    Let’s just keep it simple – employers must pay living wages. Let’s stop subsidizing Walmart’s employee expense. Pass universal healthcare. Safety nets for unemployed, unemployable. That’s the sane way to handle this.

  • Jenny Hill

    I’m a liberal but I have a problem with poor people having kids, lots of kids. If you have trouble keeping a roof over your head and feeding yourself, you’ll have much more trouble with kids in the picture. Kids are *expensive* and need to be taken care of (one less wage-earner for a while). Lift yourself out of poverty first. And if you feel the need to have kids and are still poor, have *one* to satisfy your parenting urges. Because the fact is, if you’re poor, it’s pretty likely your kids will be poor. I know, I know, not always, but the statistics are against you.

  • Anonymous

    Well, right now the government is involved in ensuring that the big industries and Wall Street get tax breaks and subsidies, while ordinary people experience hard times.

  • Anonymous

    It is a morally bankrupt view.

  • Susan Weber

    What in God’s name is wrong with paying a living wage for a full time job???? Health care and education is a human right, not a priviledge for those born into wealth. I live in Germany now where people have these things and pay for them out of their taxes for the good of society as a whole. And you know what? We don’t have the rampant crime, gun deaths, poverty and political upheaval that the US has. I am a US citizen and will not go back to the US. I am appalled at the degradation of the infra structure in most cities. I am sickened by the vasts amount of money going to corporate welfare and war. There is something wrong in a society where both parents work full time and can’t make ends meet. You really ought to feel ashamed for your attacks on this woman.

  • Susan Weber

    They just want to be paid a living wage for their work. They are working! They are not sitting around waiting for their welfare checks. What is your problem?

  • Disqususer

    Limiting family size is a topic no one will touch, but it has to be part of this discussion if the elimination of poverty is really the goal.

  • Tim Anderson

    You read this whole article and that’s what you came up with? WOW is right. Almost everything she said offered a solution to her NOT having to take govt. subsidies or if she did as it relates to child care (which is VERY expensive), it was so she had free time to WORK. Isn’t that the whole Mitt Romney 47 percent ideology of the GOP…the poor don’t work and rely on the govt. to pay for their food and healthcare and housing and they like it as their lifestyle? This woman said she WANTS TO WORK…and that she could make it if she were paid better. The whole point of the article was how to eliminate or at least reduce the very things you whined about in your rant.

  • Carla Stixs

    Sad but true and this is why. Poverty affects individual access to quality education. The U.S. education system is funded by local communities; therefore the quality of materials and teachers is reflective of the affluence of community. Low income communities are not able to afford the quality education that high income communities are. Another important aspect of education in low income communities is the apathy of both students and teachers. To some the children of the poor or ignorant are seen as mere copies of their parents fated to live out the same poor or ignorant life. The effect of such a perception can be teachers that will not put forth the effort to teach and students that are opposed to learning; in both cases the idea is that the poor student is incapable. Females in poverty are also likely to become pregnant at a young age, and with fewer resources to care for a child, young women often drop out of school. Due to these and other reasons the quality of education between the classes is not equal.

  • Disqususer

    “Lift yourself out of poverty first”?

    Surely you don’t believe that’s how it can happen. Without government intervention, employers have already proven they’re not going to pay living wages.

    Bootstrap theory redux. You’re no liberal.

  • Cynthia Davis

    so much common sense

  • Anonymous

    No, she does not! You didn’t read carefully enough: “I think companies that pay low wages should raise their wages, so that my family wouldn’t have to rely on government benefits.”

  • Carla Stixs

    Here is an example: McDonald’s would only have to raise their prices by 4 cents to pay their employees a living wage. Is it to much to ask?

  • Celine

    Liberal? I doubt that. Do you think birth control is free? You think that having a child is only to “satisfy parenting urges”? Definitely not a liberal. Nice try, though.

  • Anonymous

    Ninvestor, you must work on your reading comprehension skills. Either that, or you are not sincere and you’re just using this comment form to conclude that your clouded political ideologies are the only thing that matter.

  • Celine

    Then lets make birth control free and easily available. Otherwise, you are being hypocritical.

  • Anonymous

    And that day cannot come soon enough.

  • Celine

    So a teacher who chooses to work with high poverty students is automatically not as good a teacher as someone who works in an affluent area? Affluent girls don’t get pregnant? Wow, what a pretty little bubble of stereotypes you live in…

  • Carla Stixs

    This is the problem.

    While the poverty threshold is updated for inflation every year, the basket of food used to determine what constitutes being deprived of a socially acceptable minimum standard of living has not been updated since 1955. As a result, the current poverty line only takes into account food purchases that were common more than 50 years ago, updating their cost using the Consumer Price Index.

    The official poverty line today is essentially what it takes in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation, to purchase the same poverty-line level of living that was appropriate to a half century ago, in 1955, for that year furnished the basic data for the formula for the very first poverty measure. Updated thereafter only for inflation, the poverty line lost all connection over time with current consumption patterns of the average family. Quite a few families then didn’t have their own private telephone, or a car, or even a mixer in their kitchen… The official poverty line has thus been allowed to fall substantially below a socially decent minimum, even though its intention was to measure such a minimum.

  • Rebecca Cervantes

    Even with their meager wages I’ll bet they still pay taxes; while most corporations pay nothing. I suppose you think this is fair because corporations are “people” too, talk about government subsidies. Your point of view is just wrong and hateful.

  • Carla Stixs

    Huh? You completely missed my point.

  • Carla Stixs

    You said it! Are corporations suffering along with the rest of us in this brave new world of austerity? Hahahahaha of course not. Suffering is for peasants.
    This is why the economy sucks. It has nothing to do with tax rates or regulations, it has everything to do with corporations refusing to pay wages and be “job creators” so they can pocket the difference.

    Corporate profit margins just hit another all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t. What they’re suffering from is a myopic obsession with short-term profits at the expense of long-term value creation).

    The stock market is also at an all time high!

    In 1952, 32% of all of the revenue generated in
    this country came from large corporations.
    Today, less than 10% of federal revenue
    comes from corporate America.

    One of today’s under-appreciated stories: the nation’s unemployment rate is now down to 7.2%.

    That’s the lowest it’s been since November 2008 — nearly five years ago.

  • Carla Stixs

    Republicans call food stamps “welfare” and called the bill cutting food stamps the “Work Opportunity Act.” So funny I could cry.

    Actually, even though many on food stamps are children, elderly, disabled or temporarily unemployed, lots of people who use food stamps already are working. According to Feeding America “76 percent of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83 percent of all SNAP benefits.” According to the USDA, “Over 30 percent of SNAP households had earnings in 2011 and 41 percent of all SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings.”

    One more thing, people don’t get very much food stamp money: four percent get only $16 a month. The average household gets $281 a month. The average individual gets about $133 a month.

    Would you quit work or refuse a job for $133 a month which can only be used to buy food?

  • Anonymous

    Listen, Ninevestor..I presume you have a well paid job with benefits and health insurance, or you have back up funds to live off of it and be self sufficient? How did you acquire it? Lived in the cave and worked 80hrs a week? Took loans and went to Harvard? Or someone sponsored you? Who helped you to get where you are? You are a total bozo by missing a point Tianna was making, and it only shows how myopic you are in your spoilt brat consciousness contaminated by the Glenbeckistan.

  • Brea Plum

    Great, pseudo-liberal. Got any ideas on how to break down our society’s fetishization of pregnancy and childbirth, and instant sanctification of motherhood?

  • Grandma Moon

    Brilliant!! Having been raised in poverty myself, I know how the smallest details can make it possible or impossible to survive. This woman knows what gives, and has thousands of counterparts nationwide whose experience can be tapped for designing programs that allow people to defeat poverty. A poor woman who is raising decent, healthy children is a genius, and attention should be paid.

  • Anonymous

    And just how much are their Profits already, just like Wal Mart(they are at the top of the food chain while denying a living wage to their employees, they are much like the leaders in China where they get most of their products from.

  • upsidedownbat

    I am not the one you replied to, but I am liberal and childfree and honestly curious. What other reasons are there to have children, besides satisfying parenting urges? (Outside of unplanned pregnancy, of course.)

  • Anonymous

    This Government needs to stop Welfare to the “Bigs” of this country, Congress, in June just created another Bill to provide the wealthy more tax breaks and credits??? While earlier in the year telling all of us why they were taking food from children, seniors, working poor and military families? The same Congress with its own Congressional Farm and Ranch owners who passed the farm bill to give them tax monies. The system is turned upside down with Congress at the helm as they are the ones who create the laws (something the Supreme Court 5 need to learn). How Come Congress thinks the likes of the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney (who Bained America) and the Pete Petersons need more tax relief, their Incomes have grown exponentially in comparison to everyone else in this country. How come people Believe the GOP? who have spear headed this thinking? This is basic common sense.

  • Shannon Mahoney

    I totally agree! The vast majority of the points she made have been the discussion in my home for years. We are out of poverty finally, but it was quite the trek and in all honesty, if any number of the suggestions were in place we would have been in and out of it years earlier!

  • Carla Stixs

    According to the National Priorities Project the government is handing over $1 trillion a year to the wealthiest and corporations in the form of “tax expenditures.” Then there is that $450 billion a year that the IRS just fails to collect. The corporate foreign-income tax “deferral” has corporations holding as much as $2 trillion of taxable income outside the country. And hedge-fund managers making into the billions each year still get their Romney-style tax breaks.

    Yet Republicans are picking on the poorest citizens, lying and smearing them as lazy and dependent on the government.

    Why do we put up with this?

  • Carla Stixs

    Bravo! Well said.

  • Carla Stixs

    All these corporations have RECORD PROFITS! It makes me mad a HECK!

  • Not Sayin

    Because we don’t vote. That’s why we put up with it. This country simply doesn’t vote, at any level, in any appreciable numbers.

  • Pam Barone

    If part time and contractor (1099) jobs save employers money because they do not include the cost of benefits in the compensation, why are the wages so low? How about companies acknowledge the money the employee is saving them by paying a higher hourly rate for part time work? For example, if the cost of benefits to a full time worker is $2000/month, pay the part time employee $200/month just for working with no benefits.

  • Not Sayin

    If you don’t have the appropriate amount of education, including education gained from life experience, and if you are young and can’t foresee the long term consequences of your actions and if and if and if. We are humans. We reproduce. This is what we do, unless we can’t. With enough information, access to contraceptive methods and viable healthcare options, reproduction becomes a choice, but nothing is 100% guaranteed. Being poor shouldn’t have to be a permanent condition in this country and being poor shouldn’t prevent people from having a family either.

  • Anonymous

    Right, because Goldman Sachs, Google and Apple only pay the extreme high salaries and generous benefits to their employees, because the government forces them to.

    Please tell us what federal law forced Goldman Sachs to pay their average banker $383,000 in 2013.

  • Shannon Mahoney

    Emily, I gave a couple of other reasons in my post above concerning Jenny’s comment.

    Hope it helps, but I also encourage you to talk to people in the situation and ask why they have children and truly listen.

    Many people really never think about why they did, but you can pick up the clues by talking about their family values, looking at the community at large, what their religious belief’s are etc.

    Also, as odd as it might seem…there are a number of young women that don’t have a clue about preventing pregnancy.

    Consider if they are in an area where abstinence only is taught in school and it’s a good possibility they don’t know any better.

  • Anonymous

    A – I’m not angry at this lady or any poor or rich person.

    B – I in fact support many of these programs, specially SNAP and WIC.

    C – What I am shocked about is the fact that this woman thinks it is perfectly normal, that she and her husband, two able bodied adults, depend on taxpayers to provide her and her family with housing, food, health care, adult education, etc. In fact her proposals are all about a yearning of having more of these things provided for more people for a longer periods of time.

    I’m not angry. I’m shocked that in the United States of America, a country where just a century ago people were on wagons claiming a plot of land to farm and take care of their families, is now home for tens of millions of people who yearn to be “taken care of” by taxpayers or have mandates on their employers to take care of them.

    Just incredible.

  • Monica

    What a well thought out and articulate plan. I am afraid it fell on the deaf ears of Ryan, but, hopefully someone from the committee will listen and incorporate it into a plan. Caring for people is not only good for the individual, but necessary for the well being of the nation.

  • Lee

    sadly, common sense took a bus out of dc ages ago.

  • imapayne

    It also seems that the ones who do vote, vote against their best interest. People need to vote for people other the the likes of Paul Ryan.

  • imapayne

    A very concise article of what is wrong with our country. I just lost my food stamps because my 18 yr old daughter who lives with me and graduated high school got a part time job to try to save for college. Our income was 400.00 too much a month so they cut my 94.00 a month in food stamps. Anything over 1600. a month in income is the cut off point in Missouri. They wonder why people try to cheat the system or steal while they consume free meals from their lobbyist. I have been on the housing list here for almost 5 yrs now and I am disabled and I am at the end of my rope.

  • esleylay89

    As a teacher in a low income community I would agree with some of your points but not all. The education system is definitely unequal and the school I teach at does not have the resources that I had in my school district growing up (middle class). I do not see teachers who are not putting forth an effort to teach, while admittedly there are some. For the most part I see teachers who are trying pretty hard to make a difference in spite of challenging situations. Situations that can lead to the apathy you were talking about if the teacher becomes burnt out. With the quality of the teachers I see quality teachers who have deliberately chosen to work in a low income school. And as far as being opposed to learning my students come in wanting to learn, but for some the self esteem and confidence is not there (which can look like apathy).

  • esleylay89

    And this is not taking into account the effect of race. The vast majority of students in my district are of color, either African American, Hispanic, or Latino. Or the impact of trauma or exposure to violence, or anything else that can be comorbid with poverty.

  • esleylay89

    Maybe we should not structure benefits in such a way to where mothers have to have more and more children in order to receive them.

  • Carla Stixs

    Are you kidding? Read his budget.

  • Carla Stixs

    We need more people like Elizabeth Warren in Congress and this would stop.

  • Carla Stixs

    I agree and understand. Thank you for your comments.

  • Carla Stixs


  • Carla Stixs

    Let me explain it in another way: About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance.

    Before we look at the details, a heartfelt plea from the Save the CEO’s Charitable Trust:

    There’s so much suffering in the world. It can all get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Consider, for a moment the sorrow in the eyes of a CEO who’s just found out that his end-of-year bonus is only going to be a paltry $2.3 million.

    “It felt like a slap in the face. Imagine what it would feel like just before Christmas to find out that you’re going to be forced to scrape by on your standard $8.4 million compensation package alone. Imagine what is was like to have to look into my daughter’s face and tell her that I couldn’t afford to both buy her a dollar sign shaped island and hire someone to chew her food from now on, too. To put her in that situation of having to choose… She’s only a child for God’s sake.”

    It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to federal subsidies from taxpayers like you, CEO’s like G. Allen Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland was able to take home almost $14 million in executive compensation last year. But he’s one of the lucky ones. There are still corporations out there that actually have to provide goods and services to their consumers in order to survive. They need your help.

    For just $93 billion a year the federal government is able to provide a better life for these CEO’s and their families. That’s less than the cost of 240 million cups of coffee a day. Won’t you help a needy corporation today?

    When one thinks about government welfare, the first thing that comes to mind is the proverbial welfare queen sitting atop her majestic throne of government cheese issuing a royal decree to her clamoring throngs of illegitimate babies that they may shut the hell up while she tries to watch Judge Judy. However, many politically well-connected corporations are also parasitically draining their share of fiscal blood from your paycheck before you ever see it. It’s called corporate welfare. The intent here is to figure out which presents the greater burden to our federal budget, corporate or social welfare programs.

    There are, of course, positive and negative aspects to this spending.The primary negative aspect is that you have to increase taxes to pay for it. Taxing individuals lowers their standard of living. It reduces people’s ability to afford necessities like medical care, education, and low mileage off-road vehicles.The common usage definition of social welfare includes welfare checks and food stamps. Welfare checks are supplied through a federal program called Temporary Aid for Needy Families. Combined federal and state TANF spending was about $26 billion in 2006. In 2009, the federal government will spend about $25 billion on rental aid for low-income households and about $8billion on public housing projects. For some perspective, that’s about 3 percent of the total federal budget.

    Note: I do not consider Medicaid to be included in the term “welfare” as it is used in common parlance. Typically, if one states that someone is “on welfare”, they mean that the person is receiving direct financial aid from the government. If we included Medicaid in our definition of social welfare, we would also have to consider any service that the government pays for to be “welfare”. For instance, public roadways to individuals’ homes would also be considered “welfare” under that expansive definition.

    What IS considered corporate welfare?

    Subsidies – On the other hand, the $15 billion in subsidies contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, to the oil, gas, and coal industries, would be considered corporate welfare because no goods or services are directly returned to the government in exchange for these expenditures

    Wal-Mart. Always high subsidies. Always.

    The same is true in all other industries, too. The government gives tons of favors to the largest corporations, increasing the significant advantage they already have over smaller competing businesses. If, in the court of public opinion, Wal-Mart has been tried and convicted for the murder of main street, mom-and-pop America, then the government could easily be found guilty as a willing accomplice. Wal-Mart receives hundreds of millions of dollars of subsidization by local governments throughout the country. These subsidies take the form of bribes by local politicians trying to convince Wal-Mart to come to their town with the dream of significant job creation. Of course, from that follows a larger tax base. For example, a distribution center in Macclenny, Florida received $9 million ingovernment subsidies in the form of free land, government-funded recruitment and training of employees, targeted tax breaks, and housing subsidies for employees allowing them to be paid significantly lower wages. 244 Wal-Marts around the country had received over $1 billion in government favors.

    The Big Picture

    So now let’s look at the big picture. The final totals are $59 billion, 3 percent of the total federal budget, for regular welfare and $92 billion, 5 percent of the total federal budget, for corporations. So, the government spends roughly 50% more on corporate welfare than it does on these particular public assistance programs.

    Should we spend less on corporate welfare and/or social welfare programs? Or should we spend even more? It’s up to you. A bunch of people died horrible deaths to make sure this country remained a democracy.

  • Carla Stixs

    Write to your senators and explain your situation.

  • joseph wagner

    I’ve always been a pro-labor pragmatist or I was very accepting of what ever would allow labor access to be middle class, such as labor unions and substantial minimum wage laws. I refer to this concept as “economic justice”, which is also a concept in Hebrew called “tsedekah”. Many social ills and social programs disappear wit…h good labor wages, and I’ve seen bad kids become stabilized with a good paying job. Good labor wages also create a thriving economy through higher consumption which stimulates more production and more jobs. The ability for labor to enter middle class has been the major reason for the great success of a thriving US economy since the Second World War.

    On the other hand, I did realize from my early years that communism had to be used to purge the negative effects of greed from various societies world wide, and where greed had put labor into extreme poverty, such as China, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, etc. a purge of greed was needed for at least a couple of generations. Strangely and ignorantly, Americans viewed greed as a necessary motive to keep an economy rolling, but I believed them to be totally wrong, and as a manager, I believed and practiced social responsibility to insure my workers livable wages.

    The company which I managed had a reputation of paying better then the competition. I noticed that when I took over the company and raised wages that I started seeing the shop workers coming to work in new cars and pickup trucks and the secretary was getting bank mortgage applications from the employees. I even got my sales people making commission pay higher then my salary.
    This angered my competition because I was hiring their better employees with stronger wages and commissions. This finally forced the competition to raise wages when they saw they were losing good employees. One fellow manager was so pissed off at me for giving higher wages, that he refused to socialize with me anymore. When I left the company the shop workers thanked me for what I had done for them. In those years I proved to myself that a little spark of decency and a step away from greed, can change the live of all those around you for the better.
    This is where my government and I clashed. I saw communism as a necessity to purge greed and poverty, and the US Government saw communism as the scourge of the earth and greed as a necessity. At the same time killing communist for Jesus was in full swing among those in Washington.
    By the way, Jesus, who the Christian worship as the Messiah, had some very strong and radical economical principles and could be viewed as the first communist himself. Can anyone deny, if and when there is a Messianic Intervention, that economic justice will be the norm, with a more equal distribution of wealth, and no more working poor.

  • Carla Stixs


  • edwinna

    This is why I believe we need a Reproductive Freedom Amendment. For all choices. A government which claims the right to forbid abortion may also someday decide it has the right to forbid having children. If population pressures come about, women could be forced into abortions to restrict the size of our families. We should make sure now that we will always have personal choice about the question of having children.

  • James Huffman

    Excellent! I spent my career working with people in crisis and need. This woman presents the reality of poverty and the paths of hope that could easily happen. I ‘hope’ she is able to find her way out of the poverty trap.

  • KARockhound

    You hit the nail on the head! I see it all the time and it just sickens me…I want to scream at them for being their own worst enemy! Then, ultimately…I cry for their hungry children :(

  • KARockhound

    It’s pretty simple really–I actually see it a lot…either a) they just can’t afford BC. In my neck of the woods, the nearest planned parenthood is now over an hour away. Or b) they start out in a two job family, have a child or two and then one of them loses a job or hubby/daddy takes off.

    It’s an ugly world and poverty doesn’t always follow the rules.

  • Anonymous

    Easy to think and say, but for some reason it’s done that way. Example: Several months back the Volkswagen plant in TN. allowed , because they wanted one, the UAW ‘s to hold a vote on unionizing the shop. There was a fiasco of interference from the TN governor,and Sen Bob Corker ,along with many anti-union hothead hourly workers. The vote was not passed by a narrow margin. VW was not happy…because they run their production shops in Germany with union workers INVOLVED in the decision making. The VW plant there is also looking at expanding that shop for a new model to be built there. So there was a bit of a brou-ha-ha and the UAW chose not to file a suit against the aforementioned interference. Just yesterday , VW announced that the UAW is going to open an office at the plant to sign up folks that want a union. It’s in the news now…and I was reading about it on Cane-TV and went down to the comments ,like here. Amazing how most of the comments were from those that DID NOT want a union. They list all the BS reasons in the world why it is bad. They are just stupid ,as Forrest Gump would say ” Stupid is as stupid does” So… as to why people vote against their best interests is , I think, a mindset that does not allow itself to entertain any other possibilities but the ones held for a very long time. Search out the VW union vote from back in Jan-Feb 2014… it’s enough to make you cry. Stay strong !

  • Anonymous

    Carla, it’s great to read posts from an informed source. Thank you for your input. Keep on keeping on !

  • Anonymous

    Now it’s called Common Greed !

  • Anonymous

    I’m 71 , and for well over 40 years I’ve wondered about that. It’s an awesome responsibility, having children, and I really don’t think the women give it a lot of thought. In some races….I think it’s expected . I hope this reference to the women does not ruin any feminist’s day….

  • Michael A. Goldman

    She is eloquent and on point. I fear the cretins she is talking to will disregard her clear message. Regardless, she is now on my long list of heroes. Bravo!

  • Anonymous

    Jenny, absolutely ! I just expressed what you said a couple of responses above. BTW – I just saw a great movie which is to this point. Worth watching on Netflix , check out – “The Pursuit of happiness ” , stars Will Smith. but based on a true story.

  • FraggleSnooth

    So is people before claimed a plot of land to farm for the families, why aren’t people doing it now? Perhaps because the land has been claimed. It’s nearly impossible to live a modern life without buying a house or paying a rent. There is no land left unclaim that someone will let you just build a house on and farm.

  • JNWesner

    Paul Ryan doesn’t want to end the War on Poverty; he just wants us to switch sides. Pity this lady isn’t in Congress — but I wouldn’t do that to her.

  • Vicki Martz

    I see a large number of very young girls (under 18) having children as a consequence of sex…not because they have an urge to have a child. There is very little stigma attached to unwed motherhood and disturbing as it may be, many of them are not worried because the more babies, the bigger the welfare check. Yes, I work in a field that does allow me to hear these utterances from the mother’s mouth. A child is a personal choice and a personal responsibility…emphasis on RESPONSIBILITY. If you choose to get pregnant, knowing you cannot follow the rules of parenthood (financial, emotional etc) shame on you. Corporate welfare is out of control, agreed. However, until and unless it gets fixed we still have choices and responsibilities to our children. Parenthood is NOT the lifelong responsibility of the government. That mindset breeds more of that mindset which makes all of us more dependent on a government that depends on our dependence.

  • Barbara West

    Basic guaranteed income.

  • Suzaku

    There are so many good Youtube videos and ideas on basic income. So much more creativity would come about. I hear it’s even a shade more cost effective than welfare. There are so many brilliant people out there who are “stuck”. In my state I see billboards all the time to and from work that state 1 in 5 children fight hunger in the state. We’re surrounded by amazing technologies and we’re still fighting hunger? Let’s get back to basics so people can reach their full potential. Reminds me of Maslow’s heirarchy of needs and a good chunk of Americans are on the bottom wrung of the heirarchy. How does that effect one’s self-esteem/well-being? You’d think every next generation would have it better, but nope. Some interesting quick facts: The average two income family today is 15% poorer than a one income family 40 years ago. The U.S has a higher % of workers doing low wage work than any other industrialized nation. 20.2 million Americans spend more than half their income on housing, a 46% increase from 2001. The bottom 50% of income earners in the U.S collectively own less than 1% of the national wealth. Back in the 70’s roughly 1 out of every 50 Americans were on food stamps, now it’s about 1 out of every 6.5 people. College costs have nearly tripled since 1980 while middle class wages have remained virtually stagnant. For the 1st time in U.S history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the U.S than all individual Americans put together. Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yahoo News, and Business Insider. Talk about a tale of two cities. As Alan Watts would say in his economic crises causes and solutions, “We are psychologically back in the 17th century and technically in the 20th.”

  • Allison Moss-Fritch

    What this woman says has merit. It is not a critique…it is a plan to do better because she speaks from experience which too many of our Republican male representatives do not have. And those guys could not get it even if they lived it. They don’t see what is there.

  • Anonymous

    Effective solutions if wars and war businesses are stopped. Wars are very efficient and effective tools to keep producing poverty and misery for all and the suggested recommendations would be useless

  • Anonymous

    Ryan and partners in crime will never let her in

  • Lee

    thank you for your sensitivity to others’ issues. :-)

  • Carla Stixs

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    I still cannot understand how people can have baby after baby knowing that they have either no or poor JOB skills or no JOB at all. How can you look in the faces of your own offspring and tell them there is no or non nutrituve food, no soap for a bath, no way to clean clothes, no dentist to fix their teeth, no heat, no education. How, how, how, how you spawners, can you do this? What’s wrong with you? The worst form of cruelty to bring a life onto this earth and offer it NOTHING but the worst of everything.
    Is it not politically correct to point out that some people are too damn poor to spawn? What the hell does substandard living offer anybody but a cycle of poverty?
    Why does society have to support the carelessly conceived?
    I have no children, never wanted any, and yet I pay and pay and pay for everyone else’s. However, I treat pets better than many parents treat their children. In fact I think I treat plants better as well.
    The economy has stripped everything from me, I am struggling, and yet people procreate without any plan in place to support offspring. I cannot afford your children either.
    Get educated, get a job, get healthcare, get a partner, and then get knocked up! Please you spawners! Give us all a break especially the children you damn with your irresponsible and flippant behavior.

  • discountbrains .

    It looks like all your gov’t proposals are to benefit you. What are you doing to benefit others?

  • discountbrains .

    The ones facing hunger are almost never the ones who produce these amazing technologies. Maybe if they would or could do this they wouldn’t be hungry.

  • Hawkroad

    What if you have money when you have your kids, and then lose your job. You are too simplistic in your thinking, and you’re still blaming the victims.

  • Sandy Brodsky

    This is terrible.We must help these people. I don’t know how?Our Goverment must Help

  • Alice

    I adopted a child because I felt like a I had a lot to offer a child and like I was being selfish by just living for myself and not giving anything back to anybody else. I had a big house, shelves full of books, rooms full of craft supplies, and knowledge of how to do all kinds of stuff. After adopting a couple of cats who generally weren’t interested in such things, I adopted a 7-year-old from foster care. That’s worked out very well. But I didn’t have any particular parenting desire to satisfy. I just wanted to help somebody.

  • Carla Stixs

    I am happy to tell you the Democratic party is stronger than ever. Paul Ryan has no chance.
    See you at the polls.

  • Carla Stixs

    Everyone needs to watch this video.

    If Walmart Paid Its Employees a Living Wage, How Much Would Prices Go Up?

  • Carla Stixs

    I love Bernie Sanders!

    Bernie Sanders: Thank you, madam vice-chair. One of the interesting aspects of discussions about the economy and income inequality inside the Beltway, as opposed to back home in the real world, is the very different tone that we hear.

    The idea that anybody could suggests that we are not seeing massive increases in income and wealth inequality is beyond my comprehension. If you go outside of the Beltway, there is no debate about that.

    The idea that anyone could suggest that today the economy for the middle class is anywhere near where it used to be is beyond comprehension, I think, to the vast majority of the American people.

    The reality that we are seeing today is that middle class in this country is disappearing, median family income is going down. We have more people living in poverty today than any time in history of the United States of America.

    As Secretary Reich pointed out, between 2009 and 2012 95% of all new income generated in this country went to the top 1%. In terms of wealth, the situation is even worse. Maybe some of the panelist might want to defend the situation where the top 1% in America owns 38% of the wealth in this country and the bottom 60% owns 2.3% of the wealth.

    Does anybody on that panel, I’m going to ask that question in a moment, think that makes moral sense or economic sense? Does anybody think it makes moral or economic sense that one family, the Walton family, owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of the American people?

    Now, in terms of government action, we have heard that the stimulus package presumably had no impact. Well, that wasn’t true in my state nor was it true in America.

    By investing in our economy, in our kids, and in infrastructure, according to the CBO, the Recovery Act, the Stimulus Bill, created or sustained up to 3.6 million jobs, a 4.2% boost for GDP in the first quarter of 2010, and a reduction in the unemployment rate of up to 2.1% in the last quarter of 2010. At a time we needed the jobs the most.

    Last point that I want to make and I want to ask a question on this one, the Walton family is the wealthiest family in America, does anyone on the panel think that they need significant welfare help? Yet, it turns out that they are the largest recipient of welfare in America.

    Because when you pay workers starvation wages, which is what Walmart does, how do the workers at Walmart or McDonald’s or Burger King survive? Well, they get Medicaid for their kids and for themselves, they get food stamps, and they live in government sponsored affordable housing.

    I’ll start off with my question to Dr. Winship and we’ll go down the line. Do you think the Walton family, worth $100 billion, is in need of welfare from the middle class of this country? Or do you think maybe we should raise the minimum wage so that those workers can earn a living wage and not have to get Medicaid or food stamps? Dr. Winship.

    Scott Winship:: Thank you, senator. Let me start with your earlier question about defending the wealth distribution that have.

    Bernie Sanders:: Actually, my question was on the Walton family.

    Scott Winship:: OK.

    Bernie Sanders:: Do you think they need welfare?

    Scott Winship:: I would not use the word welfare, I think it’s stigmatizing.

    Bernie Sanders:: Do you think their workers, a large number, should have to get Medicaid or food stamps?

    Scott Winship:: What I think is that Walmart has the low prices which–

    Bernie Sanders:: Please answer my question.

    Scott Winship:: I’m sorry. Repeat the question.

    Bernie Sanders:: The question is: do you think the wealthiest family in this country, the Walton family, should have a large number of employees who depend upon government help, Medicaid, food stamps, and affordable housing in order to get by? Or should they pay their workers a living wage? And should we raise the minimum wage to make sure that they do that?

    Scott Winship:: I think that we should not raise the wage above levels that’s going to cause Walmart to not hire their workers. The only way that they are able to have the prices which benefit low income people more than people up on the income distribution is by paying wages that are not as high as you or I might like.

    Bernie Sanders:: I’m hearing your question to be that the middle class of this country, through increased taxes, should be subsidizing the wealthiest family in this country who are paying inadequate wages. Secretary Reich, what’s your take on that?

    I have a new idea. Kind of radical, but just hear me out: What if we don’t pay Walmart’s employees … but Walmart pays them instead?

    Robert Reich:: Senator, I do not think that taxpayers in this country ought to be subsidizing the wealthiest family in this country or any company at any corporation that is paying its workers so little that those workers, in order to have a decent living, have got to rely on food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and so on. That is corporate welfare of the worst kind.

    But more broadly, let me simply say that Walmart is the largest employer in the United States. It is paying its workers, if you include its part-time workers, on average $8.80 an hour. Now, compare that to 1955 when the largest employer in the United States was General Motors and it was paying its workers in today’s dollars $37 an hour.

    Bernie Sanders:: That’s a huge point. I don’t have much time. Dr. Kearny and Dr. Mathur if they could answer the question, should the taxpayers of this country be subsidizing-

    Chairperson:: Thirty seconds each.

    Bernie Sanders:: Well, 30 seconds is fine.

    Aparna Mathur:: I don’t think we should be subsidizing Walmart. But I think workers have a choice about where they want to work. If they are choosing to work at Walmart that is their choice and we should not decide for them whether it’s good choice. The program subsidizes workers. These are poverty programs, benefits go directly to workers. I do think that they are creating jobs, people are able to work, and have enough benefits to survive. I think it’s a good thing.

    Bernie Sanders:: Dr. Kearny.

    Melissa Kearny:: When Walmart came to Washington, D.C. the number of job applicants per job, there were more than dozens of people willing to take each job. I think Walmart is a brilliant innovation and I have no beef with the Walton family. It would be great if people could move up the wage distribution faster at Walmart and aspire to management positions and better positions for themselves and their children.

    Chairperson:: OK, thank you. Next, Mr. Campbell.

  • Dude

    That is not correct. Mcd would have to raise prices 25 to 30 percent to pay the avg worker 15 dollars an hour. Wages represent approx 30 cents of every dollar of sales. So a typical 10 dollars order will have to cost 12.50 to 13.00 dollars if the wages get raised to 15 dollars an hour. Sales will go down if prices are raised that much.

  • Anonymous

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
    last week I bought themselves a Chrysler from having made $5060 thiss month
    and-in excess of, 10/k last-month . it’s realy the easiest-work I have ever done
    . I started this 4 months ago and pretty much straight away was bringin in at
    least $78 per-hour . why not look here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • FluffKitteh

    I have always considered myself a liberal until now. Maybe I have moved to the dark side. I agree with her that wages are too low, but that’s it. Why did 2 people with minimum wage jobs have 3 children? I have not had any kids (yet) because I knew I couldn’t support them. This couple chose to have kids and now wants the government to pay for everything. That’s not the way it works, lady.

  • Carla Stixs

    The poor do not deserve to have children? Deserve is defined as ‘to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward. In that sense, the question as posed is a non-starter, based on an irrelevant premise. Are children a reward? If so, for what? Who judges? Who sets the standard? The word does however serve to elicit sympathy if poor people ‘deserve’ children, then they are without question victims, when circumstances such as poverty negate the possibility.

    If the poor cease to have children who’s going to care for them when they’re old? I assure you, even if the children of poor elderly people are poor themselves, they DO contribute to mom and dad’s care. Taxpayers will end up footing the entire bill for the elderly poor who have no children to supplement their Social Security. The poor are more family oriented than most in my opinion. Everyone wants to divide the “taxpayer” from the “benefit taker.”

    The destruction of the communities where low-income people live and raise their families comes to mind first. To low-income workers, their communities are incredibly important to them. The poor in America still practice the barter system: Example: A mother might provide after-school childcare to a neighbor in exchange for free access to their washer and dryer because she can’t afford to buy a set herself. A father might trade his labor (fixing a leaky roof) to a neighbor for fresh produce out of their garden because he doesn’t have enough food for his family. Community is vital to the poor in ways that the middle-class will never understand. All classes occasionally barter, but only the poor do it because they HAVE to. The most valuable support resource that poor people have is each other. Failure to maintain (not even increase, just maintain) the population in those neighborhoods means fewer non-government resources for poor people to turn to when they need help.

    Marriage is no guarantee of economic self-sufficiency. Nearly half the children on welfare in any given month were born to parents who were married at the time of their birth, and most of these parents had enough money to scrape by while they were married. If we tried to prevent married couples from having children until we could be sure that they would not need assistance even if they separated, we would have to regulate the most intimate behavior of millions of married people. Not even the far right wants that or do they?

    We need to work together on solutions not judge with hate and fairytales.


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  • Carla Stixs

    My math was based on an order of $7.14 and the average wage at 10.00 an hour. I also disagree that sales would go down.

  • FluffKitteh

    The government should take care of the kids who are here now, but we need to stop encouraging irresponsibility. So no, I do not agree with you. People should make sure they are self-sufficient before pro-creating.

  • FluffKitteh

    I am a liberal too, and believe in a social safety net, but people have to take SOME responsibility for their choices. Maybe you shouldn’t have 3 kids when you and your husband are making minimum wage.

  • FluffKitteh

    Free birth control is the answer! Stop making women see an expensive OB/GYN before being able to obtain the pill.

  • FluffKitteh

    Her sense of entitlement is staggering to me. It’s true that wages are far too low. And I believe in universal health care. But, just expecting the government to provide everything else – no.

  • Carla Stixs

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

  • Dude

    Your math is flat out wrong. $7.14 x 1.25 equals $8.93. For restaurants the cost of labor is typically 25 to 30 pct of every dollar of sales. If prices go up that much sales will go down. It’s basic marketing 101 in business school.

  • Carla Stixs

    I was following the president’s expression of support for a $9.00 minimum wage. Increase the minimum wage via three incremental increases of $0.95 over three years, and then index it to inflation, so that as prices rise, so would the minimum wage to $10.10.

  • ZenderTranscender

    Lots of recommendations.
    Who funds it – the usual suspects (taxpayers)?

  • ZenderTranscender

    I’ve tried to be apolitical, but when I read or hear these kinds of recommendations, I am always amazed at how clueless some people can be as to the way things work. I honestly believe people like this woman do not close their eyes and see flesh and blood, walking around, breathing in and out human beings – just like her – who are out working and paying taxes so she can make lists of ways to make her life better. Millions of working people would like to be home with their kids. Did she ever think of that? These people are used by politicians, and they aren’t even astute enough to know it – or care.

  • ZenderTranscender

    Why not come up with something and let us all know, because we are talking billions of dollars. I am so sad for poverty-stricken people, but maybe they should not have children until they can afford them. Getting a free education via public schools is also helpful. Many don’t even have high school diplomas. What ARE they thinking?

  • ZenderTranscender

    How’s that?

  • ZenderTranscender

    So how much more in income taxes are you willing to pay to foot the bill for the quickly increasing numbers of poverty-stricken people in this country?
    To note about the children, stats indicate that about half of the out of wedlock mothers and their children remain in poverty. That is absolute irresponsibility when these women give birth without a thought of how to effectively provide just the basics for their kids – let alone education. I just don’t get people like this.

  • Anonymous

    Trying to understand the ramifications of this way of thinking . . . . Wages are too low, and may always BE too low. Not everyone can work in jobs that pay decent wages and that include health care and other benefits. This may have nothing to do with how hard a person works or how much this person benefits society, himself or herself, and loved ones. This situation may not change in a person’s lifetime. So people in this situation should refrain from having children because our economic system is a broken one, where jobs are exported to be done by people overseas being paid wages and working in conditions that we would never stand for here in the U.S., to be bought by people of all socio-economic levels who think that their choices don’t contribute to the situation we are facing. If we as a society can’t change the system so it permits decent, hard-working people to have the same basic human rights as others, then we as a society need to contribute to a system that, in some ways, balances that inequity (e.g., social services). Better system or more equitable working conditions and wages is the answer. Telling some people they shouldn’t have children is not.

  • Anonymous

    Did you read the article? This couple both have full-time jobs. The employers choose to save money by not providing benefits. I wonder if we looked at all the companies that do this and see what upper management and CEOs get paid, if we should blame the workers or their employers for the current options available to hard-working individuals. College cannot and should not be a requirement for individuals to make a decent wage.

  • Anonymous

    But it’s not irresponsible of upper management and CEOs to rake in unprecedented salaries while paying employees wages that don’t allow a person to fulfill basic needs and don’t provide health or other benefits? Or companies that send work out of the country so workers live and work in squalor? If THAT irresponsibility were curtailed, I wonder how many employees could provide what they would like to provide to themselves and their families?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, one state might like to discriminate against blacks, Hispanics, women, and the mentally ill, so fair wages and equal employment opportunity may just not work in that state. I can see why the federal government should just allow each state to act independently since we all know how responsible they have been in the past in regard to basic human rights.

  • Jessalyn Wise

    Wow–awesome lady, with awesome solutions. As for all of the usual naysayers who will whine and moan about all of those *taxes* they’ll have to pay to help the poor: you pay about a hundred to a thousand times that amount in welfare to corporations. Corporations that are making record profits, So, removing corporate welfare and using that money (which none of you ever complain about) for people in poverty ought to solve the problem quite nicely. (Instead of the other way around–reducing already-miniscule help to the poor in favor of corporate welfare.)

  • Kasimu Here’s your tax dollars right here, hundreds of billions, maybe more. Couple hundred billion here couple hundred billion there, but who’s counting?

  • Deb

    End Corporate Welfare, for a start. That will EASILY put BILLIONS back into the economy.

  • Deb

    You provide people living wages, they can get off government assistance, they can contribute to the economy, everyone DOES benefit. That’s the beauty of it – because there ARE no living wage guarantees, we all suffer – except for the 1%, who are happy enough the way things are.

  • Deb

    We can spend billions on wars (some of which we start ourselves), but somehow when the veterans come home there’s not enough money to care for them? We can allow corporations more billions in “corporate welfare” than increasing SNAP benefits would cost, but complain that our tax dollars shouldn’t go toward decreasing poverty?

    When more people earn living wages, those dollars get spent; they go back into the economy, and they also translate into workers going from receiving government benefits to paying more taxes as well; in other words, those earning higher wages strengthen the economy. They buy food, they buy clothing, they buy consumer goods, and those vendors in turn benefit from greater sales, which in turn translate into more jobs and more tax revenue – everyone benefits, even the 1% who are holding on so tightly to the purse strings now and influencing public policy to maintain their stranglehold.

    This author gives concrete solutions, not just what NOT to do, and none of them are out of the reach of what’s supposed to be one of the greatest countries on the planet. Many of them don’t require your tax dollars or mine; cutting corporate loopholes and incentivizing responsible employment practice alone can both raise revenue directly (through increased tax collection from the higher wages) and indirectly (fewer people on benefits). This isn’t rocket science, people.

  • ZenderTranscender

    I agree. I pay my fair share of income taxes (plus those other taxes), so I think corporations should pay up. Billions will help, but the U.S. government now needs trillions, so there needs to be other sources of funding, too. In the meantime, people need to focus on what they can do with their own lives. The government was never intended to take people to raise long-range. It simply can’t afford it.

  • Carla Stixs

    I was following the president’s expression of support for a $9.00 minimum wage. Increase the minimum wage via three incremental increases of $0.95 over three years, and then index it to inflation, so that as prices rise, so would the minimum wage to $10.10. Sorry for the confusion.
    Are you going for a degree in business?
    Not sure my posts are posting from my email.

  • Carla Stixs

    Good post. Very sad we can give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the top 2% in this country but not take care of our veterans. There is be no excuse for this. Shame on all of us for putting up this.

  • Carla Stixs

    If you make $50,000 a year you pay:

    $247.75 a year for defence.

    $3.98 a year to FEMA

    $22.88 a year to unemployment ins

    36.82 a year for food stamps

    $6.96 a year for Welfare

    $43.78 a year for retirement and disability for government workers

    $235.81 a year for Medicare

    $4,000.00 a year for CORPORATE SUBSIDIES


  • ZenderTranscender

    You apparently are the one who is angry. I have no reason to be angry at anyone. I feel sad for people who can’t support themselves and who live in poverty. This said, I can’t take on the world. All I can do is my small part, and I support community organizations and activities that help children and families in need. And I pay those taxes you mention.

    The only taxes that directly affect my well being and that of my family’s are the taxes I pay for national security (defense), FEMA (never needed those service but could), unemployment insurance and Medicare. I think the $4000 for corporate subsidies is overestimated, but I have worked for corporations and have worked with corporations that contributed to not-for-profits for which I have also worked. I think some corporations should pay more taxes, but on the other hand if all the major industries and businesses decided to move their headquarters and holdings out of the U.S., the country would collapse. Not sure where you got your information or how reliable it is.

  • Suzaku

    Yup! Read that article a while back and on multiple sites to see people’s comments and they were interesting. This reminds me of the good ol’ “guns vs. butter” model. Our goverment needs to stop playing games, get their moral and social conscience together, and reinvest in America, not their pet projects. From one of my favorite books Civil Disobedience “I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.”

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  • David Wilson

    You are actually a pretty simple minded investor, “ninvestor.” You wrote “corporate profits are high and increasing is a GOOD thing. Means that
    corporations are doing their jobs – producing goods and services that
    are desirable and doing it profitably.” Well, #1, that is the purpose of a business for an OWENER POV, but not the society POV. #2, that statement would be just as true if the profit margins were lower — they would still be producing the good s and services, and making profit. #3, your answer indicates no understanding of macroeconomics & elasticity of price and demand. If you know anything about macroeconomics, you know it is not necessarily a zero sum game (if owners win, workers and/or customers lose). If workers are uniformly paid more in an economy, they become stronger/more frequent customers, buying good s from other companies that they otherwise couldn’t. Thus all companies can sell more product, and possibly make enough increased profit to offset the higher labor costs. Yes, that’s right, INCREASE profits. This is what happened in the 50s and 60s, compensation was high, tax rates were high, but corporate profits and the economy boomed. the classic win-win. Your ignorant “I-me-mine” selfishness is not only morally bankrupt, as others say, but it is likely COUNTER PRODUCTIVE to overall national economic growth.

  • David Wilson

    You only responded to my #3, and completely ignored my #1 and #2.

    Corporations don’t exist, and you don’t have ownership of one, through some inalienable right enshrined in our Constitution. You do so only because our congress, representing us, decided it was in our collective best interest to have them.

  • Jeff Schuster

    I am reading this post in Jan 2015… and I am broken-hearted. Not because of the situation Tianna is in, but because of the economic knowledge gap. I feel for Tianna and her family and would genuinely like to know how they can break this poverty cycle? I fear the requested government assistance will just create a more attractive trap in the poverty hole.