I Am the Welfare Queen Your President Condemns

I Am the Welfare Queen Your President Condemns February 14, 2018


Collecting food stamps, unemployment checks, and medicaid insurance isn’t taking a handout. It is literally making a withdrawal from an account into which we’ve been collectively investing all our working lives.

I will tell you a story to demonstrate this reality, but first let me tell you why this matters: Because for as long as I can remember, Republicans and so-called fiscal conservatives and Christians have decried social safety nets like food stamps, WIC, head start, medicaid/medicare/social security, and section 8 housing as handouts for freeloaders. They have preached and worked to build a bootstraps theocracy (rooted in white supremacist and manifest destiny ideologies) which ironically amount to nothing more than a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest wealth-based economy that discards the poor and worships the rich.

But it’s a garbage ideology built around the total lie that these safety nets are undeserved freebies to lazy ne’er do wells who’d rather take than work.

As evidence I present to you my own story: On January 1, 2017, my husband Paul’s position was eliminated from the company he’d worked at for ten years, and he was given a choice: We could either sell our house, take Eli out of school, and move back to the southeast region for him to take a similar position in the company. Or we take a five-month severance package with benefits, after which Paul would be eligible for six months of unemployment.

For obvious reasons — not the least of which being that selling/uprooting/moving would have had to be done *immediately* leaving us no time to actually make the seismic shift — we took the severance package and used those paid five months to make the collaborative record we’ve been wanting to make forever. (It’s finished and out now, by the way — available here and here and a bunch of other places.)

Ever since severance ran out, Paul has been collecting unemployment and we’ve been insured through MN-Care (medicaid). Now that unemployment is almost up, and since I’m working part-time at a non-profit while he works from home writing a book and trying to lift our band off the ground and give it wings, I’ve recently been looking into SNAP (food stamps) benefits.

Thanks to the 20 years of white supremacist bootstraps theology and policies I was raised (and braised) in — inherent to which are the ideas that responsible citizens and righteous Christians don’t ask for government cheese — I have to actively resist feeling shame at the thought of collecting benefits to cover relatively small living expenses after taking a 75% pay cut to pursue non-profit community organization work and professionally make art for the world. We aren’t lazy. But more importantly:


Again, let me say:

Collecting welfare benefits is not taking a free handout from hardworking taxpayers, but making a withdrawal from an account into which we’ve been collectively investing with every hard-earned paycheck since we took our first jobs at 14- and 15-years-old.

What’s most frustrating about all of this is how the very same folks on the Right who bemoan and condemn welfare, medicaid, single-payer healthcare, and other tax-payer funded social safety nets simultaneously sing the praises of Medi-Share healthcare programs which function the exact same way! Except instead of the money being pooled and named “taxes” — which pays for everyone’s healthcare needs — the money is collected into a private pool which then pays its members’ medical bills.

All I’m saying is that all these “fiscally conservative” yappers accomplish by de-funding social safety nets is allowing our collective investment accounts to be drained and their holdings handed off to the uber-wealthy.

And screw that a hundred ways from Wednesday, okay?

Now, please go buy our music.


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  • Marshall

    It’s understandable how-that many Americans have come to think of public assistance as a system by which working people “pay into an account” with the possibility of (at some point, in time of need) having to withdraw from that same account. By contrast, the Social Security retirement fund was initially set up in this way, but then later needed to be merged with the “General fund” due to consequence by-way-of legislative restriction regarding investment of the funds; so-called cost-of-living adjustments; and the popularity of later-conceived SSI/SSA lifetime benefits. What we learned: “pay as you go” doesn’t work for popular insurance-styled welfare assistance. Today in actuality, everything been & being “paid in” is already spent (and quite a bit beyond that still!).

    Initially, social welfare was set up as a public-backed account that you would borrow from, and then later (as things got better for you & yours) pay back what you used as what had been on temporary loan to you… a “loan” that, at that time, no bank would be willing to extend to you. (Even today, there often remains this-now legal-technical requirement to pay back benefits withdrawn/received.) The problem with the initial approach became how-that very few former recipients actually paid back the benefits they had received (after things had markedly improved for them). Consequently, additional taxes were brought on-line to cover the difference, but, as it were, the taxes couldn’t keep up. Social welfare programs today remain very popular.

    “Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest wealth-based economy” is an apt description of how the United States functions. With some irony, if it didn’t function this way, there would be relatively little in the US today being handed-out as government-based social welfare benefits. Your story (Amy?) reflects how you and your husband make use of this ugly monster of a “Darwinian” economy, even such as to possibly sell a lot of copies of your music. A valid question in reflection: Are we also to biting the hand that feeds us?

    Yet there is something in aspect of your “account” here, which likely disqualifies you from rightly claiming the title “welfare queen”: Your decision amidst transition to make make use of public assistance (whatever forms it may come or name by) has some effect to help further capitalize (or, post-capitalize) a small business; a music business; a music band. You are among a percentage of Americans who would call out to make creative, advantageous-investment use of these programs. I don’t personally consider that you should be faulted for this per se. What you may be up against has more to do with American culture, than with various political ideals. The US is a land long soaked in individualism. This makes for an odd situation… You and your husband could simply run up a bunch of credit cards; borrow from as many as will lend to you, then file for debt dissolution and keep the house, and few people would actually come to fault you and your husband for doing all this [even though default in bankruptcy falls upon the public’s back]! However, where a mostly-comfortable American dips into the public coffers [which already are buried beneath debt that cannot be repaid]… that’s widely regarded as a cultural violation. A hundred years from now… none or this will matter or apply.

  • Sum Toon

    “he works from home” Sorry; you should not be collecting benefits. The benefits which you are wrongfully taking advantage of are not for those who choose to work from home, they are for those who are unable to work.

  • Glad2BGodless

    I’d much prefer that he continue to work and add value to the economy, in whatever way he can.

    If he needs to temporarily supplement that income with some benefits in order to keep himself and his family whole, that’s A-OK with me.

    That’s a much better use of the taxes I pay than spending the money to buy a couple of rivets on the hull of yet another aircraft carrier.

  • Glad2BGodless

    Best wishes to you and your dear family. You seem like lovely people.

  • Glad2BGodless

    As you noted, you and your family supported the system before the system supported you. I agree. I would add that you deserve support when you need it, even if you had never paid a dime in taxes. Decent people help each other when help is needed.

  • Sum Toon

    Whether or not it’s okay with you; it still violates the law. I agree that our nation should invest less in the military and more in it’s citizens; but, welfare fraud is not the answer.

  • Glad2BGodless

    You are welcome to prove that he has violated any law or committed welfare fraud.

    How are your interests harmed if he tries to contribute to the economy while he collects benefits?

  • MadScientist1023

    Read the entire sentence. His work from home consists of writing a book and either managing or performing in a band that isn’t off the ground yet. Either way, it’s likely not the kind of working from home that actually comes with much, if any, of an income. Calling that working is a bit of a stretch. I highly doubt it’s enough to disqualify them from unemployment.

    You seem like you’re confusing unemployment with disability. Disability is for people who are unable to work. Unemployment is for people that get fired and need to find new employment and need time to do so. Writing a book and being in a band only count as work if you’re good enough to make money off of it.

    Food stamps, on the other hand, go to employed people all the time. Walmart puts up posters for employees with instructions for how to get on food stamps. Companies like that have plenty of employees on food stamps because they pay their workers so poorly. Food stamps have basically become a program where the government pays to supplement the income of people who work for the richest multinational companies in the world.

  • Glad2BGodless

    What would Jesus do?

  • Sum Toon

    My interests???
    I could not care less if a “Christian” sins, tries to justify it, and you back them up.
    I really DO enjoy the hypocrisy of the “true believers” when they flout His very words!
    Mark 10:19

  • Sum Toon

    You’re confusing right from wrong.
    This should help you to distinguish the difference.
    Ephesians 4:28

  • MadScientist1023

    Oh, honey…

  • Glad2BGodless

    So he’s not actually harming your interests in any way at all, as far as you can say.

    You will have to identify his sin. What was it — working and contributing to the economy in the ways he was able to do? Which commandment demands that we should not work?

  • Glad2BGodless

    I noticed you ignored my other question — what would Jesus do?

  • Glad2BGodless

    You’re not actually interested in the facts, are you?

    I thought your rule book has something to say about bearing false witness.

    Hmm, trying to remember… Are you folks for or against false witness? So hard to tell.

  • Glad2BGodless

    What’s hilarious about your choice of Ephesians 4:28 is that it tells him to work. Your complaint is precisely the fact that he IS working. So you poked yourself in the eye with a beam while you were reaching for that mote in his eye.


    You might also want to note that it says, “Give generously to those in need.”

    Hope your eye gets better soon.

    *edit: autocorrects

  • Glad2BGodless

    “I really DO enjoy the hypocrisy of the ‘true believers’ when they flout His very words!”

    That hypocrisy is even more fun when it comes wrapped in irony.

    For example: a Christian who quotes Ephesians, which tells us to be generous to those in need.

    She entirely misses that message, because her black, dried-up little heart is so pinched with rage and fear at the thought that someone, someplace, might be receiving a little bit of generosity.

  • Glad2BGodless

    You haven’t shown that anyone violated any laws, and yet you keep repeating that false witness.

    I really do enjoy the hypocrisy of “true believers” who flout the commandments they claim to revere.

  • Chris Schene

    I am sorry for your situation: it is really rough and often depressing, demoralizing and I am sure you feel hopeless at times.

    I was there too: my dad took off when I was a child of 12 and we went from a nice middle class existence too having the surplus delivery truck bring us food, we would go to the local church food banks. It was embarrassing: I had two pairs of pants and one pair of jeans, my shoes had holes in them and the house was often cold in the winter. I actually walked in the snow with shoes that had holes in them one year though some kind soul gave me a good pair when they saw that.

    Poverty was also a great training ground: The children worked part-time at 12 and beyond. We would scrounge up any job we could find: cleaning people’s yards, painting, picking up trash. I worked at a Deli counter at 12, delivered papers. We did have medical care. I so hated the kid’s teasing me becasue I wore the same clothes all the time.

    What anchored me is my Christian faith encouraged me to look at the glass as half full.: I had food, I had shelter, I had sufficient clothes and best of all that poverty gave me the divine blessing of seeing other people’s generosity to me and my family in out time of need. Catholic charities, the church, the American legion, VFW, neighbors. Some fine people I know gave me jobs I did a terrible job at just because they wanted to give me money that I could take with the dignity of knowing I earned it.

    I don’t have the slightest moral qualm taking welfare when I need it and you are right: You did your part and contributed to taxes before and we should help you.
    Are you not getting help? I realize it never seems enough, but are your necessities met?

    Why do you say “..,I have to actively resist feeling shame at the thought of collecting benefits “? That is your feeling. Own it: now one makes you feel it. Why do you care so much about what others think of you? There is no shame in that and it is our obligation as a society to help the poor. There are far more resources than just the government but you might need to beat the bushes to find them.

    How bad is your situation in reality? Do you have food? Do you have clothes? Do you have shelter? Do you have medical care? Are you taking advantage of all that is available. There are lots of private charities.

    Not withstanding your straw man filled hate-fest on Christians, there are lots of Christian charities that will help you.

  • Brandon Roberts

    as someone who depended on goverment assistance many times before agreed