Hunger Is Not a Disease

7 Ways “Work First” Doesn’t Work

Pantry HND 3

WORK FIRST – Since the ’90s, many states have been hell bent to Harry to get people to work…no matter what.  Welfare is no longer on the table.

A tip here:  Many people don’t realize that the Good Ol’ U S of A  hasn’t offered much in the way of welfare in a long, long time.

In polite conversation, I  hear the statement:  “What they need is a swift kick in the rear to get on somebody’s payroll.”  I find it totally amazing that people in this country have been and continue to be comfortable denying assistance to destitute families while offering tax breaks to the wealthy on vacation homes, yachts, etc.

The question I have is this:  How do people cope?

Work first is not always a good option.  I regularly see pantry shoppers with   family members who would be institutionalized if they weren’t being cared for by the family.  The problem is that the family has nothing.  So while Helen or Sue or Fred is caring for the ill person, s/he is not able to work.

Right now, in our pantry there is an older couple…he’s obviously a loving caregiver.  This man might be able to work were it not for his very ill wife.

Another woman shops regularly with a very mentally ill family member.  This young man cannot be left alone…not even for a few minutes.

While  the sick/handicapped family member is being cared for at home, the state is paying little or nothing.  So, the family is in desperate financial straits because of a very ill family member.  One day, someone in this family is going to realize the situation and then our state’s bill is going to increase significantly when the ill person is institutionalized.

I’m suspecting at least some of  these people are very willing to care for the ill/handicapped family member because there are no jobs out here.  When a job comes along, the person will be working and the state will be paying a very hefty bill for the institution.

Wouldn’t it just be better in the long run to pay the family a stipend in lieu of the institution?

But, family members are not unemployed solely because of a sick/handicapped family member.  There are several  reasons why people simply cannot work…no matter how many swift kicks the extremely poor person receives.   These barriers to work success can effectively kill someone’s career:

Work first is an interesting philosophy when there are no jobs.

Poor quality childcare will kill a job faster than anything.  When a family exists below the poverty level, there is no $$$ for childcare.  So, the children go to grandma’s, or the neighbor down the road…or stay home alone.

Transportation issues are major factors in unemployment.  They include:

no public transportation,

not owning a vehicle which is 4-season functional,

not having enough gas $$$, and finally,

not having the $$$ to fix the car when it breaks down.

A lot of networking is done in pantry lines for a mechanic to keep the family wreck on the road.

Literacy issues and lack of work experience are barriers to employment.  In our area, there are some illiterate people.

Until a person has a job, it’s difficult to get a job.  So…it can be very  challenging to find the first job.  I know  young people working for free in hopes of finding something that will pay.  Then, one day, they get something part time, off the books!  The next step up the ladder is to graduate to half on/half off.  Then, finally, hurray!  A job finally happens which is on the books.  A job with benefits is often beyond the dream of a person in our area.

Then, of course, we have the taboo subject:  domestic violence.  At the poverty level, domestic violence is simply not discussed.  Domestic abuse contributes to poverty.  A woman cannot escape an abusive situation without $$$ and right now there’s not much of that around.

There is not much attention given to this situation.  In future blog posts, I will be

addressing this tragic situation because it is prevalent in our society.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco