Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wasn't that just dandy? (question at the end) - updated

I thought my previous comment would be way more controversial than it was. There was no hate comments left in retort, lots of agreements and a few 'offerings of another viewpoint', which I responded to in my comments. Good job everyone!

I'm glad no one saw my post as anti-WIC nor anti-formula feeding, because it was definitely neither. It's refreshing to be able to put up an opinion about how I think the program is lacking and how so many people take advantage. The last comment I received mentioned a woman who breastfeeds, yet takes the "free" formula from WIC and sells it on ebay. It's stories like that which make me happy I believe in karma.

There were also stories of people who qualified for WIC and didn't take it because they really saw the program for what it was designed for - a program for those in need. How proud it must make someone feel who passes on the handout to make it on their own. Blogger "~Joe" brought up a great story of what her father taught her about social programs. She wrote "he told me young people end up getting trapped in the system because its so easy, so these programs don't help people that struggle but actually keep them down ... once you get a decent job they take the free stuff away and your thrown into the real world where everythings up to you, you lose that safety net ... would anyone wanna give that up? It's a horrible cycle that a lot of young end up falling into, things need to change and fast." I totally agree. And I hope to teach this lesson to my own children.

I've seen it happen to friends of mine. For example: a pregnancy happened when she was single. The baby's father was not in the picture. She had a job, but no health care. When the baby was born, the job wasn't paying enough for her living expenses AND daycare. So she turned to government assistance. She got free health care. Free food. Free formula. She stayed home and started raising her child. Then she started looking for work. She enrolled in a program that would provide daycare cost assistance. But then she looked a bit further and found that once she started making money, she would lose her social security, her food stamps and her health care. Sure, she could have the baby taken care of during the day for minimal cost, but at the end of the day, she would be worse off monetarily. So what did she do? She stayed on government assistance. That baby is now 16 years old. She works, but works only the amount of hours that will keep her getting assistance. She's still single. She has no savings. She lost 16 years of career time, in which she could have made something for herself. She could have owned a house, a car. She could have had a retirement plan in place. She's never taken a real vacation. She'll never feel that accomplishment of holding her own in the world. Nevermind that we (all working people) have paid for her life for the past 16 years. It's a horrible cycle.

I did want to mention something I didn't think of before - staying at home with children.

I'm a working mom and it's got nothing to do with being able to afford it or not. It's my personality, I simply wouldn't be a good stay at home mom. I think this is a very personal decision and would never ever judge someone for staying home or for working. I have opinions on pros and cons of both sides, but I think what can be a pro for one person can be a pro for another. So I will definitely ~not~ take sides on this topic.

But ...

Let me put up a hypothetical situation. Let's say there was a man and woman who both worked. They decided to have a baby. They looked into the aspect of the mom staying at home to raise the child, but they couldn't afford it. They could, however, qualify for government assistance with only one income. So she quits her job and is able to stay at home with her child like she wanted. She collects food stamps, gets housing assistance and has herself and child on medicare to make ends meet with just her husband's income.

What do you think about this? Is it immoral? Is she using the system to have the luxury to stay at home?

My opinion is yes, she is using the system. She ~can~ work. She's simply choosing not to. I believe staying at home is a luxury and the government should not be the one paying for her choice. If she wants to stay home, then she should be able to make that decision, but we (working people) shouldn't foot her bill. I understand it would be unfortunate if she really wanted to stay at home with her child, but I don't see why the american public should pay for it.

I don't see staying at home as a necessity. Daycare works and can be a great place for children. Now, if the child has a disability and needs special care during the day, I can see that as an exception of why her ~not~ working is a necessity. And I would totally agree with her pulling assistance to stay at home. But paying a completely able bodied person to stay home? I simply don't see it.

What do you think? If you disagree and think the American public ~should~ foot the bill so a mother can stay home, tell me your reasoning. Tell me the ~why~ you think staying at home should be considered a necessity, rather than a luxury. I'm open for differing views!

Update - Mind the question. The question is do you think welfare should be available to a mother who wants to stay at home rather than support her family by working. This is ~not~ a stay at home vs working mother debate. It's about government assistance. I won't be publishing any comments that are not about this very specific question. This post wasn't to debate the stay at home vs working mom topic.


Simply AnonyMom said...

My brother and his wife are like that. He works the are bare minimum that is required so they can get all the assistance that is "available" She stays home with their 2 kids (soon to be 3) and she has never worked either. My brother also gets special assistance from the college he goes to and so he keeps changing degrees just before graduating so he can continue to go to school, collect degrees, and not have to work for what little they have.

I am a SAHM but I do not get assistance. I have never even looked into whether or not we qualify. I have taken jobs in the past, but I take jobs that work around my husands schedule.

I think SAHM is a choice, but I think it is wrong to intentionally squash your potential so that you can milk off the government.

MrsSpock said...

I see "staying at home" as something that is long-term- like what I plan on doing. OK, what I'm basically doing by working just 4-8 hours a week as a nurse. And no, I think if you want that choice, it is available to you by making smart choices beforehand (I married a man who had a degree, made a very nice income, and was very supportive of me choosing to stay home. We saved money beforehand, bought a house we could afford on his income alone, and drive paid-off, 5 and 10 year old cars.) I don't think we can afford to foot that bill for everyone. I agree parents of kids with special needs do deserve that kind of support. No one usually manages their child's needs better than the mother. Do I think US parents deserve a paid maternity/paternity leave of a good 6 weeks, if not 12? Yes. But that's different than staying at home. I also think IF benefits should be available as well. Parenting a newborn is hard, and physical recovery is slow- at least it is for me.

Have you ever heard of The Tightwad Gazette? There's nothing wrong with a little frugality to reach financial and life goals. I use cloth diapers and bought used infant and maternity clothes. I use a price book and stick to a budget. Because of this we can afford a comfortable lifestyle while I have very reduced working hours. I only plan on working for intellectual stimulation/keeping up my nursing skills. If we lived on takeout and convenience foods, or tried to keep up with the lifestyles of our neighbors, this would be a luxury we couldn't afford.

Financial management should be required in schools, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one (and with the WIC post). I don't agree with getting government assistance just so you can stay home, unless there is a real need for you to stay home. I think playing the system is just plain wrong.

My nephew's mother decided to not give him up for adoption simply for the reason that she would lose her government housing, welfare check, and food stamps. Even though her only remarks regarding her son were, "I've gotten used to him". This was said when he was 3 months old.

I am extremely grateful that my husband and I have very little debt and will be able to live comfortably on one salary so I can stay home with our children. If it were a choice between me going back to work or us getting government assistance...hands down I'd go back to work.

Anonymous said...

Hi... Just a pet peeve of mine: You spoke of a mother and her children going on Medicare. I am a health care worker (I deal with the elderly not the infants) but Medicare is only for those with ESRD, Disability, or those over 65. Medicaid is the program for children under 18 under a certain income bracket, those who are "dually eligible" which means qualify for Medicare (ESRD, Disabled or over 65)and are in a certain income bracket or pregnant women and women who have recently had an infant (I believe that it only covers for a few months after birth.) Just wanted to clarify. Also, I think you might be suprised by the income brackets required for those on many of these assistance programs (food stamps, Medicaid, etc.)

I COMPLETELY am with you regarding the abuse of the system, but I don't think many people can choose to stay home on assistance and live a comfortable lifestyle.

nancy said...

Anon, I just used "medicare" as a general term. It was actually "ACCESS" or something of the same name - the arizona healthcare program. I just didn't want to go into a lot of explaination on the specifics.

Oh - and I don't think an assistance income is a "comfortable" lifestyle at all. I tried to explain that in how she has no type of "fun" life - and she is just scraping by. But even a free life like that is easier than working, no?

Earl Gearl said...

I agree with you about abusing the system. But, I also see the side of wanting to stay home to parent your child. I used to work in a daycare and I think they can be wonderful things, but I still want to be able to stay at home. I don't want my children being raised by a daycare and then wondering what went wrong when they decide to go shoot up coke on a Saturday and land in juve. I do know that it will be tough for us for me to stay at home, but I also know that there are ways to do it and assistance can be a good thing. I'm not saying that I will go that route. I will probably get an evening job so we don't have to go the daycare route, but I do think that some people truly do need assistance and I support that decision if it's for the mother to stay home with the children. Children need their mothers more than just evenings and weekends.

BethH6703 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not in the Water said...

I personally know of a similar situation but not about a SAHM. I went to school with a girl and when I caught up with her, I found out she's been on disability for almost 2 1/2 years. (Permanent Disability!!). She had surgery on her foot in 2005 and it became really sensitive afterwards....she had to wear flip flops...and "NOTHING" would relieve the pain. So she delayed returning to work...and again and again...she has had 2nd surgery, she has a Pain doctor too.

The reasoning she can't return to work is b/c someone could step on her foot and cause her great pain...and she has "insomnia" from the pain too.

So she's 27 years old...and on perm. disability. YET she helps out a local sorority...goes to the mall..walks the neighborhood dogs...coaches cheering...could any of those cause someone (or some dog) to step on her foot?!?!

Somehow she's working the system...she's living on $1300 a month and luckily has a boyfriend who rakes it in...but you're right....she'll have no 401k, no house, no life b/c she chooses to cheat the system!!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I stay at home with the boys, but that is only becasue we can comfortably live on my husbands salary. If we couldn't you believe my ass would be working and the kids would be in daycare. I plan on going either going back to school or work once they are both in school. No use me being home when the kids aren't.

My niece is pregnant and she just turned 18.(Long story) I don't know what she will do, whether she will be on WIC or get assistance. I don't think she will make it on her salary. Hopefully with still living at home she will take the oppertunity to go back to school. I doubt that she will but I have high hopes for her and encourage her every chance I can. I know she wouldn't abuse the system though, at least I hope she wouldn't. I have never been put in that situation so I don't know.


nancy said...

earl gearl. I don't even know where to respond. You would blame daycare, a place they go until 5 years old when your child is shooting up cocaine? You can't be serious. If your child is shooting up cocaine, I highly doubt it was over daycare. If it was, it must have been one HELL of a duck duck goose game.

Kateasaurus said...

I don't think it's ethical - in this economy especially where so many are losing thier income through no fault or decision of thier own - to quit a job with the intention of relying on the government to assist you.
I quit my job to stay at home with our son, and we're poor - and we like it this way. We make it work, and when we can't make it work any more then I'll get a job again. Until then, caring for our family is my and my husband's responsibility only.

Meredith said...

I am hesitant to post because I am very pro staying at home - so I will do my best not to make this a debate on that. Personally my husband and I always knew that I would stay at home. I can't really think of a single con to staying at home.

Because of this money is really tight. Last year we qualified for WIC. However my dh will not accept assitance of any kind. Instead he works his full time job 40+ hours/week and a two hour commute each day and then got a second part time job at night so that we could pay bills. I also work part time, but the boys come with me and its only a couple hours a morning.

I work with a lot of moms who are on WIC, food stamps, etc. They have told me stories of how they were told to lie about thier situation so that they would qualify for me. One told was told by a worker to say she didn't know where her dh was (he lives with them). Another one said to say she didn't work at all (she works 20 hours/week). So do people use the system - hell yes. Do I like that - no. To me its even more appalling that the workers are telling people to abuse the system. Especially since my dh works his butt off to pay for those abusers.

However even with that being said yes I think that WIC (not neccessarily welfare and food stamps) should be available for moms who want to stay at home for that first year. I so wish we were like Canada where moms would get paid to saty at home for that first year. Kids develop so much and it takes a lot longer than 6 weeks to recover from birth. I think that if moms had a year off to be home with their babies that first year you would see a lot of benefits. - more breast feeding, once back at work better production, etc. So if a mom wants to use WIC to buy bread, milk, cereal, and yes even formula so that she can be at home with her child for the first year of thier life I am all for it.

And one more note - If I had continued teaching full time with both kids in daycare I would bring home maybe 500/month, if that - to me that is not worth not seeing my kids all day. Luckily my dh feels the same and makes some sacrfices so that we can do whats right for our family. I am hopfeul that we are finally in a spot now that he can quit his part time job.

Cate said...

I don't think I should have to foot the bill for a mom to stay home. I would love to stay home, it would be my ideal situation but we can't afford it so I finished a degree to make sure I have the money to raise my son. I can't see staying home and having someone else pay for it, seems immoral to me.

Anonymous said...

I am kind of responding to the last post as well as this post. In my own personal situation, my husband and I qualify for WIC and since the certification is for a year, we will use it for a year. We will not renew our certification after that year, as the formula is really the only thing that we use it for. Technically, we probably could buy the formula ourselves; however, in the line of work that my husband does, I genuinely feel that it is the least that the government can do for us. He is in the Army, and is in Iraq at the moment, so to be honest, I feel him risking his life is worth a years supply of formula. In response to this post, I am a SAHM for the time being, yet I go to school at night. For the time being, the "assistance" that we get with WIC is useful and is allowing us to pay off significant debt and set ourselves up for success once my husband returns from Iraq. It is definately not a long term thing and the way that WIC was explained to me when we went in for qualification, WIC isn't really in the same class as "welfare." This may or may not be true. In the grand scheme of things, I do not believe that someone should base their entire life around working the bare minimum just to get assistance. That seems shady and it doesn't really set a great example for your children. As a temporary solution, or aid, sure. It shouldn't be used as a lifelong thing though.

BethH6703 said...

Deleted my comment, not because it was snarky (since I know you don't mind that), but because it wasn't staying on topic with your post.

The question at hand is a tough one for me, and I can't see it as black & white. Way too much potential grey for me to give a blanket answer. Mother staying home & buying her kids milk on WIC, and then using her welfare check to buy cigs & chips? Shoot her. Mother staying home with her kids because the jobs she is qualified to get wouldn't even pay enough to cover daycare, yet without WIC they couldn't afford hubby's commuting expense to work? Sign her up, and can I send her a personal donation?

I've lost my "black & white" these days. Life is all in greys

nancy said...

Anon 2 responses up - I totally agree. There are situations where even my hard lined opinions have exceptions.

Beth - your "okay" situation can also be an exception. You mentioned a very specific situation, not "in general" as I'm meaning it. Say that the job she has would support the family completely, yet she chooses aid just to stay at home. I know it's not like that for MANY, but it's all I know.

meredith - I almost didn't publish due to the "I can't really think of a single con to staying at home." Try to remember a pro for you could be a con to women like me and your comment could be viewed very emotionally. :) I don't want comments like that to turn into a debate :) I agreed with a lot of your points, but 100% disagreed too. But again, I welcome differing opinions!

Katherine said...

I think smart, responsible people PLAN to have one stay at home parent. I am a sahm, and we are not rich by any means. We don't go out to eat much, I shop with coupons, wait until things are on sale, try to find fun, FREE things to do with my son--and we don't have many luxuries. We go on one vacation a year, but we drive older-model cars and really SCRIMP to get by. I don't know that we would actually qualify for public asisstance (somehow I doubt it), but even if we did, I wouldn't take it.

However, the bottom line is, I bet 99% of the people on welfare CAN work--they just CHOOSE not to. They have a sense of entitlement and have learned to work the system so they can get things for free. You can't blame them, though--our government has worked for many years to establish that mindset in particular groups of people.

But NO--I don't think you should take assistance if you don't need it. If you want to be a sahm, plan better--don't have a bunch of babies you can't afford with no partner to help you (because you know the gov't will), and don't have more than you could afford on your own if you're not working.

Katherine said...

and BTW, I am one of those SAH zealots--hail Dr. Laura (that judgmental bitch ;)

But if it came down to taking welfare over being able to stay home, I'd go back to work in a split second. It's MY responsibility to figure out how I can stay home and afford it.

KimboSue said...

I think it's totally wrong to use the system. My next door neighbors are a good example of this. Both parents work - good jobs in fact - and live in a $300,000 home with a $50,000 pool and $60,000 worth of landscaping. But the kids are on the reduced lunch program at school. Meaning while my other neighbors' kids are paying $1.45 for a school lunch, these thieves are paying .50 as if they can't afford the full price!! Save the reduced lunches program for the kids that actually can't pay the money!! DRIVES ME CRAZY!

Jen_1980 said...

I know this is childish, but it's not fair! Why would I pay for someone else when I'd LOVE to stay home, but have to work(as I said in previous blog). Getting assistance was not even an option. We never even thought about that route. I can see how some people will figuret they may as well collect when they are contributing.

There needs to be limits on the amount of time spent on Welfare and incentives to get off of it. I also think only a certain number of children should be covered except in cases where there is a family hardshop and the children already exist. They need to do something to try to keep some from having child after child when they are already on assistance.

Of course if they limit welfare (time or # of children) then it will most likely be the children that suffer. It's a no win situation.

It just feels like people are being rewarded for making the wrong decision (not talking about special circumstances). We waited until we were financially ready to have a child. We bought a house and had some money saved...we still have debt, but we can afford our DD. It's difficult and frustrating to be working so hard and to see others get things handed to them.

It's like when on the ttc boards when someone complains about not being able to afford a pg test. I know you've said it a million times..."Then what makes you think you can afford a baby!!"

Kristin said...

I absolutely agree with you on this one, Nancy. IMO, staying home is a choice, and if it is made, it should be made for two reasons: the mom wants to, and her husband/SO can afford to completely support the family on his income without any gov't assistance at all (unless we are talking a special needs child, or a mom with a disability, that's different). If they need government assistance, they cannot afford for her to stay home.

Knucks said...

No, I don't think welfare should be available to a mother who wants to stay at home rather than support her family by working. Staying at home is a privilege, and is a choice you make only if you are financially able to do so.

My DH has offered me to stay at home with our kids but I won't because I'm like you Nancy, I don't feel I'd be a good SAHM. Plus, I like having the extra finances and being able to live comfortably. . . and in a few years, the kids will be in school, and my job wouldn't be around then for me to re-enter into it. I think being a SAHM is great if it fits your personality and you are able to financially support it.

I do feel there are circumstances in which gov. assistance is needed but just choosing to stay at home with the kids is not one of them in my opinion.

Sarah R said...

It is wrong to take WIC when you don't need it. DH and I don't make a lot of money (it is just my income) but we still wouldn't try to take WIC even if we were eligible. Why? We budget. We don't go out to eat often, we don't have frivolous habits, and we spend smart. We cloth diaper, breastfeed, and buy healthy foods. It continues to amaze me when people claim, "we can't afford this" or "we can't afford that". Look in their shopping carts and you will see nothing but JUNK! I'm sorry, but people need to prioritize and budget.

Congratulations, you're a mom now. Yes, this might mean you have to cut back on what used to be your 'fun' money. Aside from paying rent/mortgage and utility bills, nobody NEEDS cable t.v. If someone were on WIC and she had the money to afford cable t.v., I would find myself scratching my head.

Miss Tori said...

Hey Nancy,

This is totally off topic, and if you want to not publish it, I'm okay with that. But this debate just reinforces in my mind why national healthcare won't work. U.S. citizens are very loath to pay more in taxes that will provide a benefit to everyone (supposedly).

Also, interestingly, and on topic, other countries do pay moms to stay at home for one to three years, as they firmly believe that the children benefit from having the moms stay at home.

As far as my opinion goes on the topic, I do not think that people should receive assistance if they do not have an actual need for it. Being able to work and choosing not to work in my mind does not equal need for assistance.

Wordgirl said...

That's a really thought-provoking question Nancy.

Here's my thoughts on this:

Separate from the SAHM debate -- the question is really whether or not the government should subsidize a family in order to allow for equity in the ability to parent regardless of income level.

Yes, in a very particular way -- the laws should mandate a longer parental leave -- much the way the Scandinavian countries do. It should not be a question of money -- as it always is in this country. If you wish to stay home for the first two years of a child's life they should allow a year's leave on both parents' parts --and affordable childcare (preferably on a sliding fee scale according to income) should be universally available at all workplaces -- quality child care. It isn't and so these are the debates we come to.

I cringe a little at the idea of the violation of the social contract in partaking of a system that is meant for those truly in need -- if you are not truly in need, but again, perhaps this is a relative decision -- perhaps this hypothetical person truly feels this is the only way she can find the quality of life necessary for her child.

Ach. Foment revolution: Longer parental leave and universal, affordable, quality daycare.



the queen said...

I can't add much to the specifics of Medicaid since I live in Canada. I can tell you that system abuse is wide spread here too. Drives me crazy that a lady with 4 children (from 4 different fathers) is entitled to a monthly income, free childcare while she attends free college and a freaking housekeeper. I think that a couple of the fathers don't work just so they don't have to pay child support. Her story goes on but I'm sure you get the idea. I'm all for the betterment and education of women so that we may break the cycle but I'd like to see some accountability. I worked my ass off in school so that I had a well paying job. I will not have more children than I myself can afford to raise.

Canadians are entitled to a full one year parental leave and many employers "top up" to about 80% of your full income for 17 weeks. I believe that first year of a child's life is the most challenging/rewarding one and every mother should have the luxury to be home. Beyond that first year -you either plan and can afford to be a SAHM or you return to the work force. END OF STORY.

Not sure if I stayed on topic. This one gets me so fired up!