By Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer
Jessica Compton’s relations of 4 may haven't any funds source of revenue except she donated plasma two times every week at her neighborhood donation heart in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago frequently don't have any nutrients yet spoiled milk on weekends.
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Extra resources for $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
When she went to pick up her first paycheck, she was told they didn’t have the money to pay her because the government grant they had been expecting hadn’t come through. “I never got that check. ” Finally, with nowhere else to go and just a little money left from unemployment, Modonna and Brianna spent a few special nights at the Marriott downtown. While hardly practical, those few days were some of the happiest the two ever spent together. The mini-vacation repaired some of the damage done by the past few months.
In fact, we now spend much more. Yet for all this spending, these programs, except for SNAP, have offered little to help Modonna and Brianna during their roughest spells, when Modonna has had no work. To see clearly who the winners and losers are in the new regime, compare Modonna’s situation before and after she lost her job. In 2009, the last year she was employed, her cashier’s salary was probably about $17,500. After taxes, her monthly paycheck would have totaled around $1,325. While she would not have qualified for a penny of welfare, at tax time she could have claimed a refund of about $3,800, all due to refundable tax credits (of course, her employer still would have withheld FICA taxes for Social Security and Medicare, so her income wasn’t totally tax-free).
Although there is little evidence to support such a claim, welfare is widely believed to engender dependency. Providing more aid to poor single mothers during the 1960s and 1970s likely reduced their work effort somewhat. But it didn’t lead to the mass exodus from the workforce that the rhetoric of the time often suggested. Sometimes evidence, however, doesn’t stand a chance against a compelling narrative. Americans were suspicious of welfare because they feared that it sapped the able-bodied of their desire to raise themselves up by their own bootstraps.