The “Welfare Queen” Myth

 

You may have heard the story:

In Chicago, the authorities found a woman who used 80 names, 30 addresses and 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.

It originated with Ronald Reagan and has persisted in America’s folklore ever since. Some versions describe the “welfare queen” as driving her Cadillac to the supermarket to cash in her food stamps.

Did I mention she is black?

In the political discussions I’ve had with neighbors, abuse of the welfare system often  emerges as their trump card in discrediting my “liberal” views. They invariably ask why they had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps while so many people today are living high on the hog without having to do a lick of work. They don’t have to say it, but my white neighbors are talking about black people.

Now, a report has emerged that shows it’s white Americans who profit most from welfare.

According to  a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a DC based think tank, welfare benefits were collected by 6.2 million white Americans in 2014, compared with 2.8 million Afro-Americans and 2.4 million Hispanics.

The study also showed nearly half of welfare recipients – white, black or whatever – took advantage of the government’s assistance to become productive tax payers instead of tax takers..

Does Trump know this, I wonder. Does he care?

Apparently not. He’s vowing to slash welfare benefits, a move that would inordinately punish his white working class supporters, not the black Americans they resent so fiercely.

And you know the Republican controlled Congress will be with him. They’re in favor of any policy that would shred the social safety net and turn back the clock to the days of Dickens.

Trump’s promised crusade

More on Reagan’s story

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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