In the early 1930’s my dear grand mother Sarah Elizabeth Walters found herself “in a big pickle.” She had ten kids and my grand father left to seek his fortune in the East Texas Oil fields. There was not much welfare over 80 years ago and very little employment for women. My grandmother was a lady of incredible character, resourcefulness and determination. She sat down with the kids and made a plan for all of them to survive. Every child was to continue with schooling. Every child was also to have a part time job and contribute to the costs of running the house. Some children had to move out of their rooms. These rooms were rented to tenants. My dear grand mother had to take in washing and go out and clean houses like a maid. They all survived those dark days and it made them all stronger.
In those “good old days” the average house might have had a mortgage equal to 20% of the value of the house. Even if foreclosure was a possibility, President Roosevelt put a moratorium on all foreclosures. Food, medical care, and other expenses were far lower than they are today. Families stood together and helped those in need.
Let us fast forward some 65 years later to 1996. I found myself in San Jose, California broke. I found out quickly that there was little or no job market for a 48 year old male. I had no family to aid me in this time of need. I found myself sleeping on the streets for two days. Then I came to Inn Visions. It was a homeless program. I spent some 18 months of my life in this homeless program before I got a job that paid a humane living wage. Without this program, I would have ended up permanently on the streets with no hope in life.
Now I see the big push to cut unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc. It’s all part of that proud American tradition of rugged individualism and being responsible and taking care of yourself. Please do not get me wrong, I admire these virtues that made our country great. But times have changed. In many cases families no longer stick together and help one another. The cost of every thing in life has gone up so much. The job market has changed and it’s tough to get a job. Massive retraining and new skills will be required for this new challenging world.
There are going to be a few unscrupulous and clever people who “game the system” to get benefits from the government. But there are a lot of people who genuinely need help. We cannot afford to turn our back on these people. I doubt that many of the people cutting these benefits ever had to sleep on the streets and do without food and even a shower, as I have.