Pictorial Essay: Myth vs. Reality of Living on Welfare

This piece was originally presented by No Joke Broke, used by permission. 

"People on welfare are lazy." 

Employment has been a requirement for welfare assistance since 1996. Sadly, there are simply not enough jobs to go around, while hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers lucky enough to have jobs are still forced to get foodstamps and other assistance.

"Everyone on welfare has a flat-screen TV, I can't even afford one."

The reality is that most people who are poor, or who are on welfare, cannot even afford television service so they would have no need of a television set at all.

"I always see people on food stamps taking their groceries of the store and loading them in a Cadillac."

Appearances are not always what they seem. Just because someone gets into a nice car doesn't mean it's their car at all, or that they didn't just lose their job and the repo man will be the next person you see behind the wheel. Sadly too, people tend to exaggerate to get their point across when voicing their anger about public assistance programs.

"If they were really poor, they couldn't afford nice clothes."

Just because a person is not a slob and tries to take care of their things, doesn't mean that they are not poor. In fact, keeping up appearances is instrumental when trying to pull oneself back out of poverty, after losing a job or otherwise hitting hard times financially.

"How are you online? If you were actually poor you couldn't afford a computer."

Modern technology is often taken for granted on the one hand, but then at the same time looked upon as something privileged, that only people of some financial means should have access to. In the modern world however, it would be next to impossible to get a job, make crucial appointments such as court appearances or doctor's visits, or otherwise operate in society at all without things like cell phones and computers.

"If you can afford cigarettes, you don't need welfare."

Living in poverty is a state of constant high-level stress, combined with long, tedious hours of forced idleness and despair. Cigarettes are not only an addictive habit, but also come to represent normalcy and freedom to someone who no longer has any control over their own lives. You might be surprised what someone would stoop to in order to taste the freedom of lighting up.

"How is it that poor people can afford to go out and get tattoos, but they can't afford to pay for a doctor?"

If you can find a doctor that will treat a bad case of Lyme disease for two packs of Newports and a bootleg DVD of Sons of Anarchy, you let us know down there in the comments section. In the meantime, poor folks will continue to get what they pay for.

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