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Front Page » July 17, 2007 » Opinion » Rantings and Ravings
Published 2,686 days ago

Rantings and Ravings


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By TERRY WILLIS
Sun Advocate reporter

A recent story that hit the news confirmed the fact that just getting people working will not lift them out of poverty. Despite the rhetoric of some that the best way do away with poverty is to make every one work, it is not happening. With rising employment rates we are also experiencing rising poverty rates.

Yes there are some people who will do any thing to live off the dole. But in reality the "welfare queen" is the exception, not the rule. Many individuals would like the chance to make enough money to not only feed, cloth, and house themselves and their families; but have some of the nicer things in life.

Many advocates for the poor have been stating for a long time that it is not possible to climb out of poverty without some assistance in the form of better wages or access to training programs.

Yet at the same time that welfare reform mandated employment as the only choice if you wanted any short term assistance, all other support programs have been cut. Help with child care, training or money for transportation needs continue to be slashed to the bone.

Professionals who are directed to assist individuals get on their feet are hog tied by the bureaucracy that has become our system.

In our community, we are very much aware how quickly your financial fortune can change. A family that has employment tied to the mining industry can be sitting in great shape, when in the blink of an eye, they are facing unemployment and an uncertain future.

Some will be able to move to another community. Some will try and hold out until they are back to work. Some will need to sit in the unemployment office hoping they will find a job that they can make ends meet with.

They are generally the lucky ones, at least in the first few months after a big layoff because there is are funds available for training and business loans. Many don't feel very lucky when they have to learn to live on five or six dollars an hour instead of what they were making.

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is up for reauthorization in congress. This is a program that helps the working poor with health insurance for their kids. It should be a slam dunk vote, but like any thing that Congress touches, it is not.

I also say that each employer needs to look at some way to pay a living wage. If everyone began to do it voluntarily we would not need a law to make it so. I know this is difficult for some smaller employers.

I struggled with it as the director of the Family Support Center. With limited resources and mandated staffing requirements I paid what I could. I also went without a personal raise for three years as I used every bit of increase to give my lesser paid employees whatever I could squeeze out.

I am not a hero for doing that, nor do I advocate for a socialistic society, but living high on the hog at the expense of letting people barely survive seems as wrong as the "welfare queen" doing the same thing on your tax dollar.

Working people should be able to live with dignity. Children should live with hope and health.

I hope Congress can take some steps to make it happen.


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July 17, 2007
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