Once upon a time, I lived in a neighborhood surrounded by ghetto in Chicago. Why does this matter? I think that attitudes regarding welfare would change to favor reform if people knew how these programs were abused, and the general state of affairs for the people who live in this culture. I had an inside picture I wouldn't have otherwise had because of my husband's medical training there. I say nothing here to be inflammatory, merely to share my personal experience and perhaps open your eyes to a reality truly beyond imagination, at least mine. You find below a series of posts written some time ago while I lived in South Side.
South Side Chicago (originally posted February 5, 2010 in my private blog)
When he was on his rotation in psychiatry, [he] would tell me every
day when he came home that he thought the world was a more messed up
place than the day before. EVERY day. He saw victims of shocking abuse
of all kinds, neglect, drug use that messes with the mind, criminal
types avoiding punishment, and people fearing for their own lives at the
hands of their families - women in particular. Of course he can't tell
me specific stories, but it happened enough he could tell me that
'baby-daddies' (that's really what they call themselves, and thus what
the medical community refers to them as) often try to kill the pregnant
woman/teen or new baby to get out of child support, or because they've
moved on. Spouses or boyfriends sometimes harm their wives and children
out of jealosy or rage. And it's cyclical too - because abused children
frequently grow into abusing teens and adults. Another thing [he] told
me sticks out in my mind: he had overestimated the number of bad people
in Chicago but underestimated the depth of their depravity. The bad ones
are really bad. His words, not mine.
on a rotation in obstetrics. And he is even sadder. The difference
between then and now is he sees babies born into a life in which they
have no chance. Their very young mothers don't necessarily want them,
they often grow up without knowing who their fathers are, they often
have several half-siblings in the home, most likely they're raised by a
30-40 year old grandparent, their minds may be messed up from the
pregnant mom using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, these poor children may
be neglected or abused. And this cycle is perpetuated by the strong
avoidance of birth control in almost any form, excepting the occasional
abortion. Many of these people die much younger than the national
average, have rampant obesity and the myriad of health problems that
accompany it. By the time a girl or woman delivers a baby, there are
good odds the baby daddy is not still with her in a relationship.
Sometimes the women come into the hospital badly battered and bleeding
at the hands of the baby daddy. It is frequent enough that the
obstetricians are unfazed and look on it as a normal part of their working life.
am not referring to normal working families here, nor families that
teach any kind of morals. Those kids, who I hope are the majority of the
children in South Chicago, do OK - they seek jobs, health, and
education. They have a sense of right and wrong. Rather, I speak here of
the undereducated in South Chicago. Sure, they go to inner city
schools, but many drop out as pregnant teens or to join gangs. Many
finish school without basic life skills. Some go through life without
ever holding a job, ever having a steady companion, ever feeling loved.
These people excel at getting something without paying for it - housing,
food, health care, etc. Some would rather get evicted and live in a
shelter than bother to look for alternative housing. It's a handout
mentality. And the attitude is what kills me - they are proud of it.
They are PROUD that they're on disability because of morbid obesity or
whatever so long as they don't have to work! These same people will buy
use the money they do have (after spending for drugs, alcohol, tobacco,
and fast food) in ridiculous ways - like $100 Air Jordan's for a toddler that will outgrow them in 2 months, or designer clothing. Or lottery tickets. Meaningless bling.
are people here, and of this impoverished culture all over the country,
who traveled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to get in on the
government handouts - and they succeeded. Surely you remember the
rampant fraud. This attitude explains it all! Some people succeeded in
getting multiple checks at the time of Katrina, just to spend it on
jewelry, sound systems, and other flashy non-essential items. I remember
crime went up 200% in Houston in the aftermath of Katrina. My
brother-in-law was serving a mission in Houston at the time, and he and
the other missionaries protected some young women from rape while
volunteering in a temporary shelter. It's just disgusting how little
some people care for the lives and well-being of each of God's children.
another example: a young woman comes into the hospital and declares she
wants to have her baby. She is not in labor, not dilated, not effaced,
and has never received medical care at this hospital before. Of course,
she is denied, and is told to go to the hospital at which she has
received her prenatal care once her labor begins, which is likely in
more than a week's time. She throws an enormous tantrum and has to be
dragged out of the hospital by security, kicking and screaming,
essentially to shame the hospital by seeming as if she has been refused
adequate treatment. The type of story the media would love but be
completely wrong about.
Isn't all this sad? Saddest of
all, I think, is the hopelessness of the situation. These people truly
think that government can and should solve all their problems. That
society owes them something. That they should be able to get whatever
they want without having to work for their goals. It seems to me that
reliance on the government is what causes some of their problems - if
they had to work, maybe they could at least teach their children how to
provide for themselves. Maybe they would understand that you can't
expect something for nothing. A society cannot sustain itself without
the work of its constituents. Neither can a society stand without the
honesty of its constituents.
Only teaching morals can
enact change, and of course that succeeds only if they accept them and
live by them. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that
teaches chastity and fidelity, and avoidance of addictive substances.
The gospel teaches honesty, work, self-reliance, love, kindness,
gentleness. It is in feeling the love that Christ has for us that we can
learn to love and serve others as He does. Through Christ there is hope
South Side Chicago II (originally posted March 7, 2010)
This isn't actually Chicago-specific but relevant to my earlier post.
I have learned more about the nature of the food-stamps program. I had
been wondering how on earth the non-working, 'poor' South Siders could
eat fast food all the time and be so ridiculously overweight. It turns
out that the food stamps program is quite generous - about $650 a month
for a family our size, which is about twice our monthly budget! Most
foods are approved, but not every store accepts the cards. You have to
use all the money or you forfeit your acceptance in the program - what
this means is that people buy and eat more than they need, buy expensive
treats, or pawn off their food stamps money by offering to buy
strangers' food with the card, in return for the strangers giving them
some fraction of the cost in cash. Legal? I'm sure not. The food
stamps program is a popular one, as is WIC (which I don't mind so much),
subsidized housing, Medicaid/disability, and extra cash accounts, also
through the government. I'm not sure what those last are called. So from
the looks of it, a person need never work a lick in his life and be
completely and amply supported by the feds in his ease!
have noticed another strange thing about the South Side: housing
situations. It seems that whole extended families complete with current
boyfriends/girlfriends (or at least large parts of them) will live
together in a small house with only one of the older ones working and
paying the bills. This leaves the younger ones free to play around with
their relationships, generally not work and generally get in trouble. It
seems to me that even many of the better-off working-class South Siders
have many relatives in the other situation, who live off of others. And
this is normal to them, and perhaps even as it should be. They are
tolerant of each other. As a whole. I certainly have heard of more
violent cases where all the women in a family are murdered by their
jealous husbands/boyfriends or the like. As my husband noted: coming to
Chicago has allowed us to understand the [black ghetto] culture, which would not
have happened otherwise.
I Can't Believe This World I Live In (originally published July 12, 2010)
I have to tell you what I saw tonight. I went to a high-end grocery
store in the neighborhood for an item where convenience was more
expedient than time investment and cost effectiveness. The lady in
front of me in the check-out line was wearing a nice dress, with fancy
hair and purse. Then she pulls out a LINK card. Do you know what that
is? Apparently, anyone who hasn't worked in 3 months (i.e. much of South
Side Chicago) qualifies for about $300 a month on the taxpayer's dime.
Accepted at most stores. Nice. She was parked close to me too, as it
turned out. Sporty car with a sunroof.
I am tired of
seeing handouts! Especially when our children and grandchildren will be
stuck with the ridiculous debt with which we've let our government swamp
Yes, there are people with real, legitimate
needs. But there are many who would be much better off if they got off
their lazy hind ends and did something productive with their lives. And
let the rest of us working people be better off too.
say, maybe this lady lost her job and didn't have savings. Maybe. But
maybe Americans should figure out that saving for a rainy day is an
important part of life. Instead of relying on the government (ahem,
taxpayers) to bail them out.
I know, I know. Judge not that ye be not judged. I try, people.
Da Hood (originally posted November 2, 2010)
What with [his] recent Cook County hospital rotation (including
night shifts) and a rotation nearby at Schwab
Rehabilitation Center, we've become all the more aware of the norm
around here. Maybe I should say 'da norm.'
instance, did you know that places that are quite safe in broad daylight
become drug-dealing centers at night? Did you know you can see pimps
wearing bright red suits on busy streets at night? Or see several gang
members sitting in front of fast food joints with police officers at
night? And that there are several neighborhoods in South and West
Chicago where having a gunshot scar or two or maybe a knife wound is the
norm? No big deal? I'm sure the early sexual activity and pregnancies
are not news. There is a large percentage of the welfare population that
stays up all hours, since getting to work in the morning isn't
something they'd consider doing.
It is really sad,
though, to hear the grandmas of the community talk about how little way
out there is for the young men. If they don't do well in school, as most
don't, they really are stuck without prospects. Even if they try to
move elsewhere for work or job training, gangs will still solicit them
for membership and rival gangs will always cause trouble on the job, and
it's not like these types of young men have references to land
themselves a job out of 'da hood.' And gangs have infiltrated the police
force to some degree. So basically they don't have a chance unless
they're taught early that school matters. And even then, there is enough
gang and drug violence on the streets to kill many innocent and
uninvolved. Sad. But problems of their own making - they're products of
the welfare culture. Or I suppose you could blame the well-intentioned
Democrats who started welfare in the first place.
get me wrong, I live in this neighborhood and I've got good friends I
care deeply for who are part of this community. And while welfare has a
place, especially with the elderly, infirm and veterans, it is literally
ruining the lives of millions of young people born into a life without
good examples of work ethic, a lack of moral values, no respect of life,
liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, respect for others' property,
opportunity or love. There is rampant physical and sexual abuse, rampant
child abuse and neglect, rampant petty and serious crime, rampant
violence, rampant drug abuse and prostitution. Think about it, if you
don't have a job, you've got a lot of time to kill on your hands, time
to get into trouble and make trouble for others. The older and wiser in
their community know full well the problems that dependence on the
government has thrust upon them because they've watched it develop over
the course of their lives in their own descendants. Plus, they
themselves were taught a different and happier way of life from
independent, unselfish, hard-working parents.
answer? I'm sure I don't know. But the [LDS] Church welfare system seems
preserve human dignity by allowing them to work for their food. No
handouts there. In fact, they offer job training, educational
opportunities, financial advice, etc to boost the standard of living for
millions of members. After all, they genuinely care for individuals, a
stark contrast from the government seeking for continued votes by
continued dependence. Dependence does not equal compassion.