General Baby Mama

I’m finally writing an angry post. I cannot take one more article, political ad or urban legend recitation about “baby mamas” or “welfare queens” and all the economic elitist, racist and sexist implications of those pejorative terms, although politicians like to couch them in more polite terminology . I just read yet another whiny article/blog about how the middle class are disadvantaged to the point that they can’t have additional children and that welfare mothers are populating the planet.

During Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign, he introduced the term “welfare queen” to suggest that there were legions of manipulative, fraudulent mothers sitting vigil at the public trough, while popping out babies like “octo-mom” Pez dispensers. The Republicans are dragging out that tired old specter and Democrats are shamefully staying mum. It’s akin to bullying – picking a target the least likely to fight back, with a lot of bystanders too engrossed in the scene to intervene. It’s disgusting.

One could argue about the poor having too many children, but that is a slippery slope. If only financially stable people can have kids, then maybe it will only be people with a college education and then maybe people with no genetic anomalies, like faulty eyesight – you can see the creepy direction in which this train of thought is headed.

Regardless of what know-it-all pundits say, the reality is that leaving impoverished people with no legitimate means of support, for whatever reason, be it the recession job environment, lack of education, mental illness or the need for childcare in order to find work – the lack of a safety net does NO ONE any good.

In the 1970s my mother had to file for assistance for her children, due to the steadily developing alcoholism of her husband and lack of seasonal work in construction. We hungrily ate our government cheese and bought bread and milk with food stamps. It shamed her, but her children were her priority. She struggled to become a member of the working poor as soon as it was humanly possibly. Her incentive was her own pride.

We’ve all heard the urban legends about widespread welfare fraud and abuse. There are some spectacular stories reported on, but the majority of people will not be able to make a living, much less a profit staying on assistance.

The scapegoating of the poor is not a new concept, but it always boggles the mind how deftly politicians have focused on the splinter, when a two by four is sitting right in front of us. The 2012 budget contains 12% spending on welfare programs, half of what is intended for the military budget at 24%, which apparently has gotten carte blanche from the American public.

We’re still in Afghanistan, Iraq and really, who knows where else at this point. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 12 years and will be there for another two at least. When people say they support the troops, what do they mean? Most of us have very little idea of what the damned plan is and it’s barely even covered in the news anymore. The military-industrial complex is not only sitting at the public trough, but lobbying Congress at every turn and no one says “boo” about it. Meanwhile, in addition to the 6,591 men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, 633,000+ have service-related disabilities (mental and/or physical) and return home in need of assistance.

I’m struggling to understand exactly what we are doing abroad now. I’m an Army veteran from a different era and the military today has so many more challenges facing it. I want it funded, but I want to know the plan. Bigger is not better. BETTER is better. I was delighted that just last month they finally began field testing female-specific body armor for women in combat. That is money well spent. However, $70 billion dollars wasted by the Pentagon over the course of two years, with cost overruns, poor management and premature testing on various projects – not so much.

The circular logic of politicians is astonishing. In the midst of a slow recovery, they think that welfare reform is the issue du jour, all the while insisting on more military buildup and holding onto their corporate welfare for dear life. And for all those damned family values that both parties prattle on about, why do they think encouraging single mothers to drop their kids off at the crappy daycare (the only kind they can afford) and go off to their shitty minimum wage job is going to improve our country? Where’s the logic in that?

Politicians need to stop acting like we’re so stupid that they, their ads, or their mouthpieces sound remotely believable. Or even slightly decent. You’re not. Pick on somebody your own size. Preferably someone wearing stars or gold cufflinks, not nursing bras or pullups.

23 Comments on “General Baby Mama

    • This is not a subject area I’m particularly comfortable writing about publicly. I’m just so tired of stereotypes – ones that are perpetuated far beyond fact or reason. I listen to politicians on both sides and I think “wow – they really think we’re stupid.” It’s depressing. I have obviously been watching and listening to a lot this week. I might need to take a break!

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    • I think you’re right about that. The political process is very frustrating and sometimes it feels like there is so little we can do to change it. It’s not my favorite thing to write about, since I can’t possibly have all the facts and people are so incredibly divided.

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    • I think we’ll hear a collective exhale when the elections are over. Well, maybe 43-51% of us will be exhaling (depending on which poll you choose to be confused by). I shouldn’t even mention the polls – that’s a whole different rant!

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  1. Good rant, I may just print it out and accidentally leave it near the coffee area of my work. Well said, and I am so over the process this time. I have always been a government junkie, through my various phases and sides, it was like the Super Bowl for me, but this year I’m just so weary and worn down from the divisiveness and talkIng points.

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    • I think we’re all a bit exhausted from it. It’s like the holiday season, starting earlier and earlier at retailers until we just want it to be over with. I think it is wearying for the brain to constantly be shortchanged of well-reasoned arguments by sound bytes and pundits. Plus, it’s just damned unpleasant to hear all the sniping – the art of civil rhetoric has been lost. Take heart, my friend, it will all be over soon.

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  2. “Pick on somebody your own size. Preferably someone wearing stars or gold cufflinks, not nursing bras or pullups.” This line is great. There must have been something in the air yesterday.
    I didn’t have the mama angle, but the corporate one instead…my line was free-loaders can be dressed by Armani as easily as the Thrift Store.
    🙂

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    • I usually am not willing to dive in on politics, but there is something so appalling about the wealthy who profit from war and corporate advantages and then turn around to pick on the most vulnerable in our society. It makes me want to punch someone, but as we consistently tell toddlers “use your words”. I see you’ve been using yours as well – it’s good to have you back!

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      • I couldn’t agree more. I consider myself “A Political” with no allegiances to any group of grrrr……I love the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword, sometimes though, I feel like a good sword fight. 😛 It’s good to be back.

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  3. Great rant. The idea that people who are disadvantaged are somehow living it up on the public dole is one of the most twisted fictions ever foisted on the American public. Anyone who’s visited public housing or known a child whose only nutritious meals come from subsidized school lunches is appalled at the argument that this is somehow the life people “want.”

    As for the military industrial complex… you speak from experience and your arguments are powerful.

    Of course cuts in education spending is the third great disaster in this triumvirate of things our country is doing terribly wrong. I’m so afraid this current trend will build a permanent underclass. Our schools are cutting teachers, increasing class size and relying more often on computer technology for new advances in curriculum… which are then inaccessible to lower income kids in homes without computers.

    So many important issues are touched in this post…. thanks for writing it.

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    • I left off the education rant, as that deserves a post unto itself, but I agree. It seems shortsighted not to see it as a critical underpinning to this country’s future, in addition to an investment in infrastructure. From both sides of the political spectrum, it’s all about protecting what we have at the expense of the next generation. This shortsighted, territorial digging in leaves no room for compromise and focuses on petty interests at the expense of the common good. I have yet to hear “the common good” mentioned in political rhetoric this year. That’s very telling.

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  4. I really wish there was more of an emphasis on supporting mothers to be incredible mothers. If we’d truly all pitch in and raise children in this country to be respectful, kind and curious about the world, I really think the social issues we’re facing in this country would greatly diminish. But then again I live in my head and everything in here smells like flowers. Great post, by the way.

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    • Thanks. I would go a step further and say we focus on creating an environment where both mothers and fathers could be great parents or families could be well-supported, but until our culture changes, the focus seems to always be on mom, devil or saint. Our country may have a bit of an Oedipal complex.

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  5. Bravo! Ranting feels good, and often leads to thought provoking conversation. Yours did that twice over. Good mothers (and yes, some fathers too) do what they need to do to take care of their families, even if it means suffering the humiliation of asking for government assistance–of any kind.

    Best
    Nett

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    • Thanks. I always hesitate to give in to ranting, unless it does actually lead to dialogue. This one has been sitting in my head too long. I need to make room for some more!

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    • I don’t even fool myself about informed decisions anymore, because there isn’t enough time in the world to sort out all the information. What I do know is that they’re using a magician’s trick of distracting us with one hand while doing something entirely different with the other. I really resent that and find it a complete mockery of the voter. Apparently I still have a little rant left in me….

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  6. A most outstanding rant. So good, I can’t add a word that wouldn’t be redundant! I can’t help but think of that line about how a people get the government they deserve. This mess is, at least to some extent, our own fault for accepting it and allowing it.

    (FWIW, I put my money where my mouth is regarding supporting our troops. A large fraction of my charitable giving goes to USO and other military groups. I never had the honor of serving, and I’ve always regretted it a bit.)

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    • Thanks – I think about that same line about what we deserve, but I think our current system renders most of us powerless (and somewhere in the back of our minds, we know it). The electoral college is archaic, rendering many of our votes and therefore our voices completely silent. I’m all for doing my civic duty, but much like my tax dollars, I want more say in how things are executed. It’s hard to imagine, short of anarchy, how our system can evolve to make more sense in the present.

      Glad to hear you are doing something to actively help out the troops. I love this post regarding those magnetic ribbons, which just about send me over the edge: http://1pointperspective.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/and-the-ribbon-goes-to/

      Thanks for reading and commenting – you’re a great contributor!

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      • Yes, good point… exactly why I don’t rule out anarchy or revolution. I’d like to believe that, especially with the power of the internet, if enough people did band together in a single voice, then, perhaps, something might change.

        One of my complaints about Obama (and especially the Dem’s themselves) was the inability to band together to accomplish something when they had a clear majority (first two years). Romney rightfully zinged him on that in the last debate.

        (Getting ready to go to a party, so I’ll check out that link later. Work’s been so busy lately, I’m weeks behind in my blog reading and commenting… it’s all I can do to get out a half-assed post.)

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      • I’m actually ahead of schedule today, so I did go read that post you linked. I agree completely. Those ribbons drive me crazy. It largely only benefits those who make and sell the ribbons. And it gives people this false sense of “doing” something. Similar to how people forward crap on Facebook; same illusion of “contributing” or “doing something.”

        If you really want to do something, give up some real portion of your time and/or income.

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