Archived Story

Who’ll fill the void?

Published 11:08am Saturday, November 19, 2011

The selfish human nature makes a certain amount of class warfare inevitable, I suppose, but the conflict seems to be intensifying in this country.

Fault rests on both ends of the economic spectrum.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has made demonization of the rich man fashionable, painting the upper class with a broad brush that ignores the great American tradition of upward mobility through hard work and ingenuity.

Resentment of the poor is an equally disturbing trend.

Almost every time our newspaper publishes a story about an effort to help people who are less fortunate, website posters ridicule the recipients as welfare queens who mooch off the system instead of working to make an honest living.

When S.P. Morton Elementary School announced recently that it would use federal funds for after-school tutoring of students from low-income families, some readers, incredibly, wanted to know why the program wasn’t available to richer families too.

To be clear, there are con artists at both the top and bottom of the economic totem pole, but we err as a society by allowing that minority to shape the way we view people of classes different from our own.

Rising above the fray and bridging the class gaps in this community is a terrific organization, the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way, which has begun its annual fundraising campaign.

The symbolic thermometer above to this column shows how far the United Way has to go to reach its campaign goal of $175,000 by Dec. 31.

The loss of a longstanding annual corporate contribution from International Paper Co. and a generous annual workplace campaign by mill employees has left a big void in the United Way’s capacity to fund area non-profit organizations.

With proceeds from last year’s campaign, the United Way gave $186,500 to 27 community organizations that help people from all walks of life. At the current pace of this year’s campaign, the United Way will have about $50,000 less to distribute at a time when the community’s needs are greater than ever.

The gap will be filled not by large corporate contributions (though those certainly are welcome) but by generous individuals giving as they can, ignoring the din of the class conflict around them and enriching our collective quality of life as citizens of Franklin and Southampton County.

  • franklinmom

    I want to know why we can’t require those on welfare to volunteer their time doing public service? Why can’t they make copies for teachers or provide free daycare in the schools for the teachers AND 150+ teens that are getting pregnant each year in this area so those kids can finish their education? What about cleaning up around town… or helping out at a nursing home or a fire station? Don’t give me reasons why they CAN’T; I can give you more reasons why they can/should. Reading to classes? Helping tutor? Earning their OWN GED if they don’t have it? Why do we make it easy?

    And, yes… I, too, have witnessed SNAP cards being used by people dressed and bejeweled far better than I with purchases much less wise than I would purchase for my brood. I like the idea of WIC… you must purchase what is on the list. But I can’t save the world… Until our leaders want to acknowledge the problem, it will be a problem.

    MY children will not willingly enter that lifestyle… but sadly enough, there is an entire sub-community around us that has CHOSEN this as a “career” move. I have heard from teen mothers that they are not at all concerned about how bills are going to get paid because they live with mom who often lives with another relative (sometimes the grandmother), and there are multiple levels of public aid filtering in to the household… in addition to the showering of attention she gets from the baby. And the CASH *is* coming from somewhere.

    God bless the families who have fallen on hard times and need public assistance to make ends meet until they can regroup; I am a product of such a household. But I do not respect a person who abuses that system and ruins it for those who genuinely require the aid.

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    @Malakani—I did not need a President to tell me about welfare Queens. The concept was well known here in SEVa well before he was elected POTUS. I saw them every year of my growing up here in Tidewater. If you did not, then you must have had some kind of Little Lord Fauntleroy existence. Count yourself blessed not to have had to see it. I remember my most shocking such experience. My middle school (was called upper elementary back then) class collected holiday “feasting” foods and took the bags of groceries right to the living room of the “poor, unfortunates” we were helping that year. While we were there, visiting, I peeped out the curtain into the back yard, and I remember seeing a jacked up, beautiful, red-orange Plymouth Duster muscle car parked in the back yard (I guess where we wouldn’t see it?)instead of out front where all the other cars had parked. I was about 12 year old. What was I supposed to think? My family had never even ridden in a car that new, much less had one parked in their back yard. And what of the time, just a few years ago, I was standing in line behind a food stamp card holder, when she whips it out to buy 19 Snicker bars, and when I challenged her, she snapped back at me and hissed, “What business is it of yours?!” You are so naive, my friend.

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  • skooch

    You don’t have to have any credentials to see that this Country is in a free fall heading for the bottom. All of the sensible/progressive thinkers in the world cannot erase our 15 trillion Dollar debt, give us back the Millions of jobs that we gave away overseas (all the while saying it was good for America)or fix the Economic calamity that we are in. The downfall of this Country is the result of all the Free Trade Agreements that have been put into play in the years past. I can’t see how we can survive when we do not produce anything.

    All we are going to do in Nov is elect some more Corrupt Politicians that will do anything to stay in office.

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  • skooch

    The 150 new Welfare queens come from TN own numbers a couple months ago when this issue arose. If you think that these Teenagers that are getting pregnant every year are not getting on the Welfare wagon then you indeed live in your own world. The fact is they get pregnant, become qualified for Medicaid, receive Section 8 if they live by themselves and even if they live with their parents they become eligible for a housing allowance, food stamps, wic, and can file and receive a Earned Income Credit at the end of the year even if they have not earned one red cent or paid a dime of Taxes. Now that is a pretty good free ride if you ask me, their rent is paid, their food is paid for, their Medical Expenses are covered, and they get between 3 and 4 thousand back from the gov. at the end of the year. So yes they can very well afford to spend what extra money they might get on the street on a pretty good “WHIP”. Oh and if they do decide that they might want to get a College Degree they can qualify for grants to get that also. I can’t imagine why they would though they might even have to get a job then.

    And yes I can show you a gal that is on the Welfare Scam wagon right now and is riding around in HER BMW and has a personalized license plate. All while living off of our tax money and laughing at how stupid we really are that we allow this to go on.

    To think that these people are borrowing cars or riding with someone is just ridiculous. you are burying your head in the sand.

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  • Makalani

    @blackwaterpete — OK! It’s your turn! lol
    You seem very passionate about poor welfare moochers who literally make you “sick!”
    Poor welfare moochers apparently make many conservative politicians “sick.“ They work mightily to get welfare moochers off the govt dime by voting against “entitlement programs ” and work to abolish “govt. giveaway programs.”

    But many conservative politicians are also working just as mightily to eliminate family planning programs and making it harder/illegal for poor people to get abortions/birth control.

    I wonder why conservative politicians are working so hard for people like you who are “sickened” by poor welfare moochers but at the same time sponsoring laws to create more poor welfare moochers?

    I have voted Peace & Freedom — Tea Party — for liberals — independents and conservatives — yet the poor welfare moochers — just like the Energizer Bunny — “keep on going and going!”

    What can we taxpayers do to become “unsickened?”

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  • Makalani

    “The US is collapsing and it will be in this Generation likely in the next 5 years.”

    I don’t know what credentials that you possess to qualify your making such a dire prediction/gloomy assessment of America. But let me reassure you — people with equally impressive credentials — or more so — have made many such predictions many times only to end up with rotten egg on their faces.

    But I can certainly understand people’s gloom and doom sentiments about America — especially those who listen to the conservative talking heads/airheads. They constantly beat the drums of apocalypse because there is a(D)in the Oval Office who is:
    A.“ ‘Leadership’ challenged“
    B.“Taking America down the road to socialism/ruin”
    C. “He DOES NOT LOVE America.” lol

    Hopefully — in 2012 — an (R) — any (R)– will be elected — restoring many people’s faith in America’s future.

    But evidently — many sensible/progressive thinking people — like those who work for the United Way — have not lost faith in America’s future. They wouldn’t be working so diligently to make our society better if they thought the whole shebang will collapse in a smoldering heap in about 5 years!

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  • Makalani

    @RWH — “… Reagan was most correct.”
    “Correct” — like beauty – is in the eyes of the beholder!

    I knew I was possibly “stepping into it” by speaking ill of Dutch Reagan as opposed to speaking in exalted terms of deep reverence worthy of a demigod! lol

    Mr. Reagan made no bones about his disdain for the poor. During his terms — his administrations cut social programs — commonly referred to as “entitlement programs” to make them seem more wasteful — increased the military and other govt agencies budgets with the “savings” from entitlement programs.

    The “welfare queen” tall tales were meant to demonize welfare recipients/the poor! Of course — the strategy worked with his supporters. Mr. Reagan’s stature/popularity rose to meteoric heights among those with similar sympathies about welfare queens/ moochers/the poor! Prez Reagan will be “riding tall in the saddle” in many — many minds for many — many years to come! Which is fine by me! Aside from his demagogic political policies — he was a very likeable guy!

    I also understand perfectly why President Reagan is so highly regarded by “conservatives” — held in such reverence by those on the “right” — if I may use labels.

    I followed his presidency very closely and perfectly understand Prez Reagan’s political methodology/ideology.

    I just don’t agree. I have different sympathies/worldviews/POV!

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  • Makalani

    @skooch– I intentionally go to the grocery stores near the 1st to observe such behavior. The welfare queens must know I will “put them on blast” (urban slang for call them out) so they drive away until I leave! Lol Please take your digital camera next time and email me pics of the welfare queen/abusers’ in their expensive “whips.”

    Unless you have personally interacted with these welfare queens/recipients and know for a fact who owns the cars — you are assuming a lot. It is not against the welfare rules for a recipient to ride with someone or to borrow a nice car to go to the grocery store.

    Evidently — you have sources within the Franklin Dept of SS and have ascertained that “150 new teenaged mothers” become welfare moochers each year. Ask your sources what is the total welfare stipend — including foodstamps — for a Franklin welfare queen/moocher.

    You seem like a reasonably intelligent man — do the math.

    If a welfare queen/moocher can feed — clothe her family — make payments on a BMW/Cadillac/Lincoln Navigator and buy gas on a few $100s — they are financial wizards. They should be running the budget depts. in Richmond and D.C.

    If you choose not to do the math — keep believing what you believe — that is certainly your right. Just don’t expect to convince anyone with more than 10 working brain cells who passed the 1st grade of your stereotypical nonsense/claptrap.

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  • skooch

    @Liberty with responsibility: The US is collapsing and it will be in this Generation likely in the next 5 years.

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  • skooch

    @Makalani: Obviously you have not been in the food markets on the first of the Month lately. The “Welfare Queens” are spending their $200-$300 worth of Food stamps and then driving home in their BMW and Lincolns on a regular basis and it is not just one or two. This Welfare system is a scam that gets worse every year. Franklin alone has 150 new pregnant Teenagers that end up on the welfare roles every year I can’t imagine how many cities like Portsmouth and Norfolk have.

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  • Makalani

    Ronald Reagan — bless his late heart — with one of his made-up — folksy tall tales — etched into the minds of his minions/so-called conservatives that bogus stereotypical “welfare queen” in the Cadillac image — forever — indelibly! Other idiot politicians of Reagan’s ilk picked up where he left off — continuing that bogus stereotype which is music to the ears of the unthinking.

    To their credit — the welfare kings/queens have prospered mightily since the 80s. They now have graduated to Lincoln Navigators from Cadillacs — considered more upscale “whips/rides” (urban slang for car) among the underclass.

    I am happy to say that welfare kings/queens are exhibiting one of America’s most cherished values — upward mobility.

    RE: Left – right — centrist — (R)– (D)– (I)– Socialist — Tea Party etc etc? Buzz phrases/labels that demagogue rabble-rousing politicians use to keep us separated/divided so they can hose us all down!

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    • RWH

      Mak, I will say this for sure, you do have a pretty way with words. Unfortunately for your position Reagan was most correct.

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    Those of us who the left accuses of being cynical of the poor got that way, by having our fellow citizens fight us every inch of the way, when our side tries to enact some accountability and controls on a system that is designed to allow a certain amount of corruption to continue on forever. When we propose to require monitoring of grocery purchases by food stamp users to disallow ice cream, and candy, and soda, you scream NO! When we propose drug testing for welfare recipients, just as our self-sacrificing military must do, you scream NO! When we propose requiring a voter card or DMV ID card to vote, you scream NO! No matter what the proposal is, when we try to make it harder for cheats who survive off OUR sweat-stained tax money, you fight us all the way. If you did not have the purpose to stall our every move to get the tax-payers some confidence in the system, we wouldn’t be so cynical. But, you already know that. You don’t want the system fixed. You like it the way it is. If we were able to put everybody to work, and we all supported ourselves and our own kids, the way it was before in our grandparents day, there would be no hustle opportunities for vote-gathering, and you would also have to get a real job.
    If the leftists could do-away with the right, the USA would collapse in less than a generation. If, however, we did away with the program details that preserve corruption by the leech class, America would soar to heights unknown.

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  • blackwaterpete

    Your point are sound and I have to agree with you. But on the other end of the spectrum when I shop at wallmart and see food stamps paying for all sorts of un-healthy I question. The person pay is a lard ass and then goes and gets into a Lincoln Navigator. Is this an isolated problem. No it is not! There are to many welfare moochers on the rolls and we see them everyday and it makes me sick. I work hard and just barley get by and know I could if wanted to get the aid they have but will not. And I dont drive a lincoln. But there are those who need our help and even in my dire straights I reach out to help where I can. But the others make me sick!!!

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  • Makalani

    “Rising above the fray and bridging the class gaps in this community is a terrific organization,…”
    Indeed! I am cutting a check today and sending it to them.

    You make very salient points concerning class warfare and those “circular thinkers” who trot out/spout the same old inane – asinine — trite stereotypes seeking to feed the flames of ignorance/to divide.

    The “closed-minded — circular-thinking lunatic fringe” in our society will never hold sway as long as there are people like those work for the United Way. progressive – forward-thinking people who work to better our community/society — the class of its recipients not being an issue!

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