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The More You Know

By Nidicka Frederick

Remember the old logo inspired by NBC that made television watchers feel like they were part of a caring and concerned community that believed knowledge was the best if not only policy for social awareness?  Well I’m wondering if the tax payers of America really “know” about the current rules and regulations policing the “…the most vulnerable citizens in state” also known as the welfare recipients that are inundating the Public Welfare System and who might not be nearly as vulnerable as you might think.

If you are an employed American believing yourself proud to work hard and have taxes taken out of your paycheck because you know those funds are going to such worthy causes as feeding hungry children, helping disabled and/or homeless veterans, supporting elderly widows or couples who worked their entire lives and served as good citizens, placing aged out foster care youths braving the world as independents for the first time in school or transitional homes or financing the hope of our future which are college bound young adults- Then think again! According to your government and Public Welfare Regulations (I’m referring to the state of Pennsylvania but rules vary only slightly from state to state and all are worth questioning) these groups are not nearly as vulnerable as where your money actually goes which is to support single, not working (which is different than unemployed) men and women who decide it more beneficial to be subsidized by the government then contribute to it, households with children of multiple absentee parents who are not expected to take any legal recourse against deadbeat partners,  the disillusioned and indifferent youth who are aimless and without direction but eligible for benefits , and of course the entitled citizen who either stumbled upon or researched such rules as waiving resources for an entire county as a blanket decision making those who are sitting on 1.1 million dollars in attainable bank resources legally entitled to welfare benefits.  It’s difficult to even approach this topic without taking a closer look at that very cancer spreading throughout our culture called ENTITLEMENT.

As a person who has served in the capacity of an Income Maintenance Caseworker for the past 9 years in Monroe County, I have witnessed much which has left the taste of disdain in my mouth.  Many have suggested, “If you hate the job so much, why don’t you just quit” which is the bane of my conundrum indeed!  To leave is a viable option but to leave without sharing the catalyst of my flight would just be irresponsible so consider this my self-imposed exit interview being shared in hopes of reinstating that once glorious NBC slogan.  

On most days, I will either deny elderly couples food stamp (SNAP) benefits altogether or insult them with a monthly allotment of $16/month because they had the audacity to marry, work, retire and vote for ill-advised leaders in places of government that would overlook their needs.  On those same days I must also authorize to any person who for any reason is not working (including if they quit because they couldn’t stand working anymore or never looked because people get on their nerves) full benefits because they “say” they have nothing. 

I’m often overwhelmed by how often what a person claims to be is exactly what they have contributed or set out to be…nothing!  Now before I get the unwarranted honor of being suggested for Trumps running mate in the frightening possible chance he takes the primaries, let me say this; I am not some over the top hate-monger with an ax to grind. I am however all the things this country has come to despise; A Christian, heterosexual, educated, and hardworking American who believes the greatness of this country is sinking like the Titanic under the weight of simultaneous political correctness and wrongness. 

I have found myself making the statement, “People cannot possibly know this is going on in here” at least once a day. I have to keep reminding myself that although I am a working tax-payer, I have privilege to policy and outcomes many others may not have. I have to give my fellow American’s an opportunity to know what is going on instead of speculating or simply blaming the most convenient politician! This is not just an “Obama” problem; this is a how on earth did the United States of America allow such atrocious treatment and unfair policy to destroy its working-class of Americans-kind of problem. Throughout my time in this position, I could only compare these scenarios to me but I’m part of a larger picture so you might be impacted as well. Perhaps you too can relate to some of these burdens and also will want the cries of your outrage acknowledged.  Perhaps some of this straw that has finally broken my back has also fraught your load too long and instead of being an isolated whimper we are meant to be a collective roar.  The examples that I offer for the sake of this article are true and just a few of the countless experiences shared by co-workers. For some the mindset is “As long as I have a job, I can care less” and for others it’s believed “No job is worth the theft of my integrity.” Regardless of mindset, what is necessary here is exposure. It’s time to take what is happening behind closed doors and let the American people decide is this how they want their tax dollars spent.

I make slightly over 45K annually yet when my son pulled a muscle in his chest requiring physical therapy, I had to pay co-pays for each specialist he saw not to mention each physical therapy appointment he went to totaling thousands over the course of his 6 month ailment with my employee insurance yet my contemporary household recipient can earn over 100K annually and request Medicaid which would pay for their child’s same illness if that child was diagnosed as needing “wrap around” services meaning a child with ADHD is valued over my own.  Hitting close to home again was when earlier this week, I authorized $255/month in FS to a household with the same composition as my own only they had $48K in the bank, not in untouchable IRA’s or CD’s but in cash, in a savings and checking account while also earns $1300/mo. in unearned income yet with my salary being less and my checks being directly deposited I am ineligible. Less than $45K earned disqualifies however a $48K that is deposited qualifies a household for assistance because resources are excluded. Are you seeing a pattern? If it is not true that working causes people to be penalized by the same system we support than I’m open to receiving an explanation.

I could never get into the fullness of the erroneous objectives of Public Welfare in the length of an article, for that, you’ll have to purchase my book “When in Doubt give it Out: The Mantra of the Public Welfare System.”  In it I will recount true experiences I have encountered with management, co-workers and clients but for now, what you truly need to know is that MOST allegedly vulnerable households receiving your tax dollars are as far from vulnerable as can be.  In fact, some are literal millionaires or simply refusing to do what you and I are doing which is to work and give back. The logic of one of my clients was clear, she said, “Why should I go to work just to be broke paying rent and daycare when my rent is paid (She’s on Section 8), my utilities are paid (she receives LIHEAP and a monthly utility allowance), my refrigerator is full (with 4 children she’s a household of 5 eligible for $771/mo. in food stamps) and my entire house has medical benefits…Damn Ms. Frederick, I’m probably living better than you… I’m definitely eating better (laugh).”  This is the quintessential experience I have on a daily basis. Every couple of years I’ll genuinely help someone in need and I’ll let that fuel me, but most days are like the one I just described. Why should she work?  The better question might be, why should I? This is only speaking to the flaws of genuine eligibility this is not to consider the masterful manipulators who know all the tricks of the trade. If you don’t know these types of things are happening, I suggest you dig a little deeper and see for yourself; if you do know and are tired of it, I suggest you refuse to tolerate it anymore and take a stand against it. 

The help you need as a working class American (presently known as working class poor) is coming from where? I have been listening to debate after debate and I can’t see help in sight. I have decided the road I’m taking and it starts right here, right now and hopefully with you. 

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