Sometime in the early 1980’s a myth arose in this country. Described by then-president Ronald Reagan as the “welfare queen”, it was a picture of a young woman gaming government programs to live the high life at taxpayer expense.
Now we bring you a story about a British woman who seems to fill the classic, albeit discredited, stereotype to a tee. Love her or hate her, you really need to hear her story.
UK tabloid The Daily Mail is reporting the story of Anna Broom, A thirty-three-year-old woman who has been receiving government benefits for fourteen years.
Now that she has met Mr. Right, Ms. Broom is asking for taxpayers to provide for her dream wedding.
She is asking for about seven thousand British pounds to pay for her wedding. Among the items on her wishlist for a fairytale ceremony? She hopes for a designer dress, a champagne toast for her fifty guests, and a horse-drawn carriage ride to the ceremony which she hopes to hold in an English Castle. She is also hoping for another fifteen hundred pounds for the couple’s honeymoon in Mexico.
Broom says “I’ve dreamed about being a bride since I was 12-years-old. I deserve a fairy tale church wedding and a party in a castle. but there’s no way I could afford it on benefits and I can’t work because I’m overweight.”
Ms. Broom has been on public assistance for fourteen years. At nineteen, she was diagnosed with depression and lower back problems, which have become aggravated by bouts of eating disorders over the years.
This caricature of the classic welfare recipient as lazy slob has persisted for decades, but does it bear any semblance to the reality of life on state aid in the United States? While it has been repeatedly proved a myth through research conducted by state and federal agencies, universities and think tanks, and religious and private charities, it continues to be a commonly held stereotype among a large segment of the population.
Conservative writer Terry Jeffrey claimed that, according to the US government’s own numbers, ”109,631,000 Americans on welfare, outnumbering the ‘105,862,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States.”
However, upon closer scrutiny, his claim is a bit disingenuous. While his numbers are technically accurate, he is making an apples to oranges comparison.
How you may ask?
First, the number of welfare recipients includes the elderly and children, who are not part of our primary workforce.
Second, it also uses an extremely broad definition of the term “welfare.” In addition to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, he also includes such programs as Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, which is a food subsidy program specifically for minors, and Medicaid, which are far larger programs than TANF.
Finally, and most importantly, there is an extremely large crossover between households that receive government benefits and the workforce. As much as forty percent of our nation’s full-time workers must receive assistance.
In other words, there are a whole lot of full-time workers who simply can not earn enough to pay for their family’s needs.
So how do you feel about social safety nets? Are they a vital part of a government’s responsibility to its citizens, or a waste of money and an unfair burden on the upper middle class and wealthy, who have earned their keep? Share your opinions with us here.