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Welfare Queens Sacrifice Their Sons To The Military Too

I had a conversation today with a 66 year old home care client of mine which has me thinking about things. I’m using this post to put everything down in black and white to help my process. Many of the opinions expressed in this post are not mine, they are the thoughts of a military Mother who hasn’t seen her only son and his family in 3 years. She receives no gift for birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas. Not even a card or a phone call although she says she has contact with her daughter-in-law via phone.

She stated to me that she was in Facebook and was reading her son’s rants against the re-election of President Obama. He was using phrases like welfare queens, the 47%, moochers, deadbeats, etc. All of which might apply to her in the eyes of many Conservatives.

She’s been collecting Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Foodstamps and SSI for at least 20 years. She was on Welfare for a time following her first surgery on her neck. She apparently returned to work and then had to have hip replacement surgery. Since then she’s had 2 minor heart attacks. She suffers from angina, COPD, some circulatory problems and the usual age related arthritis.  She tends to be dramatic and tells people she’s in danger of dying at any time. Fear can be an enemy when you age. Trust me, I’m only 3 years younger than she is, I know.

She also tells lies. Outrageous lies that are easy to disprove. Lies that are so outlandish they make it difficult for me to keep a straight face when she tells me one. And she does so for every single minute of the 6 hours a week I am in her home helping her stay independent. This habit is most likely why her son wants no part of her beyond a now and again comment on her Facebook page. I imagine he doesn’t understand that those lies are part and parcel of her loneliness and depression.

She lives on less than $900 a month. Due to the high cost of rents in my area her apartment is subsidized by HUD Section 8. Last year her doctor ordered a motorized wheelchair because of her circulation problems. At times she gets so little blood in her one foot it appears to be bruised. With her leaky heart valve and the lack of circulation walking any distance places too much strain on her damaged heart. With the chair, she can get out to walk her dog or go and do some of her own errands.

If you were to look at her, you would see an attractive woman who looks as if she hasn’t a problem in the world, which contributes to the gossip from some of the other neighbors in the building she lives in. When there’s 127 other tenants there are cliques, and those who have much to say behind the backs of others.

She claims she lost her temper with the opinions of her son, defended herself and others like her by claiming that none of them want to live this way. Her first job paid a whopping $2 and hour and she was thrilled to death to get that much. We, myself included, were raised at a time when women weren’t encouraged to get higher education. We were expected to get husbands to take care of us.

Life wasn’t always kind and relying on the loyalty of a man to support us wasn’t always in the cards, which is what happened to her. She had a son she needed to care for. She did so to the best of her abilities which sometimes meant she had to move to cheaper apartments because her rent went up and her salary didn’t. Sometimes she worked at jobs that didn’t offer benefits because the pay was slightly higher and it meant the difference between feeding both of them or just feeding her son and going to bed hungry. Following the neck surgery she had to live off her retirement savings until they ran out and they qualified for assistance from Welfare until she could go back to work. No health insurance either.

So, now she sits quietly through the insults and the disrespect that she receives from neighbors and her son and that isn’t going to happen any more because, she says, her son in the military is also a member of the “mooching 47%”

She told me that between his base salary and his bonus pay and allowances he makes close to $5000 a month. I checked out the figures on the Army website, and he does.

He lives on base rent free. Gets to shop at the commissary where food prices are considerably less than in the grocery stores. He gets free medical, dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses  for himself and family. Can purchase gas for his vehicles cheaper than we can on base. With all this going for him he resents people like his Mom who don’t receive anywhere near the largesse he benefits from.

He believes the Conservative meme that Social Security and Welfare Queens are the problem here in the US. Yet, with everything he has, he can’t ask his Mom if she has enough to live on. He can’t ask her what services she receives and is there anything he can do to help her? He doesn’t know about the motorized wheelchair which was ordered by the doctor. He doesn’t know that her bottom teeth are rotting and she’s getting frequent abscesses which can’t be taken care of because Medicare doesn’t pay for dental. Medicaid pays but she has to find a dentist that accepts it which means traveling to another city and she has no way to get there. Her doctor keeps prescribing antibiotics and she pulls her own teeth when they get loose enough.

He’s trying to make a career out of the Army because he knows he hasn’t the education that will earn him that much money in civilian life. He also knows that if he could make that much money, he’d have living expenses that would eat it up and he’d have to cut back on his toys and travels. He’s serving his country and he’s willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do so. However, I’m not sure that I care to be served and protected by someone who has so little respect for citizens like his mother that he should be caring about. If she and others like her aren’t part of the US he’s proud to serve, why bother to serve unless he’s looking for the freebies the job rewards him with?

Maybe she’s right, maybe he too is a member of the 47%. I hadn’t ever thought about it the way she does. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for our young men and women who are willing to serve this country as it’s defenders. It never occurred to me that our defenders have so little respect for the people of this country.

No matter her story. If she chose to live the way she lives or if it truly was a series of bad luck or bad choices, it doesn’t matter. She’s given her only son to the military and all she has now is the pride that goes with the knowledge that she raised him to honor his country. Too bad he doesn’t care for the people that live in it.

 

6 Responses to Welfare Queens Sacrifice Their Sons To The Military Too

  1. Butterose December 6, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Linda,
    There’s always been a resentment against those on welfare who, on the surface, simply look lazy. I do remember people saying that welfare is self perpetuating since the children become used to living that way and seldom have the desire to change it. There is some truth to that, however, the issue today is who is it that are using these safety net resources?

    In many cases it is the retirees who made considerably less money during their working years because salaries were nowhere near as high as they are now. Unfortunately now, the nation is in debt, people are blaming safety net programs for the higher taxes they pay instead of looking into the situation with an open mind. We’re bombarded all the time with information via cable news and the internet. Most of it opinion and very, very slanted towards specific ideologies. It fans the flames of blame and anger.

  2. Butterose December 6, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Admin,
    I’ve been saying that issues always have 2 sides and the truth is usually found somewhere in between. Assuming one can find the truth at all.

  3. Butterose December 6, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Anita,
    Sometimes the truth is an elusive commodity. We tend to judge others on superficial criteria and usually only know one side of the story. Much of what she said about her son was done so in anger and from a point of depression. It was a perfect example of the attitudes towards those who are using the safety nets we provide to survive. Sadly it takes place in a Mother/Son relationship. The productive member of society who views the safety net user as a drain on resources. Not ever considering his own use of similar resources. To some degree, we may be all like that.

  4. Linda Stevens December 6, 2012 at 3:06 am

    The interesting thing is when I was growing up no adults I ever heard talked about welfare queens nor any of that other disparaging and angry rubbish about people who received government social services. Possibly things were just different where I lived but I really think the answer to why later on a more mean-spirited attitude began to develop. It was possibly a kind of delayed backlash against hippies, yippies, anti-war activists and people fighting for basically an end to racism (as much is that is ever possible) and wars on poverty and everything which would be called counter-cultural.. A woman I knew suggested the idea that maybe many people thought there was just too much free-thinking going around in the United States and it scared them. So there was a definite backlash against the politicians who had actually campaigned on the platform of helping the poor and ending needless foreign wars and such.
    So anyway the luckless, the people with less apparent disabilities and even the impoverished elderly became objects of scorn and suspicion. In addition to all of that, the economy had shifted a bit. People from the old confederate states were migrating north to find work. Sometimes that did find it. Other times they found themselves on public assistance. But they brought the ingrained ideas of their culture with them. They also brought the terminology. This sort of rhetoric meshed quite well with the sort of culture forming in the lily-white and totally sanitized suburbs where the newly minted upper working-class could call themselves middle-class, feel socially superior and flaunt their new money. Their lives were, on the surface, very much like the old late 1950s and early 1960s sit-coms.

  5. admin December 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Amen ;)

  6. Anita December 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    That’s a powerful article with a lot of insight. Unless we walk in others’ shoes, we will never know the challenges they face.

    My Mom was on SSI for most of her life. My Dad died before he collected any of his SS. He always told us kids never to begrudge the money Mom got because he had paid in to social security since he was 17 and would never see a dime of it. He was right, he didn’t.

    If at all possible, children should help their parents. the least of which is staying in touch! Thanks for sharing her story.

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