The way Bobbie Nave figures it, she'd be on Easy Street by now if she qualified for welfare. There would be free health care, free child care and federal dollars to help pay the rent.
As it is, she and her son and daughter live on child-support payments and unemployment benefits that will eventually run out. She pays $425 a month for an apartment. Unable to afford medical insurance, she pays medical costs as they crop up. There were two visits to the hospital last week to treat her children for strep throat, and she dreads the arrival of the bills, while hoping nothing catastrophic happens.
Meanwhile, she is looking for work while taking courses toward a college degree that she hopes will lead to a career as a paralegal. But every time she has applied for government help, she has been turned down. Her income is too high, they tell her.
"You get laid off and you don't know what to do," she said. "You can work at McDonald's, Pizza Hut, places like that, but that's about all. Then after a while, you just don't know what to do. . . . It's depressing to think that nobody wants to help you.
"When you've got two kids who are depending just on you, it's scary. It's really scary. For those that are on welfare, I don't blame them for staying there."
Who's to blame? Not long ago, she couldn't have begun to answer that question. She tended to know nothing of politics, assuming the president ran everything. Her teachers have taught her of the role of Congress, of the checks and balances of government. Simple-sounding stuff to some, but a revelation to hTC more people than would care to admit it.
The more she learns, the more targets she has for her anger. Of Congress, she said: "I would love to see them, with the money they make, to try and make it on the money I get. And, yes, I know they work hard, but it seems like when they get up there they forget about everybody back here."