'Reform' talk scapegoats welfare momsAs Congress prepares...

the Forum

November 30, 1994

'Reform' talk scapegoats welfare moms

As Congress prepares to reconvene in January, the Republican majority's threats of massive welfare reform are beginning to resound in the streets.

According to this newly elected amoeba, "welfare" is America's cancer -- responsible for everything from the meltdown of the nuclear family to the boom of the national deficit.

This was also said of the current health care and social security systems. But opposing lobbies are too well-endowed to allow overwhelming reform.

Who will be the voice and the wallet to oppose massive welfare reform? There's no money in it, no prestige.

Many recipients do not even vote. So who's going to care if an unwed, 17-year-old mother loses her child to a state-run orphanage?

Who's going to notice if a family loses their home after five years of trying? Who's going to scream if a child does not eat because mom is unable to identify the father?

We all should care . . . we all will notice, and we all will scream. The domino-effect of such reform is tremendous, beginning with a dramatic increase in homelessness and ending with the implosion of our cities.

It is all too easy to scapegoat the weakest for the current economic and social status of this country.

Welfare is not to blame for the budget deficit. Welfare is not to blame for the demise of the family unit or the rise in illegitimacy.

The family units of African-Americans were destroyed during the 18th century and have never fully recovered from the splintering effects of the slave trade. The separated and shattered families of the Great Depression and World War II necessitated the institution.

Welfare would best be reformed by reforming public education. At the heart of the cycle of poverty -- and this country's economic and social woes -- is education. The current system is antiquated and bankrupt.

The money invested in mammoth education reform would reap benefits for decades to come. Not only would the welfare system reform itself, but all of society would benefit from a better educated populace.

Why do so many public policies disregard the future for the present, our children for our wallets? Since when has a country been better served by a hungry, homeless and illiterate population?

Alice B. Tracy


GOP peril

For 12 years the Republicans promised a smaller government with fewer services. Rep. Newt Gingrich and Sen. Jesse Helms promise more of the same. Smaller government is meant for domestic programs, not for the military.

President Ronald Reagan spent $1 trillion (most to defense contractors), and Gingrich and Helms promise to increase military spending.

The greatest employment force America has now is the military services. With defense, savings-and-loans and defense contract rip-offs, America is bankrupt.

Servicemen (for the first time in 50 years) fear they will be discharged (there's no more Soviet threat) and unemployed. They look to Gingrich and Helms to keep them employed.

Senator Helms told the military that he supports them but doubts the ability of their commander-in-chief to help them when needed.

He then tells the American people (including the active military and veterans) that if President Clinton visits a military base (specifically Ft. Bragg, N.C.) the president had better have bodyguards.

Recently, I saw a Southern bumper sticker: "Where are you, Lee Harvey Oswald, when we need you most?"

Helms and Gingrich mean what they say. Oliver North almost became a U.S. senator. Gingrich and Helms have a great military force at their beck and call.

When will they make the U.S. a military dictatorship? It's just a matter of time.

Herbert J. Scism


Homeless crisis

Baltimore City Councilwoman Vera Hall is concerned that household goods left sitting on the street after an eviction make a neighborhood look bad.

I'm concerned with the fact that so many evictions -- 9,391 last year -- makes our humanity look bad.

It seems to me that responsible citizens would be aware that many of their neighbors are in financial crisis.

Furniture on the street, like impoverished beggars, should remind us that we have a huge and growing social problem that our society refuses to face.

If we think the flotsam and jetsam of homelessness is bad now, we ain't seen nothing yet. The new Republican majority in Congress has promised to cut social programs even more.

We must get to the root of the problem -- unemployment, poverty, the least humane social safety net of any of the industrialized nations.

Until then, why can't the city recycle and provide employment by inviting bids from non-profit organizations -- like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Baltimore Homeless Union, St. Vincent dePaul and American Rescue Workers -- to pick up evicted household items, hold them for a specified period of time for redemption by their owners, repair and sell the rest, and take the remains to the dump?

A. Robert Kaufman


Mall benches

In response to Curtis Price's letter Nov. 22 concerning the removal of the benches in Lexington Mall:

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