Proper etiquette for those on public assistance

This is a very good blog post on how public assistance has turned into a substitute for love, and is often used an an excuse for being extremely uncharitable. I’ll try to quote enough to pique your interest, but really you should read the whole thing.

The writer finds herself in unpleasant circumstances that much of the population thinks of as the result of some sort of moral failure:

Currently, myself and many of my friends are on varying forms of state aid. Taking public assistance is a daunting thing to do, generally incredibly depressing, and just all around no fun. Many perfect strangers are happy to criticize you for your dependence, regardless of the fact that they have no idea what your actual situation is.

With this in mind, I’ve compiled a simple list of rules (or perhaps, "guidelines") to help minimize the embarrassment and discomfort of taking public assistance. This list has been created based on my own experience and the experience of friends.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Don’t be dirty. Present yourself in as hygenically-perfect a condition as possible. […]
  2. Don’t be clean. But remember, you are poor. You shouldn’t be able to afford things like shampoo, or fresh laundry, etc. […]
  3. Never engage in any luxury activity at all, ever. […]
  4. Never possess any item which could be construed as you spending money. […]
  5. Only purchase things deemed appropriate by the surrounding consumers. […]
  6. Maintain an acceptable number of children. This number will vary between zero and 4, depending on your location–please find out what is appropriate for your own area. […]

If these rules sound overblown to you, then please read the post; the writer’s description of how those rules are applied should ring very true to you.

Some folks might say that these circumstances are just one more indication that the current approach to public assistance is wrong. Perhaps so, but public assistance has successfully supplanted the community mechanisms which once ministered to people in need, and public assistance is now the only place to which folks in need can turn. Public assistance is the reality, and it wouldn’t be very hard for those not in need of it to graciously eliminate the sorts of behavior the blog writer so accurately describes, if not the attitudes behind them.

[Side note: this blog post strikes me as using satire not only to good effect, but in a righteous manner. I was wondering if such a thing was possible; I think this is an example.]

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4 thoughts on “Proper etiquette for those on public assistance

  1. Subsidized retirement, health care, fuel, food, loans, education, imports, exports, jobs…we are all on the dole. There is no clear exit. We should find this disconcerting. Hopefully we are at a minimum stepping carefully (and cheerfully) towards anything we think might be an exit. Let me know if you find one.

  2. Bit off topic here.

    Last few (3) posts from http://www.liveworkdream.com/ offer an interesting perspective on the current state of the economy from the ground floor. I kicked (past tense for sure) the idea of full time RV’ing around and have been reading the blogs of a few full timers, liveworkdream being one of them.

    By the way, for Econ geeks this talk by Richard Koo was extremely insightful. You will understand exactly what the US policy is likely to be going forward.

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/11/richard-koo-great-recessions-lessons-learned-from-japan/

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