These Are The Lives That Welfare Systems Create…

Pity poor Lily, condemned to a life of drudgery by the welfare state’s tolerance of her mother’s failings:

On Friday afternoons Lily commutes home from a boarding high school, a place for girls who have grown up in high-risk homes. It doesn’t get much more high-risk than where Lily lives, the Hunts Point section of New Yorks’ South Bronx.

Walking, she remembers Jesse, her mother’s current live-in boyfriend, who is abusive and jobless. Jesse’s 9-year-old son, Leon, has also moved in. Lily can’t let the anger in. She it too tired from the week for that.

Lily’s mother, you see, is totally inadequate. But not to worry, a beneficent government will see that she does not starve as a result.

Lily’s mother, Maritza, was 25. A single mother of four children, each with a different last name. The family was living in subsidized housing, receiving welfare. Not much different from most in Hunts Point, where average family income is $16,000.

Which, for doing….well, nothing… is a pretty good ‘wage’, isn’t it?

Lily was her mother’s confidante. Maritza’s stories of being defeated shaped Lily. She heard her talk of eviction and listened to her mother belittle neighbors. Trust no one, was the main message from her mother. Lily was told about her own father, his violent and criminal past. Maritza never let Lily know that he had come back for her. She never told her that he was a well-known trompe l’oeil artist, who created room-sized paintings bursting with Caribbean-colored gardens. Instead Lily grew up feeling abandoned and without pride.

I think you can gather, from this, that a cat would make a better mother than Lily’s mother? Lily is, of course, doing all the mothering:

Lily was late her first day of school, embarrassed to be the only girl without her uniform, lunch and school supplies. Crying, she told me about her morning: “I had to wake up the two youngest. I had to wash, dress, and take them to school. My mom just sleeps.”

Well, why not? After all, the State is taking care of Maritza, so why should she not push her obligations onto her daughter?

During Lily’s freshmen year, her mother gave birth to Angelique, and the boyfriend, Jesse, moved in. Within two years, two more children were born. Lily was now a stand-in, teen mother of six. She missed a lot of high school.

It’s enough to make you weep.

But so, too, are the comments. Because what do the Guardianistas feel is the answer to this sad tale of the consequences of the State stepping in and removing the need for responsibility from parents?

Why, you’ll never guess!

AhBrightWings: “No child should be in charge of other children. Government subsidized day care needs to be mandated in situations like this.”

Yup, giving Maritza free stuff isn’t working, so we must give her more!

GreenFlash: “In any organisation (call it human society if you want, even call it economics if you dare), when non-success is an indispensable part of the economic architecture, built-in as it were, where a whole raft of peoples failure is a prerequisite for those who do succeed, the flip-side that makes success even possible, then dehumanising those who are assigned the role of non-success is beyond cold-blooded.”

The odd view that capitalism dictates that Maritza not succeed at being a mother. I mean, wha..?

EnglishAthena: “Yes, you can’t force sterilization. And you can’t take kids away from bad parents and give them to decent middle class folk, either. It’s been tried. It destroys the kids.

Lily’s already destroyed. How much worse could it be?

ehdunno: “The amount of money given in welfare payments to the poor is a drop in the ocean compared to the vast amounts given in corporate welfare/benefit payments. If we got even a quarter of the tax money they should pay, things would be looking up.”

The notion that companies taking advantage of the way the tax system works is immoral, while making your daughter mother your children is…what?

There are a few sensible voices:

intentsandpurposes: “Unlimited benefits hasn’t helped Lily. In fact, it might’ve just been the thing that has ruined her future and forced her to assume the role of an adult to her umpteen half-siblings. Just how DO you think she can be helped? Unlimited, no strings attached welfare isn’t the solution. It is a vicious circle, but encouraging irresponsibility for idealogical reasons is inimical.

Spot on. But lost in the clamour that none of this ever be blamed on Maritza.

12 comments for “These Are The Lives That Welfare Systems Create…

  1. Ed P
    November 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Black humour in NY: she lives on Faile Street (where else?)! 😀

  2. DICK R
    November 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    For Hunts point New York read Tottenham London!

  3. The Blocked Dwarf
    November 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    There is one teenager who is not going to spread her legs at the sight of some dashing ‘Gangsta’. THAT I can absolutely guarantee you. So no my heart doesn’t bleed for her. Yeah she’s got handed a shitty bunch of life’s bus tickets and has a mother who needs a dose or two of good old fashioned domestic violence to get her lazy arse off the couch and away from Day Time TV BUT it’s no worse a hand than your grandma probably had. Think back to your own families…it’s only a couple of generations past when poorer families all expected the eldest daughter(s) to provide ‘child care’ while Dad was off down the pit or ploughing his Lordship’s fields and Mom was cooking, cleaning and washing etc…between dropping yet another mouth-to-feed 9 months after Dad got home plastered on a Friday night.

    How do you think Granny ‘raised’ 12 kids in rural Bumfuckshire? She didn’t, her daughters did.

    Yeah Lily has it rough but she’ll probably turn out the better for it. I have no doubt that just on ‘grit’ alone she’ll get through college etc , she will NEVER believe the “I’ll be careful” or the “if you loved me then..” lines and she’ll probably get a job that will fly her out of the ghetto. Help? She doesn’t need any, but some vouchers for nappies and formula might come in handy…oh and an Amazon voucher for some textbooks.

    • Cascadian
      November 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      That is not much of a comparison, the grandfather in your illustration was a productive human with some pride of being able to provide (even if meagerly) for his family. The kids would also have had their chores. Grandma would certainly not be sleeping til noon then watching Oprah on the TV all afternoon. Welfare-the workhouse in those days, or parish relief previously, was avoided because it just was not fun, by definition you worked for your welfare, perhaps that is what is missing today, IDS seems to understand that.

      What Maritza (and much of modern Britain) has is entirely free money-probably free rent, free foodstamps, free phone, free education, free, free, free and free of all obligations and responsibilities. Yet the commenters believe that is not enough.

      Lets hope that Lily can break out from this lifestyle, that ghetto blacks seem to embrace and enjoy.

  4. MTG
    November 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I’ll take l’oignon libre otherwise it won’t work pour moi.

  5. Junican
    November 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    The article does not say how old Lily is, although she is said to have been a ‘teen mother of six’.so if she is in her mid to late teens, then there is nothing to stop her clearing off as soon as she gets the chance.

    • November 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      …with a two-fingered farewell to her “mother”, I trust.

  6. Errol
    November 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Proof that Guardian readers are nutters.

    The sad bit is they hide their damaging ideology amongst poncy language, almost as if they cannot bring themselves to say “It’s the mother’s fault!” and seek to hide it within flowery words.

    The really scary bit? Should you suggest to the oaf demanding government day care you can easily counter with: the mother wouldn’t take the children there, or, the state would make getting it difficult. That defuses their ignorance.

    Equally with those demanding more tax be paid – it’s a sad meme over on the gruaniad: other people should pay more tax. Well, welfare already consumes a third of all taxation. If you take away what companies earn, they can’t employ people. No employment, more welfare but as you’ve already taken the tax revenues there’s nothing more to give, so you’ve just destroyed millions of lives for sentimental hubris. They cannot see reason and so fight with fallacy.

    It’s truly sad. The solution – as you say – is the exact opposite of what the welfare claimant is currently experiencing.

    • November 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Ah yes but there are closet Guardian readers even at this site. 😉

  7. Viscount Rectum
    November 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    The American Judicial system practices birth control on the Afro-American population by putting as many A-M’s in prison as possible, that is called I suppose preventitive detention.what do you think?

    • James Strong
      November 26, 2013 at 6:24 am

      Do they put them in prison because they are found guilty of imprisonable offences, or do they put them in prison because they are black?

      If the latter, then almost every visitor to this site would deplore it.

      But if it’s the former, then what is your complaint?

  8. Furor Teutonicus
    November 26, 2013 at 6:43 am

    XX Lily’s already destroyed. How much worse could it be? XX

    You miss the point Julia.

    THAT is what they mean. Motherfucking Guardian types NEED failed little bastards to give their moaning and wailing a purpose.

    Of COURSE deporting the arsehole to a middle class family would destroy the bastard. For what use would it be to the shit eaters from the Guardian then?

    Anyway, these sort of “women” LOVE a good beating.

    If they didn’t they would have fucked off out at the first sign of a raised fist. But they don’t, they just keep coming back for more.

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