Thursday, October 24, 2013

Move-up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part II

I don't fault the victims of the recession for needing to get a crappy McJob.  Layoffs affected a lot of good"move-up or move-on." people, and you gotta do what you gotta do.  I only fault them for not trying to

But there is another group of people complaining, and they are in a different situation.  Some of the whiners are those who actually have no other valuable skill sets, and they have to take a McJob because they are otherwise unmarketable.  In many cases, these are people who also have families and claim that their dependent status should net them more income.

Two words:  No.  Sympathy.

I work with this demographic every single day, and I can tell you from personal experience, that most of them have one thing in common: they had kids when they shouldn't have.  Surprisingly, there aren't a whole lot of teen moms that come through the doors.  These are usually women in their early twenties.  Most of them are unmarried, and the father of their child is not in their life.

You can see it in their face: most of them realize they made a really poor decision.  Yet for some reason, they still think they should be paid more just because they didn't use protection.  "This is not a living wage!  I can't raise my baby on $7.85 an hour!"

Some more personal experience.  I had my first child when I was young, about the same age as many of these kids coming in the doors.  I believe I was 21 at the time.  But there is a key difference between me starting a family at 21 and "Shaquayla" starting a family at 21: I had a job that paid very, very well (at the time I was an E-5 in the Navy), and I had my son with a woman to whom I was married (and I say that because there was a reasonable expectation that she wouldn't abandon our son and me).

When we got married, we both agreed that we would not have children unless we were reasonably certain that we could financially support them.  Granted, it wasn't long after we married that we decided to start a little family, but that was because we soon realized that I was bringing in more than enough money to feed a third mouth.

"But Jack, it only hurts the kids.  This sort of poverty is generational, and their children will have no chance to succeed if they are subjected to living in near poverty."  That mentality is a load of horse-shit.

Yes: this sort of poverty--the perpetual welfare cycle--is generational.  And yes: most of these children will have no chance to succeed.  But it's not because mom can't pay the bills: it's because mom is already too stupid to teach her children any better.

Jersey, before you jump down my throat and tell me how "wrong" I am, just know that I am speaking from direct interaction with this demographic.  The fact is that they were stupid enough to get knocked up.  They were raised to depend on welfare.  They are uneducated, and they truly believe--in their heart of hearts--that the way they are living their life is okay.  They truly believe that their pay-scale is/should be based on their family size rather than their pay-scale being based on their individual contributions to the workforce.

It's not that they're lazy. (Yes, a majority of them are, but there are some very diligent workers in need of assistance).  It's just that they have an inflated sense of self-value in the workforce.  One time, a woman came in here and was upset over something, and she scoffed at us (the people trying to help her) saying "I could get a job in a health care field right now and make twice as much as all of you."  We laughed, because she didn't even have a GED--let alone any specialized training in anything that related to health care--and if she truly were marketable in healthcare, she wouldn't be on cash assistance.

But she was dead serious.  And if she knew that she was full of shit (perhaps she was using a defense mechanism) then that would still be just as bad because she clearly does not possess a marketable demeanor.  So, these kids aren't going to turn out to be shit heads because McDonald's doesn't pay the cashier $15 an hour: they're going to turn out to be shit heads because their parents are raising them to be shit heads.

So again, I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy.  The people in this demographic are constantly looking for hand-outs because that is what they have been taught.  They come from generations of Americans who discovered that their poor life choices would be paid for by the American tax-payer.  They don't know any better, because no one ever taught them anything about hard work and perseverance.

10 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

Jack,
I am surprised to read this from you. I've said essentially the same thing in years past, and you jumped all over me, accusing me of attacking single mothers.

I based my writings on Walter E. Williams' guaranteed steps to success, roughly stated:

1. Graduate high school
2. Get and hold a job, any job
3. Get married and stay married
4. Don't have children until you've completed the first three steps.
5. Be a law-abiding citizen

Study after study has shown the wisdom of these five steps.

You may not end up as rich as a Silicon Valley tycoon if you follow these steps, but you have an over 90% chance of avoiding poverty.

We know what behaviors are successful and which ones are destructive, but as a society, we are unwilling to preach them.

Jersey is a common example of this soft bigotry of low expectations.

If you want to help poor people, you preach this secular gospel to them, and you hold them to the same expectations you hold your own children, family and close friends to.

Jack Camwell said...

Yes, I thought about that when I was writing this article, Silver. At the time, I interpreted your stance on the issue to be a moral one, like a family can't survive unless two parents are in the household.

And some of the sources you used sounded like they were preaching it to be God's vengeance for getting divorced or having illegitimate children.

It's okay to have children out of wedlock if you have the kid with someone you can be reasonably sure will stick around. In this article, I'm talking about a particular breed of single-mother, the type that gets knocked up by her boyfriend of a year simply because she was too lazy to use birth control or to make him use a condom.

And that wouldn't be a problem if it's a girl with good earning power. But most of the time, it's someone whose skill sets and work history relegates her to working minimum wage jobs. And even then, it's not a big deal if the father of the child DOES stick around and contributes to supporting the kid (because that would alleviate some of the mother's financial burden).

"We know what behaviors are successful and which ones are destructive . . . If you want to help poor people, you preach this secular gospel to them, and you hold them to the same expectations you hold your own children, family and close friends to."

YES! This is the whole point of the workforce development branch of social work, and it's why I've heavily gravitated towards it as a career. There are too many people out there who think that the solution to the problem is a more robust social safety net. People like myself, and you, understand that the REAL solution is to do what we can to change the behaviors that got these people where they are.

Jersey McJones said...

This angle is just more of the intellectually lazy conservative approach to everything.

There is only so much, if anything, we can do as a society about the bad personal decisions people make, the cultural phenomena. And it's not something we want to do from the top down.

On the other hand, with investment in the physical and institutional infrastructure of the country, we can create more opportunities for people to get ahead, get past bad decisions, or even avoid making those bad decisions in the first place.

The conservative approach here is completely useless.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

What in the nine hells... Jersey you need to read what you type before you hit send mang.

You just contradicted yourself twice in the same post.

Jack Camwell said...

"This angle is just more of the intellectually lazy conservative approach to everything."

No, that is the general approach taken in workforce development, which is typically dominated by fairly liberal-minded people.

Let me preface everything else I'm about to say by repeating myself: I actually directly work with the welfare population. It's my job. I am actively employed in a company that provides workforce development services to Franklin County. I have direct, first-hand experience with this subject.

That being said, the biggest challenge we are facing is not the availability of jobs. The demographic we work with is such that most of our job seekers are looking for entry-level, low-wage (minimum - $10.00ish an hour) jobs. There are tons.

The biggest problem we are facing is the effect that generational poverty has had on our clients. For example, one of the classes that we are going to implement is a class that teaches the benefits of getting off welfare.

Yes: we need to convince our clients that finding a job and becoming self-sufficient is preferable to staying on welfare. You can say whatever you want Jersey, but that is a very real problem. The welfare system has provided them with a sense of comfort because that safety net will never go away (as far as food stamps and Medicaid that is), so becoming self-sufficient and placing their financial situation in their own hands is scary for many of them.

I can tell you that an overwhelming majority of my clients are on welfare because of their life choices and their work-related behaviors. Many of them are simply just terrible workers. They are irresponsible, and they try very hard to scheme the system in order to do as little as possible. It's not cynicism: it's the truth. I see it. Every. Single. Day.

From what I have noticed Jersey--and this is not a personal dig at you--is that many liberals don't address any issues pertaining to workforce development except the safety net. Liberals are more focused on how to expand and perfect the institution of welfare and conflating that with workforce development.

People like me understand that there are some very real underlying issues--psychological and sociological--at the heart of our poverty/unemployment problem. The liberal agenda fails because it fails to recognize this.

Jersey McJones said...

Anon, I'm sorry I'm confusing you. Try reading what I wrote again and see if you can follow.

Jack, I will not argue that the way we do workforce development in this country is very effective. It's not. But it is far from the only approach to take.

Take, for just one example, what Cory Booker and Rand Paul are saying about the drug war, for instance. The drug war creates widespread generational poverty. And it is a behavior modification system run by the police state! You'd think patriotic Americans would find it abhorrent.

And what "welfare" are you talking about, Jack? Be specific. You know damned well the only real welfare out there that provides enough money for just bare minimal survival goes only to families with children, and the disabled. The choices those people have to make are far more complex than just "is it easier to just get a welfare check?" And doing so may well be a very bad decision for that family. It is not in and of itself a laudable goal to simply remove people from the welfare rolls. As it is now we have hundreds of thousands of homeless people all over the country. They're hardly getting anything, if anything at all.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

I have read it a dozen more times, still seems to be conflicting... moving on.

I suppose if you have to be poor and destitute, you might as well live in america and be treated like the Royal Poor. Almost 7 Billion people on the planet and we are concerning ourselves with less than 1% of the earth population and probably not even a true 5% of our own population.

Don't for one minute think that the government is helping these people, they are not. It is the tax payers who are losing money, and the people who get the welfare who are set up for failure.

Sooner or later we have to realize that we spend way too much on entitlements, and that we are fucking ourselves really slow. There is no return on investment. Zero. None. Unless one of those welfare babies grows up to be the second coming of Nikola Tesla, all we have accomplished is the doom of now 3 generations of people on the dole.

What would these useless welfare bastards do if they lived in Mexico? Liberia? Cambodia? Sudan?

You don't even get the chance at a handout there, unless the handout is some drug dealer you sell your 12 year old daughter to as a concubine.

Jack Camwell said...

"Jack, I will not argue that the way we do workforce development in this country is very effective."

Why? What do you know about workforce development other than what someone might have told you?

"And what "welfare" are you talking about, Jack?"

Just to be clear, I am not talking about people with disabilities and who receive disability benefits. I'm talking about the whole package, maybe with the exception of Medicaid. So essentially, I'm talking about cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - TANF) and food stamps. The whole point of workforce development is to get welfare recipients on the path to self-sufficiency. It's about helping people achieve their highest level of independence. And the hope is that their highest level of independence is AT LEAST enough to not require government assistance in order to survive relatively comfortably.

"The choices those people have to make are far more complex than just 'is it easier to just get a welfare check?'"

Why are you discrediting something that is very real? You clearly don't understand just how huge a barrier that is for my clients. Don't you understand what that means? It means that they have been conditioned to believe that they cannot make it on their own--that they will always need a handout because they're not good enough to support their family on their own.

And that's why we're trying to get them off the dole, Jersey, because what human should have to live like that? Sure, we want to save some tax-payer dollars, but ultimately, these people can never truly be free so long as they believe they NEED the government to provide for their basic needs.

Here's the problem with your perspective on the subject. You seem to believe that people on welfare are just honest, hard-working Americans who are down on their luck. Yes, there are some people on welfare who fall into that category, but here's the catch: those honest, hard-working people don't stay on welfare for very long.

But the majority of people on welfare are the "lifers." They're the people who have been conditioned by 3 generations of poverty into thinking that their livelihood will always revolve around government assistance. The only reason that they actually TRY to get jobs now is because Ohio has started to enforce the 36 month cash assistance limit. A few years ago, you could still stay on cash assistance forever, but not now.

Trust me Jersey: a majority of my clients would gladly sit at home and do nothing all day, every day and collect a check. They try SO HARD to get out of going to their work site. We try to get them to use that energy for finding a job rather than trying to skate by, but typically they don't.

That's the reality of the situation.

Jersey McJones said...

This is not a serious subject. We don't even have a substantial welfare state in this country. It's a blip on the federal spending radar.

You guys are just bashing the poor, an easy target to punk. And fuck their kids, right? They can to hell too. Mommy can go out and get some shitty job, the kids can raise themselves, and all will be well.

You want to help people on welfare? Put them, all through school.

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

"You want to help people on welfare? Put them, all through school."

Another statement that demonstrates your ignorance on the matter.

Almost half of my clients are high school drop-outs, and about a quarter of those never bothered to get their GED. I asked one of my clients once if she thought about getting her GED. Her response "I tried it once before, but I just don't think it's for me."

?!

"And fuck their kids, right? They can to hell too. Mommy can go out and get some shitty job, the kids can raise themselves, and all will be well."

As opposed to my mom who was a single mom raising three kids? She never took a dime of public assistance. The difference between single moms like my mother and the single moms that come into my office is that my mother made good life choices. Because she made good life choices--because she worked hard--she was able to provide a stable life for me and my two brothers AND raise us.

What you fail to realize is that if we continue to allow these people be asshats, they will teach their children to be asshats as well. Don't believe me? Try working with inner-city kids. You can always tell which ones have hard-working parents, and which ones have welfare-lifer parents.

This isn't about "bashing the poor." This is a true, first-hand account of what the welfare population is like, at least in Franklin County Ohio.

"We don't even have a substantial welfare state in this country."

That's a frightening statement, because this suggests you think we should be giving MORE money to these people.

You simply don't understand: most people on welfare aren't the poor saps that just fell on hard times. Most people on welfare are 3rd generation welfare families.

Like all the other liberals, you're ignoring the facts. I guaran-damn-tee that if you spent just one week in my office and actually witnessed the people that come in here, you would change your tune.

But that's okay. You go ahead and just keep on throwing money at the problem. People like me will continue to try to change the situation by actually hitting the problem at its root.

Honestly, I don't know why you choose to ignore all of the things that I've told you. I'm no expert in workforce development, but I do know a good deal about it considering I've been doing it for a few years. This is like if a McDonald's manager told you that his store is underperforming, you respond by saying "no it's not. McDonald's had record profits this year."

You don't even know what you don't know.