Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Government Shutdown Harms Babies

For those of you (both of you) wondering Where in the Sam Hill I have Been, the answer is, wallowing under my deadline. Which is Monday.

I'm working hard, and well, and blog posts haven't been a priority. So far for January my priorities have been 1) trying to help my husband through his surgery 2) my manuscript 3) everything else.

I'm starting to put pieces of what I consider my normal life back into the picture. Tuesday I rode my horse. Wednesday I went to both yoga and my shift at Faith in Action. Today I'm writing this blog post. Go me.

We're in day thirty-something of the federal government shutdown, which as far as I can see is just a pissing match with no clear benefit to anyone. So far, to me personally, it's been annoying because I had reason to believe I was on the verge of my nonprofit getting 501(c)3 status right before the shutdown, and because I haven't been able to get some tax forms I need. (The IRS mails them out, instead of allowing them to be downloaded. Whose dumb idea is this?) These are trivial issues. Most of senators and Congressional representatives seem to feel that missing a few paychecks is also trivial, to the eight hundred thousand or so federal employees, many of whom are still working, just not getting paid. It's a nice life when you can imagine that a month without income doesn't mess people up, but it's not a real one. We need some real-world governance around here.

Meanwhile, yesterday I saw an example of the shutdown hurting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. A woman came into FIA seeking help with her electric bill. She'd never been there before. She was roughly 30 years old with a high school degree. Her husband walked out when she was eight months' pregnant with their third child--the other two are preschoolers--and isn't paying any child support. She had her baby two weeks ago and returned to work last week.

Let me say that again. She had a baby two weeks ago and returned to work one week later. At a restaurant. On her feet the whole shift. Because otherwise she'd lose her job. (Her mother watches the children.) (Here's a reason we need more women in government: because anyone who's given birth understands how inhumane that is.)

Her income--which is above minimum-wage, forty hours per week--is insufficient to their needs. Take away bare-bones rent and utilities--nothing more, not car expenses, not diapers, not food--and she's got less than $400 a month left. That was fine when her husband was in the house and working.

Given her situation--I ran the numbers, it's easy to do--she would be immediately eligible for something like $500 a month in food stamps, and WIC for herself, the infant, and at least one of the other children. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program that would pay for all the baby's formula, plus healthy food like milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables for the rest of them. It's a voucher program that can only be used for specific healthy foods. She'd probably get $300/month worth of food from it right now. So $800 in food per month for a woman and her three children.

Which she isn't getting, because she can't even apply for these programs because the government is shut down.

The safety net we have in place for people exactly like this--hardworking with dependent children--is on furlough.

You can't be pro-life and not care about this woman's children. You can't be against abortion and at the same time support a system that denies her newborn baby food. (I don't know whether she's breastfeeding, but I highly doubt it. Hard to breastfeed when you're working a shift job full time.) It's time for Washington to quit fooling around.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The comments on this blog are now moderated. Yours will appear provided it's not hateful, crass, or annoying--and the definition of those terms is left solely to me.