There are never easy answers to poverty. I find myself in a just over broke situation. The energy and effort it takes to do more, to do that which I need to do to escape poverty wears me down. Resumes become a major task. Yes there is institutionalized oppressive against feminine participation in the riches of our patriarchal society. No, we don't have to take it lying down. Pun intended.
I suggest a cure for welfare limitations may be for women and children to live cooperatively and focus their advancement and education on specific goals. Margaret Wheatley wrote a book called A Simpler Way. Reading that book and being in touch with the people at Berkana Institute lead me to another book The New Pioneers. I got one in a library and the other used and cheap. Reading Cat Sullivan's "Going To A Demonstration" I felt gut wrenching fear about how I am only a small step above that even after going in debt $30,000 to get college/university degrees. Between sending out resumes and paying the debt, I am most likely economically even with a lower paid job. So I don't see the value in the degree yet. What works for me is living where I am living and with whom I am living. Three of us poor women share a house. We are not yet to the collective mindset of balancing higher paid with lower paid in terms of social economics here. But still sharing is making it easier.
So I began to have the idea of solving the welfare problem ourselves, by cooperative living. An abused woman living alone can be a target for the abuser, but living with others offers greater protection. Everyone has to have shelter, why not gather women and rent the whole tenement? I am seeing the past some. I am seeing the seventies and communes. Sure, most of them didn't work, and I think mostly because sexism and authoritarianism was ruling. What better place to have day care than in your own home? Our idea of an autonomy of family is destroying our world. Do we really need a refridgerator for each person? I know my children had no problem with the community idea when they were growing up. What I called the "roving hoard" would roam from kitchen to kitchen cleaning out the refridgerators. And they didn't do the dishes after either. The only thing more detrimental to a food budget is husbands and football viewing buddies.
Welfare destruction is not about solving the problem. It is about power politics. Somebody out there convinced more legislators that the way to get you and me into the meritocracy of mediocracy was to create incentive by taking away support. I know when I was feeding my children on welfare and Wisconsin aide to children, there was no other choice, no matter how I looked and searched, my old car kept me prisoner to a certain radius. The leaking gas tank ate away the surplus needed to fix the gas tank. Escape came eventually, but death would have come to one or more of us without the support. I learned gratitude. I can only speculate that had I not had the assistance at the time, I would have learned criminal ways. I believe I would have robbed what I needed.
And I was carrying bath and drinking water in 25 degree below zero weather from a spring half a mile up the valley.
For a few years now I have been studying stuff called "Science of Mind." I can see that my limitations come from within. I can see that the Universe is an abundant and limitless place. I can also see the Iron Grip those who I now call "The Boys From Enron" have on the trickle down of money. What's more they have created messages to reinforce the limitations in our minds. We have power. We need to take it back. Two nights ago I watched a program on the Discovery channel (living in a group home makes cable eaiser to pay for). The content was about a common Eve. We are all sisters, rich and poor, black and white, red and yellow, all brown to the core. If you have wealth and privilege and are ignoring your sisters who lack that, you are part of the problem. If you are poor and continually wake up with determination to make it today, grab the hand of another sister and let's find a way to make it better for the collective. To hell with Marx, he was a man. Study the Longhouse of the Iroquois. Glean the fields, pick the rubble piles, sell it on EBay to the rich. Can you imagine if the women of Afganistan were the ones with the guns? There wouldn't be any stonings then, I'll bet.
Hey, I'm getting angry and it feels good. I have to go to work.
Robin Marie Ward