My students at Private Conservative Christian U got into a big debate the other day over whether tax dollars should be used to help those in need. One student, a cancer survivor whose parents worked their way out of poverty through his childhood, is adamently opposed to the idea. Another student burst into tears as she told us about her dad, a landscaper who died of cancer because their family didn't have health insurance, so he couldn't get treatment.
I tried to keep the discussion moving and balanced as best I could, but the students were really passionate about it. One point I made near the end is that it's important not to stereotype the poor as lazy. A household with two parents working full time jobs at minimum wage can't survive in today's economy. It's virtually impossible to feed, clothe, insure, keep healthy, and properly educate two children on that kind of budget.
A study out today finds that many of our stereotypes about those who need some assistance from the government are just plain wrong. The study, commissioned by Families USA and performed by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that 89.5% of uninsured Texas children have at least one working parent.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the country. We also have an awful lot of kids who go to bed hungry at night, or who wouldn't eat at all were it not for the free school lunch programs.
Our taxes are low. We have incredible oil and natural gas reserves.
These things are all connected. How people don't get that is beyond me. It's embarassing that my state doesn't care enough about its weakest and most vulnerable citizens. It's ridiculous that we let our stereotypes rule the debate, rather than looking at the reality that hardworking families cannot make it, no matter how hard they work.
I don't know what else to say about it.