The Welfare State

Mosher explores the welfare system as a bias, sexist and set up for fraud by not allocating enough funds to families or one-parent households, encouragement of snitching and the dehumanizing and intrusive aspect of the both the welfare system and the legal system.  A’s remarks  about how the system is set up for “dependency and fear” fit in with Mosher’s statement on welfare reforms.  Reforms created and maintained a “vulnerable class of low-wage workers desperate to take up…work” [Comack207].  A’s later statement involving her children and the harshness of trying to provide for her family on such low money while being labelled as a ‘monster’ because of perceived notions of a welfare family.  Women, especially single mothers work is usually relegated to the domestic sphere where it is marginalized and minimalized.  “Women have experienced a form of second-class citizenship because the caring labour performed in the home overwhelmingly by women has never been given the same material rewards…or the same degree of respect and validation that paid employment has received” [Comack 214] With the necessity to attend programs that do nothing but reinforce the idea that people on welfare are incapable of providing for themselves by it focusing on how to take care of themselves rather than dealing with employment training or job seeking skills.  Women encounter sexism in the system by workers inquiring about a male counterpart.  About the father, believing that a father will provide without legal intervention.  Other domestic partnerships, romantic or otherwise, are problematic for single mothers.  A person may live with their cousin for three months and be in a domestic partnership [personal communication November 6, 2013].  Or a woman may be in a relationship but the partner offers nothing towards the children.  The welfare state may still decrease the money afforded to them.  The three month rule, enacted in October of 1995, cut off some 10,000 people; 89% female and 76% were single mothers.  Welfare fraud can constitute four things.  One, that the person was unaware of the fraud.  The welfare system is purposely difficult to understand and navigate without a guide.  But said guide can also reduce the benefits based on others fraud which only constitutes about .1%.  Two, that the person was aware of the fraud but needed to provide for themselves or their families.  Many families procure jobs or work ‘under the table’ to supplement the money from the welfare office.  Three, that they are fully aware of their actions and are purposively circumventing the system to get money.  As mentioned before fraud like this only constitutes .1% of welfare receivers yet because its impact on the other receivers and its sensationalization in the media it has become synonymous with the welfare system.  And finally, the malicious reporter.  This could be a controlling/ abusive ex-partner, an annoyed neighbour, a bad landlord or someone that does not like the recipient.  This malicious reporting can hurt a recipients use of the system by reducing their already meagre benefits to, if convicted, being banned from services from anywhere from 3 months to life.

Neoliberal societies follow a market approach, in that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Using techniques such as; less wages for the poor, less taxes for the rich and less money for public services [public transportation, medical, legal aid {especially in non-criminal matters}].   Marxist would say about the welfare system is that the embodiment of class divide.  “When propaganda and conditioning fail and working-class people and even sections of the middle classes oppose the ruling class, the ruling class use the police, the courts, the law and sometimes the army to defend their profits and power” [Smith and Marshal].  The amount of money also devalues the work done by the person, dehumanizing them and decreases the worker’s force.  Feminism is concerned with the relation between a women’s involvement with a significant other and children.  “Women’s entitlement to benefits was strongly tied to judgements about their moral character and in particular their sexual chastity” [215].  And by controlling the ‘family’ life [as women are more likely to be the care-givers] the welfare system is a position to propagate views on how women are perceived.  And creates the next generation infused with their socially constructed views on what females should do.  This is quite like sui generis – what women ought to do and what women are doing.  This is further expanded upon in the case of Kimberly Rogers who pleaded guilty to welfare fraud.  The judge “declined…a community service order…because Rogers was pregnant she would soon be required to devote much time and attention to the care of her child…he hoped in a way that will instil the values that [she] appears to be missing…” [Comack 224].

References

     Comack, E. (2006). Locating law: Race/class/gender/sexuality connections (2nd ed.). Halifax, NS: Fernwood Pub.

     Smith, K., & Marshal, W. (n.d.). What Is Marxism? What is the State? Retrieved November 13, 2010, from http://marxism.org.uk/pack/state.html

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One response to “The Welfare State

  1. This is an interesting post.

    In your conclusion, you write:

    “And by controlling the ‘family’ life [as women are more likely to be the care-givers] the welfare system is a position to propagate views on how women are perceived.  And creates the next generation infused with their socially constructed views on what females should do.  This is quite like sui generis – what women ought to do and what women are doing.”

    Could you expand on this? How does welfare law propagate particular views that promote gender inequality?