In spite of all of the data indicating consumers receiving public assistance spend significantly less money on food, clothing, housing, transportation, entertainment, and healthcare than those who are not on assistance programs, criticisms of public assistance are still fairly prevalent among our culture. “People on welfare should have to pass drug a test, just as I do to obtain my job and paycheck” or “they abuse the system” are some of the common criticisms you may hear about those on welfare or even those on unemployment.
Do some recipients of welfare and unemployment probably abuse the system? Of course. But this is the exception, rather than the rule. A CBS Local publication articulates it rather well, saying that, “The majority of people who are on welfare are able-bodied and want to work, however, they cannot find stable employment. Still, many work irregular, low-wage jobs in between receiving welfare.”
It’s not only welfare recipients that we criticize, either. When we see someone on television make a bad financial decision, we may think about how we’d “never make such a decision.” When someone we know makes an extremely exorbitant or frivolous purchase, we may think about how we’d “never spend that much money on something like that.” We are a society that judges others, and because money intrigues us, we are quick to judge other’s finances.
Hardship is more common than we think
Many of us, however, have experienced (or will experience) financial hardship at some point during our lives. Late last year, the Associated Press discovered that a shocking 80 percent of Americans — at one point or another during their lifetime — struggle with joblessness, low-income that is near poverty, or reliance on welfare. Therefore, odds are, you have gotten to know what financial hardship feels like, or you will learn what such hardship feels like at some point. If you are fortunate enough to be in the small group of people who will not have personal experience with such hardship, someone close to you, like a family member or close friend, will likely experience financial struggles.
Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) found that as of last year, 45 percent of U.S. residents — 39 percent of adults and 55 percent of children — live in households where economic security is lacking. Households with two full-time workers or those households headed by someone with a college degree are more likely to be financially secure.