When The Safety Net Turns From A Hammock Into A Queen Sized Bed

Prepare yourself, because after I show you some excerpts from this “sob story” from the Contra Costa Times that’s supposed to make you feel sorry for a couple of welfare queens, I’m going to go on a decidedly non-PC rant that’s going to make all you “compassionate conservatives” out there cringe. Here’s the story of Shannon Oberg, one of the women the article is trying to elicit sympathy for…

“The dark days clung to Shannon Oberg, devouring her self-esteem and sapping her desire to get off welfare.

Her part-time job at a car repair shop paid a few bills, but fell way short of covering the expenses she and her 8-year-old daughter accumulated .

The Pleasant Hill woman imagined there was something better, but life kept battering her down. She had been through an emotional wringer, from an unfaithful boyfriend to a sister’s murder by a neighbor. Depression burrowed its way in.

She stuck with the familiar to get by, leaning on financial aid.

A knock at the door from a Contra Costa County worker put an end to all that. The news cast an even bleaker shadow over her future: The government would boot her off welfare in March. “It was very scary when I was told that my time was about to run out,” the 26-year-old said.

Like many California welfare recipients this year, Oberg ran up against the new reality of five-year limits for financial assistance. Congress adopted the caps in 1996 to prod recipients into the work force.

The law took effect in California in 1998, making 2003 the first year when recipients began to fall off the welfare rolls.

Children still receive aid regardless of a parent’s status. The average family in California loses $131 when an adult goes off welfare. Parents with one child stand to lose the most — $212 — if they’re receiving the maximum aid.

The amount seems small but the impact can be huge. Eighty percent of the “timing out” adults are women.

Oberg landed a full-time job with benefits in Richmond and is now making $12.50 an hour. That’s higher than the $7.05 average for timed-out families. The county covers most of her $117-per-week child-care costs.

“I feel it was a positive move at some point because it got me to do something to take care of me and my daughter,” she said.

The hardships continue, and unanticipated costs can broadside Oberg’s budget. Expenses are rising, but her paycheck isn’t. She bought a reliable car mainly for work, but the $336 monthly payment drains her bank balance. Fortunately, her landlord is understanding when her $995 rent check arrives late.

Her relatives fill in the gaps. During the holiday, her mom will buy a few gifts for her granddaughter and put Oberg’s name on them.

Every so often, that dark cloud of depression moves in, threatening to send her into a tailspin. She ignores it as best she can.”

Yes, you’re reading that right, she has been on welfare for FIVE WHOLE YEARS. However, that makes her the more ambitious of the two women featured in the article since the other woman who was discussed just got kicked off of welfare after TWENTY YEARS.

But let’s go back to Shannon Oberg. You’ll notice that they don’t mention a husband, they talk about an “unfaithful boyfriend”. Now of course, were I to point out that maybe a single woman should have refrained from having sex if she wasn’t capable of taking care of a child or even that she should have waited until she got married to screw around, I’d be verbally flogged for being a puritanical, prudish, scold. Then people would rant that it’s “people like me who drive voters away from the GOP” because they don’t want to be told what to do with their lives.

You know what I say to that? Fair enough. While I will tell you that in my opinion you’re better off waiting until you get married to have sex and waiting at least until you get out of college to get married, I’m not going to sneer at you if don’t do that. I’m not a social conservative. I don’t wave my finger in any of my friend’s faces if they tell me they sleep around. As far as I’m concerned that’s their business and I’m not going to criticize them for it.

But on the other hand, if you get pregnant by an “unfaithful boyfriend” and end up turning into Shannon Oberg, a 26-year-old who has been expecting the state to be her “baby daddy” for five years, then yeah, I do have a big problem with you. That’s because it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to do YOUR JOB and support your children — especially not for FIVE YEARS.

The problem is that people like Shannon Oberg want a consequence free lifestyle. They want to have their fun & they don’t want hear some bunch of “moralizers” warn them about consequences or tell them they should be more responsible while they’re doing it. But then, when just what they got warned about over and over actually happens, suddenly the world owes them a living as far as they’re concerned.

Back when I was a kid and lived in Stoneville NC, out in the country, we described people like Shannon Oberg as “sorry” and “good for nothing” and you know what? That still fits…

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