Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It Only Matters Who Says It

Tucked between the photos of female celebrities who "forgot" to wear underwear under their short dresses and fawning op-ed pieces on the greatness of President Obama, I found a very interesting article on the Huffington Post website.

It's a follow up story to a guest who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show 25-years ago on the topic of the cycle of poverty and welfare dependence in families.  The episode featured Altomese Sanders--an unmarried mother of two who had been on welfare for nine years--and her mother Dorothy--who had been on public assistance for 28 YEARS!  What really caught my attention (besides the length of time these women had been living on the dole) were some of the quotes--either from the original episode--or from today. 

Back then, Dorothy Sanders told Oprah: "It wasn't a great feeling to be on welfare, but sometimes the system locks you in. I mean, it's easier to take the money than [spend] eight to 10 hours away from the kids."

Doesn't this sound exactly like Congressman Paul Ryan when he discusses entitlement and welfare reform?  Here you have a 28-year recipient of public assistance admitting that it "punishes" you for working--and her comments are seen as "insightful and thought-provoking".  But when Paul Ryan uses the very same phrases, he is called "cold-hearted and racist".

In that same episode, Oprah asks Altomese why she had a second child--while on welfare--by a different father: "I really just don't understand why if you have one child that you really cannot afford to take care of, I don't understand why you then have a second child," 

Now when Laura Ingraham (heard daily 9-11am here on WOSH) says the same thing on her show or on Fox News about unwed mothers on welfare she is criticized as "perpetuating the Republican War On Women, and not addressing the real problem" (which is apparently the Koch Brothers causing 47% of all births in the US to be to unwed mothers).  But when Oprah asks that directly to the face of a single mother, it is "what all of us were wondering ourselves".

As it turns out, Altomese turned her life around since her first 15-minutes of fame--going back to school and becoming a realtor and a property owner--and she gives a simple phrase from Oprah all the credit:  "Once I got home, I realized I wanted more for myself.  Oprah said something that was very astounding to me. She said, 'Altomese, you know better.' That 'Altomese, you know better' stuck with me to this day."

Now what if President George HW Bush had said the same thing to Altomese during one of those staged, "roundtable discussions" that politicians used back then to make it look like they are "learning first-hand the problems 'real' Americans face"?  He would have been pilloried for being "out of touch with the poor" and that he was "speaking from a position of White Privilege"--because we all know that minorities cannot survive without giant Government programs promising to fulfill (but not delivering) their every need.

It just goes to show that its not what is said--but who says it--that matters nowadays.

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