Free Lunch and a New Pair of Ugg Boots – Welfare

welfare systemNothing pisses me off more, than people playing the welfare system! I’ve worked with inner-city, low-income youth for the past 13 years and I can’t tell you how many times I have shaken my head in disgust when a “poor kid” comes into school with a new pair of name brand shoes, jeans, etc. and their parent drops them off in a shiny, fully loaded Escalade! This is no exaggeration friends. I see it all the time- kids who qualify for free lunch and Medical Assistance wearing things I wish I could buy and driving cars I will drive only in my dreams. It drives me insane!

Let me give you a very recent example; the very example that is causing me to write this post. There is a middle school girl that I work with. I know her mother doesn’t work because she has told me so. I know she receives free lunch at school because I have seen her go through the lunch line. I know her family gets food stamps because she has told me that too. YET… last school year I saw her wearing a pair of black sequin Ugg boots. This school year I saw her wearing a pair of grey Uggs (ones I have been coveting for quite a while, but have not had the money to buy). Last week I saw her wearing a pair of purple, turquois, and pink ones (yet another pair I like, but have been unable to purchase). I told her I liked them and she said she had gotten them for Christmas. I asked her where she had gotten them and she told me Nordstrom. Seriously? Nordstrom?  I asked her where her black sequin ones had gone because I hadn’t seen her wear them in a while. She told me she had returned them to Nordstrom, where she had gotten them, and gotten the grey pair instead. Then she decided to return those and get the multi-colored ones. (Poor Nordstrom and their very generous return policy had now gotten taken for a ride twice, but… I digress).

Fast forward to today. I see her in the hallway and she is now wearing a pair of goldish sequin Uggs! Half joking, I ask her if she returned the multi-colored one she was wearing last week and she said, “No. I got these too.” And then she proceeded to show me how they change color if you brush the sequins up and down. Keep in mind that about an hour after I saw her and her fancy, color changing Uggs, she would be down in the cafeteria punching her number in and walking away with her free lunch! What the hell? Essentially, my taxes just paid for her boots! I can’t even afford to shop at Nordstrom (unless it’s Nordstrom Rack) and I have a job! We struggle financially, yet I don’t qualify for food stamps or any other public assistance. Last year, I even looked into vouchers for childcare because childcare is so damn expensive in my county and we are struggling so much financially and guess what? We didn’t qualify. My county said we made too much money, which is a fucking joke!

How is it that people can play the welfare system? If that kid’s mom can afford to buy her 2 pairs of Uggs at Nordstrom, for a total of about $400, then how the hell does she qualify for free school lunch, food stamps, Medical Assistance, and who knows what else? I could fill pages and pages with some of the crazy shit I have seen over the years. Back when I worked as the mental health therapist in a Head Start, I can’t tell you how many families rolled up in Escalades and Navigators, while I rolled up in my Plymouth Neon! Keep in mind that Head Start is a federally funded program for low-income families! I also worked very closely with a kid and the mother drove a really nice Mercedes. This kid received free school lunch and Medical Assistance. Meanwhile, I pay out the nose for my family to have good health insurance and couldn’t afford a Mercedes if I tried!

The welfare system in this country is profoundly flawed. I’ve seen families who collect “public assistance” for years upon years. What the hell am I busting my ass and working for when I can just sit on my ass, do nothing, and collect welfare? Shouldn’t there be a time limit for how long you can collect welfare? I don’t have a problem with it being temporarily helpful to people who really need it. Temporary being the operative word! There are some people who really do need the help and I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with are the people who take advantage and play the system.

What happened to the whole “welfare to work” concept? Clearly no one is enforcing that, at least not in my State. From my experience, there is no motivation to get off of welfare because it’s either all or nothing. Either you make enough money to be totally comfortable or you have to be dirt poor to receive financial assistance. It’s us lower (lower) middle class folks who are made to suffer. We “make too much” to qualify for any type of assistance, but truly don’t make enough to make ends meet. I work so I get punished. My measly salary puts me over the top financially (ha, ha), but if I were to quit my job and choose to sit around on my ass all day, then I could get me some food stamps and TCA. I choose to be a productive member of society and I get punished for it. And so I continue to wear my worn out 5 year old black Ugg boots and am disgusted at myself for being jealous of a “poor” 14 year old girl who’s Mom buys her the boots I want, with my hard earned tax money!



About Mental Mama

So who is "Mental Mama" you ask and it she actually mental? Some people may say that I am, but I assure you only a little! I am married and have 2 amazing little boys who are 4 and 2. Thank goodness my dog is female or else I might be totally boxed out in my own home. I have an MS in Psychology and am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. I have been in this field for over 12 years now. I work part-time as the mental health therapist in an inner city elementary/middle school, but I am a Mom first and foremost. I have travelled the world; love wine, music, and food; have great friends and a wonderful family; and have a passion for clothes and shoes (I have almost 200 pairs) {or maybe I should say "had a passion for" before I became broke after having kids}! I learn something new everyday from my kids (both my own and those I work with) and am thankful for that.

  • CindyBin2001

    You use the P-WORD!

    • Lizabeth


      Oh, my! Oh my heavens! Oh, my deary stars, please say it ain’t so!!! The P-word??????? OH MY GOODNESS! OH, THE ATROCITIES OF TODAY! What has this planet come to? OH THE HUMANITY! When will this madness end? When? WHEN?

      • Lizabeth

        Hah, just kidding. No one except you actually cares. Calm the fuck down, Cindy. It’s just a word.

  • Amymomof3girls

    Really interesting post!