Right Irony

Americans are highly attuned to the abuse of government benefits. Yet the larger scandal is that people don’t use these benefits enough. Programs such as the earned-income tax credit, SNAP, child care subsidies and health insurance can pull people out of poverty. But only 5 percent of low-income families with children use all four of them. Of working people below the poverty level, one in four receives no support at all. A McKinsey analysis done for Single Stop estimated that $65 billion in government benefits for low-income families goes unclaimed every year.

For Striving Students, a Connection to Money” Tina Rosenburg

This might be one of those stories that an English teacher could use to teach irony. Or, rather, to show students that the richest forms of irony are like onions, you can peel away layer after layer after layer. Right wing ideology insists that the poor are poor only because they lack enterprise and that they are overly dependent wards of the state robbed of their agency by an over-reaching Nanny state. As it turns out, the welfare state is so oblique and confusing– that’s no accident– that billions of dollars go unclaimed. Single Stop sets up shop at places where they can reach the poor– in this case at the Borough of Manhattan Community College– and helps them figure out what sorts of aide they can get. A simple, smart idea.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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