Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lotta poor people in Milwaukee

Unshocking. I drive through it every day.

But if this article is supposed to make me feel bad and want to volunteer to hand over more of my paycheck to the state of Wisconsin--quotes about $4 cups of coffee and Ozaukee County--for redistribution, it failed. For starters, I can't afford to own a house ANYWHERE in WI, and I live and work in neighborhoods where no one in their right mind would open a coffee shop (the Subway a block from work went out of business in less than a year). I need my paycheck so I can get the hell out of renting shitty apartments.

Then, the main anecdote is a 41-year-old grandmother of five. Nothing wrong with a 41-yo grandmother in theory; it's better for a woman to have a baby when she's twenty than to wait until her mid-thirties. But all five grandchildren live with her. The article doesn't mention the whereabouts of the parents, but by my math, that's somewhere between two and ten adults who aren't acting like adults.

If this woman's kids hadn't chosen to dump their offspring on her, her "poverty trap" springs wide open. If the parents were raising their own damn kids, she has time to get into some additional education or take a longer bus ride to a better paying job. Even if they live with her to save money, they could still contribute a paycheck to the household income, or leave her with time to improve her own situation...(Can baby daddies be forced to give child support to their child's maternal grandmother if she's raising the baby?)

But nowhere in this article does anyone mention that people having babies they don't bother to care for could be a factor in a city's poverty rate.

I feel really bad for this woman; I had to live with my sister for a couple of months when I couldn't find a job that paid more than $6/hr and I felt like shit every second until I found a job and moved to Milwaukee. But a string of bad choices I made led up to that period of my life, and a whole string of bad choices this woman and her children made have led to this period in her life. I expect to pay for my own bad choices (I think I've finally retired all the debt accrued during my last bout of unemployment, but my credit score is hosed), but I draw the line at subsidizing the bad choices of others.

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