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  • Thursday, April 07, 2005


    Women as Slaves

    I have this sense of always being on the verge of defining a comprehensive theory of American politics and economics. By this I mean a dialectic capable of answering any question about particular situations in the US. An overview, if you will, of the root causes and reasons for our political actions and economic inequities.

    In other times I might have found Marxism or Socialist theory such an overarching paradigm. Feminist theory often seems to provide some answers for me but not all. Part of it is I don't really have the "true believer" mentality for many already posited theories. No matter how much I feel a particular philosophy fits many situations, I also see gaps or flaws in them. Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect there to be some "general theory of relativity" that can be applied to the US.

    Motherhood is valued in the US. Unless you're poor. Unless you're non-white. Unless you're unmarried. Unless you're a minor. Unless you're not a naturalized citizen. Hmm, I wonder what percent of mothers in the US are valued by politicians after these small exceptions?

    I don't know quite how the following bit fits in with this but it seems important to me. These actions to ensure fodder for the bottom of the economic pyramid seem so deliberate and accurately aimed, I can't help but see them as such. From Hello, Minimum Wage:

    Single mothers receiving welfare who are trying to better their lives by earning a two- or four-year college degree recently got a lifeline in their continuing struggle to stay afloat. But it appears their time is running out.

    Congress extended the current welfare program on March 14 for three months, staving off the latest attempt by House Republicans to make it more difficult for low-income single mothers to take college and community college classes. The goal of Republican welfare reformers is "work first," meaning that jobs -- no matter how dead-end and how low-wage -- are preferable to education and training. (Welfare has never paid college tuition; at issue is whether recipients can enroll in classes or must enroll in work programs, and for how many hours a week.)

    Shutting down educational and vocational opportunities for struggling single mothers seems particularly perverse; welfare advocates call it a surefire way to drive low-income families permanently into the ranks of the working poor.

    "We should be promoting post-secondary education for low-income women," says Jennifer Tucker, vice president of the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. "It's poverty prevention."

    In January, House Republicans introduced legislation that would reduce the amount of time a welfare recipient could attend a full-time vocational program from a year to four months every two years. (Welfare benefits expire after five years.) At the same time, the bill would ratchet up the time spent in work or work-related activities from 30 to 40 hours weekly, no longer exempting parents with children under six years old.

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