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Bedford Lyceum : Poverty Close & Personal: How Knowing Welfare Moms Changed My Life

March 11, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 9:50 am

Massachusetts is one of the worst states in the nation for income inequality, and despite our reputation for political liberalism, the maximum income from cash welfare assistance leaves a family living at just 30-40% of the federal “poverty line” — itself a politicized measure that historically fails to reflect real costs of living. From its inception in the 1930s, aid to needy families has served to both regulate and demonize poor women, whom President Reagan disparaged as “welfare queens.” Under Bill Clinton, Congress made welfare assistance a temporary benefit, enacting an originally Republican plan like one that had been tested here under Governor Mitt Romney. But many families couldn’t survive without government support. Shortly after this policy sea-change was enacted, I contributed ethnographic research to a major study of welfare “reform,” interviewing four low-income mothers with young children monthly for three years, and accessing notes from others on our team. I learned intimate and surprising details about how the women managed and what they were capable of. The experience changed my life — leading me to reflect differently on my own periods of income loss, to decide what really matters in life, and ultimately to cast my lot with our First Parish community. Marya Dantzer will be our presenter.


March 11, 2018
9:00 am - 9:50 am
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Bedford Lyceum


First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist
75 The Great Rd
Bedford, MA 01730 United States
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