Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

Home » Morality » The Incongruity of Welfare Queens

The Incongruity of Welfare Queens


Mom passed recently. Eighty-three, (almost) from congestive heart failure. We were ready for it, but who is really ever ready for the loss of their mother?

She was a true conservative during her entire life. Nixon, Reagan, Bush, pro-Iraq, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-Obama. This is not to judge. These are just facts. That’s who she was.

She believed in paying your bills on time, paying your taxes, and not depending on the government for your basic needs. Her husband, my father, passed away in the 1980’s.

She worked for 25 years or so. Mostly in a perfume factory where she did simple assembly-line or warehouse work. Never made more than about $13,000 per year in her entire life. She retired at 65 and lived off the savings accumulated from a life lived without excess, and Social Security. She did OK financially, never needing my brothers or me to assist financially.

Her social security benefit amounted to about $500 per month on average. $96,000 total in her lifetime.

According to the The Healthcare Bluebook, open heart surgery can cost $325,000 or so. Installation of a Pacemaker, $21,000, give or take. Mom had had both of these, as well as multiple trips to the emergency room for falling and breaking her leg, damaging her lower back, heart palpitations, minor strokes as well as a myriad of other ailments that can affect the elderly. I don’t really know what all that cost, but over 20 years of treatment, I don’t think $100,000 would be an unreasonable estimate. So, let’s say that Mom’s total healthcare bill to Medicare in her lifetime was $450,000. We will completely ignore the 6 months or so in and out of hospitals and nursing homes in the last months of her life. I don’t know what those amounts were nor are they necessary for me to make my point.

Here is a worksheet explaining Mom’s financial history, vis-a’-vis Medicare and Social Security.

Click here for worksheet

The surprising takeaway from all this is that Mom wasn’t broke. She died with assets in the low/mid six-figures, in addition to her house. This had been accumulated from investments, an earlier inheritance and the sale of some gold jewelry she had been given when young. Her house was paid off.

My Mom was supported by the government and received nearly free medical care for the last part of her life, but was allowed to retain enough to make a sizable inheritance for her children.

Compare the scenario above with that of the proverbial “Welfare Queen”, who ostensibly pumps out children for the sole purpose of leaching off the rest of us.The most she can expect to get in most states, including cash, food stamps and rent subsidies is about $15,000 per year.

My Mom. Nice white lady who died with cash in the bank. She received $496,000 in government money over 16 years or about $31,000 per year, over and above the money that she contributed. She was a happy Republican who thought personal responsibility was a paramount personal trait. She thought that the government should stay out of the lives of its people and hated that there were so many who just laid around collecting government money.

Welfare Queen. Nice lady, likely a single Mom, (often assumed to be of different coloring) who maxes out at $15,000 per year and has to support her entire family on that amount if she can’t find work or is going to school to better herself.

I know that I am comparing an old lady with a presumably younger woman. I know one situation involved medical and elderly care and the other was for basic needs. I know that my mother worked for years without asking for anything and that the other woman was asking for help at a much younger age. But my mother started with the advantages of white skin, a husband who bought and paid off her house and a small inheritance from her own mother.

My point is that this nets out exactly the same in both cases: Money from the government going to people to enable them to live better lives.

The difference is that my mother looked down on the welfare queen, even though my mother was allowed to have money in the bank while she was receiving this government largess. My mother could have forgone all that government money and still survived reasonably well.

The so-called welfare queen probably has nothing in the bank and no options, and likely didn’t look down upon my mother.

My mother would go to the polls and vote to end the subsidies to the welfare queen. The welfare queen was probably not reciprocating in kind. She may have had a better understanding of how good people sometimes need help than my mother did.

Both are female, both were in genuine need. One is called a nice old lady. The other is called a welfare queen, or words to that effect.

President Elect John F Kennedy, in his 1961 speech to the Massachusetts Legislature, said, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required…”

I wish that were true…

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