Work is noble. Work can be rewarding, satisfying. The right kind of work can bring out the creative best in a person. Even less than ideal work can provide the sort of challenge that pushes a person on to greater personal development.
These days work is certainly popular.
Since the mid-1990s, welfare reform has placed a premium on work, any kind of work. Our national welfare rolls have been drastically reduced as a result of the almost universal call to work for everyone.
Millions of men and women have moved from public assistance into the workforce. Millions of these new workers have children. Millions toil at very low paying service jobs--jobs in the range of $7 to $10 per hour. Jobs that deliver a gross annual income of between $14,000 and $21,000.
This new labor force faces many challenges, what with so many public benefits now removed by a decade of reform and downsizing. Housing, healthcare, transportation, education, child care--all of these necessary commodities have now become major and extremely important challenges for these workers.
Now comes President Bush's FY2006 federal budget.
How will it affect workers with families?
For starters the new budget calls for a 9% cut in programming for the Administration for Children and Families, an agency that provides a wide range of services and opportunities for low-income, working families.
Consider child care for these low-income workers. The budget freezes spending for child care for five years. The result? By 2009, 300,000 children will lose this benefit. Or, should I say, the working parents of these children will lose the advantage provided by affordable child care.
Work is a high-priority, national value. That's right, a value.
Providing adequate care for our children is a high priority, national value. That's right, a value.
Obviously, the present administration operates out of a carefully defined and well-developed value system--one that is short-sighted, if not blind, when it comes to the harsh reality facing millions of families, hard working families who are our neighbors and friends.
Much, much more in coming days. . .
Join Central Dallas Ministries on Thursday, March 10, 2005 at 7:15 a.m. at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel for the 10th Annual Urban Ministries Prayer Event featuring Pulitzer Prize Winner and New York Times columnist, David Shipler, author of Working Poor: Invisible in America. For information call 214.823.8710 ext. 26 or visit the website at www.centraldallasministries.org.
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