Saturday, November 04, 2006


Cynical Me

Even before the program airs this coming week, everyone's all abuzz about Oprah's latest philanthropic gesture. She gave everyone in this show's audience $1,000 with a caveat. They couldn't spend it on themselves, but had to give it away to charity or to someone who needed it.

Turns out there was a Minnesota woman in the audience that day. Her story appeared on our local news. She decided to give her money to a woman on welfare, a laudable and noble gesture.

I've been on government programs (Medical Assistance, Minnesota Care, & Fuel Assistance) and I can tell you that they are structured so that people are not allowed to accumulate any money that might get them out of the situation they are in - that might just get them off of welfare and out of poverty. Every penny, every increase in wages, every gift, must be reported to Social Services. If an influx of cash reaches a particular threshold, an amount is deducted out of the welfare benefits. In other words, the welfare benefits go down.

Once the state gets word that this welfare mom was given $1,000 through Oprah's generosity, how much will they penalize the welfare mom? Cynical me. Even gift-giving in this country comes at a price.

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