Gov. Phil Bryant’s Welfare-Queen Rhetoric | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Gov. Phil Bryant’s Welfare-Queen Rhetoric


Laurie Bertram Roberts

My kids often seem to think I'm a magical being. As most children do, they think that I have an easy solution to their problems. Even everyday life can seem like a fairy tale to children. I assure them that I can solve many things for them, but often the way to fix a problem is hard and takes time. Many people want us to believe there are easy answers to complex issues and problems. Diet-pill companies offer weight loss and self-esteem in a bottle. Family-values groups promise a return to "morality" if we just stop gay marriage. Anti-choice crusaders say abortion will stop if we close every clinic in the country. Simple answers to complex issues.

Our governor is selling us a magical, easy solution when it comes to what poor families, mostly single mothers, on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) need. He says the they need to be profiled as drug users, screened and drug tested. Why? To save the children, of course, because no child should be raised by a drug addict, especially not one getting "taxpayer dollars" (like lawmakers do, I might add). Simple answer to a complex issue.

We all have heard the stereotype of the drug-addicted parents on welfare selling their benefits to use drugs and neglecting their children. I won't deny those things happen. It is also rare. That's why we have a system to deal with families in need and children who are neglected and abused.

Yet, rather than use the money to shore up the child-protective services budget, the governor is wasting it on a drug-testing program that is sure to be legally challenged--and fail as it has in Florida and Utah. One might think it's more politically beneficial to attack poor women and children since he doesn't have abortion as a wedge gravy-train issue to ride this session. This drug-testing issue gives all the illusion of getting work done, while doing nothing.

There are no simple fixes for poverty in our state. Yet, instead of coming up with a multifaceted comprehensive plan to help, Phil Bryant is feeding us bumper-sticker slogans and welfare-queen rhetoric. Unless his poverty-fighting plan is to increase jobs at the lab company, I fail to see how drug-testing TANF recipients creates jobs and moves our state forward.

I respect lawmakers who make tough choices, tell us things we sometimes don't want to hear and make long-term plans. I do not respect lawmakers passing themselves off as magical beings with simple solutions to complex issues.

Even children know fairy tales aren't true.

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.