Sunday, October 19, 2003

Back when welfare "reform", forcing single women back into the work force, was passed under Clinton, the harshest critics weren't worried so much about what would happen immediately, as what would happen after the next downturn when the job market dried up. Well, we're in the next downturn, the jobs have dried up, and as Matt Yglesias points out, loud advocates of this policy are suddenly quiet.

But let's look at a case where it worked. Kim Braithwaite was a working mom who had managed to get a decent job at McDonald's (no mean feat), but one that required her to work crazy shifts. About a week ago, her babysitter didn't show up, and fearful of losing her job, she left her two children, nine years old and one, alone in her apartment, where they perished in a fire. She is now on trial for child neglect. The prosecutors say, "our position is we had to charge -- two babies are dead." They don't seem to have any idea what she could have done instead -- would it really be more responsible to lose the job and let the kids go hungry? -- but they don't have to have one. It's Ms. Braithwaite's fault she couldn't find a job which would allow her to pay for reliable child care, whether or not that job even exists.


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