Help Wanted: Babysitters. Salary: Six Figures.

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For anyone who read, even casually, about the welfare wars of the 1990’s, it seems strange that there is so little conversation, political or otherwise, about the topic these days.

That may soon be changing, of course, as the proposed Obama stimulus plan attempts to direct money toward the poorest segments of our population.

For those of you who desire a trip down memory lane, back to when the papers were filled with tales of welfare queens and the like, check out this interesting Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Raquel Rutledge:

The two-story house on 17th St. looks typical of the working-class homes on Racine’s west side. Three bedrooms, one bath. Assessed by the city at $122,000.

Yet inside, a young woman has tapped into a home-based money-making operation that netted her and her three sisters more than half a million in taxpayer dollars since 2006.

And they did it with the blessing of the state.

All four had been in-home child-care providers. Collectively they have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other’s children.

Nothing illegal about it under the rules of Wisconsin Shares, the decade-old child-care assistance program designed alongside Wisconsin’s welfare-to-work program.

“It’s a loophole,” said Laurice Lincoln, administrative coordinator for child care with the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. “Do we have concerns about it? Yes, it can be a problem. But if it’s allowed, it’s allowed. We really can’t dispute it.”

If you are anti-Obama, you can gnash your teeth and say: The new stimulus package will make this look like small potatoes.

If you are pro-Obama, you can perk up and say: This is what he means when he talks about getting rid of rotten government programs.

(Hat tip: Daniel Goldin)


RR

How about those of us who are neither pro nor anti Obama but have a heart? Our reaction is, "Thank God the government is helping these poor women!"

21 people (excluding any men) in a 3 bedroom, 1 bath, house? Hardly "queens."

Cindy

I don't see what the big deal is. 540k since 2006 averages 180k per year and about 45k per sister for a little over 10k per child. I pay 9k for day care now for my daughter. It's fairly close. The government is not paying excessive amount per child.

Earning 45k per year is nothing to write home about. Imagine having to live in a 3/1 with 20 other people. Wow.

a_c

For the latter, you'd have to believe that Obama is 1) interested, and 2) able, to cut pork. Given public-choice concerns, and the strength of the incentive for each congressman to bring home the bacon, I find it unlikely.

The tax and spend Democrats have now become the spend now and tax later Democrats. This bill has little to do with stimulating the economy. This is about rewarding groups for their support. Call this the ultimate pork bill, the largest in history. Call this the largest political spoils system in history. But please don't call this a job creation bill.

The Democrats are telling their supporters not to worry, they are spending the money for them (how much of the education funding, for example, will go to non-teacher-union schools?) and they will stick other people with the bill. Or worse, they seem to have convinced some people that the government is a magic money machine. Why people think that Obama can repeat the miracle of the loaves and fishes, unless they think that Obama is God, is beyond me.

Obama is hosting the largest drunken festival of spending in the history of this country. But soon we will have be suffering from a massive hangover of debt, higher taxes, and inflation.

President Reagan warned us of the dangers of a Congress that spends like drunken sailors, he had no idea how the Democrats could exploit the very real fear in this country as cover for the largest expansion of government since the New Deal and LBJ's Great Society. The New Deal did not end the Great Depression and the Great Society just threw money at societal problems. Neither worked as well as encouraging private enterprise to create jobs and opportunities.

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M.B.

Welfare reform was intended to get welfare families back to work. A way to do this was to pay for child care while the parent goes to work. The subsidy was intended to be temporary, but often is permanent. Fine for one or two children, but not a good idea for more "fertile" welfare single parents. The examples in this article seem to be large families. With four, five, six or more children and only one parent (read mother) it is best to just pay the welfare and exempt them from work requirements. Welfare is cheaper than subsidized childcare for these large families. It's cheaper than paying for the childcare with strict (NAEYC) parent to child ratios. Trouble is, how many of these child care recipients are going to have even more children, with different anonymous fathers? The main problem with this scenario is that girls (especially) raised by mothers are likely to repeat the cycle of dependency and have kids of their own out of wedlock.

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Ben

Yes, Cindy, but being GIVEN 45 thousand dollars a year to watch your own children IS something to write about, and something that should not be happening.

And I highly doubt that one home houses all 21 of them. My impression is that it's merely the approved location of the 'daycare' facility.

Valpey

@RR

I don't think the article suggests they all live in the same house.

KB

Maybe this is a way for women to get paid for all the traditionally unpaid work they do in the home?

I'll admitt, many of the the details here are fishy, but why is childcare of less value because it is for your own kids? Would there be any savings to the state or the economy if they all had jobs outside the home and paid someone else for childcare?

Kenneth

I know my mom would have loved to make 45K in a year. Instead she has a job at Home Depot and she makes 22K instead.

Its something to write home about when the government subsidizes anyone's lifestyle. No one forced them to have children. How about a little personal responsibility?

More to the point, child protective services should be involved anytime parents are exploiting their 17 children for income so that no one has to get a real job. That many people should not be living in the same house, especially when they're doing it for the purposes of leaching the state.

I don't want anyone to go hungry, but where is the incentive to be a productive member of society when you can do this instead?

You Must Be Joking

The ex-head of Merrill Lynch spent 1.2 million on his office and you are commenting on the behavior of 3 sisters who are trying to take care of their children?

nancy

This does not break down to any great shakes, and who better to take care of their children than mothers and family members? I'd prefer this sort of system to sending mothers off to work so they can just afford to send their kids to daycare and have a few bucks leftover at the end of the month to pay for mac n cheese dinners. They way you write this, the "half a million dollars" does not express the 16- to -20-hour workday that goes into raising a child, the years they have been raising their children (assuming they are good mothers and helping kids w/ homework, giving the good meals, etc.), or that their kids are being raised in a safe environment w/ steady support from adults who love them. I'd like this idea if it were GW's, Clinton's, GHW, Obama, any of them. Giving help to families AS WELL as small business, corporations -- nothing wrong w/ that plan. Helping only one side of the coin is unbalanced and doesn't really seem to work, as reflected in the last 20 or 30 yrs of republican rule over trickle-down economics. Nothing trickled, and the greed grew, and here we are. I'm grateful for President Obama and his background from a struggling family. A lot more folks in the US can relate to that than coming from a real life episode of Dynasty. Those 17 kids are in great hands, and Wisconsin should be proud of their program.

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Aaron

@ Kenneth: I couldn't have said it better.

Pete

@#10 - Are you serious? Did you read the article? Some quotes:

"For a while, Simmons took care of Ransom's and Brown's kids, she said. Then last summer her 2-year-old son was found wandering around outside unsupervised. The county shut down her child-care operation."

"Simmons said she's not concerned that the arrangement could interfere with her children's sleep. They go to bed whenever they want anyway - usually around 11:30 p.m. or midnight, she said."

Really sounds like these women are doing a bang-up job raising their kids. Plus, of course, the strong examples they're setting - defrauding the government, having children with no thought of accountability or responsibility for them.

KB

To #5.

Would you say that a stay at home Mom with a working husband is being "given" $45,000 a year?

What's so inherently wrong with being paid to look after kids, whether they are your own, family members, a friends, or a strangers?

If these women ran a day-care center and looked after other peoples kids but earned the same amount of money would that be different?

Caliphilosopher

Shouldn't we really worry about how much the stimulus is giving to companies who have no clue how to run themselves? This is just a diversion.

Drew

How can a serious person respond that this "isn't so bad?!" I am all for helping people who can't help themselves but these people made a choice. Nobody told them to have 5+ children EACH. A society simply cannot support this excess.

John Thain et al.are wrong in their recklessness with taxpayer funds, but that doesn't justify misuse of taxpayer funds by others. You can't tell me with a straight face that the rule these women are exploiting was created with this nonsense in mind.

SajitP

For those defending this arrangement based on how little incomeit is per capita:

1. The welfare handout is most probablythe reason for giving birth to that many kids (increased headcount for the "daycare").

2. What exactly are they contributing to the GDP or the economy?

sarahmas

I am a liberal with a heart that sometimes bleeds. I believe in subsidized child care. But this situation is completely deplorable. I am sure my mom - who was married when my 4 significantly older siblings were growing up, but divorced when I was - would have loved to have been paid to raise me at home. Instead she worked 2 jobs, 80 hours weekly for 20 years to put me through college.

I am horrified that some of the commentators here are applauding this sanctioned scam! These women are manipulating the system for their own benefit; how can you support their behavior?

KB

To #16

I agree, it is a sorry sad situation when children are born into homes unable to provide for them. Especially when there would seem to be better options.

However, they are contributing to GDP by providing childcare (good or no) for these children. If they went to work at a job childcare would still have to be paid for and provided. From a productivity perspective it doesn't really matter who is providing the care. As a side note, GDP is an imperfect measurement of productivity, it only counts prudicity that is paid, so lot's of unpaid labor (like productivity in the home) goes unmeasured.

They are certainly taking advantage of the system and of a law that, I'm guessing, wasn't intended to allow this to occur.

Jane

KB,

Yes, if they were running an actual daycare and looking after other peoples' kids, that would be different. They would be providing a legitimate service to the community, a service that allowed other parents to get out in the world and work toward the common good.

But what they are doing is not adding any value to the community. Nonetheless, the community is footing the bill.

Cory

A point of contention here seems to be whether caring for someone else's children is the same as caring for your own.

I contend it is NOT the same.

Providing care for your own children has long been established by our society as a parental responsibility. You need to perform this task, or pay someone else to do it for you. This is NOT something the government should pay you to do. And that is why this case became news. In most cases the government doesn't pay you to do that. It doesn't pay my wife to say home with our children, nor should it.

These women found a loophole where they would get paid by the government to do something millions of women (and men) do without getting paid by the government.

To the question: "If these women ran a day-care center and looked after other peoples kids but earned the same amount of money would that be different?" The answer is a definite yes. They would be providing a service to numerous other parents who would then have the time to go have productive jobs and contribute to the economy.

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