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Workfare Assailed

June 02, 1985

Lucy Killea, San Diego's illustrious assemblywoman, is ashamedly the mother of slavefare (workfare) legislation in San Diego County. Thanks to Killea, slavefare is now hanging over the head of every unfortunate person who is involuntarily unemployed and without any other source of income. Welfare provides a person with $4 a day for rent, food, clothing. It is hardly a life of luxury for a person who must subsist on it. Moreover, slavefare is an act of conscription against a person who is on the bottom of the economic rung.

Most progressive persons and organizations fail to understand that this ominous legislation poses a serious threat to one's civil liberties. Workfare is not the same as the Worker's Project Administration program that existed in the 1930s (The County Administration Center on Pacific Highway is just one example of the WPA's products.) to help overcome the massive involuntary unemployment of that era.

A person getting welfare aid and federally funded food stamps in San Diego County must work for both. The jobs workfare recipients must do are the make-work type. In the vast majority of cases, these jobs do not teach workfare workers any new skills (unless cleaning a toilet is something new to them). The valuable time wasted doing these jobs benefits no one. Workfare workers' time would be much more productive if it was spent looking for a real job, instead of washing some county employee's car.

For all the people on welfare, 65% are women with children. The workfare legislation does not exempt a mother who has a child of 8 years or more: thus both mother and child are reduced to a state of static misery.

Fromer Councilwoman Killea is blaming the victim instead of truly seeking a solution to the problem. Most people who are on welfare and workfare detest both, but do not have the voice to oppose this hideous concept of slavefare that is punishment-oriented bureaucracy aimed at people who live in the shadows of our society.

ART SALZBERG

San Diego

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