"The Crime of Survival": fraud prosecutions, community surveillance, and the original "welfare queen".The welfare recipients collecting trash along New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of highways in 1999 would easily have been mistaken for convicts by passing drivers. Recipients, working in exchange for their cash grants at around $1.10 per hour, had been issued orange prison jumpsuits as their workfare work·fare
A form of welfare in which capable adults are required to perform work, often in public-service jobs, as a condition of receiving aid.
[work + (wel)fare.] uniform. (1) In doing this, New York state forced onto women's bodies a graphic link to criminality that had circled them rhetorically for decades. The chain gang ritual broadcast recipients' marginalized social position and advertised the state's efforts to simultaneously punish and reform them. The spectacle rested upon commonly accepted beliefs that welfare recipients were lazy, sexually promiscuous, African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. women who spawned the criminal "culture of poverty" in America's inner cities. (2) Encapsulated most often in the persona of the "welfare queen," these stereotypes have figured prominently in domestic policy fights during the past decades and were integral in rationalizing the elimination of the federal welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was the name of a federal assistance program in effect from 1935 to 1997, which was administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. , in President Clinton's landmark 1996 "welfare reform" legislation.
By tracing the genesis of the "welfare queen," this article investigates the key role criminal procedures played in enshrining these beliefs in popular mythology and how they clashed with--and silenced--the perspectives of welfare recipients. I explore the anti-welfare fraud initiatives in Illinois during the 1970s to illustrate that charges of criminality were critical to accelerating the stigmatization stigmatization /stig·ma·ti·za·tion/ (stig?mah-ti-za´shun)
1. the developing of or being identified as possessing one or more stigmata.
2. the act or process of negatively labelling or characterizing another. of welfare recipients. Although the structure of the economy and low welfare grants made extensive fraud unavoidable, the state responded to these conditions with criminalization crim·i·nal·ize
tr.v. crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing, crim·i·nal·iz·es
1. To impose a criminal penalty on or for; outlaw.
2. To treat as a criminal. and surveillance, instead of drastic social or economic intervention. The public spectacle of fraud prosecutions, mediated through a complicit com·plic·it
Associated with or participating in a questionable act or a crime; having complicity: newspapers complicit with the propaganda arm of a dictatorship. media, further undermined support for the entire welfare program as heightened access to the program by morally and racially stigmatized parents dramatically increased welfare program budgets. These state initiatives directly challenged welfare activists' claims to state support by virtue of their roles as mothers, citizens, and consumers.
Although it is rarely a focus in historical work, the perception that welfare recipients were fraudulent and deceptive was a primary factor in undermining support for the program. (3) In Why Americans Hate Welfare, Martin Gilens's extensive review of public opinion polls revealed the importance of the link among race, fraud, and criminality.
[A] large majority of Americans agree that government should provide monetary support to those who are unable to support themselves. But the perception of welfare abuse is widespread. Indeed, as the survey evidence ... suggests, it would be hard to exaggerate the level of cynicism toward welfare recipients held by the American public. This perception of welfare recipients' dishonesty and freeloading is at the core of Americans' conviction that welfare spending should be cut (emphasis added). (4)
The state's anti-fraud campaign framed welfare recipients, who were already burdened in the public discourse by the intersecting in·ter·sect
v. in·ter·sect·ed, in·ter·sect·ing, in·ter·sects
1. To cut across or through: The path intersects the park.
2. stigma of race, class, and gender, as deceptive criminals. This obscured families' material conditions and discursively constructed an isolated, suspect population. Cultural assumptions evident in this rhetoric were translated into policies that scrutinized and punished recipients while simultaneously constricting con·strict
v. con·strict·ed, con·strict·ing, con·stricts
1. To make smaller or narrower by binding or squeezing.
2. To squeeze or compress.
3. the availability of material support to low-income people. Additionally, these policies converged with other state initiatives, such as punitive criminal sentencing procedures, to help solidify the public perception of a racialized, criminal "culture of poverty."
Historical work about welfare has traced the evolution of discourse, changes in policy, and the campaigns of activists and reformers. Scholars have revealed the profound influence of racial exclusion in the development of social programs. (5) Others have shown how gendered assumptions and the wide acceptance of the male breadwinner bread·win·ner
One whose earnings are the primary source of support for one's dependents.
bread·winning n. model caused Aid to Families with Dependent Children (or AFDC AFDC
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
AFDC n abbr (US) (= Aid to Families with Dependent Children) → ayuda a familias con hijos menores
AFDC n abbr ) to be more stigmatized and paltry pal·try
adj. pal·tri·er, pal·tri·est
1. Lacking in importance or worth. See Synonyms at trivial.
2. Wretched or contemptible. than programs assumed to serve men. (6) Researchers such as Michael Katz and Herbert Gans have studied how elite discourse about welfare, "the underclass," and the "ghetto poor" reworked the centuries-old traditional distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. (7) Taken together, this scholarship establishes the profound ways that welfare programs have always been intertwined with the politics of maintaining racial, class, and gender hierarchies. (8)
These works are primarily national in scope and trace the actions and rhetoric of politicians, policy makers and social reformers. Poor people are rarely the main focus of these studies and are often depicted as being arbitrarily acted upon by a punitive and stingy stin·gy
adj. stin·gi·er, stin·gi·est
1. Giving or spending reluctantly.
2. Scanty or meager: a stingy meal; stingy with details about the past. welfare system.9 To build on these important works, I use a state level study to juxtapose jux·ta·pose
tr.v. jux·ta·posed, jux·ta·pos·ing, jux·ta·pos·es
To place side by side, especially for comparison or contrast. the perspectives of poor parents and elite policy makers. In addition to highlighting the gulf between their understandings of social phenomena, this approach emphasizes the constrained agency of recipients and illuminates how they worked within and around the program's regulations in order to make ends meet.
I conceptualize con·cep·tu·al·ize
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way: welfare as one in a collection of strategies families used for economic survival and not necessarily a significant part of recipients' core identity. Since welfare recipients floated between wage work and welfare or care-giving work, I do not think of them as distinct from the working class or the working poor. Scholars' tendency to address people on welfare only so far as they are connected to this particular state program can inadvertently reinforce the depiction of recipients as an isolated type of poor person and a "non-worker." This can distract from how most recipients floated between welfare and low wage work, often using both simultaneously to support their families. It can also lead historians to ignore how other state initiatives, employers and communities might influence and complicate welfare recipients' lives and identities. My research therefore seeks to problematize Prob´lem`a`tize
v. t. 1. To propose problems. the separation of welfare recipients from the working class or working poor and investigate how this distinction was maintained. (10)
The escalation in negative attitudes toward welfare and social programs has often been understood as part of a "backlash" against the social reforms and movements of the 1960s that attempted to address the racial inequality racial inequality Racial disparity Social medicine, public health
A disparity in opportunity for socioeconomic advancement or access to goods and services based solely on race. See Women and health. in American society. (11) By stressing the role of policy in exacerbating racially charged anti-welfare beliefs as opposed to simply reflecting them, I argue against conceptualizing hostility to welfare as a mechanical reaction to African American activism and political gains. As Neubeck and Cazenave's Welfare Racism points out, "Typically, racial state actors are portrayed as mere puppets of public opinion. This portrayal ignores the active role of racial state actors and other political elites in helping to generate and inflame these white racial sentiments and the periodic white racial backlashes they in turn fuel." (12) Since hostility toward recipients intensified during the highly publicized pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
Adj. 1. publicized - made known; especially made widely known
publicised efforts to shrink welfare rolls through fraud persecutions, this study stresses the powerful role of punitive state policy in directing public antagonism antagonism /an·tag·o·nism/ (an-tag´o-nizm) opposition or contrariety between similar things, as between muscles, medicines, or organisms; cf. antibiosis.
n. toward specific targets. (13)
Beginning in the early 1970s, the penal and welfare systems intertwined to create new political, legal and technological means of surveilling and disciplining welfare recipients. Throughout the decade, law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA) is a term used to describe any agency which enforces the law. This may be a local or state police, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). took on new responsibilities for identifying and penalizing welfare fraud. This article tracks how the increased monitoring of welfare recipients by police and criminal prosecutors amplified and solidified recipients' marginalized position in society. (14) Instead of simply mirroring public attitudes, the relentless media attention about welfare fraud convictions and indictments tangibly linked criminality to what had been a more elusive, moral stigma against poor, single, usually Black motherhood. The spectacle of the actual indictments framed welfare recipients as dishonest criminals, eclipsing their status as mothers and citizens.
In order to illustrate the different levels at which this anti-welfare fraud campaign operated and how they interacted, the article contains four sections. The first briefly reviews relevant trends in welfare policy in the period up to the 1970s. After setting the national context, the article focuses on the state of Illinois's efforts to manage fraud during the 1970s. Illinois is an apt case study because it was both a forerunner and a model for the anti-fraud efforts that accelerated across the nation throughout the decade. The state was also home to the original "welfare queen," Linda Taylor, whose case generated national attention and influenced the stereotypes associated with welfare recipients. Despite the fervency fer·ven·cy
n. pl. fer·ven·cies
The condition or quality of being fervent.
Noun 1. fervency - feelings of great warmth and intensity; "he spoke with great ardor" and high profile of its anti-fraud initiatives, the Illinois case was not an aberration and can provide insight into the larger national phenomenon. Illinois's exponential growth Extremely fast growth. On a chart, the line curves up rather than being straight. Contrast with linear. in fraud arrests and investigations during the 1970s corresponded roughly with the national trends.
A focus on the state level, as opposed to a national study, allows this paper to blend policy history and social history to capture the interactions among cultural assumptions, material conditions, legislation and interpretations of policy implementation at the local level. Therefore, in the third section of the paper, I focus on the people in the community who reported their acquaintances for welfare fraud and how their participation reshaped the state's anti-fraud campaign. The final section examines how the anti-fraud initiatives interacted with welfare recipients' strategies for making ends meet on low monthly cash grants. It also explores how recipients interpreted and resisted the new policies, and the wider social implications of punitive state programs.
Managing Caseloads: Race, Class, Gender and U.S. Welfare History
Illinois anti-fraud initiatives were embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. in the long history of welfare bureaucracies' struggles to limit costs while policing sexuality and racial, gender, and class hierarchies (programming) class hierarchy - A set of classes and their interrelationships.
One class may be a specialisation (a "subclass" or "derived class") of another which is one of its "superclasses" or "base classes". . Since the earliest relief efforts, women receiving charity and public assistance have been the objects of suspicion and intense scrutiny of their financial and moral "worthiness." (15) Many of these practices were incorporated into the federal welfare program, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC (1) See A/D converter.
(2) (Apple Display Connector) A peripheral connector from Apple that combines digital video display, USB and power in one cable. ), which was inaugurated by the landmark 1935 Social Security Act. ADC was originally intended to enable single mothers, usually white widows White widow can refer to:
n. 1. A second or repeated marriage.
Noun 1. remarriage - the act of marrying again remained more lucrative than receiving welfare. (17) State aid programs policed morality by implementing "suitable homes" regulations and "man in the house" rules, which made women ineligible for welfare if found living with a male companion.
Racism and racial politics have also fundamentally sculpted sculpt
v. sculpt·ed, sculpt·ing, sculpts
1. To sculpture (an object).
2. To shape, mold, or fashion especially with artistry or precision: social welfare programs, especially those instituted during the New Deal. (18) Domestic and agricultural workers, commonly understood to be African Americans, were ineligible for social insurance, such as Social Security and unemployment insurance. When they were able to access state support, African American families were forced to rely on the more paltry and stigmatized programs, such as ADC. In the south, many states barred Black women entirely from state aid, especially when their labor was in high demand during harvest times Noun 1. harvest time - the season for gathering crops
farming, husbandry, agriculture - the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock . These policies reinforced the long held assumption that African American women should belong to the formal workforce and remain ungoverned by white notions of domesticity Domesticity
See also Wifeliness.
leading brand of baking products; byword for one expert in homemaking skills. [Trademarks: Crowley Trade, 56]
Dick Van Dyke Show, The . By barring many African Americans and unwed mothers, program administrators protected ADC from public criticism while keeping costs low and enforcing the dominant society's social norms. (19)
During the mid-1960s and early 1970s, many welfare regulations were liberalized due to War on Poverty programs and pressure from "poverty lawyers" and civil and welfare rights activism. (20) A vocal welfare rights movement composed predominantly of poor women of color not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.
See also: Color demanded--and, in many cases, received--larger grants and a more responsive grievance procedure A term used in Labor Law to describe an orderly, established way of dealing with problems between employers and employees.
Through the grievance procedure system, workers' complaints are usually communicated through their union to management for consideration by the employer. . Activists advanced a unique feminist ideology that challenged their stigmatized position and claimed the right to state support by virtue of their status as mothers, citizens and consumers. (21)
In the pivotal 1970 case, Goldberg v. Kelley, the Supreme Court ruled that welfare was an entitlement that could not be summarily suspended without due process. (22) Welfare grants increased in real economic terms and most states' "substitute parent" or "man in the house" laws were ruled unconstitutional by the early 1970s. (23) These and other landmark cases landmark case Law & medicine A civil or, far less commonly, criminal action that has had an impact on a particular area of medicine. greatly expanded access Expanded access refers to the inclusion of patients in a clinical trial for a new therapeutic treatment or chemical entity, where those patients would not satisfy the enrolment criteria for the scientific study in progress. to welfare programs by constricting the state's ability to arbitrarily cancel grants or use "immorality IMMORALITY. that which is contra bonos mores. In England, it is not punishable in some cases, at the common law, on, account of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions: e. g. adultery. But except in cases belonging to the ecclesiastical courts, the court of king's bench is the custom morum, and " or race as a rationale to deny aid.
Legal reforms and welfare rights activism combined with de-industrialization's devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. impact on urban areas to swell the number of people receiving assistance, particularly among African Americans. (24) Between 1965 and 1970, the program's size doubled, growing from 3.3 million to 7 million people nationally. (25) Although the majority of welfare recipients had always been white, after 1958, almost half were people of color Noun 1. people of color - a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
people of colour, colour, color
race - people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock; "some biologists doubt that there are important . (26) As reforms opened the program to new groups, they also made welfare vulnerable to new attacks. Welfare administrators had long mitigated public hostility by denying aid to the most stigmatized women: African Americans and women with children born out of wedlock wed·lock
The state of being married; matrimony.
out of wedlock
Of parents not legally married to each other: born out of wedlock. . As these people entered the welfare rolls in large numbers, the public's already limited approval of welfare waned. Hostility toward the program intensified as welfare budgets grew and people increasingly saw the program as disproportionately serving African Americans. In this climate, the program struggled to find new ways to limit costs while simultaneously managing the socially marginalized populations now contained within the welfare program, instead of excluded from it.
Legislators and bureaucrats at the state and federal level initiated new efforts to reduce the costs and size of the program; some state officials asserted that an influx of ineligible people had caused the growth in program costs. Fraud investigations, always a part of welfare administration, took up new importance as other tools to trim the welfare rolls were ruled illegal. In 1961, the city of Newburgh, New York instituted a collection of draconian dra·co·ni·an
Exceedingly harsh; very severe: a draconian legal code; draconian budget cuts.
[After Draco. welfare policies that included forcing all recipients, who were commonly thought to be African American migrants from the South, to pick up their checks at the police station for eligibility audits to "weed out the chisellers." (27) In 1962, U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D., West Virginia West Virginia, E central state of the United States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania and Maryland (N), Virginia (E and S), and Kentucky and, across the Ohio R., Ohio (W). Facts and Figures
Area, 24,181 sq mi (62,629 sq km). Pop. ) held hearings in Congress about the allegedly lax social workers in Washington D.C. who tolerated welfare fraud. (28) These early, nationally publicized, anti-fraud initiatives targeted African American communities and exacerbated the racialized and stigmatized public image of welfare recipients. (29) The policies simultaneously limited program costs by thinning the rolls and discouraging new people from entering the highly scrutinized caseload case·load
The number of cases handled in a given period, as by an attorney or by a clinic or social services agency.
Noun . (30)
Hostility toward welfare hardened throughout the late 1960s, and the idea that recipients squandered squan·der
tr.v. squan·dered, squan·der·ing, squan·ders
1. To spend wastefully or extravagantly; dissipate. See Synonyms at waste.
2. their grants on frivolous consumer goods consumer goods
Any tangible commodity purchased by households to satisfy their wants and needs. Consumer goods may be durable or nondurable. Durable goods (e.g., autos, furniture, and appliances) have a significant life span, often defined as three years or more, and developed significant cultural resonance. (31) There was even a hit country song, "Welfare Cadillac Welfare Cadillac is a political phrase used in the United States for an anecdote intended to illustrate a case of a person or group receiving public benefits where the benefits are not actually needed by the recipient or are obtained by fraud. ," by Guy Drake, that topped charts for over a month in 1970. The song caricatured a family living in a dilapidated, neglected house while using their welfare checks toward the payments on a brand new Cadillac.
Now the way that I see it These other folk are the fools They're working and paying taxes Just to send my young'uns through school The Salvation Army cuts their hair and Gives them clothes to wear on their backs So we can dress up and ride around And show off this new Cadillac. (32)
The song was so resonant resonant
giving an intense, rich sound on percussion; exhibiting resonance. that President Nixon requested that Johnny Cash Noun 1. Johnny Cash - United States country music singer and songwriter (1932-2003)
John Cash, Cash sing "Welfare Cadillac" during a performance at the White House; Cash, however, refused the administration's request. (33) Around the same time, Governor Ronald Reagan pioneered a new comprehensive anti-fraud initiative in California that tightened eligibility standards and child support regulations. Illinois legislators modeled many of their efforts on Reagan's programs. (34) Both Illinois and California would become models for other states attempting to curtail welfare costs and crack down on fraud.
Creating Criminals: Illinois State Anti-Fraud Initiatives
Illinois welfare rolls surged between 1967 and 1973. (35) Controversy regarding incompetent management had circled around the Department of Public Aid since the late 1960s, and the state's high error rates put Illinois in danger of sanction by the federal government. Often indistinguishable from bureaucratic bu·reau·crat
1. An official of a bureaucracy.
2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.
bu bungling bun·gle
v. bun·gled, bun·gling, bun·gles
To work or act ineptly or inefficiently.
To handle badly; botch. See Synonyms at botch.
n. and the results of chronic understaffing, mistakes in cash grant amounts were handled administratively prior to 1973. Fraud by recipients was rarely prosecuted since it was extremely difficult to prove criminal intent. When an overpayment o·ver·pay
v. o·ver·paid , o·ver·pay·ing, o·ver·pays
1. To pay (a party) too much.
2. To pay an amount in excess of (a sum due).
To pay too much. was detected, the state simply readjusted the grant amount or dropped the recipient from the rolls. (36)
However, bad publicity, federal scrutiny, and spiraling program costs led state legislators to revaluate re·val·u·ate
tr.v. re·val·u·at·ed, re·val·u·at·ing, re·val·u·ates
1. To make a new valuation of.
2. To increase the exchange value of (a nation's currency). the welfare administration's approach to fraud in the early 1970s. (37) The main impetus for reform in Illinois was a powerful bipartisan committee of state legislators called the Legislative Advisory Committee to Public Aid (LAC). This committee was charged with advising and assisting the agency that actually administered the welfare program, the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA IDPA Illinois Department of Public Aid
IDPA International Defensive Pistol Association
IDPA Indian Documentary Producers Association (India)
IDPA International Dart Players Association (UK) ). Led for most of this period by Republican State Senator Noun 1. state senator - a member of a state senate
senator - a member of a senate Don Moore (R., Midlothian) and emboldened em·bold·en
tr.v. em·bold·ened, em·bold·en·ing, em·bold·ens
To foster boldness or courage in; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage.
Adj. 1. by the high profile fraud case of Linda Taylor, the Legislative Advisory Committee became singularly committed to reducing welfare rolls through stringent eligibility reviews. Although Republicans enjoyed significant support from Democratic lawmakers, they strategically championed the anti-fraud cause throughout much of the 1970s in their struggle to regain control of the General Assembly.
In 1974, the Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune
Daily newspaper published in Chicago. The Tribune is one of the leading U.S. newspapers and long has been the dominant voice of the Midwest. Founded in 1847, it was bought in 1855 by six partners, including Joseph Medill (1823–99), who made the paper began covering the bizarre case of Linda Taylor, the original "welfare queen." She was charged with defrauding Illinois welfare programs by collecting welfare cash grants, social security and food stamps food stamp
A stamp or coupon, issued by the government to persons with low incomes, that can be redeemed for food at stores.
Noun 1. under multiple aliases. Taylor's story generated significant media coverage nationally, as well as in her hometown of Chicago. Although the specifics fluctuated considerably between articles, Taylor's deceptive techniques were described in careful detail. The Chicago Tribune reported that she had illegally received over $200,000 by using more than 100 aliases in 12 different states. (38) She allegedly had at least 31 addresses, 25 phone numbers, 3 cars (including one Cadillac), and several husbands (most dead and one 25 years her junior). (39) Her physical form was as elusive as her legal identity. Investigators alleged she had 30 different wigs and had claimed benefits as a white, an African American, and a Filipina. (40) Despite these remarkable estimates, prosecutors were ultimately only able to prove Taylor had defrauded the state of $8,000 using four separate aliases.
It was Chicago journalists who originally crowned Taylor the "welfare queen." (41) The moniker (1) A name, title or alias. See alias.
(2) A COM object that is used to create instances of other objects. Monikers save programmers time when coding various types of COM-based functions such as linking one document to another (OLE). See COM and OLE. stuck, although welfare fraud was hardly Taylor's only legal transgression TRANSGRESSION. The violation of a law. . The Chicago Tribune recounted tales of Taylor's alleged robberies, bigamy bigamy (bĭ`gəmē), crime of marrying during the continuance of a lawful marriage. Bigamy is not committed if a prior marriage has been terminated by a divorce or a decree of nullity of marriage. , and kidnapping kidnapping, in law, the taking away of a person by force, threat, or deceit, with intent to cause him to be detained against his will. Kidnapping may be done for ransom or for political or other purposes. , and told how she had collected fees as a "voodoo doctor" and tried to claim the inheritance of a policy runner who had died with $700,000 in his home. (42) Despite these diverse charges against Taylor, welfare fraud remained her defining feature, and the press always referred to her as the welfare queen.
Ronald Reagan seized on the caricature, stripped it of its context and peculiarity, and gave it national visibility. He railed against welfare bureaucracies by telling crowds about the Chicago welfare queen at almost every campaign stop during his failed 1976 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. His account morphed over time, although he usually assessed the cost to the state at $150,000 and fixed the number of aliases at around 80. (43)
Connecting "queen" to popular images of welfare recipients symbolically transmitted multiple messages with derogatory de·rog·a·to·ry
1. Disparaging; belittling: a derogatory comment.
2. Tending to detract or diminish. racial, gender and class subtexts. (44) Surrounded by extravagant luxuries and services, queens are assumed to perform neither caregiving work nor waged labor. Linking these images to welfare recipients discredited poor women's voices and insinuated that their claims of material hardship were disingenuous dis·in·gen·u·ous
1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: "an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who ... exemplified ... and malicious. By evoking socially unsettling un·set·tle
v. un·set·tled, un·set·tling, un·set·tles
1. To displace from a settled condition; disrupt.
2. To make uneasy; disturb.
v.intr. images of politically powerful women, the phrase welfare queen also had racial connotations. It implicitly referenced popular beliefs, associated most frequently with the Moynihan Report, which attributed the "pathology of the Black family" to its alleged matriarchal ma·tri·arch
1. A woman who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
2. A woman who dominates a group or an activity.
3. A highly respected woman who is a mother. structure. Since it could instantly convey multiple stereotypes, it should not be surprising that the moniker welfare queen quickly gained such currency.
The Taylor case was a huge embarrassment for the bureaucracy that administered welfare programs, the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IPDA IPDA Initial Psychological Disorder Analysis (software)
IPDA Internet Philatelic Dealers Association
IPDA Isophorone Diamine
IPDA Institute for Professional Development in the Addictions ). Instead of treating Taylor's actions as an anomaly, key conservative politicians and state bureaucrats claimed it was indicative of the permissiveness and incompetence of the welfare system in Illinois. The welfare administration, IDPA, responded to political pressure by initiating a series of bureaucratic efforts to identify ineligible recipients. They instituted a "redetermination Noun 1. redetermination - determining again
determination, finding - the act of determining the properties of something, usually by research or calculation; "the determination of molecular structures" program" in February of 1975, which called for caseworkers to visit the home of each welfare recipient three times a year and resulted in the cancellation of over 40,000 cases in the first two rounds. (45) To find people who were illegally working, state officials used newly developed computer technology to crosslist the names of people receiving welfare with lists of state employees or recipients of unemployment insurance. Despite the worsening economic climate, bureaucrats strived for "caseload stabilization," which meant stopping and even reversing the caseload increases. Through these programs, IDPA dropped people from the program faster than new eligible cases were added, and caseloads stabilized in 1974 for the first time in over three years. The caseload even decreased for a few months that year despite the recession. (46)
Still frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: by the alleged lack of cooperation by the IPDA, LAC initiated numerous efforts to coerce collaboration through threat, public humiliation Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons (imprisonment was long unusual as a punishment, rather a method of coercion). , and enticement. Legislators worked closely with the media to publicize pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
publicize or -cise
[-cizing, -cized] stories about the inefficient welfare bureaucracy and the behavior it tolerated. (47) Although IDPA already employed fraud investigators, the LAC hired its own staff of off-duty police officers to track down ineligible welfare recipients. (48) In practice, this meant identifying the two behaviors that most frequently constituted fraud: failing to report additional earned income Sources of money derived from the labor, professional service, or entrepreneurship of an individual taxpayer as opposed to funds generated by investments, dividends, and interest. , or an extra wage earner (usually husbands or boyfriends) living with the family.
The LAC established an anonymous, 24 hour-a-day hotline that people could call to report suspected fraud. LAC investigators also circulated memos to police stations that implored officers to include welfare fraud in the crimes they watched for during patrols. (49) After researching cases, LAC staff would hand over the files to welfare caseworkers for termination or readjustment re·ad·just
tr.v. re·ad·just·ed, re·ad·just·ing, re·ad·justs
To adjust or arrange again.
re of the cash grants. If there was sufficient evidence, they would send the cases to the State's Attorney's office for criminal prosecution. The members of the Committee staff would then proceed to badger the reluctant and understaffed State's Attorney's offices and local law enforcement into prosecuting the cases. (50)
The LAC also sponsored legislation designed to entice prosecutors to prosecute welfare fraud more enthusiastically. Concerned that low penalties discouraged prosecution, legislators crafted a bill allowing welfare fraud to be tried as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Other legislation allowed the State's Attorney Noun 1. state's attorney - a prosecuting attorney for a state
prosecuting attorney, prosecuting officer, prosecutor, public prosecutor - a government official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state offices to keep 25% of the money recovered from welfare recipients after successful prosecutions. Chairman Moore explained that "This incentive plan should help 'sweeten the pot' and inspire our prosecutors to even greater heights." (51) In 1977, the State's Attorney office established a separate division dedicated entirely to prosecuting welfare fraud. (52)
To eliminate theft and prevent recipients from falsely reporting missing and stolen welfare checks, Public Aid started mailing all grants directly to banks and currency exchanges, instead of peoples' homes. (53) Recipients had to report in person to collect their checks and were required to present three forms of identification and sign a receipt in order to match signatures. (54) Although this program was expanded to the entire state in 1977, it was tested in Chicago starting in 1975. Intensive scrutiny of all welfare recipients illustrated the extent to which these policies were directed at a stigmatized group of people, not specific criminals within a group of respected citizens. Both the language used and the location of the pilot programs revealed a particular concern about urban, usually Black, welfare recipients.
Efforts to start fingerprinting the entire caseload were perhaps the most dramatic evidence that officials saw all recipients as suspect. Although fingerprinting ostensibly os·ten·si·ble
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. served the administrative purpose of preventing recipients from collecting grants under multiple aliases, it also clearly reinforced an already stigmatized position by linking the recipients to explicit images of criminality. (55) Despite its obvious parallel to processing criminals, the plan received considerable support. (56)
By the time that prosecutors were finally able to convict and sentence Linda Taylor to three to six years in prison, media attention and public outrage had shifted from her individual story to the hundreds of fraud cases that the state's campaign had unearthed Unearthed is the name of a Triple J project to find and "dig up" (hence the name) hidden talent in regional Australia.
Unearthed has had three incarnations - they first visited each region of Australia where Triple J had a transmitter - 41 regions in all. . (57) In October of 1978, the Chicago Tribune remarked on how the pervasiveness of welfare fraud made Taylor's case seem less remarkable and instead simply representative of a larger pattern.
Once the focus of national outrage, the flamboyant and mysterious Chicago woman has relinquished her throne to hundreds of others who have developed equally outrageous schemes to bilk the welfare system of millions of dollars. (58)
Although the idea of the welfare queen never lost its link to fraud and criminality, its original connection to Linda Taylor and high-ticket welfare fraud receded as welfare queens multiplied before the public gaze.
Over the course of the decade, Illinois state devoted increased resources to investigating fraud. In 1979, agencies initiated 5,803 investigations and referred almost 2,000 cases to law enforcement for prosecution. This represented a 476% increase over the number of cases initiated in 1971 and a 1015% increase in the number of cases referred to law enforcement. Although practices varied among states, this remarkable growth in fraud investigations was paralleled at the national level. Between 1970 and 1979, there was a 729% increase in the number of fraud cases initiated nationwide. (59)
Initiatives sponsored by the LAC enjoyed wide support within the Illinois General Assembly The Illinois General Assembly is the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States, created by the first constitution adopted in 1818. It works beside the executive branch led by the state governor and the judicial branch led by the supreme . For example, the bill to raise penalties for welfare fraud sailed through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives 124 to 26. (60) The main critics of these policies were African American legislators and community leaders from Chicago. For example, Senator Richard Newhouse (D-Chicago) spoke out in the community and in the Senate. At a public meeting in 1977, he explained:
"Welfare cheaters" has become the new code word for the poor, for minorities in general and those temporarily down on their luck. Here in Illinois, we presently have three separate agencies seeking out "welfare cheaters" at goodness knows what cost to the taxpayer. (61)
In 1978, Senator Newhouse issued a press release condemning the state for "squandering squan·der
tr.v. squan·dered, squan·der·ing, squan·ders
1. To spend wastefully or extravagantly; dissipate. See Synonyms at waste.
2. more than $3 million peeking under the beds of welfare recipients." (62) He also challenged the much-publicized idea that the anti-fraud efforts resulted in savings for the state. "Then--with appropriate fanfare--the state proudly proclaimed that it had recovered the magnificent sum of $1 million as the result of its $3 million effort." (63) He insisted that anti-fraud efforts were racially charged initiatives designed to stigmatize stig·ma·tize
tr.v. stig·ma·tized, stig·ma·tiz·ing, stig·ma·tiz·es
1. To characterize or brand as disgraceful or ignominious.
2. To mark with stigmata or a stigma.
3. the poor, especially from Black urban neighborhoods. Jesse Jackson Noun 1. Jesse Jackson - United States civil rights leader who led a national campaign against racial discrimination and ran for presidential nomination (born in 1941)
Jesse Louis Jackson, Jackson called the fraud investigators "welfare bloodhounds" and pointed out that the state made no similar effort to track down the $100 million of uncollected income taxes. (64) Because the dominant discourse about fraud erased recipients' poverty and rendered their perspectives suspect, these critical voices were unable to significantly intervene in the public discourse about welfare fraud.
Although Illinois was not monolithically behind efforts to crack down on welfare fraud, only a few legislators wasted political capital on impeding anti-fraud initiatives directed against socially stigmatized poor parents. In fact, bureaucratic inertia was probably legislators' biggest adversary in their efforts to politicize po·lit·i·cize
v. po·lit·i·cized, po·lit·i·ciz·ing, po·lit·i·ciz·es
To engage in or discuss politics.
v.tr. the fraud issue and shrink the welfare program. To implement their policies, the LAC had to pressure two reluctant, overburdened o·ver·bur·den
tr.v. o·ver·bur·dened, o·ver·bur·den·ing, o·ver·bur·dens
1. To burden with too much weight; overload.
2. To subject to an excessive burden or strain; overtax.
1. agencies into expending their limited resources on criminalizing actions that had previously been administratively handled. This transformation could not happen overnight and required considerable political and bureaucratic mobilization. As the LAC's chief investigator acknowledged in a front page Wall Street Journal article, "We're trying to convince people that welfare fraud is a crime just as bank robbery The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
Bank robbery is the crime of robbing a bank. and homicide." (65) Despite these struggles, legislators had powerful allies in their campaign: a large percentage of the public and the media. The more people heard about welfare fraud, the more infuriated in·fu·ri·ate
tr.v. in·fu·ri·at·ed, in·fu·ri·at·ing, in·fu·ri·ates
To make furious; enrage.
Furious. they became; many even embraced the opportunity to join in the campaign themselves.
Cadillacs, Turtles, and Revenge: Community Participation in Identifying Fraud
Most of the public became informed about the state's anti-fraud efforts through the media. Although some media, such as the African American newspaper the Chicago Defender The Chicago Defender was the United States’ largest and most influential black weekly newspaper by the beginning of World War I. The Defender was founded on May 5, 1905 by Robert S. , published articles critical of the campaign, most mainstream papers tacitly assisted the investigations. Members of the LAC worked closely with journalist George Bliss For the 19th century American politician, see .
George Bliss is a world famous bicycle designer living in New York City.
George has long been involved in custom-designed freight bicycles including the Dump Trike and the smaller Pick-Up Trike from the Chicago Tribune in his multiple exposes about Linda Taylor and the resistance of IDPA to initiate further investigations. Investigators' reports acknowledged his help in generating public pressure on welfare administrators. (66) The LAC clearly saw the Tribune as a partner in their efforts, as illustrated by a letter to the Tribune editor that concluded: "We certainly appreciate the support of the Chicago Tribune in our ongoing investigations." (67)
In addition to echoing the indignant and alarmed tone of state legislators, newspapers publicized the state's hotline to report welfare cheaters. They frequently included the phone number in stories about the LAC's efforts and occasionally even designated separate space in their articles to promote the state's hotline. (68) Set apart from the article with lines or a box, the announcements were essentially advertisements for the hotline and a clear endorsement of the state's campaign. A 1976 article that ran in the Markham Star Tribune For the Wyoming newspaper, see .
The Star Tribune (also Star trib or Strib, as it is often referred to) is the largest newspaper in the U.S. assured readers that there was no risk in reporting fraud and that all tips would be taken seriously. "All calls will be confidential and callers are not required to identify themselves. All reports will be checked." (69)
The Chicago Tribune also aided the campaigns by publishing the lists of names of those charged of welfare fraud. When the State's Attorney started returning indictments in groups of 50 or 75, the paper ran all the names All the Names (Portuguese: Todos os nomes) is a novel by Portuguese author José Saramago. It was written in 1997 and published in English in 2000 in an award winning translation by Margaret Jull Costa. , along with addresses and places of illegal employment, at the end of the article in smaller print. (70) This public shaming of welfare recipients broadcasted the LAC's message more powerfully than simply repeating legislators' allegations or speeches. Reading about actual indictments played a key role in convincing the public that the welfare program wasted their tax dollars on financially secure, manipulative criminals.
People responded to this news of rampant welfare fraud in various ways. Some angry citizens answered the articles by writing letters to their paper's editorial page. One man demanded that judges who handed down light sentences for welfare fraud be removed from their jobs immediately, and asked, "Aren't such judicial decisions tantamount tan·ta·mount
Equivalent in effect or value: a request tantamount to a demand.
[From obsolete tantamount, an equivalent, from Anglo-Norman to aiding and abetting a·bet
tr.v. a·bet·ted, a·bet·ting, a·bets
1. To approve, encourage, and support (an action or a plan of action); urge and help on.
2. criminal acts?" (71) Another woman, furious about the waste of "our money," wanted to be a part of the effort to hunt down welfare cheaters.
I could think of a hundred people, including myself, who are tired of seeing our money wasted, and would love the opportunity to volunteer for a part in the investigations, without a penny for it. Just for the satisfaction of doing something! But that's the trouble with the system, they'll never let the people become involved. (72)
It seems that these sentiments are not aberrations. As the anti-fraud investigations produced more and more convictions, the public became increasingly invested in identifying and punishing "cheaters." Concern seemed to intensify throughout the decade as people became convinced that fraud was endemic to the entire program. One legislator LEGISLATOR. One who makes laws.
2. In order to make good laws, it is necessary to understand those which are in force; the legislator ought therefore, to be thoroughly imbued with a knowledge of the laws of his country, their advantages and defects; to wrote to encourage the LAC to expand their work after reviewing a poll from his district that revealed 96% of his constituents thought "too many people on welfare are receiving benefits to which they are not entitled." (73) In 1978, a poll of 800 Illinois voters showed that 84% ranked controlling welfare and Medicaid fraud Medicaid fraud The fraudulent billing of Medicaid by physicians or other health care providers, especially international medical graduates and psychiatrists. See Medicaid. and abuses their highest legislative priority, polling above controlling crime and government costs generally. (74)
Despite their similar economic and social positions, many living among recipients shared these anti-fraud sentiments. In the fiscal year of 1977, the state's fraud hotline received 10,047 calls, with the numbers mounting each month. (75) Between 1977 and 1980, it received over 30,000 tips. (76) Since the tippers reported specific instances of welfare fraud, these numbers suggest extensive involvement by people who frequently interacted with or lived near welfare recipients.
Although the intake records for the hotline are not available, it is possible to piece together anecdotal evidence anecdotal evidence,
n information obtained from personal accounts, examples, and observations. Usually not considered scientifically valid but may indicate areas for further investigation and research. about why people participated in this campaign. Tippers rarely had a clear understanding of what technically constituted fraud and instead turned in the more traditional targets of state sanction, such as morally stigmatized unmarried mothers unmarried mother unmarried n → ledige Mutter f
unmarried mother n → ragazza f madre inv . Many tips were inspired by a sense of frustration and injustice about a cheater who seemed to be getting ahead unfairly. The tippers expressed anger that others were getting financial support that they had not "earned." These complaints echoed the state's assumption that work did not include unpaid domestic labor or raising children. Tippers directed their complaints at objects of personal frustration and were remarkably unsuccessful at identifying criminal behavior. The almost 32,000 tips resulted in the adjustment or cancellation of 3,400 grants, making the informers effective in finding fraud only about 10% of the time. (77)
Tippers were most frequently alerted to fraud by seeing material possessions denoting status. These complaints reflected the assumption that welfare recipients should not have access to consumer goods. Recent historical work has argued that the ability to acquire consumer goods had become increasingly understood as a right of citizenship. In her book, Consumer's Republic, Lizabeth Cohen Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in Harvard University's history department. Currently, she teaches courses in 20th century America, material and popular culture, and gender, urban, and working-class history. argued that citizenship and consumerism consumerism
Movement or policies aimed at regulating the products, services, methods, and standards of manufacturers, sellers, and advertisers in the interests of the buyer. became hopelessly intertwined in American society in the prosperous decades after World War II. A new material abundance was omnipresent om·ni·pres·ent
Present everywhere simultaneously.
[Medieval Latin omnipres in political rhetoric and corporate advertising but the poor, especially people of color, were largely excluded from the fruits of the post-War consumer boom. (78)
In her work on the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), Felicia Kornbluh illustrated the importance of this new consumerism for Welfare Rights activism. (79) She showed that recipients demanded sufficient resources to support their families in dignity, which implied access to consumer goods. Kornbluh explained,
One key way that welfare recipients understood and expressed themselves as rights-bearing citizens was as consumers in an affluent society. NWRO members criticized both the private marketplace and the welfare system for failing to allow welfare recipients to participate fully in the post-World War II consumer economy. (80)
Like other American women, recipients insisted that they were entitled to consumer goods, such as perfume or a decent dining room table. These activists articulated a different claim to rights and dignity, one based on their position as mothers and citizens, which did not depend on participation in wage work. By claiming entitlement to material comforts by virtue of their citizenship, recipients directly challenged dominant ideas about the social and material value of domestic and care giving labor while also collapsing the category of consumer and citizen.
In contrast with the high-profile activism of the NWRO, many people were offended when welfare recipients possessed consumer goods. Tippers who notified the state about fraud assumed that nice or new possessions were sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the recipient. In one typed, anonymous letter sent to a State Senator, the author reported that the family next door had a house full of children and that the parents floated between welfare and wage work. Offended by the family's unimpeded unimpeded
not stopped or disrupted by anything
Adj. 1. unimpeded - not slowed or prevented; "a time of unimpeded growth"; "an unimpeded sweep of meadows and hills afforded a peaceful setting" access to various commodities, the author explained, "They made the comment that whatever they want they will go buy ... They go to town every week and spend between $40 and $50 for new clothes and foolishness. They buy turtles, guinea pigs guinea pig (gĭn`ē), domesticated form of the cavy, Cavia porcellus, a South American rodent. It is unrelated to the pig; the name may refer to its shrill squeal. , white mice and a lot of toys that are broken up in one day." (81) The crime, in this writer's mind, was illustrated by the existence of frivolous toys and pets. Although there was no explicit fraud stated in the letter, the investigators followed up on this tip and found that the family had not received aid for over a year. (82)
Although not stated explicitly, it seemed that the tippers could not afford such luxuries for their own family and found the comparison with their neighbors disturbing. The author wrote, "These people are living high on the hog and sitting home doing nothing and we have to get out and work to support them." (83) Tippers assumed that their neighbors were not contributors to the organs that funded welfare programs. This rhetoric created a dichotomy between "tax payers tax payer n → contribuyente m/f
tax payer n → contribuable m/f
tax payer n → contribuente ," which served as a proxy for full citizen, and welfare recipients, who were inaccurately presented as not contributing to the polity and therefore, having no claim to the benefits of citizenship.
The use of "we" suggests that both parents in the tipper's family were forced to work for wages. As the economy struggled throughout the 1970s and women continued to move into the formal workplace, fewer and fewer families could rely solely on one breadwinner's wages. Therefore, assumptions about a "family wage," on which welfare policy was originally built, were increasingly inapplicable in·ap·pli·ca·ble
Not applicable: rules inapplicable to day students.
in·ap to the lives of poor and working class families. Their inability to earn enough to keep a member of their own family at home probably contributed to resentment toward welfare.
Other examples suggest that tippers may have felt that welfare gave their neighbors unfair advantages, especially when used to subsidize sub·si·dize
tr.v. sub·si·dized, sub·si·diz·ing, sub·si·diz·es
1. To assist or support with a subsidy.
2. To secure the assistance of by granting a subsidy. low-wage work. Chief Investigator Tom Coughlin For the former Wal-Mart executive, see .
Tom Coughlin (born August 31, 1946 in Waterloo, New York) is an NFL head coach for the New York Giants. He was also the inaugural head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. explained to reporters that the best informants were "the outraged, average community tax payer." He explained, "One man called here and started chastising me ... He accused me of not doing my job because the man across the street was on aid, working, and driving a new car." In this case, the new car, a symbol of status and consumerism, angered the neighbor and inspired him to inform the authorities. The investigator explained that there was nothing he could do unless the tipper could name the place of employment. An hour later, the tipper called the investigator back to report that he had looked through his neighbor's window with binoculars and, upon seeing his work shirt, found out he was employed at Sears. (84) The press and law enforcement usually would have condemned spying on people as a violation of privacy but in this discourse, welfare recipients had entered a semi-criminal category where surveillance was encouraged.
One man wrote a letter to LAC Chairman Moore to remind him that food stamp fraud was also a problem. Although he had no specific person to report, he simply wanted to alert the authorities that there were a lot of people using food stamps and some of their actions made him suspicious. "What makes this so noticeable is that some of these people using food stamps are often dressed in fine clothing and purchasing items considered for expensive taste. Need I say more?" (85) The concluding question revealed that the author assumed a common understanding about the limits of recipients' rights to nonessential non·es·sen·tial
Being a substance required for normal functioning but not needed in the diet because the body can synthesize it. or frivolous commodities. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. this logic, people surrendered their cherished American rights of consumer choice once they started receiving food stamps. Simultaneously, it became any citizen's right to monitor, judge, and report recipients' decisions. By excluding welfare and food stamp recipients from this consumer society, tippers were also reinforcing the image of recipients as a separate and degraded category of second-class citizen second-class citizen
A person considered inferior in status or rights in comparison with some others: "He believes women . . . are second-class citizens under the Constitution" Edward M. .
The campaign against fraud also caused people who were bothered by deviant social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. to feel that the state might intervene to discipline their neighbors. Another anonymous letter, written in 1974, testified to the power of the media's representations of welfare queens. "In wake of recent newspaper stories concerning welfare cheaters, I would like for you to investigate another 'unfortunate' person who is collecting food stamps and welfare checks while riding around in a white late model Cadillac ..." (86) Again, this tipper named no act that technically constituted welfare fraud. Instead, the welfare recipient's guilt was established by her access to status symbols and her sexual impropriety. The letter detailed the woman's use of her parents' Cadillac, her lack of attention to her child, and her "marathon sexual activities." (87) It concluded, "As a concerned citizen of this area, I think you should investigate this woman's daily activities (and nightly ones as well) ..." (88) This tipper seemed more interested in convincing the state to regulate the recipient's sexual behavior sexual behavior A person's sexual practices–ie, whether he/she engages in heterosexual or homosexual activity. See Sex life, Sexual life. than in addressing her use of the welfare program. By highlighting her inappropriate connection to a key symbol of post-War prosperity, the Cadillac, the complaint interlaced Refers to a display system or image that uses interlacing and does not render contiguous lines one after the other. See interlace and interlaced GIF. traditional assumptions with more contemporary concerns. (89) It connected the older rhetoric that considered normative sexual behavior a condition for receiving aid with the more modern anxiety regarding poor women's inclusion into the consumerist society.
Revenge and personal disputes also motivated people to report their acquaintances for welfare fraud. Although it is difficult to establish what percentage of the tips were thus inspired, it is not surprising that this would occur. The state promised to investigate all leads and did not require any proof or documentation from the anonymous tippers. Even welfare officials occasionally acknowledged that the calls were not always civically motivated. As one Public Aid employee explained, "We get a lot of grudge grudge
tr.v. grudged, grudg·ing, grudg·es
1. To be reluctant to give or admit: even grudged the tuition money.
2. calls from people upset with their neighbors, and we have a couple of callers who just give us doses of music, but we're obligated ob·li·gate
tr.v. ob·li·gat·ed, ob·li·gat·ing, ob·li·gates
1. To bind, compel, or constrain by a social, legal, or moral tie. See Synonyms at force.
2. To cause to be grateful or indebted; oblige. to check all calls if they give us the necessary information." (90)
A few specific examples illustrate this phenomenon. In one case, it was clearly a woman's estranged es·trange
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.
2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations. husband who informed authorities she was working while receiving welfare. He even went on a stakeout stake·out
Surveillance of an area, building, or person, especially by the police.
Slang, chiefly US & Canad a police surveillance of an area or house
Verb with LAC investigators to help identify her. (91) In another example, a couple testified against their downstairs neighbor who had not reported to Public Aid that her husband resided with the family. The defendant attempted to have her neighbor's testimony thrown out on the grounds that they had frequently fought and were biased against her. It also turned out that the witnesses were themselves under investigation for welfare fraud and were possibly hoping for leniency le·ni·en·cy
n. pl. le·ni·en·cies
1. The condition or quality of being lenient. See Synonyms at mercy.
2. A lenient act.
Noun 1. if they cooperated with their neighbor's prosecution. (92) Although the files do not clearly establish what happened, it seems that the parties involved reported each other and were certainly using the state to settle personal scores.
These examples suggest that people became involved in the fraud campaign for reasons that deviated from the state's motivations. Not aware of the specifics of welfare policy, neighbors watched recipients for signs of social and cultural transgressions. They duly noted evidence of sexual impropriety, even though the state could no longer legally deny benefits using this criterion. Many of these tippers were probably struggling financially--only one accident, lost job, or pregnancy away from welfare themselves. The staggering unemployment and inflation throughout the period undoubtedly exacerbated these frustrations. Since neighbors were notoriously ineffective at identifying actual welfare fraud, the hotline's main success seems to have been providing an outlet for dissatisfaction about constricting economic opportunities. By helping find "cheaters," citizens were able to harness the state's power to address concerns in their personal lives. Their participation, however, further legitimized the state's campaign and added another technique by which poor families were monitored. This street level surveillance enabled citizens to intervene in the performance of recipients' stigmatized position; it barred recipients from subverting that position through acquiring consumer goods connoting status. (93)
"The Crime of Survival": Welfare Recipients and Fraud Prosecutions
The LAC legislators were probably correct when they charged that welfare fraud was rampant in Illinois in the 1970s. A high percentage of recipients probably committed fraud as the state defined it; there is little other explanation for how they managed to survive on the checks from Public Aid. (94) The final section of this study investigates how recipients used fraud to survive on paltry cash grants and how they reacted to the state's anti-fraud initiatives.
Welfare recipients were personally, racially and socially diverse. However, they supposedly all shared two conditions: poverty and parenthood. They probably also shared an awareness that it was incredibly difficult, if not almost impossible, to support a family on a welfare grant. (95) In 1974, the welfare grant for a family of four was approximately $288 per month, plus $65 in food stamps. Based on 1972 prices, this was 35% percent below the lowest floor set by the federal government for a four-person family. (96) Even after adding wage work, many families still lived below the federal poverty line. (97) This difficulty was exacerbated by the failure of the already low grants to keep pace with the era's rampant inflation. The national recession, which started in 1973, added to the economic insecurity of poor families. Unemployment rose to 8.3 percent by 1975 and real weekly earnings fell 0.4 percent annually during the 1970s. (98)
The state's indictments illustrate that much of what became defined as fraud were simply attempts to supplement welfare grants with additional income from low wage work or living with another wage earner. Herbert Saul was a typical case. He was sentenced to two years probation and $13,024 in restitution for working at a furniture store while also receiving welfare. He explained his crime to a journalist concisely, "I have a wife and three kids and I'm loaded with medical bills. That is all I can say." (99) Although recipients were depicted as lazy, the main crime constituting welfare fraud was working, holding a job on top of raising children. Similarly, although publicly viewed as promiscuous single mothers, Public Aid most often sanctioned women for living with their husbands or longtime partners after claiming to be single, deserted, or separated.
Investigators' files also illuminated the techniques parents used to make ends meet while on welfare. Many recipients chose not to notify welfare administrators when they got new jobs in order to avoid having their cases reassessed and grants reduced. Although many people held low wage jobs with formal employers, one woman's grant was reduced because she failed to report babysitting income. (100) Some worked under different names, usually maiden names maiden name
A woman's family name before she is married. Used of a surname that is replaced by a woman when she marries. Also called birth name. , or used fake social security numbers to avoid detection by Public Aid. Other recipients reported checks missing and cashed both the original and the duplicate. One woman paid her nephew's friend $40 to rob her on the way home from cashing her welfare checks. After she reported the money stolen, the fake robber returned the original money. (101) In one particularly bizarre case, investigators struggled to ascertain who had been cashing the checks of a man that had been murdered months before. (102)
It is impossible to ascertain the true extent of fraud without access to extensive interviews or surveys where recipients felt safe enough to tell the truth about their behavior. Surveys conducted during the 1970s in Seattle and Denver showed that 50% of recipients admitted to "cheating" in order to get by financially. (103) In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, an ex-fraud investigator for IDPA estimated that 25 to 50% of welfare recipients committed some degree of fraud. She explained that, "the extent of the fraud varies. Some of it is rather minor, some of it is huge. But people are forced into committing fraud because of the silly rules of the system." (104)
Many of the less extreme techniques mentioned above must have been relatively well known, and recipients shared information about how to supplement grants without being detected. One woman told a reporter how she was terrified ter·ri·fy
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.
2. To menace or threaten; intimidate. to find out that people were suddenly being jailed for working while on welfare.
"I had a good job," she said, "but then I got laid off. I had a baby and so I got on welfare. But then I got my job back and everyone told me to just stay on welfare and not tell them that I was working again. So I did. Everyone was doing it ... But now what am I going to do? Go to jail?" (105)
She and other welfare recipients had come to believe that this behavior was not risky or could not be detected.
The woman went on to explain how the extra income from fraud impacted her family. "I moved from my apartment with roaches to a decent apartment. I could go to the store and load up the basket instead of buying hamburger and chicken necks. I could send my baby to Catholic school." (106) In this case, she felt fraud was the only way to raise her family's standard of living to what would be considered comparable to an average American family American Family is a photographic artwork exhibition by Renée Cox. See also
Other recipients also felt that the state's anti-fraud campaign blocked one of their few available avenues for economic advancement. When one woman was arrested for working while receiving welfare, the investigator reported that, "she felt she was getting arrested for trying to upgrade herself, and she thought this was just terrible." She then informed the men that when she got out of jail, she intended on killing herself and her two children. (107)
Some committed fraud out of what they considered dire financial need. The Chicago Defender carried a story about Shelley Miller, father of three, who was indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted. for illegally collecting aid while he was employed as a community service worker for the Chicago Department of Human Services. In the article, he admitted to lying about this income but refused to plead guilty because he held the system responsible for his situation.
Prior to applying for this assistance two years ago, my family was nearly starving. I couldn't buy clothes for my wife or shoes for my kids ... The money we were receiving from Public Aid we weren't stealing from the poor, because we are the poor. And if you add that $261 a month to my income of $5,000 a year, I still was below the poverty line. (108)
The article explained that Miller was an upstanding and active member of the community who was recognized by both Mayor Daley and Alderman ALDERMAN. An officer, generally appointed or elected in towns corporate, or cities, possessing various powers in different places.
2. The aldermen of the cities of Pennsylvania, possess all the powers and jurisdictions civil and criminal of justices of the Marzullo for his work with West Side youth. Because of the pride in his commitment and connection to his community, Miller explained to the reporter that he almost cried when asked to resign from his job.
I grew up on the West Side. I've worked in the community with the youth and I've never been involved in crime. But if I'm convicted and put on probation, then it will be three strikes against me. I'm black, I don't have a college education and I'll have a criminal conviction on my record. (109)
Already struggling to get by, the indictment would cripple crip·ple
One that is partially disabled or unable to use a limb or limbs.
To cause to lose the use of a limb or limbs. his ability to support his family. The state's crackdown invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil had equally severe implications for other families. The lives that were most disrupted were obviously those families where a parent was sent to jail or became a felon An individual who commits a crime of a serious nature, such as Burglary or murder. A person who commits a felony.
felon n. a person who has been convicted of a felony, which is a crime punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison. . Recipients endeavored to mitigate the consequences through various strategies, such as legal challenges or fair hearings. Miller, for example, collected over 120 signatures in a petition to support his not-guilty plea. In addition to the families convicted criminally, thousands more had their grants reduced or eliminated through new stringent administration. The deployment of new technologies that matched the welfare rolls with employee lists forced many to choose between welfare or wage work, neither of which provided sufficient income.
Anti-fraud efforts contributed to the increased surveillance of poor urban neighborhood. Recipients' homes were inspected more frequently and they were forced to comply with continual bureaucratic examinations of their personal and financial decisions. This heightened presence of state officials intertwined with the increased policing that followed the massive social and political upheavals of the late 1960s and 1970s and contributed to the growing criminalization of inner-city space.
Many of the strategies implemented to prevent fraud had far-reaching, negative consequences for poor communities generally. For example, Mary Cowherd, a resident of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes Robert Taylor Homes was a housing project in the Bronzeville neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago, on State Street between 39th and 54th streets alongside the Dan Ryan Expressway. , testified before a legislative committee about the consequences of the decision to send all welfare checks to currency exchanges instead of people's homes. She explained that on the day that the checks arrive "it looks just like a bread line ... it's like a concentration [camp] line ... Then you go to the currency exchange and they charge you 5 or 6 dollars to cash a check. And then ... you get ripped off outside of the place." (110) Since the whole community could see who had just cashed their check, the state's anti-theft initiative turned recipients into "sitting ducks Sitting Ducks is an iconic lithograph created by Michael Bedard in the late 1970s. It depicts a literal interpretation of the idiom "sitting duck". Three ducks are relaxing in the sun on white chairs by the poolside, one looks up and notices two bullet holes in the wall. " and increased robberies. The punitive policy was therefore both demoralizing de·mor·al·ize
tr.v. de·mor·al·ized, de·mor·al·iz·ing, de·mor·al·iz·es
1. To undermine the confidence or morale of; dishearten: an inconsistent policy that demoralized the staff. and counter productive. It also forced all recipients to perform in the degrading theater that constructed them as a distinct, suspect segment of society.
This formal monitoring by various state agencies was intensified by the knowledge that neighbors, acquaintances, and ex-lovers had the power to report recipients to Public Aid. Welfare rights activist and recipient Kathi Gunlogson explained:
I really feel like when someone applies for Public Aid, they are giving up a great majority of their constitutional rights. And one of those things is privacy. If somebody down the block from you sees somebody moving in a new table, which they may have given you, and you never had one before, they can go and call Public Aid and tell them that you are going against the laws. And Public Aid [does] not have to tell me who that person is that informed on me. But they can decide to cut my grant. (111)
Reminiscent of previous examples, Gunlogson's anecdote anecdote (ăn`ĭkdōt'), brief narrative of a particular incident. An anecdote differs from a short story in that it is unified in time and space, is uncomplicated, and deals with a single episode. illustrated that recipients also understood that consumer goods triggered fraud complaints. In becoming a welfare recipient, Gunlogson felt that she had forfeited her right to privacy and the right to face a hostile accuser. She argued that these conditions amounted to stripping welfare recipients of the intertwined rights of citizenship and participation in the consumer economy.
In testimony before members of the state legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
... I think that the Department [IDPA] is geared to cause people to commit crimes ... [T]hey treat us as if we are less than human beings ... You know, but I have personally went out and committed a crime, a crime I call survival. And a lot of guys that's sitting down there in Menard [Prison] right now committed that crime of survival because they were unable to take care of their families. And it's mainly because of the Department of Public Aid not taking them at heart [sic] once they come to you and have no other place to go. (112)
Smith felt financial options were so constrained that poor people could not survive without breaking the state's rules. His language united welfare policy and criminal law into a single, undifferentiated undifferentiated /un·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed/ (un-dif?er-en´she-at-ed) anaplastic.
Having no special structure or function; primitive; embryonic. oppressive structure. Indeed, he saw his survival within these structures as essentially and inevitably a criminal act. Shelly Miller, the recipient profiled in the Chicago Defender, echoed these sentiments when he explained that welfare forced people to "live worse than animals." He claimed that the structure of the welfare program made crime inevitable: "they force people who are unemployed and on welfare to go out there and commit crimes because they don't provide enough on their welfare budget to coincide with the cost of living today." (113) Although opinions about the welfare program undoubtedly varied among recipients, it should not be surprising that a percentage of them considered the entire program a dehumanizing effort to criminalize crim·i·nal·ize
tr.v. crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing, crim·i·nal·iz·es
1. To impose a criminal penalty on or for; outlaw.
2. To treat as a criminal. the poor, especially people of color.
Examining recipients' perspectives on fraud highlights the immense gap between legislators' rhetoric and the material conditions of poor families. The architects of Illinois anti-fraud initiatives were not in conversation with welfare recipients nor with statistics about falling wages and rising prices. Their policies were designed to discipline the welfare queen: a deviant woman burdened by neither work nor family. They almost never acknowledged brutal poverty in Illinois or the fact that the welfare grant kept families living below the federal poverty level. (114) They did not discuss racism and the devastating levels of unemployment in central cities. Their language and policies reflected the assumption that only wage labor constituted "work." In this rhetoric, work and welfare were diametrically di·a·met·ri·cal also di·a·met·ric
1. Of, relating to, or along a diameter.
2. Exactly opposite; contrary.
di opposed. The caregiving labor that welfare was originally designed to remunerate re·mu·ner·ate
tr.v. re·mu·ner·at·ed, re·mu·ner·at·ing, re·mu·ner·ates
1. To pay (a person) a suitable equivalent in return for goods provided, services rendered, or losses incurred; recompense.
2. was rendered invisible and irrelevant.
Juxtaposing elites' rhetoric and the experience of people on welfare illuminates the human costs of the welfare queen trope trope
1. A figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways, such as a metaphor.
2. A word or phrase interpolated as an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies. once its logic was translated into state policy. It reveals that legislators' political responses were the product of specific cultural, racial, and economic assumptions that were divorced from the material realities and perspectives of most recipients. Instead of new financial supports or other drastic social intervention, legislators responded to welfare fraud through costly punishment: increased scrutiny, stigmatization, and criminalization. Punitive policies, such as the fraud prosecutions described here, were instrumental in solidifying the perception of recipients as a marginalized category within society. The spectacle of surveillance and prosecutions rearticulated the stigma associated with welfare while exacerbating the hardship of poor families. The focus on crime, sexual impropriety, and fraud obscured, if not completely expunged, the material conditions of struggling families from the public dialogue.
Department of History
Urbana, IL 61801
This article benefited immensely from the comments of Jim Barrett
1. Vivyan Adair, "Branded with Infamy Notoriety; condition of being known as possessing a shameful or disgraceful reputation; loss of character or good reputation.
At Common Law, infamy was an individual's legal status that resulted from having been convicted of a particularly reprehensible crime, rendering him : Inscriptions of Poverty and Class in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. ," Signs 27, no. 2 (Winter 2002): 465.
2. Wahneema Lubiano, "Black Ladies, Welfare Queens, and State Minstrels: Ideological War by Narrative Means" in Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power, ed. Toni Morrison Noun 1. Toni Morrison - United States writer whose novels describe the lives of African-Americans (born in 1931)
Chloe Anthony Wofford, Morrison (New York, 1992), 323-363. Lubiano argues that the welfare queen is held responsible for an array of social problems, such as crime and drug abuse.
3. One thoughtful exception is Rickie Solinger, Beggars and Choosers Beggars and Choosers may refer to:
4. Martin Gilens, Why Americans Hate Welfare (Chicago, 1999), 64.
5. See Robert Lieberman, Shifting the Color Line color line
A barrier, created by custom, law, or economic differences, separating nonwhite persons from whites. Also called color bar.
Noun 1. : Race and the American Welfare State (Cambridge, MA, 1998); Michael Brown Michael or Mike Brown may refer to:
Roberts received her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Harvard Law School. She is an author, lecturer, and lawyer. , Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (New York, 1998); and Kenneth Neubeck and Noel Cazenave, Welfare Racism (New York, 2001).
6. See Linda Gordon, Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935 (New York, 1994); Alice Kessler-Harris Alice Kessler-Harris is the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History at Columbia University, in New York City. She specializes in the history of American labor and the comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of women and gender.
Kessler-Harris received her B.A. , In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue
look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (Oxford, 2001); and Gwendolyn Mink, Welfare's End (Ithaca, NY, 1998).
7. See Herbert J. Gans Herbert J. Gans (1927– ) is an American sociologist.
One of the most prolific and influential sociologists of his generation, Gans trained in urban planning at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Martin Meyerson and Lewis Mumford, among others. , The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty an·ti·pov·er·ty
Created or intended to alleviate poverty: antipoverty programs. Policy (New York, 1995); Michael Katz, The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare (New York, 1989); and Michael Katz, ed., The Underclass Debate: Views from History (Princeton, 1993).
8. For additional examples, see Joel Handler, The Poverty of Welfare Reform (New Haven New Haven, city (1990 pop. 130,474), New Haven co., S Conn., a port of entry where the Quinnipiac and other small rivers enter Long Island Sound; inc. 1784. Firearms and ammunition, clocks and watches, tools, rubber and paper products, and textiles are among the many , CT, 1995); Frances Fox Piven Frances Fox Piven, born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1932, is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
She earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1962. and Richard Cloward Richard A. Cloward (December 25 1926 - August 20 2001) was an American sociologist and political activist. He influenced the Strain theory of criminal behavior and the concept of anomie, and was a primary motivator for the passage of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 , Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare (New York, 1971); and Laura Briggs, "La Vida, Moynihan, and other Libels: Migration, Social Science and the Making of the Puerto Rican Puer·to Ri·co
Abbr. PR or P.R.
A self-governing island commonwealth of the United States in the Caribbean Sea east of Hispaniola. Welfare Queen," Centro Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 75-101.
9. Historians of the National Welfare Rights Organization are an important exception. They focus on the activism and ideology of welfare recipients. See Felicia Kornbluh, "A Right to Welfare? Poor Women, Professionals, and Poverty Programs: 1935-1975" (PhD diss diss
Variant of dis.
Slang, chiefly US to treat (a person) with contempt [from disrespect]
Verb 1. , Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
, 2000); Felicia Kornbluh, "To Fulfill Their 'Rightly Needs': Consumerism and the National Welfare Rights Movement," Radical History Review 69 (Fall 1997): 76-113; and Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York, 2004).
10. For some background into this debate, see Katz, ed., The "Underclass" Debate: Views from History.
11. Some scholars argued that working-class whites resented African Americans' new rights because they were forced to shoulder the burden of remedying past injustices and felt abandoned by the Democratic Party. See Thomas Byrne
Thomas Byrne, (December 1866 - 15 March 1944) was born in the cross, Donaghmore. Edsall and Mary Edsall, Chain Reaction (New York, 1991); and Jim Sleeper Sleeper
Stock in which there is little investor interest but that has significant potential to gain in price once its attractions are recognized. Antithesis of high flyer. , Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York (New York, 1999). Others asserted that these conceptualizations of backlash obscured the extent to which gains by African Americans threatened the racial distribution of resources that had benefited whites for generations. See Linda Williams, The Constraint of Race (University Park, PA, 2003). Thomas Sugrue Thomas J. Sugrue (born 1962, Detroit, Michigan) is an American historian of the twentieth-century United States at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of History and Sociology. and Arnold Hirsch show that backlash proponents often fail to consider the longer history of hostility toward civil rights and integration, which predated the high profile activism in the 1950s and 1960s. See Arnold Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 (Cambridge, UK, 1983); and Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, NJ, 1996).
12. Neubeck and Cazenave, Welfare Racism, 124.
13. For a discussion of other reasons anti-welfare attitudes heightened during the 1970s, see Nadasen, Welfare Warriors, 194-199.
14. Arrests and criminal indictments have historically served key roles in heightening stigmatization. See, for example, Ellen Schrecker's discussion of how criminal prosecutions of Communists during the 1940s hardened public opinion against the Party. Ellen Schrecker Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Ph.D. (born August 4, 1938) is a professor of American history at Yeshiva University She is currently on leave, having received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU. , Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Princeton, NJ, 1998), 120.
15. See, for example, Theda Skocpol Theda Skocpol (born May 4 1947) is an American sociologist and political scientist at Harvard University, presently serving as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. , Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: the Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, MA, 1992); Molly Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare, and the State, 1890-1930 (Urbana, 1994); and Joanne Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform: Mothers' Pensions in Chicago, 1911-1929 (Chicago, 1997).
16. See Katz, The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare; Winifred Bell, Aid to Dependent Children (New York, 1965); and Gordon, Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935.
17. Gordon, Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935. For the early history of fraud investigations in Illinois' mother's pension program, see Joanne Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform: Mothers' Pensions in Chicago, 1911-1929 (Chicago, 1997).
18. See Mary Poole, The Segregated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State (Chapel Hill, 2006); and Linda Faye Williams, The Constraint of Race: Legacies of White Skin Privilege in America (University Park, PA, 2003).
19. Bell, Aid to Dependent Children.
20. Rickie Solinger, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States, 139-148. See also Piven and Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare.
21. Kornbluh, "To Fulfill their 'Rightly Needs': Consumerism and the National Welfare Rights Movement" and Nadasen, Welfare Warriors.
22. Gwendolyn Mink, Welfare's End (Ithaca, NY, 1998), 49-52.
23. Mink, Welfare's End, 55.
24. Solinger, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States, 145-152.
25. Neubeck and Cazenave, Welfare Racism, 78-92.
26. Mink, Welfare's End, 52.
27. Rick Perlstein Rick Perlstein (born 1969) is a political commentator for the Village Voice and popular historian.
He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1992.
He is the author of , a biography of Barry Goldwater and a history of the rise of the Republican right. , Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater “Goldwater” redirects here. For other uses, see Goldwater (disambiguation).
Barry Morris Goldwater (January 2, 1909 – May 29, 1998) was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona (1953–1965, 1969–87) and the Republican Party's nominee for and the Unmaking of the American Dream American dream also American Dream
An American ideal of a happy and successful life to which all may aspire: (New York, 2001), 130. I would like to thank Jason Kozlowski for bringing this to my attention.
28. Neubeck and Cazenave, Welfare Racism, 92-109.
29. Ibid., 112-114.
30. Ibid., 108-109.
31. Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors, 196-199.
32. Guy Drake, "Welfare Cadillac," CowboyLyrics.com, http://www.cowboylyrics.com/tabs/drake-guy/welfare-cadillac-6468.html (accessed June 12, 2006).
33. "Nixon's Numbers," Time Magazine, 13 April 1970. I am indebted to Brandon Mills for telling me about this event.
34. Draft of Sen. Don Moore's speech before Welfare Association, [1974?], Legislative Advisory Committee on Public Aid, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives, p. 2.
35. Ibid. See also Annual Report: Illinois Department of Public Aid, 1974. Published by the Office of Public Information, Springfield IL, 19.
36. "Welfare Cheats Find 'Easy Street' Has a Dead End," Chicago Tribune, 26 March 1978, sec. 1, p. 25.
37. John Gardiner John Gardiner could refer to:
38. Jane Fritch, "Welfare Queen Becomes Case Study," Chicago Tribune, 29 October 1978, p. 2.
39. George Bliss, "Cops Find Deceit-But No One Cares," Chicago Tribune, 20 September 1974, p. 3.
40. George Bliss, "Panel Probes Welfare Cheating Charges," Chicago Tribune, 14 November 1974, p. 14.
41. David Zucchino, Myth of the Welfare Queen (New York, 1997), 65.
42. William Griffin William Griffin may refer to:
43. "'Welfare Queen' Becomes Issue in Reagan Campaign," New York Times, 15 February 1976, p. 51.
44. For writings about the implications of the welfare queen in later periods, see the important discussions in Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty; Lubiano, "Black Ladies, Welfare Queens, and State Minstrels: Ideological War by Narrative Means"; and Ange-Marie Hancock, Politics of Disgust: The Public Identity of the "Welfare Queen" (New York, 2004).
45. Report to the Legislative Advisory Committee by James Trainor, Director of the Department of Public Aid, 17 March 1976, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.002, Illinois State Archives, 8.
46. Annual Report: Illinois Department of Public Aid, 1974. Published by the Office of Public Information, Springfield IL, 32. See, also, graphs on pages 10 and 11.
47. Neal Caauwe, Fred Pennix, Gerald Kush Kush: see Cush. , and Jack Sherwin, Progress report by investigative unit of the Legislative Advisory Committee, 14 and 19 November 1974, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives, 6.
48. Gardiner and Lyman, The Fraud Control Game, 155.
49. Neal Caauwe, Fred Pennix, Gerald Kush, and Jack Sherwin, Progress report by investigative unit of the Legislative Advisory Committee, 1.
50. In numerous letters, investigators and other committee staff demanded progress reports on leads from LAC. The committee also called representatives from the State's Attorney's office before the committee to testify as to why they were not more effective at convicting welfare cheaters. See, for example, Testimony of Mr. Gross before the Legislative Advisory Committee on Public Aid, 22 March 1977, Legislative Advisory Committee, Committee Meeting Minutes, 616.001, Illinois State Archives, 89-123.
51. Draft of Sen. Don Moore's speech before Welfare Association, 2.
52. Gardiner and Lyman, The Fraud Control Game, 163.
53. Ibid., 161,188.
54. Report to the Legislative Advisory Committee by James Trainor, Director of the Department of Public Aid, 17 March 1976, Legislative Advisory Committee, Meeting Minutes Summaries, 616.002, Illinois State Archives, 7.
55. Sociologist Harry Murphy called this practice "deniable de·ni·a·ble
1. Possible to contradict or declare untrue: deniable accusations.
2. Being such that plausible disavowal or disclaimer is possible: degradation." Harry Murphy, "Deniable Degradation: the Finger Imaging of Welfare Recipients," Sociological Forum Sociological Forum is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal in the field of sociology. It is the official journal of the Eastern Sociological Society. It is published since 1986. 15 no. 1 (2000): 39-63.
56. "Way to Curb Aid Abuse; Judge Backs Welfare Fingerprinting," Chicago Tribune, 24 April 1979, p. 3 and Robert Carleson, Commissioner of Welfare, Department of Health, Education and Welfare to Don Moore, Chairman of Legislative Advisory Committee, 29 October 1974, Legislative Advisory Committee, Meeting Minutes Summaries, 616.002, Illinois State Archives.
57. Jay Branegan, "State Calls Courts 'Soft' of Aid Fraud," Chicago Tribune, 19 February 1978, p. 44.
58. Jane Fritch, "Welfare Queen Becomes Case Study," p. 2.
59. Disposition of Public Assistance Cases Involving Questions of Fraud, (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, National Center for Social Statistics, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1979). These numbers reflect those cases suspected of deliberate and, therefore, possibly criminal fraud. They do not reflect the number of people whose grants were adjusted and cancelled through other routine aspects of the anti-fraud initiatives, such as the redetermination and data matching programs discussed above. It is extremely difficult to access the number of recipients directly materially affected by the campaigns. For example, many people probably removed themselves from the rolls to avoid scrutiny or sanction after hearing about the new policies. Those cases would obviously not be reflected in the official numbers.
60. Transcripts of Illinois House Debates, 11 November 1977, 10.
61. "Leaders Meet on Poor," Chicago Defender, 26 November 1977, p. 3.
62. Press release by Senator Richard Newhouse, February 21, 1978, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
64. "Jesse Rips State Welfare Plan," Chicago Tribune, 31 May 1974, p. 8.
65. David Garino, "Chasing the Cheats; Drive Against Fraud in Obtaining Welfare Is Gaining Momentum," Wall Street Journal, 18 November 1976, p. 1.
66. Neal Caauwe, Fred Pennix, Gerald Kush, and Jack Sherwin, Progress report by investigative unit of the Legislative Advisory Committee, 2.
67. Joel Edelman, Executive Director of LAC, to Clayton Kirkpatrick, Editor of the Chicago Tribune, 17 February 1976, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
68. See for example Jay Branegan, "State Calls Courts Soft on Fraud," Chicago Tribune, 19 February 1978, p. 44.
69. Ted Chan, "Welfare: What Can a Small Staff Accomplish?," Markham Star Tribune, 1 April, 1976, p. 1.
70. See, for example, Jay Branegan, "Jury Indicts 53 for $508,000 in Welfare Fraud," Chicago Tribune, 20 July 1978, p. 2; Jane Fritsch, "31 More Indicted in Welfare Fraud Probe; Total Now 342," Chicago Tribune, 1 May 1979, p. 3; and Jane Fritsch, "75 Indicted in Welfare Fraud, Netting More than $1 million," Chicago Tribune, 29 June 1979, p. D1.
71. Letter to the Editor by Al Jaburck, "Fraud sentences," Chicago Tribune, 5 March 1978, sec. 2, p. 4.
72. Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune, 18 May 1978, sec. 3, p. 2.
73. Rep. Thomas Miller Thomas Miller may refer to:
74. Remarks by Samuel Skinner, Secretary's National Convention on Fraud, Abuse, and Error: Conference Proceedings (U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1978), 21.
75. "Welfare Fraud 'Hotline' Pays Off for Taxpayer," Chicago Tribune, 1 January 1978, sec. 3, p. 6.
76. Gardiner and Lyman, The Fraud Control Game, 155.
77. Ibid., 155.
78. Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Post-War America (New York, 2003), 368-388.
79. Kornbluh, "To Fulfill their 'Rightly Needs': Consumerism and the National Welfare Rights Movement."
80. Ibid., 79.
81. Anonymous letter to Senator John Carroll John Carroll may be:
82. Memo regarding Geraldine, 13 October 1971, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives. I have removed the last names of those charged with welfare fraud who did not choose to be included in these public records. I have retained the names of people who spoke in public forums, such as to the media or at legislative hearings.
83. Anonymous letter to Senator John Carroll, [1970?], Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
84. "1,000 Cheats a Month," Chicago Defender, 17 December 1977, p. 1.
85. John Knoll John Knoll is an Academy-award winning motion picture visual effects specialist at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). One of the original creators of Adobe Photoshop (along with his brother, Thomas), he is recently best known for his work as Visual Effects Supervisor on the to Don Moore, 24 June 1974, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
86. Anonymous letter addressed to "Gentlemen," July 1974, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
89. For a discussion of how African American ownership of luxury goods, especially the Cadillac, challenged white cultural norms, see George Lipsitz, "'Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac': Antiblack Racism and White Identity," The Possessive pos·ses·sive
1. Of or relating to ownership or possession.
2. Having or manifesting a desire to control or dominate another, especially in order to limit that person's relationships with others: Investment in Whiteness (Philadelphia, 1998), 158-183.
90. Daniel Egler, "Welfare Fraud 'Hotline' Pays Off for Taxpayers," Chicago Tribune, 2 January 1978, p. 136.
91. Welfare fraud report on Beverly, [Feb-March, 1975?], Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
92. People of the State of Illinois vs. Bobbie Baugh, 80-1456, (Appellate Court A court having jurisdiction to review decisions of a trial-level or other lower court.
An unsuccessful party in a lawsuit must file an appeal with an appellate court in order to have the decision reviewed. of Illinois 1st District, 4th Division, 28 May 1981). Although most of the events regarding this case occurred around 1977, it did not reach the appellate level until 1981.
93. Nasaden argues that welfare activists advocated for credit cards in order to replace these outward signs of poverty. Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors, 114.
94. See Kathryn Edin, "There's a Lot of Month Left at the End of the Money: How Welfare Recipients in Chicago Make Ends Meet" (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University Northwestern University, mainly at Evanston, Ill.; coeducational; chartered 1851, opened 1855 by Methodists. In 1873 it absorbed Evanston College for Ladies. , 1989).
95. Neubeck and Cazenave, Welfare Racism, 100.
96. Lee Strobel Lee Patrick Strobel, a former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and former atheist, is a Christian apologist and former teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. , "Coalition of 40 Groups Backs 10 Percent Aid Payment Hikes," Chicago Tribune 11 June 1974, p. 3.
97. For one example, see Mae Gentry, "Man Indicted for Fraud Blames Welfare System," Chicago Defender, 14 October 1978.
98. Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Post-War America, 389.
99. William Juneau William B. Juneau was a college football coach. From 1906 to 1908, he coached at South Dakota State where he compiled a 11-6-1 record. From 1912 to 1915, he coached at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he compiled an 18-8-2 record. , "Aid Cheat ordered to pay pack $13,024," Chicago Tribune 28 June 1974, p. 1.
100. Welfare fraud report on Anna, 10 March 1977, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
101. Welfare fraud report on Luretha, 17 April 1975, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
102. Welfare fraud report on Lancie, 10 March 1977, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
103. Edin, "There's a Lot of Month Left at the End of the Money: How Welfare Recipients in Chicago Make Ends Meet," 253. Edin suggests that the percentage might have been even higher since many respondents were probably not convinced of the survey's confidentiality.
104. Derrick Blakley, "Red Tape of Public Aid Job Pushes Her Off Payroll, Onto Welfare Rolls," Chicago Tribune 25 June 1974, sec. 4A, p. 1.
105. "Welfare Cheats Find 'Easy Street' Had Dead End," Chicago Tribune, sec. 1, p. 25.
107. Welfare fraud report on Beverly, [Feb-March, 1975?], Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives.
108. Mae Gentry, "Man Indicted for Fraud Blames Welfare System," Chicago Defender, 14 October 1978.
110. Testimony of Mary Cowherd before Sub-Committee on Emergency Assistance on LAC, 29 November 1976, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives, 66.
111. Verbatim ver·ba·tim
Using exactly the same words; corresponding word for word: a verbatim report of the conversation.
adv. testimony of Kathi Gunlogson, 2 February 1979, Commission to Rewrite the Public Aid Code, Meeting Minutes and Transcripts, 557.003, Illinois State Archives, 122.
112. Testimony of Frank Smith before Sub-Committee on Emergency Assistance, 29 November 1976, Legislative Advisory Committee, Administrative Files, 616.003, Illinois State Archives, 26-28.
113. Gentry, "Man Indicted for Fraud Blames Welfare System."
114. For example, in 1974, even after a 10% cost of living increase, the cash grant totaled $3,804 a year for a family of four. The poverty threshold The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living. In practice, like the definition of poverty, the official or common understanding of the poverty line is significantly higher in developed , according to the federal government, was $5,038. It should also be noted that the federal poverty thresholds are frequently critiqued for underestimating the actual costs of living, especially in metropolitan areas. Annual Report: Illinois Department of Public Aid, 1974. Published by the Office of Public Information, Springfield IL, 27; and "Historical Poverty Tables-Poverty by Definition of Income," U.S. Census Bureau Noun 1. Census Bureau - the bureau of the Commerce Department responsible for taking the census; provides demographic information and analyses about the population of the United States
Bureau of the Census , http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/histpov/rdp01a.html (accessed September 15, 2006).
By Julilly Kohler-Hausmann
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign