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March 6, 1970 Twenty-Five Cents A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South The Texas Observer The Welfare Crisis Austin A group of welfare mothers recently went to the State Capitol to protest impending payment cuts to families with dependent children. While waiting for an interview with the lieutenant governor, they circled the rotunda singing hyms and waving placards calling for more state funds to feed and clothe their children. A well-dressed white woman apparently on a sightseeing pilgrimage to the seat of her government, sidled over to a white reporter, and said, “They wouldn’t work if their lives depended on it.” “Oh, I think they would if they had the chance,” the reporter answered. “No,” the elderly lady insisted with the superior sniff of the hiring class, “I know they won’t. I’ve tried to get them to come out to clean my house, and they won’t.” Welfare Children Dine During Demonstration at Capitol Austin American Statesman Photo The exchange could not have been more of a cliche, but it did happen. And other middle class whites who accompanied the demonstrators said they heard similar comments from other affluent tourists in the Capitol that day. ON THE national level, sociologists debate whether the poor can best be brought into the economic mainstream through education and training or income supplements. But while some federal experts are calling for a guaranteed income that will bring every destitute American into the middle class \(thus transforming the nation’s diamond-shaped the Texas public still questions whether public welfare is necessary at all; and the Legislature reacts to the political climate by providing less than subsistence payments to the needy. When the welfare board made its most recent announcement that medical assistance and aid for families with be cut, many persons asked the governor to call a special session to appropriate more funds. Smith expressed sympathy for the plight of the state’s dependent children who were facing a cut from 75% of their estimated needs to 66%, but, significantly, he added, for the anti-welfare element, “at the same time, we must consider the interests of other citizens who are struggling to stay off public welfare rolls in rising inflation and for whom additional taxes might well be the burden that breaks their backs.”