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How Single Mothers Survive and Low-Wage Work. By Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein. Russell Sage Foundation. 305 pages. $19.95. Welftn exas Comptroller of Public Accounts. October, 1998. comptrol/wwstand ant Center for Public Policy Priorities. such policies simply help spread it around. With a vast pool of people forced to work for minimum wage \(or below, as is comand depressed. The game is an old one. In certain periods, when there is more progressive leadership and more grassroots reditions temporarily improve for the poor and working class \(indeed, that resistance was the genesis of the federal anti-poverty rate conservatism has become the mainstream, and the Right wing is more effective at organizing and education than the Left, the poor get punished. This is one of the main themes of the work of activist intellectuals Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, reflected in their recent The Breaking of the American Social Compact. When working people rebel against oppressive conditions, social programs expand; when they retreat and demands lessen, social programs contract, and the poor are forced into low-paying jobs. Texas spends as little as possible to help those in need. Ninth in the U.S. in per capita spending for corrections \(i.e., prislast, in social welfare expenditures. According to the comptroller’s office \(which seventh in the maximum monthly welfare payment for a family of three: $188 per month. \(Try sustaining milk and shoes, let We’re also forty-seventh in per capita state funding for public health. Texas ranks in its percentage of children without health insurance. In the percentage of poor working parents without health insurance, Texas ranks fiftieth. It is fiftieth, under the new welfare rules, for the income level at which a working poor family becomes ineligible for T.A.N.F. cash assistance. \(Other rankings: state spending for police protection, forty-seventh; percentage of workers covered by unions, forty-seventh; spending for parks and recreation, forty-eighth; spending for the arts, forty-ninth. But I digress; this comptroller’s report is awfully inforunder the age of eleven who are eligible for Medicaid are not enrolled. Overall, in state government expenditure per capita, we’re a celebratory fiftieth that is, the Texas public sector spends less per citizen than any other state. Is it any wonder that George W. Bush is the leading Republican candidate for president? Are Texans better off? Hardly. If the poverty figures in Texas were not so high, if the childrens’ health and poverty conditions were not so dismal, if public school performance were not so poor, if air pollution weren’t so widespread and so serious, if public sector employees \(from schoolteachhaps one might simply climb on the freemarket bandwagon, agree that the public sector should be reduced to purely ceremonial functions, and allow unbridled capitalism to run the state. In fact, the state’s common problems are extremely serious, and one of the reasons for these problems is the negative view of the public sector. Sadly, this mischievous thinking overwhelmingly dominates new policies for the poor. New programs that do exist are designed to make certain that people who need help will get little from the state of Texas. They will be forced to work at lowpaying jobs which, in most cases, will not lift them out of poverty, will not pay for health insurance, will not address their most basic economic needs. This neo-conservative program is not simply campaign rhetoric; it is now the express practice of public welfare agencies in Texas. Consider, for example, an educational packet from the Department of Human Services, used in training what are now called “Texas Works Advisors.” Among other information, the packet provides sample “scripts” for phone screeners and intake workers, to be employed when talking with those seeking assistance. The scripts are very emphatic about how to treat and steer clients, and the language is both condescending and Orwellian. What was once called “assistance” is now called “Texas Works,” and most scripts begin with the following bromide: “In the state of Texas, an application for assistance is a request for help in finding a job.” Other scripts advise workers to tell clients, “Work comes first; welfare should be a last resort”; “Any job is better than no job. You are expected to use all sources to get and keep a job”; “There’s a limit on how long you can receive cash assistance. The economy is good at this 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 19, 1999