By AATTP Contributor, Han Chimpson
Stacey Campfield, a Republican (what else?) state representative from Tennessee, recently introduced a bill in his state that would cut welfare benefits (TANF) for poor families if their school-aged kids do not meet certain academic standards. If they fail to do so, families could see their welfare benefits cut by as much as 30%.
Campfield has a long history of wingnuttery. He famously claimed about a year ago that AIDS started when a gay man had sex with a monkey and further claimed that it is “virtually impossible” to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex. And he once introduced a bill that would require death certificates for aborted fetuses. And what seals his certified wingnuttery credentials was his proposed bill that would ban teachers from teaching about homosexuality in public schools.
Thankfully, none of those bills got very far, even in Tennessee. And it is unlikely that this one will either. There are a myriad of things wrong with this bill. Why are only poor children being singled out to perform well academically, otherwise their families will suffer? What kind of pressure does that put on little Billy to do great on his spelling or math test, otherwise his family may have their welfare money slashed, and struggle to find a means to eat or pay bills? What about the fact that some of these kids, through no fault of their own, have learning disabilities, a poor environment to study in, go to poorly performing schools, go to school hungry, and numerous other possible circumstances?
Campfield’s bill is reflective of an attitude in our country that not having money equals having moral and personal shortcomings. Hence why politicians like him frequently try (and sometimes succeed) to pass laws stating that people on welfare have to pass drug tests and meet other incentives. The majority of the people on welfare are in fact children, elderly, and able-bodied people working in poor-paying jobs. Many of them have had some misfortunes in their lives for no other reason than a bad roll of the dice. It is an insult to their dignity to have a bunch of incentive-based laws in place just so they can get help with food, clothing and shelter.
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