I’ve been trying to ignore this ridiculous story of one Nadya Suleman who has had 14 children through in vitro fertilization, but this exchange keeps gnawing at me:
In segments of the interview that ran on the TODAY show on Monday and Tuesday, Suleman had said that she does not get welfare despite the food stamps she gets or the government payments for three children with varying disabilities — a son who is autistic, another child with ADHD and a third who is developmentally delayed in learning to speak. She also said she is able to provide for her children.
Tuesday night on Dateline, Suleman said that she is also in debt.
“How much in debt do you have now?” Curry asked.
“Probably 50. Close to 50,” she said.
“Thousand dollars?” Curry responded.
“How is that not like welfare?” Curry pressed on.
“Oh, no,” Suleman protested. “These are student loans. You consolidate the loans, you pay it back. We don’t pay back welfare.”
This is not that uncommon of a phenomenon. A middle class person bemoans the poor and the poor’s dependence on public funds when they themselves are also are living off the public. Does Suleman outright say that she doesn’t like the poor? No, but the mere fact that she is distancing herself from them despite accepting food stamps and public assistance tells a lot. What a pathological lack of self-reflection. We have seen this earlier this year in another “pop news” story, that of Joe-he-ain’t-a-plumber.
I get angry when I read things like this because the poor get a bad rap. The same people who call them lazy, deserving of their position and bloodsuckers are the ones who wouldn’t bat an eyelid about taking public assistance if they fell on hard times. Yet even in such cases, wouldn’t dare acknowledge the similarity of their predicaments. Others are undeserving, but we are different.
Lastly, Suleman is doing herself any favors by talking about how she will get out of her financial predicament through consolidating loans. As the mortgage crisis shows, willfully getting into enormous debt that you cannot repay is not good for you or the rest of the country.
Photo via Susan Campbell’s blog.