Today was a same-old, same-old day in California.
For the second year in a row, a state official has proposed eliminating the former Golden State's "welfare-to-work" program, which the rest of us know as "welfare," or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Last year, it was left to a spokesman for the state's Department of Finance to bring out the idea. This year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger fronted it himself.
As has been the case for the almost four years I've been following the situation, the press once again universally failed to provide anything resembling context. If it did, people would understand that this is a story about a decade-long shocking level of theoretically well-intentioned waste (the cynical observation would be that the good intentions are tempered by the likelihood that dependent voters are overwhelmingly Democratic voters).
The as up to date as possible context (through September 30 of last year for recipients and families, the latest available government data; some estimation was required because certain data fields are blank) is this:
(Programming note: Yours truly fully realizes there are other "welfare" programs. I plan to address them in the coming weeks, because they're exploding dangerously on a national scale.)
An evening dispatch by the Associated Press's Judy Lin and every other press report I located made no mention of the state's ridiculous caseload. Here are a few paragraphs from Lin's report:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday called for eliminating California's welfare-to-work program, one of the deep cuts he proposed to close a $19 billion budget deficit in the coming fiscal year.
Slashing the welfare program would affect 1.4 million people, two-thirds of them children.
... Among the options Schwarzenegger presented is eliminating CalWORKS, the state's welfare-to-work program. The program provides a maximum $694 monthly cash assistance for families and helps single mothers with child care and job training.
Gina Jackson, a single mother who lives in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay area, said she would not be able finish her college degree in political and social science without the state's assistance. She currently receives about $1,000 a month to cover after-school care for two of her four children.
"I certainly can't take my kids to school with me every single day," said Jackson, 45, who was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant two years ago.
Other publications covering the welfare aspect of the Governor's announcement included these:
As noted, there was not a word about the bloated caseload anywhere.
It's long past time to stop considering this journalistic failure to provide meaningful context a mere oversight.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.