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Magic Beyond Words Shows the Reality of Living on Public Assistance

I just finished watching the film Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story.  I admit it…I’m a Potter fan.  I have always wondered about the process that Rowling went through while writing the books.  I watched the film with the understanding that it was a Lifetime dramatization of her life.  I’m sure it was based on real events and situations, but I understand that it has been dramatized.

That being said…there was a portion of the film that dealt with her time in poverty.  It showed her applying for welfare, finding a home, and dealing with the difficulties of being on public assistance.  Yes conservatives, I said the difficulties of being on public assistance.  Contrary to conservative rhetoric, everyone on public assistance doesn’t sit at home having babies, collecting checks, and doing drugs.  In fact, the ones who do those things are in the very small minority.

Here are some of the clips that show what is closer to the reality of being on public assistance:

This first clip shows the reality of people being faced with public assistance that isn’t even adequate to care for their children. It also shows the reaction of people who simply don’t care and have the attitude that the recipient must have done something wrong to be on assistance.


The second clip shows the reality of the stigma that is placed on people using public assistance. They are often treated as lesser people.


Finally, this last clip shows the reality that people on assistance deal with in regards to finding work.  It may not be regulatory, but finding a job that is enough to pay for living expenses as well as child care for many is nearly impossible without assistance.  If they get a job, their assistance ends.  They can’t afford that because the job simply won’t be enough to live and pay for child care.


I’ve heard all of the arguments.  It’s socialism, people on welfare are lazy, it’s actually the welfare that keeps people from improving their lives.  This film showed the reality of these arguments.  They simply aren’t true.  The welfare system is broken, but not because it needs to go away.  It is broken because the people in charge (cough cough, I’m looking at you Republicans) only want to find as many ways to reduce it as possible.

Let me give you a real-life example.  I spoke with a young lady who had recently moved to our city.  She was going through the Impact program that is required for people who apply for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – or welfare) in Indiana (that’s a program I will probably write an entire blog about because it’s simply ridiculous).  She told me an incredible story.  She was going through the Impact program and applying for assistance because she needed daycare.  She actually had a job lined up.  She simply couldn’t afford the daycare for her child.  She was a single mother in a new city who didn’t have any resources.  She looked into the daycare assistance program and found that there was a six month waiting list for approvals.  The only way to get it expedited was to apply for welfare.  Being on welfare she was immediately given the childcare assistance and could work.  Of course, she had to put off starting her job until she went through the orientation program.

That is reality.  The system is built so poorly that people are forced to get on programs that they don’t need just to get the things they do need.  They are forced to stay on assistance long-term when they really just need a little more help in the short-term.

The problem is that our legislators are unwilling to do anything about it.  In my state, the answer legislators came up with was to create an Impact program in which people are repeatedly told that they want them to be “self-sufficient.”  That’s code for get the hell off of assistance, we really don’t care.  This situation can be fixed.  All it will take is a decision by our government leaders to stop playing games and do the work.  Create a system that gives people exactly what they need – no more, no less.

It is unacceptable that we live in a world and a country that has the wealth that we enjoy and we can’t adequately take care of our citizens.  Cutting assistance programs and making it damn near impossible to get assistance and get on your feet make good political causes for people who are rich or too ignorant to understand that words like “redistribution of wealth” are not the horrible terrifying things that they have been taught; however, it makes the people who do this, as well as those who support them, some of the most callous, selfish, and greedy people in the world.  Or as I like to call them…conservatives.


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