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The Sun Interview

Will Work For Food

Sharon Hays On The Real Cost Of Welfare Reform

Look at it this way: Keeping a child on welfare costs about sixteen hundred dollars a year in cash and services. To keep that same child in foster care costs about six thousand dollars a year. And if that child winds up in prison, the cost is around twenty thousand dollars a year. Most governments figured out a long time ago that welfare is the cheapest way to keep people out of institutions — and also to keep them from taking to the streets to protest their poverty.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Wonder Bread

All that winter, when I was deep into my self-deprivation, self-imposed-poverty phase, I walked the filthy, noisy streets of downtown LA, my used laptop on my back, toting a Ralph’s grocery bag containing my lunch: a quart yogurt container of brown rice and cabbage, a half-rotten apple, and a few crumbled matzohs (two boxes for ninety-nine cents at the ninety-nine-cent store).

My Father’s Unholy Local Union

I knew my mother would find out before fall, when I’d leave home to find a real job. I’d watch her at the sink, her roan hair falling down, her round face red from the steaming dishwater, and I’d think about telling her, but it was impossible to open my mouth. I was sure something just under her pale skin would break if I revealed the truth: that my father was having an affair with a woman who looked like a man.

Fiction

My Country ’Tis Of Thee

I’m not really all that comfortable with foreign people. I always catch myself being overly friendly, nicer than I really am, my nouns and verbs more carefully selected, doggedly enunciated, punctuated with tight smiles. And volume is a problem. I start high, and after fifteen minutes, I hear myself yelling. Words far too kind, in a fortissimo that wears everybody out.

Domisylum

My medication, I believe, is optional. They say you are supposed to take it regularly, but of course they say that: it means more dough for them. Why don’t I take my medicine? Because I don’t want to walk through life like a zombie. I love Rex, but I don’t want to act like him, wandering from room to room without knowing why. Paul and Bonnie would love for me to take my medicine. I’m easier to control when I take it, they say, and I’m more fun.

Blue Velvis

The charming and handsome serial killer Ted Bundy was executed on my birthday. Something about this fact brings birth and death full circle for me. I remind myself of this today, my birthday, as I am making dinner for my boyfriend, Lenny.

Readers Write

Hard Work

A drawing of a tugboat, an A&W root-beer stand, a C-minus mother

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

August 2004

If I pray for the light, I need to remember that light isn’t sentimental. It illuminates the smiling infant and the wormy corpse, every broken promise and every act of faith.

Musings From Our Founder ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

Being a mother is a noble status, right? Right. So why does it change when you put “unwed” or “welfare” in front of it?

Florynce Kennedy

More Quotations ▸
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