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Oppress the Rich

I have empathy for Ms. Stephanie Land (“Parenting Below the Poverty Line,” Feb. 6), as I supported myself for decades with housecleaning and a variety of odd jobs. I have lived frugally, and often paid taxes as well.

I couldn’t work much due to my partial disability, chronic fatigue syndrome. Our government rarely recognizes this disability, and I did not get SSI. I am grateful for the government help that I do get.

The government paid for my voluntary permanent birth control surgery when I was 21 years old. I did this to save our earth, save money and enable myself to go to college. This type of permanent birth control that I received in 1976 is still available through Medi-Cal/Partnership Health Plan. They pay for many other types of birth control as well, and for abortions. Condoms are available for free from Planned Parenthood. (Also, our foster-care system is struggling, so I strongly encourage adoption.)

Historically, it has been almost impossible for the poor to achieve any economic or social rights progress in America and globally. Remember, if we, the poor people, refuse to provide more slaves/cannon fodder for the rich, by not having children, then the middle class will be next to be oppressed. When they refuse this treatment, then the rich will be oppressed, and then finally the “1 percenters” will have to clean their own damn toilets.

Barbara Daugherty, Santa Rosa

Important and Revealing

Thank you for the piece on Maid, a revealing, even important, memoir. The article had me at “young mother who fled an abusive relationship.” From here begins the author’s path into poverty, and how could it not, without a reliable partner or family to help, and without, yet, an education to lead to a secure job.

This begs the question, why did Ms. Land go through with her pregnancy? Surely, there is a sad tale that begat her pairing with an abuser. Congrats to her for leaving! But while the choice to become a single parent is, OK, honorable, of course it comes with a lifetime of responsibility and costs. In a free country, we make our own choices, but must also cope with the consequences.

I’m not sure why we are meant to be shocked or distraught at the fact she cleaned houses or that the paperwork to get food stamps is a pain. Unfortunately, there is so much fraud, the red tape is probably necessary. Not so free, this lunch. As to public shaming for using the stamps for whatever she wants, shame on them! I’m happy to pay taxes for assistance and shelters. A safety net is crucial to a successful society.

I write this as one who, with no parental aid, put herself through college waitressing and bartending, and when along the way I was careless and got pregnant, made the difficult choice to not become a “young mother.” I live with that. A close friend of mine then, however, bravely chose to keep a child from a far-flung one-nighter. She waitressed, sold vitamins, catered, faux-finished and started a housecleaning business to make ends meet, all while I worked towards my BA.

I vividly recall her disgusted description of scraping spit off mirrors. But I don’t remember a lot of “woe is me” complaining. She knew what she was getting into raising a child alone. The girl was her pride and joy. Mostly, she took one step at a time and dreamed of the day she would study art, which she eventually did, slinging steaks to pay her way to a masters degree and now teaches high school art in Arizona, one of the lowest paying states in the country. She found Mr. Right late in the game and is now a grandma. So, yes, like Ms. Land, her choice to be a young mother was financially challenging, no surprise! But she wouldn’t have changed a thing. After all, we can’t change what we already did, can we? We can only learn to cope, bootstraps and all, and, well, maybe write a book about it.

Jane Silver, Sebastopol

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