Views expressed in letters to the editor do not represent opinions of The Gazette-Virginian or staff members.

To the editor:

The Center on Budget and Policy reports: “Contrary to claims that government benefit programs are creating a dependent class of Americans who are losing the desire to work and would rather collect government benefits than find a job, these programs’ benefits go overwhelmingly to people who are elderly, disabled or members of working households.”

Many recipients of safety net programs include middle-class and low-income Americans. 

On average, 63% of the total benefits are paid to the elderly. About 17% of benefits go to the disabled, and around 14% of benefits go to working households (non-elderly, non-disabled). 

Entitlement and Welfare programs make up 60%, more or less, of the U.S. Mandatory Spending Budget which includes Social Security (23% of budget), Medicare (14.4%), Medicaid (9.3%) and SNAP (1%). These percentages are computations from the FY 2020 Federal Spending Budget of $4.79 trillion dollars.

Much of councilman Dunavant’s “Killing America” letter is misleading. 

For instance, able-bodied persons are not being paid “not to work.”

Programs like SNAP, Medicaid and even housing assistance programs have strict work requirements that have been successful in transitioning low-income individuals out of poverty. 

In order to participate in one or more of these, able-bodied persons age 18 to 49 must have either: employment of at least 20 hours per week, or the same in work-related activities. 

Moving on, the myth that “illegitimate” children bring with them the problems of poverty, crime, drugs and so on, is reflective of the prevailing racism that is the real killer of today’s America. 

Out-of-wedlock births to women of color have been steadily on the decline for nearly 50 years. 

One thing that was disappointing about both letters that the councilman wrote was that they didn’t appear as though he took into account the demographics of the town which he represents, Halifax.

Here is a small portion of these statistics.

The 2017 percentage by race of Halifax residents who lived in poverty was: 7.2% of white residents lived in poverty; and 33.8% of Black residents lived in poverty. 

The 2018 percentage figures were: 7.5% of whites in poverty; and 19.08% of Blacks in poverty.

Also, as of December 2019, 77% of families in Halifax we’re headed by both husband and wife. 

In my opinion, there has never been a “proper” time to use the word “Colored’ as a label for anyone. That was a brand that was forced on a single race at the time. However, the word, as used by the NAACP, stands for all races, and it would be counterproductive and against the organization’s mission to imply that it is to serve only one race. 

Finally, to eradicate the Welfare System would result in massive homelessness, starvation and death for it is a service not only to the poor, but also was created to strengthen economic downturns such as the current pandemic.

*Computations are rounded by approximations.

Yours in Christ, 

Beverly Bell 

South Boston