Unraveling the Safety Net

The paradox of welfare reform is that saving money can be very expensive

After her divorce in 1984, Joanne Brooking discovered that her real problems were just starting. For a newly single mother with three young sons, finding and keeping a full-time job was a challenge in Montpelier, Vermont, a state where unemployment hovers around 4.8%. As it turned out, too much of a challenge. Brooking, 43, has been on and off welfare ever since. There wasn't much incentive to work anyway. When stints as a substitute teacher and an Amway saleswoman brought in some money, her welfare check was cut. Her best hope for the future might be the sociology degree that she...

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