Teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs


It had to happen. Ebenezer Scrooge has been reincarnated and he's found me. Saving 32 cents, he hand-delivered an envelope to the Tribune last week.

I won't disclose his secret identity, but suffice it to say that he shares a name with the most notorious racist out of LAPD in recent years. Here's his handwritten letter, exactly as I received it.

"I just read your latest diatribe concerning low wage jobs in Reno/Sparks," writes Eb. "Is that all you think about? (1) How much is a maid or custodian who speaks little or no English worth? Or a busboy? (2) Or for many other menial jobs?

"In my lifetime, I worked for 40 cents an hour, 50 cents, 60, 75 cents, $1.25 an hour. I spent 12 years in college and graduate schools, yet I never earned $20,000 a year in my life. However, I learned early to save a little with each paycheck and today my income is very good. No I don't smoke, drink or gamble. Perhaps that (sic) why I have money today. I also married and raised two children," Mr. Scrooge relates.

"Perhaps you ought to write columns that present why people can't make more that (sic) low wages (whatever that is). For example, from Dec 3-6 twenty one babies were born at Washoe Med. Eleven (52%) to single girls," Eb asserts. (Note: Washoe Med says 42 infants were born during that time. Guys like Eb never let facts get in the way of a good story.)

"I'm sure they'll be on the welfare rolls by now, sucking up the tax payers hard earned money," Eb continues. "Doesn't that bother you? When taken off the rolls, then what?

"The past week in the R/G Journal, there was an article about welfare. They showed a girl 23 with two kids ages 1 & 2. The girl was worried about being cut off from welfare when her two years were up. It also mentioned a single woman with 3 kids under 5 and 5 mos. pregnant living in a motel. Now, whose fault is that? Not mine. Yet I'm supposed to feel sorry for these 2 and hundreds of others like them.

"Get real, Mr. Barbano. As long as there are bleeding hearts, like you, welfare will grow, babies will be born and wages will be low for many uneducated workers. After all, how much should people, like me have to pay in taxes and services. Write about something, people, like me, care about stopping."

He doesn't say what he cares about. Perhaps his silence speaks volumes. Ebenezer, you have a heart of gold: cold, yellow and hard. That hardness has moved to your eyes. You can't see through stone.

I write of many things other than wages. However, no matter whether I'm dead serious or lampooning rich Republican white guys, I always come back to the same place: spread the wealth and good things happen. Screw over the little guy long enough and you've sown the seeds of revolution. Very few of my despised liberal media colleagues have bothered to inquire as to the very legitimate gripes of the nation's militia nutsos.

It really does all come down to wanting a realistic shot at the American Dream. Those who think they have no shot often start shooting

I fire with words. Twenty years ago, I started a crusade against exorbitant public utility rates, a battle which must now be fought again thanks to recent legislative worship of the siren song of deregulation. Since 1974, I have advocated the rights of the mentally disabled, another struggle which has never ended. I have proven how high gasoline prices are rigged by Big Oil. Just about nobody but me has seen fit to print the story. Not sexy enough.

I fight for fair taxation and less corporate welfare. In 1984, I screamed about the shrinking middle class. If you've read me for any length of time, you'd know these things. Alas, you are the guy about whom the Austin Lounge Lizards wrote that song I hear on KTHX 100.1-fm (northern Nevada's radio version of an alternative newspaper). You believe corporate-funded right wing propaganda and blame everything on teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs.

Your college education has gone stale. Expand your mind. Head to a bookstore or library and catch up on your reading: Barlett & Steele's "America" trilogy (What went wrong? Who really pays the taxes? Who stole the dream?). Michael Moore's "Downsize This!" Levitt and Conrow's "Confessions of a Union Buster." Jack London's "The Iron Heel." Kevin Phillips' "The Politics of Rich and Poor." Michael Lind's "The Next American Nation." Joel Garreau's "The Nine Nations of North America." Susan Faludi's "Backlash." Juliet Schor's "The Overworked American." Pick up the current edition of Mother Jones magazine for an enlightened and generous view of spirituality in the '90s.

Ebenezer, it's entirely your choice whether you will end up jangling with Jacob Marley or wailing with Bob Marley. May a sweet song suffuse your senses, may amazing grace soften your heart and open your mind.

Happy holidays.

Be well. Raise hell.


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, and editor of U-News. Send an E-mail, especially if you want to join NAGPAC, the None of the Above for Governor Political Action Committee.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and parts of this column were originally published 12/21/97.

Reprints of the UNR financial scandal newsbreaks remain available for the cost of copying at
Nevada Instant Type in Sparks and both Office Depot Reno locations.