THE QUEEN BEE AND THE IMPREGNATOR… OR… How To Enjoy Life Without Lifting A Finger

| April 7, 2012 | Comments (5)

Every day, rain or shine, Dino stands at the corner of East 138th Street and Willis Avenue in my South Bronx neighborhood, doing his Statue of Liberty thing. Dino does publicity, handing out flyers for Liberty Tax Service, an income tax preparation outfit that’s very active during the first  six months of the year. Liberty is especially busy after New Year’s up until April 15 and Dino is proud that he is responsible for bringing in lots of business in the form of clients  in a hurry for  tax refunds.

In keeping with the theme of his employer’s name – Liberty –  Dino dresses in a Lady Liberty outfit consisting of a rather moth-eaten red velvet cloak that covers his body from neck to toes, his scuffy sneakers peeping out from the folds of his disheveled robe. This attire is topped by an over-sized styrofoam crown balanced on top of his out-sized Afro. The crown’s spikes no long radiate from his head as they should. Two of them are floppy and weather-beaten, but inspite of the forlorn appearance of his headdress Dino has a happy face, unaware of the clownish  image he presents, smiling with an ear-to-ear grin that features widely-spaced, gleaming white teeth. The French call them “dents de bonne heure”, good-time teeth and, indeed,  Dino seems to be having a good time. He has no idea how ridiculous he looks to some people, happily involved in what he is doing.

Dino is twenty-five and lives in the nearby  high-rise “projects” with his family. In New York City the  projects are synonymous with Section 8 housing which provide rent-free apartments for low income people. Dino dropped out of school before reaching the 9th grade and is proud of being the father of a baby girl named Destiny who is seven months old. I ask Dino how the baby is doing and he says he thinks she is  OK, but he is not sure  because Destiny lives with her mother and Dino is not certain where that is. Dino sees Destiny from time to time, but seems a bit bored and annoyed when I press him for details about how he exercises his parenting responsibilities as a father.  To avoid further conversation about his civil state, he turns his back to me  handing out a flyer to a passing lady, a tiny Mexican woman with three small children who speaks no English.

 Dino may not be a fast-track success story that a parent would brag about, but at least he is out there on the streets working at a minimum-wage job. Behind his care-free attitude there seems to lurk at least a smidgen of  a sense of  responsibility for being a member of the human race. When you talk to Dino you feel you are speaking to somebody who realizes that if  you are young and able-bodied you should at least make an effort and work at doing something, no matter how humble the task. Not just sit around all day feeling sorry for yourself.

Then there is my neighbor, Poncho. When we last visited Poncho he had just fathered a second child, and, with the child’s mother back in hospital due to asthma complications (she is a heavy smoker), Poncho had taken up with his 15 year-old stepdaughter who lives in the trash-filled Section 8 apartment he shares with his two infant children (two years of age and one month old), his “Baby Mama” (the mother of his two sons) and Baby Mama’s 8 year-old son. Poncho informs me that he took advantage of Baby Mama’s absence and threw a small party featuring booze and blunts (grass) and that he and his stepdaughter ended up having sex.

In a Facebook posting today I learn that Poncho has yet ANOTHER romantic interest. Via the friendly pages of this social networking phenomenon, Poncho has connected with a school mate, a girl he knew ten years earlier when he dropped out of junior high school before  finishing the eighth grade. He tells me his plan is to take her to movie and then a motel. When I ask how he will pay for this dalliance, he says his income tax refund of $3,000 has given him the wherewithal to show this girl a good time.

In my ignorance I ask Poncho how he can get an income tax refund when he does not work and therefore has no income. Child care, he answers. Apparently Poncho and many of his friends in the ‘hood get income tax refunds for fictitious incomes derived from spurious jobs they do not actually perform. Later on in the conversation Poncho seems to forget that he told me about the tax refund and hits me up for $20 to buy milk formula for his newborn son. Baby Mama is in hospital and on blood thinners and cannot feed the child, he explains. I demur, showing him an empty pocket.

Poncho and his buddies live in a world that can best be described as a bee hive. There is the Queen Bee or the Baby Mama who produces children thereby qualifying for free, Section 8 housing, food stamps, free medical care and other welfare benefits. I am told if you know how to play the system you can even get taxi fares and telephone bills paid for. And  free visits to the veterinarian for treatment of  your pets. 

To fuel this synergy, Baby Mama Queen Bees need an Impregnator to keep them pregnant assuring that benefits keep following, that housing,  food stamps and other  rewards for irresponsible behavior do not stop. This is where the Ponchos of my ‘hood fit in. Indolent lay-abouts, Poncho and his cohorts see no need to work, feel no moral compulsion to get a job. They “help” their  Baby Mamas by keeping them with child. When the last baby becomes an adult and turns 21, the free housing and benefits entitlements cease, but by that time there are new Baby Mamas who are impregnated by a new generation of Ponchos.

My conversation with Poncho goes back to his latest hoped-for conquest, the girl he hopes to lure to a motel. He informs me she is in college studying for a business degree and that he is “in love” with her. He calls her his “wifey.” Throwing cold water on his plan, I tell Poncho that no college girl will be interested in getting serious with a junior high school drop-out dude, no matter how cool and handsome he is. How can she respect you , I say, when you are leading a deadend life, no job, no education, nothing but a hang-out artist. Poncho frowns and shrugs, says  he’s gonna make her love him. Tells me his buddy, a drug dealer, has a girl who is a college  grad.

Seeing that my shock therapy mentoring has no effect on Poncho, I turn and walk away, thinking various thoughts – America in decline, how my tax dollars are going down a rat hole. There must be a cure for this  tragic, downward social spiral I see playing itself out in my neighborhood every day. I’m not about to vote Republican this November, but there has to be a way out of this morass if we are to survive as a healthy middle-class  society, a society free of  paranoid elites  fearful   of lumpen zombies banging on the portals of their gated communities.

Poncho and his  ilk have existed in every society since the beginning of time, but must our government pursue policies that cause these free-loaders to thrive and multiply ? Squeezed between  Poncho grifters and Wall Street bandits, I’m afraid to try and answer this vexing question.

Now our neighborhood is awash with the latest wave of immigrants from foreign shores, or more precisely from across the southern border – Mexicans. Hard-working, cheerful people with luxuriant, shiny black hair – I love Mexican hair – they work at any job offered them, sell tacos on the street from little carts, strum mariachi music on the subway for pennies, always smiling, dutifully crossing themselves as they pass our local cathedral, San Jeronimo.

But word is getting out in the Mexican community that there is something here in Gringoland called WELFARE. Now I see lay-abouts on 138th Street, groups of muchachos drunk on cerveza, just hanging out, no longer working. They have found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so why do anything ! Welcome to the American Dream, Chavos !

 

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Comments (5)

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  1. Roger Cranse says:

    A good story, as usual, Sam. But I would point that living in the City we have the banking boys who famously sold securities to their clients while placing side bets that these same securities would fail. Is this world of legal thievery (and commercial sex and drugs, if the movie Inside Job is to be believed) superior to Poncho’s tawdry round? Are the two ultimately connected? RC

    • Sam says:

      Thanks, Roger, for your as usual astute comments. If I had a choice between Poncho grifters and Wall Street bandits I would side with Poncho.

  2. Harris Nasution says:

    Interesting how one’s negative experience with a random sampling of an immigrant group is made to be the basis of the overall measure of the decline of America. It is, of course, easier and more tempting to simply blame the decline on those immigrants and people of color than having to, say… honestly assess and analyze the true problems. When in fact, it is mostly corporate greed that has caused the mess, many Americans, such as yourself, are so sadly conditioned to think of economic problems simply in terms of social issues… the welfare “problems”, immigration policy, etc. I understand that, after all, you don’t have to deal with corporate people “littering” the streets of the Bronx or Harlem or whererever the poor neighborhoods are. The fact that they’re enjoying our tax subsidies in the forms of multi-billion dollar assets and properties all around the world doesn’t seem to preoccupy any of these people simply because, well, they just don’t linger in the streets. Never mind the fact that the majority of immigrants are still the driving force behind all the blue color jobs.

    While I wouldn’t argue that your experience with those unfortunate “immigrants” are as honest and true as they can get, just as my experience with some racist white Americans were, it is just pure intolerance and ignorance to simple single out this issue as the cause of “America’s decline”. It is a far more complex problem, and to conclusively reduce it to such a simplistic social discourse is downright dishonest.

    • Sam says:

      Harris,
      First, thanks for reading my posting.

      I hasten to add: if you read the article carefully you will see that Poncho and his gang of “zombies” are NOT immigrants. These are people who have been around for generations. At the end of the piece I observe that some new-comers – Mexicans – are tempted by what they see as the easy life of the welfare gravy train, but this article is in NO way about immigrants and welfare.

      Also you will note that the “decline” I describe is not only a matter of people on welfare; the posting also describes Wall Street BANDITS.

      In this article I describe from FIRSTHAND experience what I see and know in MY neighborhood. You will note in the article I specify my neighborhood.

      I’m afraid you are reading into my posting ideas and assumptions that simply are NOT there.You also imply that I have a racist, privileged perspective which is patently false.

      • Sam says:

        Further to my last comment, I would add that what the posting is really about is the welfare structure in the US and how, in my opinion, it has been distorted and mis-used, thereby very sadly sapping the energy and initiative from many talented young people like my friends and
        neighbors in the South Bronx.
        I have lived in this ‘hood for 14 years and most of my friends are welfare recipients, some deserve the welfare, some don’t, in my opinion. I have studied the welfare system closely and am convinced it must be overhauled.
        The posting was not about the evils of Wall Street. I beleive my views as a left-wing socialist have been aired in earlier postings so I felt no need to “balance’ the article with an analysis of the insane favoritism towards Wall Street displayed in this country.
        While I believe Harris’s comment was made in good faith, I found it personally rather patronizing and a misreading of what I wrote.
        I might ask Harris: how many people do YOU know who are on welfare and how familiar are YOU with the intricacies of NYC’s welfare system?

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