Monday, April 15, 2013

Good Grades For Welfare (update)

One person really can make a difference, no matter how small they are, or what age they may be. When it comes to faith, the only requirement is having the amount of a mustard seed, and the courage to take action.

Last week I wrote about a bill in Tennessee that would cut welfare benefits by 30% from parents with children performing poorly in school. The bill cleared both the House and Senate committees but the lawmaker behind the bill dropped his support for the bill, claiming further research on the impact on families was necessary.

According to local media reports, Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) may have dropped the bill because of a powerful, tenacious 8-year-old girl.

Before the session, activists organized a demonstration in the corridors of Legislative Plaza and the state Capitol, and in a brilliant stroke of genius an 8-year-old girl confronted Campfield with a petition signed by opponents of the bill, and a choir of about 60 people, including some in clerical garb, sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers filed in.

Campfield walked away from the confrontation, saying repeatedly that he didn’t think children should be used as political props. But it was a long walk, and the confrontation extended over several minutes as video cameras recorded the back-and-forth.

After chasing Campfield up a Capitol escalator, 8 year old Aamira Fetuga asked him, "Why do you want to cut benefits for people?" Fetuga went on to follow Campfield after the camera stop rolling.

Campfield says he withdrew his bill because he didn’t have a full understanding of how the law would affect groups.

“Did I know what the final result was going to be? No, I never do,” Campfield said on the Senate Floor on Thursday. “I got a lot of good feedback from people. … I think a lot of people were really close (to supporting it) but were just looking for a little bit more.”

It was easy for him to propose a bill that would be detrimental to the poor and disenfranchised as long as they had no face. But seeing the face of little Aamira Fetuga evidently appealed to Campfield's sense of humanity, and forced him to re-evaluate this bill. This gives the phrase "out of the mouths of babes", a whole new meaning.


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