Maurice Lim Miller
Founder and CEO,
Family Independence Initiative
Most people actually don’t want handouts. They want to earn it, and that issue of how to earn it is the problem.
After a while in America, you start getting discouraged. And partly it’s because America has this image that if you work really hard, we’re going to be okay. But after you hit enough glass ceilings — and that’s what I see our families do time and time again, they actually do work really hard — you do start getting discouraged. And that’s where you start seeing violence start coming up. It is this frustration. People say, Well, how come in other countries, they only live on two dollars a day, and they don’t have that same level of frustration?
The safety net is just not a springboard. I know it keeps being depicted as if we have the safety net and it’s stronger, it’ll be a springboard. But I can tell you what mothers will tell you: The better you do, the less [federal support] you are going to get.
We enroll families in groups and we challenge them [to raise their income]. And they help one another. We have lending pools that now bring in over $250,000. So they do what traditionally has happened [in immigrant communities]. This country honors need right now. . . . We don’t accentuate initiative.