(American Conservative) -- One of the most enduring images of the early Reagan years is the “welfare queen.” The not entirely apocryphal story of a woman making a six-figure income on welfare became for conservatives a symbol of everything that was wrong with the welfare state—and for liberals a symbol of everything that was wrong with conservatives.
In the 1990s, that symbol was Claribel Ventura, a 26-year-old mother of six charged with child abuse. She scalded her 4-year-old son’s hands with boiling water to punish him for eating her boyfriend’s food. A Boston Globe investigation determined that Ventura was part of a family of 17 children, 74 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren collecting a total of $1 million a year in public assistance.
The Globe asked one of Ventura’s siblings what she would say to the taxpayers footing the bill for their family. “Just tell them to keep paying,” she replied. Even in liberal Massachusetts, the public was outraged.
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