Weather Updates

Welfare reform leaves many out in cold, sometimes with tragic consequences

A small memorial for 3 children killed fire is set up along fence burned house 644 Sibley Hammond IN January

A small memorial for the 3 children killed in a fire is set up along the fence of the burned house at 644 Sibley in Hammond, IN on January 9, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\for Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 60452188
tmspicid: 21892037
fileheaderid: 10331782

Updated: February 14, 2014 6:15AM

Regarding the tragic and horrific story, “Nightmare: 3 kids die in house fire,” on Friday:

Three children — four years, three years and seven months old — perished in a space heater-caused fire in a poor section of Hammond. They died because the family “didn’t have money for electricity,” and so depended for their survival on a perilous combination of propane gas and candles.

This is where we are now, 17 years after Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform.” Thanks to that “reform,” individual states pretty much dictate how much assistance impoverished families get. In a red state like Indiana, it is not enough to afford even the barest of necessities.

Conservative pundits laud our economic system’s “freedom to choose.” For those at the bottom, without a decent job or a functioning social safety net, this means the freedom to choose between food, heat and light. The three Young children — and so many others — have paid the price for our culture of sanctioned, self-righteous indifference.

Hugh Iglarsh, Skokie

Rauner hardly an average Joe

Sadly, we have another greedy multimillionaire who is trying to tell the devastated middle class and the poor how to live on $7 an hour. A flip-flopper Romney type, a wealthy investor who made $53 million in 2012, he does not know what he is talking about. Bruce Rauner expects us to believe that Illinois has a shattered business climate when CEOs and executives are receiving multimillion-dollar salaries with bloated benefit packages while workers live on $7 to $10 an hour. It is an insult.

Ann Guttierez, Bridgeport

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.