David Hage

David Hage is an editorial writer for the Minneapolis Star
Tribune.
He is the author of the book Reforming Welfare by Rewarding Work.

Recent Articles

Purgatory of the Working Poor

Since making the leap from welfare to work two years ago, Tami Buddi has put a lot of miles on her aging family sedan. To collect child-support payments from her former boyfriend, she drove to the county courthouse in a nearby suburb of Minneapolis. To keep appointments with her job counselor, she drove to a second county office. To apply for subsidized health insurance, she drove to a third site, clutching a thick application and a sheaf of payroll stubs. No one told her about federal training grants, so she found a night school on her own, which meant more time behind the wheel every week. All this while working full time as a bill collector and raising a 10-year-old daughter by herself. “It's like they sat down and tried to make it complicated,” she says with a cynical chuckle. Like some 30 million other low-wage Americans, Buddi finds herself in a sort of purgatory of the working poor. In the last decade, Congress has decreed that most adults must work if they want access to the...

What Does Minnesota Know?

I n an aging St. Paul neighborhood known as Frogtown, at a storefront social-services agency called Lifetrack Resources, Tina Thompson and Angela Fink are meeting one afternoon to discuss the impoverished clients they are trying to move into the world of work. There is Zainab, an Ethiopian refugee who arrived in the United States with poor English and rusty clerical skills, but who will graduate this spring from an accounting program and almost certainly land a good office job. There is Ginny, pregnant and recently laid off, but eager to plunge back into the job market as soon as she can update her résumé. And then there is Cassandra, who has washed out of several jobs and vocational schools since dropping out of high school at 17. Cassandra turns out to be clinically depressed, and the job counselors want her to complete a course of therapy and antidepressants before she resumes work on her elusive high-school diploma. This is not the tidy welfare-to-work assembly line that social...