Welfare is one of those topics that I have thought a great deal about this year. At least over the past couple of years, there seems to be some growing resentment, even from those who pay little or no taxes about those who collect welfare. In fact, I wrote a much briefer post about this in June of last year. I’ve have heard it so much and from so many different people in different situations, that I placed some thought into the subject. It may seem that I have someone in particular in mind. I don’t. I have handfuls of people in mind.
It seems that over the past few months, many people who have normally been very silent politically, have become very outspoken on the issue of welfare. It seems that this handful of people even seem to allow their entire political perspective be framed by this one subject. Largely, this is why I am writing this piece.
As for myself, I recognize that there is a place for some temporary safety net for people. Sometimes people are disabled and can’t work. At other times, they are young people who have become pregnant. Yet at other times, they are simply people enjoying a public education.
My point here is simply that we have all benefitted from services that we could not afford individually. The essence of a public school system is that most of us could not afford private tuition for all of their children for grades k-12 then college and post grad. So..we take money from those that have and give it to those who don’t have for the greater good. In this view, those of us who have had a public school education have benefitted from welfare.
I just want to share some simple thoughts on the subject.
“Those people” are lazy and are draining the system, cheating, taking advantage etc.
I mentioned earlier that I have heard a lot about welfare these past few months. The comments usually go something like this: “I saw a young girl paying with a lone star card at the store, and she had a (insert designer brand here) purse [which is better than mine/my wife's]. Relax. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t allow one experience to dictate policy. In such situations, you don’t have all of the facts to judge. The purse could have been purchased second hand, in which case it would have been sold at the same price as any other brand. It could have been a good fake. It could have been a gift from a rich parent, relative or boyfriend.
The point is that there is a myth that many welfare recipients live a better life than everyone else. I would invite you to visit and talk to the people waiting at the Little York welfare office, and I bet you will change your mind. I have done it myself. I think it would change your perspective on the luxurious life that you think they lead. It is true that there is abuse. This should be dealt with and monitored and prosecuted, but those involved in abuse should not hinder those who need temporary help from getting it.
The other myth is that people who use welfare benefits
People who work hard are often infuriated by the experiences that I explain above. Naturally, this is what we see. These experiences happen in our neighborhood stores.
However, if tax spending is the greatest concern, then the culprit is corporate welfare, not welfare to people. The Cato institute places the number for corporate welfare at 92 billion versus 59 billion for people welfare. Corporate welfare comes in many forms. It comes in the form of unnecesary military contracts, unprecedented no-bid contracts, government/corporate no-oversite cronysim, tax loopholes, and farm subsidies. Frankly, I think that most, but not all, people clamoring about welfare, are too intellectually lazy to actually study the issue of government spending. It’s easier to blame the people they see with the Lone Star card, because they see this with their own eyes. They have NEVER seen a wall street banker sucking up welfare at Mi Tienda or Fiesta. It’s intellectually easier just to blame what they see around them. I doubt that these handful of people understand the mechanics of farm subsidies, or even know what a farm subsidy is, much less that farm subsidies alone seem to account for about half of what is spent on welfare to people. It would take some intellect and research to critique corporate welfare. It’s just easier to call out the neighbor. Rich gringos have us fighting over crumbs while they eat the whole loaf as they always have.
Dependency IS destructive
I don’t know that there are any formal studies, but my gut tells me that most people who receive welfare, receive it for a short period of time and then move on with their lives. Maybe they are out of work and their kids need braces so they get on medicaid. They eventually get a job and pay back what society invested in them in spades. Some exceptions do and should exist, such as the permanently disabled. In fact, sixty five percent of people on welfare are unable to work…it is not that they are lazy, but they are too young, too old or too disabled. There are many people who DO work who still qualify for welfare because their efforts at work are not profitable enough to make ends meet.
However, there does exist a small sub-culture of able-bodied young men and women who habitually subsist on all forms of welfare. This is disastrous for their spirit, self esteem and upright nature, even though they do not recognize it as so. This is one of the reasons that those who abuse welfare have never bothered me. It comes at a very high price, a price that I would not wish for any of my brothers or sisters to pay. That price is one’s manhood/womanhood and dependency. Those that live this way are paying a heavy price that they often pass on to their children. Let me be clear, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with accepting temporary help, but those who unnecessarily become permanently dependent on welfare are paying for it with their man/womanhood and with the values and lifestyle that they teach their children. I don’t envy their situation one bit, not even their designer clothes, cell phones or cars. They already pay too high a spiritual price for me to care much about their abuse.
Diminishing Returns/The Intelligence of Becoming Dependent On Welfare
Removing values and womanhood from the equation, sometimes, for certain able-bodied people, becoming permanently dependent on welfare makes perfect economic sense. In the economic and business worlds, it is called the law of diminishing returns. It describes a principle that at a certain point, further investment in capital resources will produce a comparably less percentage of return than at a smaller scale of development. When this return is too small, it does not make sense to expand in that manner. Yes, the company can make a few more bucks, but it will spend a great deal to make those few extra dollars, to the point that such an expansion will not make sense. In this case, rather than creating more work for itself, the corporation will just send the money back to the shareholders in the form of dividends.
A similar logic holds true of the permanently dependent. It does not make economic sense for them to work hard at times. Sure, they might make two hundred dollars more per month by working at McDonald’s but it does not make sense to do so, when they can do nothing and collect welfare. If YOU were offered a situation to work forty hours more per week for $200 would you take it?
While it takes its toll on their spirit and self-esteem it is a logical conclusion to collect welfare. Think about this. There SHOULD be resentment toward this situation, but the resentment should be toward a SYSTEM that exists, because a great deal of people that are working forty hours do not have the income to cover the basics. It can be easy to resent the permanently dependent. It takes a little more thought to understand that the system makes this a logical choice for some. This system system is capitalism’s greed-for-all and the charity model of welfare that this government has constructed. Rather than investing in communities, they hand out food. If our communities continue to go undeveloped, they will continue to have to hand out food. If working forty hours continues to barely pay the basics, then it will continue to be a logical decision to get welfare instead of going to work.
The new conservative media.
For decades, conservatives talked about this issue in terms of policy and ideology. The talked about the evils of permitting dependency and how welfare reduces productivity etc. However, a new breed of conservative talk show hosts have become masters at propagandizing the issue. They don’t talk about the policy, they talk about the welfare recipients. However, they use the stereotypes that people have experienced. They use those experiences in the store that I mentioned above to bait listeners into believing that most welfare recipients are a bunch of lazy, loser life-long dependents. They draw this characture, very similar to images that the Klan and the Nazi party would draw. Michael Berry, for example, uses Shirly Q Liquor to charicature poor blacks. Shirley Q Liquor is actually a white man who works in black face and black voice. This sort of stuff was supposed to have been erradicated in the thirties or forties. In any case, this characture and sterotype resonates with everyday so-called Latinos, because they have seen these stereotypes first hand. It’s something that they can relate to, and its easy to understand…. no study or messy policy analysis needed. Just blame that damn girl with the lone star card, and everything else can be explained easily…the economic mess….the moral demise…why they hate their job and have to work so hard, etc. The conservative tak people have found something that resonates, and they have done a wonderful job of selling it to intellectually lazy people who have a deep resentment of the social mess we are in.
That’s all…just a few words.