Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How To Be Wrong...

A philly.com commenter says:
I think this needs to be expanded. Let's look at all assets of food stamp and welfare moochers. Have a social worker show up unannounced and count, the cell phones, LCD televisions, X-Boxes, Designer Clothing, rims, tinting and sound systems on the exempt cars, earrings and chains to come up with the asset test. In addition to drug testing, they should be forced on to birth control.

Our safety net is now a hammock for the welfare class. Our government has enabled people to be lazy. You have to ask why should these people getting benefits go out and work? Currently with all of the state and federal benefits you can get:

Free Healthcare (Medicade)
Free Housing (Section 8)
Free Food (Food Stamps)
Free Education (Public Schools or Grants)
Free Cash (Welfare Payments)
Free Cellphones (Assurant Wireless)
Free Utilities (LIHEAP)
Free Birthcontrol (Thanks Obama!)
Free School Meals (Federal School Lunch Program)

Not too shabby!! The funny part is people like me an by [sic] wife who are in the evil 1% pay for this stuff. And I am really getting tired of it!
This is an interesting post. Paragraph one hits all the stereotypes for welfare recipients, including plenty of dog whistle ones...perhaps so that poor whites on welfare know this poster doesn't mean them. Also, note that he wants forced birth control then later bitches that they get birth control for free.

Paragraph two makes a rather outlandish, though false claim (it's a wonder that anyone not on welfare believes those who are have such a cushy life). Then he asks a rather serious question: why should a poor person work?

This is the real issue, and a real problem. If you are poor, there is actually very little financial incentive to work. There is a self esteem reason to work, but the second that you have, say, a medical emergency even that would go out the window. These programs going away at certain income levels corresponds to an infinite marginal tax rate at that income point.

So this poster clearly understands the problem in how the US handles welfare and it's inherent disencentive to work, so you would think that he would then want to reform welfare programs to fix this, but you would be wrong. He just wants to bitch and moan, and kick anyone he doesn't like off welfare, listing off all the evil money sucking programs that those lucky poor, unemployed people have...Also, free public schools? Really? Because, you know, those are available for everyone, including the children of the 1%. If they aren't good enough for your kids, then maybe you should want to improve them.

This is frustrating because while he clearly understands the problem--other than the school thing--he doesn't actually want to fix it, he just wants to make sure that poor people suffer even more. The thing is that there is a fix, and one that doesn't doom us to a society with a permanent poor class, but it runs counter to just about every bit of conservative orthodoxy out there: expand welfare so that you are not penalized for work/success.

So long as we believe that Americans shouldn't starve, shouldn't be forced to live destitute lives, and shouldn't have to be fortunate enough to be born to not-poor parents to have a chance at a decent life, then we need a welfare system that ensures those things. But if that welfare system is not generous enough to actually help people out, then it will keep them as a permanent welfare class. The only way to get people off welfare is for welfare to be sufficiently generous that that can happen.

The single biggest help to welfare and America would be guaranteed medical coverage for everyone (e.g. single payer). That is the single biggest line item in asshole commenter's bitchy list. Next is to improve education. It is already free through high school--though not very equitably distributed--it should be free through (state) college as well. Most of the rest of his bitchyitems are small potatoes, and are actually pretty well managed and setup compared to the first two. Housing is probably the third thing on the list in terms of dollars, though SNAP is probably higher in terms of priority.

As for his list of things poor people have but shouldn't...
5 year cost of Xbox with a dozen total games plus a 40" lcd to play them on: ~$800
1 year, cost of groceries for a single, relatively thrifty adult: over $1000

Food isn't very expensive, but it costs a lot more to eat than it does to play video games, even on a fancy television. One would think that someone from the 1% would be aware of this...particularly since he probably spends more than $250/month for just his share of the food eaten.

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