So, those of you who know me (or read this blog, or follow me on Facebook or twitter) know that I am a pretty political person. And my political leanings are quite liberal. And by “quite liberal,” I mean “No, really – QUITE LIBERAL.”
Needless to say, I do a lot of talking, complaining, campaigning, bitching, etc about what I perceive to be any sort of injustice, unfairness, and downright unkindness in this country. I do believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I have a hard time accepting the opinion of others sometimes – like when that opinion is based on misinformation and downright brainwashing.
Yeah – I said it – brainwashing.
Let’s face it – no one wants to admit they are being oppressed or controlled. It’s like the way a battered spouse often keeps their abuse a secret – partly out of fear, and partly because admitting you are being beaten is (in your mind) admitting weakness, and heaven forbid we appear weak in this country. Just listen to how often you hear “Man up!” exposed as a response to anything that appears to be emotion or pain (both of which – in this patriarchal society are considered weakness. And in this country anything male is seen as strong and powerful, and anything female is seen as lesser and weak).
So instead of admitting that we – the ever declining, yet huge, middle class – are being fucked royally by the very small group of the rich, we instead make ourselves feel better by royally fucking (and blaming) the poor.
I saw someone post something on facebook the other day, which showed a photo of a child pulling another child on a wagon, and it had a caption about everyone needing to pull their weight and not getting a free ride, blah blah blah. As this originated from a conservative website, I inferred from it that they were yet again blaming the poor (those on public assistance to be more specific) for the problems with this country.
But the kind of people who create this stuff are never ones for facts, so let’s talk a little about said facts and maybe we’ll see who REALLY isn’t pulling their weight.
The food stamps program, for instance, costs the average American family, making about $50,000 a year $36 a year of direct costs. Add in other social safety net program such as Medicare & Medicaid, and it increases out load by $6 per year. I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with $42 (or even a good bit more) a year of my hard earned money going to help what the conservatives like to call freeloaders, but I prefer to think of PEOPLE. People – who without our help – might be living in the street and/or eating out of dumpsters. Do some of these people “take advantage of the system” (a favorite phrase among the brainwashed) – well, I suppose that depends on how you define taking advantage of the system. If you mean that they are capable of working, but choose not to, then yes – it happens. Of course, many of those people are only capable of getting minimum wage jobs, which can’t even come close to supporting them, much less their family. So yes, these people may prefer to accept public assistance rather than work a job that may STILL leave them hungry and/or homeless. And let’s face it – none of these supposed freeloaders are living a life of luxury. They aren’t going on vacations and living in lavish houses. They are the victims of slumlords, and often deciding monthly which bill they can skip because they don’t get enough for all of them. They are often choosing between paying a utility and feeding their family. This isn’t the high life.
As for the idea that these folks are eating steak and lobster while we’re eating hamburger – sure, maybe some of them are. But not for long. Those food stamps don’t stretch that far and if they blow them all on high end food, the have to find a way to live until the next supplement comes along. This is their choice. I have talked about this before here (go ahead and read it – I’ll wait). You simply don’t know why they are buying what they buy. And if their nails are manicured, or they have cell phones – so what. We help people or don’t help people. We don’t get to dictate how they spend their money. That phone may have been a gift. That steak may be for a once a year birthday celebration. This nails may have been done by a friend. You don’t know. You SHOULDN’T know.
The belief that giving someone charity or assistance means that you get to control how they use that charity or assistance is unacceptable. The belief that poor people have an obligation to dress or eat or live their lives in a way that constantly announces to the world, “I’M POOR,” like some kind of scarlet letter needs to be eradicated. It’s demeaning and unkind.
But let’s talk about the kind of welfare that is REALLY putting a drain on society: Corporate Welfare. Corporate welfare – or subsidies and breaks we as taxpayer pay to large (very, very rich) companies costs that same average American family well over $6000 a year. Six thousand dollars a year of my hard earned money is going to help a handful of men and women who are already BILIONAIRES! Billionaires whose companies often don’t pay their workers a living wage, and need public assistance themselves (which increases the need for public assistance that these same billionaires are complaining about). Billionaires whose companies often discriminate against those based on race, sex, age, or sexual orientation. Often in the name of Christianity. Billionaires who pay a much lower tax rate than that same average American family. Billionaires whose companies often pay no (or next to no) taxes at all. Exxon alone get Exxon gets $600 million in annual federal tax breaks. Exxon, who makes over $100 million in profits PER DAY!
These are the facts. The very rich are lying to the middle class about the problems we have in this country. It’s like if you had a big pile of apples – say 100 apples. And a poor, hungry guy comes along and you give him an apple. Just then, a very rich guy starts yelling “THIEF!” and screaming about how that poor guy doesn’t deserve your hard earned apples. And while you’re distracted, he moves in and swipes 80 of those apples. Don’t believe that guy.