Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, July 22, 2011 8:47 pm

The better off you are, the more ignorant you get …

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 8:47 pm

… when the issue is government assistance:

Turns out that whether or not you identify as someone who has used a government social program doesn’t really depend on things like having used a government social program.

I realize that there are many, many Americans who don’t want to think they’re in the same boat as many, many other Americans on whom they look down. But we really are all in this together, which is one of the long-running themes of Athenae’s frequent rants, such as this one:

Tommy T posted that graphic up on Facebook this morning and honestly, it just reminds me of conversations with acquaintances around the holidays, when they talk about how their grandparents might have been on public assistance during the Depression, but they were ASHAMED of it. Not like those people are now, with their low-hanging jeans and cell phones, parading around in their cars with the shiny spinners.

They don’t actually know or understand who is using various kinds of government assistance, or for what. They just hear the cocktail party jokes and the late-night comic stereotypes, and they couldn’t be that, after all.

And it just makes me sad, because when we make this all about shame, about wishing for the ability to judge others as worthy and unworthy, we just expose as a society how scared we all are of being found wanting. How scared we are of falling so low that our own neighbors, our own friends might judge us the same way. If we don’t stigmatize this, if we don’t make it the most shameful thing that can happen to you, then we can’t keep it far enough away from our own doorsteps not to be scared out of our minds all the time.

There’s another choice, you know: constructing the kind of society where you don’t have to be scared out of your mind all the time. Unfortunately, some of this country’s wealthiest and most powerful interests want you to be scared. Perhaps you should ponder the question of why that might be.


  1. The thing overlooked in this analysis is a ratio of benefits received to benefits provided. Most of the listed things I have never used- but my labor provided them to others. I do receive Social Security and paid into the system for more than 40 years. Some who receive the most dollar value in benefits have contributed very little. And the thing that bothers me about the benefits I do receive is that some one was hired to collect from me the money I earned- and they were paid from that money. Then the residuary of that was used to hire another person to distribute the (diminished) funds back to me and they are paid from the funds before I get my now-sharply-reduced payout. But before I get any, some goes to those who paid nothing or very little. I would have MUCH preferred to just keep the money initially.

    Comment by Ken Hill — Saturday, July 23, 2011 1:31 pm @ 1:31 pm

  2. Ken: A few thoughts …

    — SocSec benefits to an individual depend to a significant extent on what that individual paid into the system.
    — There’s a cap (currently roughly $120,000/year) on income subject to Social Security/Medicare withholding. Thus, the guy receiving the maximum benefit will be getting the same amount if he made $120,000 as the guy who made $10 million a year
    Administrative costs for the Social Security Administration were about 1% of its total budget in FY2008. Compare that with, say, your private health insurer’s overhead — or pretty much any other private company, for that matter.

    It’s an imperfect system, but if everybody just kept the money and we had no Social Security, a lot of lazy people would starve, but so would a lot of hard-working people who just happen to live in a world in which awful things happen. We tried that before (see: Panic of 1873, Panic of 1893, Great Depression, etc.), and we decided — to our credit as a nation, I believe — that we didn’t like how that turned out.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, July 23, 2011 1:42 pm @ 1:42 pm

  3. I looked at the list again and Social Security is the only one I have ever received. My house was built with cash, but I waited a number of years to do so. Accumulating the money meant wasting nothing. I know one family that visited all the area food banks and pantries (most not sponsored by tax money), hauled home the things given to them and then threw away the items not to their liking. And the local Social Service dept was subsidizing their rent. I lived deliberately in substandard housing for a time because the rent was so cheap and it helped me save more in order to get my house sooner. Gratification of my immediate desires at that time would have delayed the realization of my real goal.LUCK is often spelled with the letters WORK.

    Comment by Ken Hill — Saturday, July 23, 2011 4:27 pm @ 4:27 pm

  4. OK, you worked hard, denied yourself, followed the rules. And nothing bad has ever happened to you, and you’re terrified that some of your hard-earned tax dollars might go to someone undeserving. Got it. Good for you.

    Lots of other people do exactly the same thing, and then stuff happens. They lose their job in an economy with 5 job seekers for every opening. They lose their health insurance and then develop a serious condition that’s expensive to treat.

    As for the undeserving, you might want to look at the banksters who helped themselves to $16 trillion — with a T — from the Federal Reserve, kept their banks alive when they should have been liquidated, and then paid themselves huge bonuses. As Willie Sutton famously observed, that’s where the money is.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, July 23, 2011 6:23 pm @ 6:23 pm

  5. I got it- class envy. “you might want to look at the banksters who helped themselves to $16 trillion — with a T — from the Federal Reserve, kept their banks alive when they should have been liquidated,” All that is due to those who were elected to supposedly represent us.

    The same people in charge of government assistance. Government only hindered me in getting ahead.

    Comment by Ken Hill — Saturday, July 23, 2011 7:01 pm @ 7:01 pm

  6. “Government only hindered me in getting ahead.” Jesus. Teh_Stoopid. It burns.

    Government provides the rule of law that makes commerce possible. It pays for the military that ensures there’s gas in your tank. I could go on, but you’ve clearly got your ideological blinders strapped on. Not worth the time.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, July 24, 2011 12:39 pm @ 12:39 pm

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