We Do live in a Nation of Takers – And a Nation of Hypocrits

Louis C.K.

– Louis C.K.

Left and right, young and old, it seems almost weekly, I read some sort of ridiculous ideologically and hate fueled statement on social media from someone who is “tired of working to pay for some lazy person that just wants to mooch off taxpayer funded government supplied charity.” I have read posts about people that have too nice of hair to be using food stamps or how they saw a family that they know gets government aid at a pool all day while they had to work to pay for them. I simply cannot imagine seeing a poor kid at a swimming pool and getting angry about it. Do people have any idea how poor you are if you are getting nutrition assistance from the government? Do people realize how many kids in this country were born into a family that does not have enough to eat? Being born into generational abject poverty is not something that goes away when you simply wake up one morning and decide to go to work. There has to be jobs and educational opportunity too. Right now, for quite a few, this opportunity simply does not exist even if it does for some.

I guess I should not be surprised. Our own Congress has been leading the charge in this type of elitist mentality and way of thinking. I guess what always bothers me the most is that the people like Paul Ryan that are so determined to demonize the ultra-poor as takers were themselves born into a life of ultra-privilege and have spent a lifetime taking aid that dwarf’s any amount of nutrition assistance anyone poor person has ever received in the history of our country. Although, I see these types of messages from all types of people from all types of backgrounds, as usual there are a few critical thinking issues with this type of easily favored and small way of thinking.

Consider this. Every single taxpayer in this country receives some sort of benefit that someone else does not get equally based on the amount they earn. It just so happens that most reading this likely get government aid on April 15th instead of in the form of food stamps.

But realistically, what’s the difference between a poor person cashing in food stamps and a lower income earner cashing in on a lower tax rate? They certainly did not earn this aid by making less money than someone that made more. Or what about the multitude of millionaires and billionaires and even some of the most profitable corporations in all the world that “take” significant tax assistance via subsidization or loopholes? Or what about “taking” unemployment benefits when you get laid off and are in between jobs?  Are all of these people just too lazy to work and pay their fair share? Aren’t they the same as the food stamp takers that have been under assault by the Republicans, Fox News and my Facebook friends for years? A great number of food stamp recipients do have income, just not enough to pay for everything their families need. How is this different than lower tax rate earners that “take” breaks others don’t get and use those breaks for similar purpose?

When you look at it strictly at who is getting assistance you don’t get, and then call that stealing the way so many do with Welfare and food assistance; people who are in a lower tax bracket than me are actually stealing more money from me than zero income earners that get food stamps. A lot more. Should I start demonizing every one of my Facebook friends that gets dividend income or that do not have a household income of at least mine?  It’s not like there are fewer terrorists for our country to kill just because Mitt Romney decided to not find a real job and instead decided to just buy stocks in order to “take” more government aid.

How about the earned income tax credit? As someone that did not decide to have children, why exactly do I have to pay for all these babies? After all, just like I read all the time, I am actually working every day at least some amount of time to pay for these kids. By the way, how exactly can you afford that new phone you are posting on? Probably with that tax break you are too lazy to not “take”. Maybe I should just not work a couple days a week so that I can “take” a free phone from the government like you? If you are saying “hey, that argument isn’t logical or fair”, you are right, it isn’t.

In other words, all of the people ranting every day on social media about how other people need to “stop abusing the system by taking government aid” are not really against taking government aid, they are just against taking government aid that they are not eligible to receive.  Not too many are also demanding that Grandma’s Medicaid get immediately withdrawn or even remotely demanding that they themselves should be paying an actual equal share. Considering the real number of people and especially children in this country that literally do not have enough to eat, it is a real special level of hypocrisy to spend your day accusing a poor person of stealing your money by accepting food assistance while secretly lining your own pocket with the exact same type of assistance in a different form and even greater amount.

Although Welfare as a percentage of our money that gets “stolen” represents an extremely small amount, you sure wouldn’t know it by the hateful, self-centered rants from people that are so thoroughly convinced of their own self-perceived higher authority over someone they don’t even know. Considering the other options available for demonization as a “taker” in our society, the preferred target of the ultra-poor, boggles my mind and saddens my heart equally. Based on my reading of biblical scripture, the American Christian-right in the year 2013 sure is an interesting and hypocritical bunch overall. At least when they step into a voting booth.

The next time you find yourself in line at a big box store, rolling your eye’s at the food stamp “taker” in front of you maybe also consider how much government aid you also “take”. Maybe also consider just how truly lucky you are to be in a place in life where your government aid comes in the form of a sealed envelope instead of an embarrassing public procedure at a busy retail store every time you want to feed your family. It won’t fix the problem of poverty in this country and it won’t get you out of having to work.  But after some time, it might actually make you a happier and nicer person.
Yes, there can and should be reasonable discussion about role of taxation and even government’s role in curtailing poverty. However, the current hypocritical crusade to demonize the poor as “takers” is as sad as any shift in public sentiment that I have seen in my life. I sure hope that changes as the  malnourished and obese stomachs are only as tragic as the ever hardened heart of a growing and hypocritical society of “ME”.

The Paradox of Eating Horse Meat

Horse MeatWell, as usual, the morning news was a complete critical thinking mystery for me. Headlines today were all about the growing European horse meat scandal. Stories went into great detail about how trace amounts of horse meat have been found in Eurpean beef and about how great it is that DNA technology can now be used to determine if trace amounts of horse meat is contaminating beef supplies. They warned of impending beef price increases as all beef will now certainly have to be screened for trace amounts of horse meat before Americans can eat it.

In addition to trying to figure out why we need beef from Europe in the first place, and wondering if we still make glue out of horses, the part that struck me as mysterious is why we should care that our cow-based pink slime contains trace amounts of horse-based slime. Americans in this country mindlessly scarf down and often throw in the garbage millions and millions of cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, deer, turkeys and just about anything else that walks, flies or swims on earth and that can be captured killed for food. People eat horse regularly across the world and I bet we have been eating it here too whether we know it or not. It is common, plentiful, and relatively nutritious as far as meat goes. No part of the press coverage discussed the practice of eating horse meat from a logical standpoint. It was just assumed that the entire American public audience has already determined that eating horse meat was morally reprehensible. Is it? If so why?

Why exactly does the mere possibility of trace amounts of horse meat in imported Swedish meatballs create public outrage worthy of the top placement in national news for Americans? I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating this and I have yet to come up with one critical thinking justification. Is it because some people keep horses as pets? I guess that could be it, but not all that many people today keep horses as pets. People also keep pigs, sheep, rabbits and even deer as pets. Just about any animal can be domesticated but that does not create any sort of issue for most Americans eaters. Pigs are the perfect example. They actually have been bred so that the wild characteristics are completely absent in the animals we eat. In the right environment, they would actually make great family pets.  They are extremely smart (smarter than dogs or horses), loyal, and they are capable of complex emotions such as grief, sadness, fear, aguish and terror. They are also capable of bonding with a human being exactly the way dogs and horses do.horsemeat2

Why are we not outraged that millions of pigs have been found in our supply of pork?  Why is a horse considered sacred and a pig is considered a food staple of the proudly unconscious and unhealthy American diet?

I read an article and the author sums this paradox up pretty well in my opinion.

We continually draw distinctions between what’s dinner and what’s trash, who our pets are and who our meals are. We live with cats and dogs we smother with love and affection, yet other animals live miserable lives and endure horrific deaths because we’ve decided their lives are only worth the price of a fast food meal. But if we then accidentally eat a part of the animal we’re not accustomed to, it’s the end of the world.

 

Part of the success of fast food companies lies, of course, in exactly that: distancing ourselves as much as possible from what we’re eating. If we knew the sickening conditions animals in factory farms are subjected to (or, for that matter, the slavery-like work conditions forced on human beings who pick the under-ripe tomatoes and grow the iceberg lettuce for fast food hamburgers), we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. I guess it’s true, as Paul McCartney once said, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

 

The fast food system – cheap food prepared quickly, eaten quickly, forgotten quickly – hinges on one slim peg: wilful ignorance. When incidences like this crop up, they slam right into what we don’t want to know. So we get outraged. But obviously the real scandal is that we’re allowing ourselves to fall for this great lie in the first place: that what we eat doesn’t matter, that it arrived in our hands magically, and that there are no consequences to our diets.

So how do we make the distinction with the horse? Considering how many other choices we have for eating, does the mere thought of consuming the tortured flesh of such a beautiful, majestic, and noble creature simply disgust you to the point that eating it would not be a choice even if it were the most delicious meat you have ever tasted and even if everyone else around you thought it was perfectly acceptable?

If so, congratulations on your first steps down the path of becoming a conscious eater. Now, expand your new style of thinking and start to actually listen to your logical brain instead of listening to fixed self-serving, logic-less, ideology that was planted in your brain the first day you mindlessly devoured a plate of bacon. Is it really that hard? From a logical standpoint, is that pulled pork sandwich any different than a pulled horse sandwich?

As a person that no longer eats mammals or foul of any type, people often ask me how I am able to resist a delicious steak or a good burger after years of consuming and enjoying them regularly. For me the answer is exactly the same way that the American public can now instantly refuse a perfectly good piece of horse after they have been consuming and enjoying it regularly for years. It is simply a matter of conscious versus unconscious decision making.

Just because the unconscious mind creates habits that are hard to break, make no mistake, the conscious mind can easily regain control if allowed! I know for me personally conscious eating was a spring board toward a new level of awareness that is still growing within. I became aware of decisions that I previously did not even know I had and more are revealed every day. Conscious eating is not a matter of mind-over-matter or extraordinary will-power. It is just deciding that horse meat is wrong to eat and then not eating it.  How hard is that?

When the conscience is the guide, there is really no need for dieting, will power, or DNA testing of meatballs that we ship from overseas to line our big box retail stores and arteries. We can just go to a farmer’s market instead! Best of all, if you get freaked out by all of the people swarming around you in the farmer’s market it is a hell of a lot easier to get out than when you are at IKEA!