– 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”.