Thursday, November 1, 2012



My wife’s brother-in-law, who lives in Massachusetts, is a staunch far-right Republican.   His grandparents came to this country from Portugal – they had to be sponsored by their relations.   This couple worked menial jobs twelve hours a day, seven days a week and prospered.  They educated their children (his father) who also had an unbelievable work ethic and, as a result, prospered.  His parents were able to send he and his sister to college and each of them have productive jobs and are hard workers.  

His (the brother-in-law) biggest ax to grind has to do with federal poverty programs.   He feels that there is a large percentage of the population that chooses to live off handouts from the government instead of working, and, as a result, he has to support them through his labor (taxes.)   There is some justification for that attitude.

Let me give you a ‘hypothetical’ situation (Hypothetical because if I did know these people I might be responsible for making trouble for them as a result of this post.  So this is strictly HYPOTHETICAL.

A young man and women married about ten years ago and immediately had a child.  The man weighed near three hundred pounds and for a couple of years worked washing cars at a car dealership and later worked at McDonald's.   Because of his weight he developed a knee problem and eventually had to have a knee replacement (on the dole.)   His weight and lack of exercise prevented the knee from healing properly.   As he wasn't able to work manual jobs and had no skills he applied for disability and received it.   The family was already drawing food stamps and fuel assistance, now due to his disability these increased.   About a year ago the couple filed for divorce and he moved out.   Now the wife, as a single mother, was eligible for more assistance. A couple of weeks after the divorce was final the man moves back into the house.  Later, I overheard the woman saying that her doctor had refused to sign papers stating she was unable to work due to a back problem (though to my knowledge she has never worked a day, so I fail to see the relationship.)  She eventually changed doctors and now I understand that she did apply for, and receives, work disability.

The young man (about 35 years old) now works at a sit-down job just enough hours so as not to affect his disability status.  The couple has two cars, cable television, both have a cell phone and he smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.   The landlord has recently been notified that their rent is to be paid by a federal program so he (the landlord) must perform certain maintenance on the house in order to bring it up to federal standards.     

This couple, for all practical purposes, has been able to retire at age thirty five on government programs. 

As I have said, this is a fictional account; but if I did know these people I would not hold it against them that they have worked the system.   They are a product of a failed public educational policy that has resulted in their inability to qualify for adequate employment that would properly support their family.

Before we designate them as crooks, we must look at the other side of the equation. 

The presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, does not work so he pays no income tax from a W-2 income.  The millions he made last year were the results of dividends (investment income) that is at present taxed at eleven percent.   If elected president, Mitt Romney has declared he will do away with taxes on dividend income which would result in most millionaires and billionaires, including Romney, paying no federal income taxes. 

Welfare fraud and tax cuts for the wealthy have an inverse proportion effects on our federal budget and deficit.   In other words, the federal government loses money to welfare abuse and the federal government would lose money by doing away with the taxes on investment income of millionaires and billionaires.

Is it any worse for the people on the bottom of the income scale to be bilking the government than it is for the people on the top?

Republicans constantly cry about welfare fraud and at the same time demand tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; but, both of these situations should be considered welfare fraud in the way they affect the federal deficit. We should also include the money the government pays to mega-businesses like Exxon and the industrial farming industry in this welfare category.  

I don’t doubt that welfare fraud exist, and that it is costing the government big time; but it exist on both sides of the equation, and we must ask ourselves which is more heinous, and why should we vilify the people on the bottom and not on the top.

There are many people that legitimately need government assistance, and that assistance should be there for them.  Other people need education, training and oversight to move from the welfare system.   

Our government should be furnishing free training, education and child care for families in poverty in order to break the chain of welfare dependency.  And, we should insure that no child ever goes hungry or homeless in the United States of America

All of this could be easily done by defunding corporate welfare, increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires and drastically downsizing our military.   These changes could supply the funding to allow us to institute an aggressive training, education and placement component to the federal welfare program that could move people from welfare to jobs. 

The Big Branch Coal Mine

Who’s an outlaw,
Quick on the draw?
Cast the first stone
If you don’t have a flaw.
Who fills the jails,
Who lives above the law?
White collar,
Blue collar.
Who’s rich
Who's poor?

the Ol’Buzzard




  1. We have created a society of inequitable entitlements. The folks at the top feel entitled to keep more of what their portfolio makes even though their portfolio actually produces nothing other than paper profit extracted as the money shifts from one portfolio to another.

    The bottom tier has a population who feel entitled to the free ride based not on what they produce but just that they exist inside our borders.

    And the middle say 85% of us are only entitled to belly ache about having to carry the water for the deadbeats on either side of them.

    I am not sure why the richest among us have become so vocal and stingy. I would think the filthy rich would want more of a buffer between themselves and the bottom of our pile. It is the middle class who keep the poverty mob from storming their shiny gates. This assault on the middle will only hurt the rich in the long run.

  2. I've said for a long time if we are going to have welfare reform, we should start where the big bucks are, corporate welfare. The oil companies need subsidies like a fish needs a bicycle.

    Having been on welfare for a short time, I wouldn't wish that life on anyone and anyone willing to live that way can have it with no complaints from me. Just like having worked on an assembly line for Ford, I don't bitch about the wages auto workers get!!

    Like MRMacrum, I don't understand the increasing greed of the rich. (I blame St. Ronnie for making greed not only acceptable, but desirable.) I've always said that Unearned Income should not be taxed at a lower rate than Earned Income. There should be a sliding scale for capital gains based on total income like there is for earned income only at a higher percentage at each level than for earned income. What's really obscene is the huge salaries paid to CEOs and they get to pay capital gains taxes on most of it!! I don't understand why, other than pure greed, that they object to paying taxes when they couldn't possibly spend all of it, it's just a way of keeping score!!

    Class Warfare exists and the rich have been winning for centuries!!

  3. I'm a little annoyed by the graphic. Yes, convenience stores that sell booze and cigarettes accept food stamps, but that doesn't mean the food stamps can be used to purchase those items.

    My own take on welfare reform on the low end of the economic scale involves bringing back honest-to-God social workers. Until about 1970, if you were on welfare, social workers (real social workers, not just clerks who shuffled paperwork) visited clients in their homes. They worked with welfare recipients to make sure the kids went to school, the homes were clean, people had what they needed to get off welfare faster -- and the average time spent on ADC back then was something like three months. Then, gradually, in the interest of economic efficiency and client privacy, the home visits ended and applications got processed strictly in an office by a minimum wage clerk. It became much, much easier to game the system -- and not surprisingly the average time on assistance has crept steadily up.

    One of these days I need to do a long post about the realities of being poor in this country -- juggling multiple shit jobs (car wash, McDonald's, whatever) is a lot of work for minimal return; is it any wonder that being able to go on disability even if it pays a pittance can be the rational choice even if it does mean locking yourself into a life of perpetual poverty and living on the bare edge of survival? If you're just barely surviving anyway, being on disability at least eliminates a lot of uncertainty.

  4. I doubt that welfare fraud comes even close to the sums paid to military contractors, the arms industry, or the Exxons and GEs. Someone needs to do the math. It is the taxpayer burden of maintaining the American empire for the benefit of the very rich that is bankrupting your nation. Ron Paul's foreign policy platform was correct.
    Nan you are right about the need for Social Workers to work with welfare recipients. Many of them cannot get off of the treadmill on their own. There are far fewer of them who chose it as a lifestyle than you think. They simply do not know HOW to do otherwise. they do not have the life skills. They are not just like you and I but lazy.

  5. A lot of people need welfare help; but, unfortunately some have learned to scam it and abuse the system. The need is there, and it is a disgrace that this country prefers to spend its money on a giant military and support for the rich. If the money was spent for education, training and placement for those in poverty - and generous support for those in true need - our economy would turn around on its own, and be strong into the future.
    the Ol'Buzzard


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."