Taking Advantage of the System
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
Most people can agree they would like not to be poor, underemployed, or unemployed. When that does happen, we do our best to get out of those situations because we have bills to pay, mouths to feed and simply would like to not worry about how to afford our basic need, the next item or next meal. We would like to be able to work to have more than simple foods on the table. With wages as they are today and life's basic bills, these are real concerns for Americans, especially those trying to get started in the workforce. Yet, there are people that abuse the system for personal benefit, and as a result of some high profile cases, Americans have become suspicious about any government proposals that claim to reduce poverty. Are the attacks on poverty programs warranted?
We know that there are some people who in those unfortunate situations feel entitled to milk any resources from where ever they are being distributed without care. There is a plain lazy, selfish and greedy aspect that is driving that set of people. They provide a great example used by the supposed righteous among us to paint the picture of what all people do with government funds (never mind the actions of those doing this painting.) Selfishness and greed is, however, not a feature only of the unfortunate and the destitute.
It is no mistake that some have hid behind religion to elucidate their motives for abusing the system. Those supposed righteous people then persuade large swaths of the American people (using conjured inferences of facts, distorted media and cherry-picked phrases from religion) to look at the other "sinners" while they pillage the public treasury.
The righteous want a society that is comfortable with exclusion from access or even from recognition. They will divert attention from the pillage by showcasing differences in society (race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.) They amass great wealth claiming the parable of talents as an excuse to hoard cash and while having contempt for the Sermon on the Mount by suggesting that poor people want to be poor and meek.
You have to wonder about these people doing the complaining because the loudest complainers are likely the guiltiest. There is little doubt that they are taking advantage of the system, but they are blaming the meager ones on the bottom rung of society for their mischievous actions. There are farmers, landowners, businesses and corporate moguls that will use the levers they have in reach to squeeze out a little (actually billions) more for themselves. They, then, point fingers at families of the lower class that may claim collectively a mere fraction of what a single oil company or family like the Koch brothers will suck from the system. They use these people that are grabbing after the scraps of society to scare the middle class into voting against middle class. They will have the middle class be more suspicious of the government, which is incidentally the only institution in our society that can guarantee equal access for everyone to quality education, health care, or even safe cars to drive.
Providing help to low-income (poverty) in America including the cost of Medicaid (which primarily goes to elderly and disabled citizens rather than people with children), Federal housing (WIC), TANF, child tax credits, SNAP, free lunch program, and the children's health insurance program (CHIP) combined are no match for the cost of oil subsidies, farm subsidies, and defense spending. Yet, the people receiving the large oil, farm and defense spending want to yell the loudest about others getting taxpayer money because apparently no one should benefit unless you have millions to spend. The yellers are part of the richest and most powerful elites. They are part of country’s financial decisions, but they want to blame financial woes on those with the least power. Then, they scare the rest of Americans into thinking that supporting the poor will somehow make everyone poorer. Further, there are the people that are supposedly in support of the poor and meek are mishandling the programs, and that provides even more fodder for the critics of poverty programs.
In a capitalist society, no rational person would stop trying to acquire wealth. Regardless of an economic policy or social leaning, there is always an avenue to make money. People are able to become wealthy through strategic planning and use of resources (including people). Without those resources, people could not get wealthy. The Republican establishment, along with many Democrats, realizes this and realizes that people with money in hand are likely to spend that money when they have some left over after bills. Major companies, like Wal-Mart, base their business model upon this premise. Volume sales require volumes of people with money to spend. The poverty programs help people have something to spend besides necessities of housing, food, education or health care. Additionally, those dollars turn into jobs. The programs also provide the safety net for those that get tossed out of the capitalist markets (e.g. unemployment.)
Further, educated people bring skills to work and tend to spend more money because they theoretically have more money. To deny the masses something like affordable, quality public-education through promotion of private and charter schools instead, like the TEA party proposes, means that families will be limited to basic needs and their children will not be able to afford proper education-the access to the ladder to success.
This can perpetuate a divide in our society between those who have and who have not. Yes, Americans should be cautious of more spending, but all programs should be scrutinized. If we are concerned about welfare fraud, we should be more concerned with the fraud, in billions, blown on companies that do not need the money.