Brain Dropping #114
Dead Man Talking. It’s been ten years since Ronald Reagan’s death and yet he is still talking to us from the grave through right-wing-loony Congressional intermediaries. Reagan was famous for confusing the fantasy world of Hollywood with the real world. He often indicated that he took part in WWII on the battlefield when all he did was to make propaganda films in the safety of the movie studio. Some suggest that he suffered from dementia as early as his first term. At any rate, it is documented that he lied a lot, not an uncommon trait among residents of the White House of both parties. His most infamous lie was about the black Chicago Welfare Queen who had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent welfare payments, and rode around in a chauffeur driven Cadillac eating caviar. It was a transparent, preposterous lie, but it resonated with the neanderthals of both parties, who love to blame low income victims for their ‘laziness and immorality.’ Bill Clinton, that paragon of moral behavior, was so taken with Reagan’s characterization of the poor that he signed into law the cynically titled “Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Act” which ended “welfare as we know it” – Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) – and replaced it with TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) which plunged approximately one million children back into extreme poverty, according to Professor Peter Adelman, former Assistant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare who resigned from the Clinton administration in protest. Professor Adelman states that one out of two Americans live in poverty.
Reagan’s lie about the crippling dependency of those on welfare, swallowed hook, line and sinker, by the self-justifying elite, the right-wing-brain-dead, and even many tough-love liberals, has been exposed as the bullshit it always was. To expand on the lie: Why work if you can live on welfare sucking on the public tit? (It seems only corporations and military contractors are allowed to suck on the public tit.) Furthermore – why work if you can receive a check from the government for just sitting around? In Vermont, abysmally, misinformed public opinion believes these bogus ideas are factual. A new study shatters those heartless, Scrooge-like ideas.
From a New York Times article of Thursday, December,18 2014 – B1 – Front page of the business section. “Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment. More people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier, such as subsidized care for children and the elderly, generous sick leave policies, subsidized accessible transportation, and free or inexpensive education may make it easier to get the training to move from the unemployment roles to a job. The United States doesn’t do much of anything in terms of supporting labor force participation via expenditures.”
My own take on why the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the developed world in maintaining a substantial social safety net, and indeed is hell-bent on even more punitive measures against the poor and unemployed,(the recent cut in food stamp funding) is the puritanical heritage which looks on poverty as a form of sinfulness which must be scourged: Obscene wealth, on the other hand, is a sign of goodness in the Calvinist ethic, which extols the virtues of the select elite who bask in the grace of God. (See Max Weber – “The Spirit of Capitalism and the Protestant Ethic”)
It’s time to send Ronald Reagan and his spurious ideas to their eternal rest!