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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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104 Responses

  1. sly civilian
    sly civilian January 13, 2007 at 2:12 am |

    The authoritarian demand can now only be justified if it is contained in the language of paranoia. The refusal to return and restore the image of authority to the eye of power has to be reinscribed as implacable aggression, assertively coming from without: He hates me. Such justification follows the familiar conjugation of persecutory paranoia. The frustrated wish ‘I want him to love me,’ turns into its opposite ‘I hate him’ and thence through projection and the exclusion of the first person, ‘He hates me.’

    -Homi Bhabha, Location of Culture.

    Shorter version: Projection much?

    Guess someone liked it better when the help didn’t make eye contact.

  2. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 13, 2007 at 2:53 am |

    Yeah, dumb, privileged middle class white Jane Galt stayed in school, graduated, didn’t get pregant, didn’t yell at her bosses for “dissin’ her”, and thus, quickly ended up in the middle class …

    So Jane is supposed to be congratulated for … staying in the same class that she was born into?

    Not meaning anything against Jane, but talk about setting a low bar. “Congratulations — you remained in the same social class as your parents! High five!”

  3. elle
    elle January 13, 2007 at 2:56 am |

    Shorter version: Projection much?

    Amen.

    So I feel free to offer some projections of my own :-) I get the feeling that she and all the commenters who claim to not know what the EBT acronym stands for are just using this as an opportunity to point out, “Of course I don’t know “food stamp terminology” cuz I would never be so morally deficient as to need them.” And the black commenters, esp, give me that, “See, I’m not like the rest of ‘em” feeling.

  4. Qusan
    Qusan January 13, 2007 at 3:29 am |

    Well, I was a black commenter on her site who really didn’t know what it stood for and it had nothing to do with “not being like the rest of them” because I don’t assume that “the rest of them” are on welfare. I KNOW they are not. Read some bell hooks about the real face of poverty.

  5. elle
    elle January 13, 2007 at 4:19 am |

    it had nothing to do with “not being like the rest of them” because I don’t assume that “the rest of them” are on welfare.

    okay. good. feel free not to own a comment that i said was my own projection, then.

    Read some bell hooks

    because obviously i never have. thanks.

  6. elle
    elle January 13, 2007 at 4:36 am |

    one final note, it’s almost amazing how one person’s thoughts about what another person may have been thinking became fertile ground for discussion of possible fraud, racist blacks, and taxpayers’ burdens.

    qusan, on re-reading the post, my initial comment definitely did not apply to the content of your comment. it may have been unfair to the other commenter too–i will admit to being initially wary of the self-identification as black then what i presumed to be the hasty appendage of “but I don’t know about that either.” i apologize for the offense.

  7. Henry
    Henry January 13, 2007 at 4:43 am |

    Sharing my country with people who apparently feel absolutely no responsibility or empathy for their fellow human beings makes me angry.

    I guess I’m one of the people you’re referring to, so I thought I’d leave a comment. I have no problem with welfare per se (although I’d prefer it be done at the state level as opposed to the federal level). My issue is with the idea that it’s my responsibility to provide for the poor, as opposed to an act of voluntary virtue, and that somehow I’m a selfish prick because I feel that I should have as much control over the money I earn as possible. I’m all for private charity, and the more, the better. The idea that I owe anyone anything is ridiculous. I didn’t cause poverty, I haven’t exploited anyone, and no one gave me or my family anything. My father worked 10-12 hour days turning a wrench for everything we had, and I’ve worked my whole life. Yet somehow, those of you who support using the power of the state to steal from some people to give it to others are more virtuous than people who give money privately. Which is nice, as it allows everyone to feel morally superior without affecting their wallet directly.

    Of course we should help the poor. So, give to charity, volunteer your time, help out where you can, absolutely. But I don’t feel even the slightest bit guilty that I have food and shelter, and I’m not going to apologize. And I don’t feel that I have any business telling other people they should be compelled by law to provide for anyone but themselves. Maybe it’s different for folks who’ve always had money, but I sure as hell didn’t.

  8. Kaitlyn
    Kaitlyn January 13, 2007 at 4:45 am |

    Her story was, um, interesting, I guess?

    Well, no, not really.

    I read all the comments, thinking I was at a wesbite similar to this one at first, and quickly realizing I wasn’t.

    What a naughty trick to pull at this hour!

    Yes, you are angry.

    As well you should be, this country’s too apathetic as it is.

  9. dispatches from TJICistan  » Blog Archive   » TJIC is a racist because he believes in opportunity and disbelieves in welfare

    […] e he believes in opportunity and disbelieves in welfare …according to : http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/20… [ TJIC […]

  10. Qusan
    Qusan January 13, 2007 at 9:11 am |

    All I know is that I thought the woman’s post was stupid and self-indulgent. That she would think that some black cashier assumed she was a privileged white suburban person – even though she admitted to living in “fringe” areas – is beyond me. If anything, I would have assumed that she was in and of the area she lived in and would have thought she was “fronting” when she CLAIMED not to know what that button was. The point of my post on her site was that I didn’t know what the button was either and she was in error by assuming that all black people know what it is. Her racism isn’t in not knowing what the button was, it was in assuming that it was because she was white that she wouldn’t know. A WHOLE LOT of non-black people know what that button is for.

  11. Marti Abernathey.com - Breathing… Living… Loving			 » Becawse Ideots Heva Blaugs Two

    […] Marti Abernathey In reading one of my new favorite blogs, Feministe, and I came across this post. Jane Gault of Asymmetrical informationhad linked to a previous […]

  12. Jane Galt
    Jane Galt January 13, 2007 at 10:06 am |

    As I wrote in the comments to my site, I don’t assume that all black people know what food stamps are; I’m well aware that most African Americans are solidly middle class. But in every city I’ve ever lived in (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia), the supermarket checkers are blacks or hispanics serving people who tend to be white or Asian, and much more affluent than they are. They are not only of a different economic class than the people whose groceries they bag, but if recent economic evidence is anything to go by, will have a harder time exiting that class than whites, unless they get a significant amount of education. I don’t think anyone on this site needs to be told that race and class interact in complicated ways. The point is no tthat she is black, and all black people are on food stamps; the point, rather, was that my ignorance made it clear how much easier my life was across many dimensions. I don’t think I’m imagining that some people resent this–hell, I know I’m not imagining this; every Irish American of my age has at least a few elderly relatives tucked away who were seething hives of resentment–or that they focus their resentment on random affluent white people who, deliberately or no, twist the knife. Any more than my black friends are imagining the white salesclerks who follow them around stores.

    Of course, I could have been projecting–race in America often makes for insult taken where none is intended. I once had a man whose tie I’d been looking at abruptly say “What, never seen a black man in a museum before?” before stalking away; shocking me because I’m not sure I’d realised he was black before then. I’d wanted to get his tie (well, another one just like it) for my boyfriend. But grocery clerks do not usually start staring at me incredulously for an extended period of time while slowing the pace of bagging my groceries to a glacial, yet somewhat violent, crawl. On the other hand, maybe I just annoyed her because it was the end of her shift and she didn’t want to answer questions. But I don’t think my assumption was unnatural or weird; human beings tend to assume that an action was precipitated by whatever came just before it.

  13. Jane Galt
    Jane Galt January 13, 2007 at 10:07 am |

    And as I should have made clear, Silver Spring is the first non-transitional area I’ve lived in; hence “Suburban”. I’ve only been here for a week.

  14. Sniper
    Sniper January 13, 2007 at 10:23 am |

    My neighborhood is a middle-of-the-road as it comes and all the grocery stores take food stamps. Unfortunately, they’re a pain in the ass to use, at least from what I’ve seen. I’ve been lucky enough to never need this kind of help. The people I’ve seen use the food stamps don’t seem all that different from me – just more stressed out.

  15. soullite
    soullite January 13, 2007 at 11:21 am |

    It’s hard to take someone seriously on issues of equality if someone doesn’t know what EBT is. Seriously, if the only group whose equality you’re interested in is your own, you’re not interested in equality. You’re interested in self interest. the difference between someone who makes a moral decision and someone who makes a rational one is the difference between someone who can be trusted and someone who can only be trusted to look out for themselves.

  16. mythago
    mythago January 13, 2007 at 11:53 am |

    Without any dissing meant to Jane, I wonder how TJIC is so sure that he knows the minutae of Jane’s personal history.

    And you just know that if some other Jane had spent her teenage years as a welfare-reliant crack-snorting prostitute, had had six abortions, but then through a stroke of luck “pulled herself up” and gotten to where she is in life now, TJIC would be praising her and using her as an example of how all those other welfare recipients ought to do the same.

  17. jennie
    jennie January 13, 2007 at 12:03 pm |

    Ummm…I wouldn’t know what EBT means. It’s not that I’m uninterested in equality or poverty or making the world a better place. I’m from another country, where we don’t have Food Stamps.

    I didn’t know what the different symbols for kosher food meant until I dated someone who is Jewish, either.

    Doesn’t mean I’m not interested, just means it’s something I haven’t been exposed to.

  18. Hugo
    Hugo January 13, 2007 at 12:21 pm |

    Sigh.

    I know I get tiresome about OKOP/NOKOP. But one OKOP rule I haven’t shared: OKOP, being white and privileged, acknowledge the privilege with humility. We never confuse the good fortune of being born with the right skin color and into the right class with our own merits. We don’t get born on third base, as it were, thinking we hit a triple. (Was that Ann Richards?)

    NOKOP whites confuse privilege with personal virtue, which is what TJICistan seems to be dong.

  19. jennie
    jennie January 13, 2007 at 12:22 pm |

    So I just read Jane’s post and some of the comments, and I’m fascinated. See, I think Jane’s post was a personal reflection on how an interaction made her feel: not a political statement, really, not a condemnation of herself or of anyone else. But the commenters all took it, well, personally, as if Jane had somehow tarred them with the same brush, as if it was vitally important to them to that nobody call their blogger “racist,” not even the blogger in question.

    We’re all invested in seeing ourselves as “good” people, and we know that “racist” = “bad.” So what seems to happen is that people, knowing that they are not bad people, excoriate anyone who suggests that the people they like or read might not have been entirely successful in recognizing and addressing their own subconscious biases. Since Jane is these people’s friend and the object of their admiration, they turned their ire on Jill.

    Interstingly, Jane herself didn’t actually excoriate anyone. She merely reported on the incident and on how it made here feel. There was no call for anyone to judge anyone, yet her commenters rushed to her defense.

    Kinda weird, really.

    And what’s with all the calls to fisk Jill? Can’t these people do their own fisking, if they think someone needs it? (Not that I want a buncha whingey I’msonice people coming to jump up and down and call Jill angry for, you know, being angry about government stupidity, but dammit, if you think someone’s mistaken, you should damn’ well have the courage of your convictions and say so directly, not call your superbloggyfriend to go tell them off.)

  20. F-Words
    F-Words January 13, 2007 at 12:35 pm |

    Marking the poor

    Grocery stores around here treat it like a dirty little secret, keeping it so quiet that when someone is using it, the employee is likely to have to ask questions and slow down the progress of the line and in the process embarass the hell out of thei…

  21. kristen
    kristen January 13, 2007 at 12:44 pm |

    not everyone knows what the EBT acronym means. To use myself as an example, a few years ago when I first applied for Food Stamps (it’s hard being a poor college student) i didn’t know what it meant either. for the record it means “Electronic Benefits Transfer”.

    the EBT card, which works like an ATM card, is much more humane to use- no more pulling out those embarrassing paper stamps.

  22. johanna
    johanna January 13, 2007 at 12:46 pm |

    I shouldn’t have read that TJICistain post before having my coffee. I had to do a virtual tongue bite before unloading my unbecoming girl-anger all over the comments.

    But it goes something like this:
    Q: Why was johanna’s family on food stamps?
    A: Because johanna’s mom finally left her abusive husband after eleven years of being a good Catholic stay-at-home mom, you douche bag.

    People who think the poor are morally flawed make me sick, just sick. They’re just trying to get by and feed their kids and find decent housing and all they get is nonsense like that.

  23. liza
    liza January 13, 2007 at 12:47 pm |

    Jill, About the “ANGRYness” : Welcome to my world.

    Henry : You … You … You … You are what is all wrong about the United States. Economic charity is neither welfare nor a virtue. Economic charity serves a very specific economic purpose : to kill economic mobility. Welfare, on the other hand, is used to correct economic imbalances that would prove more costly to manage –economically and socially– if the government were not to interevene.

    Jane : Capitalists don’t send their kids to college so they can get a leg up in the world. Capitalists send their kids to college –and only the colleges that matter– for the networks of capital.

    Education is one of the myths about economic advancement in this country that really drives me nuts. If you want to go from a lower paying service job to a higher paying service job, then yeah, maybe getting a college diploma will help. Yet capital is capital is capital.

    Economic success has always hinged on the acquiring of capital and equity. Equity came to a lot of lower class european immirants during the post-war era in the guise of pension funds and suburban homes.

    For a whole generation of colored people, capital came in the guise of the social connections made through a college education. It was not the education what got colored social advancement. It was the access to people with capital (in all its shapes and forms) that allowed for social mobility.

    What astounds me about discussions like this is how much in denial are the american descendants of european immigrants.

    A lot of the ancestors of today’s white Americans were not considered white in the first place. Take the case of the Irish, they were not even considered good enough to have the privilege of being the servants of the landed or capitalist classes in this country –until there was a shortage of black servants in places like New York. Hence the rise of the Bridgets. Italians and Greeks, with their lack of English literacy, fared worse.

    Today’s descendants of Irish, Italians, Greeks, Germans were given opportunities not because your relatives deserved it as “Americans” but because it was part of a contractural agreement. Many of the men (and some women) in these groups of immigrants joined the US military forces because there was an economic incentive waiting for them in the guise of GI BIlls and 0-down mortages –if they came back alive. Many took the army contracts, like my Irish-American FIL. He had nothing to loose. The poverty he was mired in Pennsylvania during the 30’s and 40’s could not be worse than a foxhole in Okinawa.

    Yet the WW2 economic incentives for military indentured servants could never compare with economic reparations denied to grandchildren of African slaves.

    John Kenneth Galbraith understood this. He understood that there’s a matrix of social, political and economic forces too complex to distill into mathematical equations or simple government handouts. He understood that capital, if left unchecked, could destroy a country’s political and social infrastructure because the only responsibility of capital is to produce more capital.

    It’s because of JKG that we had a welfare system in the first place. It’s he reason why so many of the “scourge of Europe” were able to live their own “American Dream”. And it’s why he was an advisor to Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson.

    Too many whites with ethnic names bask in the glow of their whiteness because, I mean c’mon, who wants to admit their grandfathers or grandmothers came from a family of Polish/Russian/Albanian goatherders with no money in their pockets and who had to take all sorts of welfare and charity –along to selling themselves to a life of indentured servitude to maybe a sweatshop or two– in order to give their grandchildren the gift of an American Dream?

    But if the naysayers and haters of welfare were honest with themselves, you wouldn’t have people calling Jill angry in the first place.

  24. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 13, 2007 at 1:02 pm |

    My issue is with the idea that it’s my responsibility to provide for the poor, as opposed to an act of voluntary virtue, and that somehow I’m a selfish prick because I feel that I should have as much control over the money I earn as possible.

    “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

    Part of living in society is that we all end up paying for at least some things we don’t approve of. I don’t approve of the Iraq war and would prefer that not another dime of my money go towards it until they explain where the missing $1 billion in cash went to, but that’s not how society works.

    It’s bad for society as a whole for people to be starving in the street. It’s bad for society as a whole for kids to not get needed vaccinations. It’s bad for society as a whole for people to not be able to afford the childcare that would allow them to hold down a job.

    If you don’t want to participate in society, that’s fine — move off to a cabin in Montana and live off the land. But first, get off the internet that MY tax money helped pay for. I don’t mind that I paid for it until other people use it to whine about how the government is “stealing” all of their money to pay for useless things like streets and food stamps and the internet.

  25. lawbitch
    lawbitch January 13, 2007 at 1:21 pm |

    The Puritanism work ethic has been interjected into the class and race issues. The sacred American maxim is that if one only work hard and do what is right, one will be prosperous rather than poor.

    Younger children deal with death by a magical kind of thinking–that the deceased person somehow did something “wrong.” It allows children to project the cause of death away from themselves, making themselves less vunerable. I wonder if that’s what is going on here. If people needing assistance did something “wrong,” one can escape that fate by doing everything “right.” One can brush aside anxiety about the possibility of ever needing similar help. Then, that person feels less vunerable. It’s an illusion of control.

    The underlying premise is wrong. People who need assistance haven’t necessarily done anything wrong. Maybe there was an illness, an abusive situation, a layoff, etc. The truth is that any one of us could need assistance because of circumstances beyond our own contol. Projection because of anxiety does not make a person bad–it’s part of being human.

  26. Henry
    Henry January 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm |

    It’s bad for society as a whole for people to be starving in the street. It’s bad for society as a whole for kids to not get needed vaccinations. It’s bad for society as a whole for people to not be able to afford the childcare that would allow them to hold down a job.

    If you don’t want to participate in society, that’s fine — move off to a cabin in Montana and live off the land. But first, get off the internet that MY tax money helped pay for. I don’t mind that I paid for it until other people use it to whine about how the government is “stealing” all of their money to pay for useless things like streets and food stamps and the internet.

    That’s nice, how you put words in my mouth there. Did I object to tax money for roads and communication technology somewhere in there and miss it?

    Agreed, poverty is bad for society as a whole. We just a have a difference of opinion on how to try and reduce it. Fortunately for you, your chosen method means you really, really care and are therefore a better person than I. So now that we’ve got that out of the way, you can relax.

    All I’m trying to say is that society doesn’t owe anyone anything besides order and liberty, which is where we differ. You don’t have an entitlement to food and shelter just because you showed up to the party with the ability to exchange oxygen for CO2. As a civilized (supposedly) nation, we believe that we should, out of the goodness of our nature, help those who are less fortunate, and I’m fine with that. I just object to the idea it’s something we owe the poor, as opposed to a favor we’re doing to be charitable.

    Of course, I’m not sure how much of a favor we’re actually doing the poor, but I’m no expert on that sort of thing.

  27. jennie
    jennie January 13, 2007 at 3:09 pm |

    See, and Henry, I object to the notion that a person isn’t entitled to enough food and adequate shelter. Are people to be punished for being born into families that couldn’t provide these things?

    Moreover, I believe that the “order” that you say society “owes” is made much easier to establish when people are not teetering on the edge (or well over the edge) into desperation. Extreme poverty and degradation with little hope for improvement creates criminogenic conditions. Disenfranchised people have little incentive to participate in an “orderly” society if, buy ignoring society’s “orders” they can get a bit ahead. It’s no coincidence that levels of property crime and street crime are higher in areas that are unremittingly poor (i.e., slums). And it’s not that poor people are inherently more inclined to street crime. It’s that the conditions in which they live make them less invested in the “system” that is working against them, to keep them down.

    If we’re really interested in “order” then we need to work, as a soceity, to create conditions that foster good order, and enable all citizens to be invested in the systems of order and good government. Shaming them for being poor does not accomplish this.

  28. Auguste
    Auguste January 13, 2007 at 3:15 pm |

    Am I crazy, or do some people seem to be defending their ignorance of what EBT stands for as if that were under attack?

    Talk about missing the point.

  29. Auguste
    Auguste January 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm |

    By the way…

    I’m a

    dumb, privileged middle class white [person who] stayed in school, graduated, didn’t get [a woman] pregant, didn’t yell at [my] bosses for “dissin’ [me]”

    …and am just now beginning to claw my way back into the middle class.

    So go fuck yourself.

  30. Sara
    Sara January 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm |

    Agreed, poverty is bad for society as a whole. We just a have a difference of opinion on how to try and reduce it. Fortunately for you, your chosen method means you really, really care and are therefore a better person than I. So now that we’ve got that out of the way, you can relax.

    Has it occurred to you, Henry, that we have already tried that (for 200 years!) and that it didn’t work? Welfare doesn’t entirely work either, but an examination of poverty rates before and after Johnson’s war on poverty indicates that it did make a substantial dent in the levels of soul-crushing deprivation in this country.

    — ACS

  31. ACS
    ACS January 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm |

    That last post was actually me. I’m posting on my partner’s computer.

    — ACS

  32. Auguste
    Auguste January 13, 2007 at 3:24 pm |

    I guess technically I did get a woman pregnant, but not under the circumstances that douchebag was implying.

  33. mythago
    mythago January 13, 2007 at 3:41 pm |

    All I’m trying to say is that society doesn’t owe anyone anything besides order and liberty

    Did you happen to notice that “order” and “liberty” are opposites?

    You might also have noticed that providing for the poor and less fortunate is not merely a matter of being nice to others. It’s a cornerstone of a stable, organized society. You’re risking instability and violence if you have large numbers of people unable to have a decent standard of living; you are wasting human capital if you allow it to go to waste due to poverty and exploitation.

  34. liza
    liza January 13, 2007 at 3:54 pm |

    Hey Jill, I don’t do trackbacks anymore. So here’s a whole post expanding my comments here:

    Who benefits from the whitewashing of class?
    http://culturekitchen.com/liza/blog/who_benefits_from_the_the_whitewashing_of_class

  35. ako
    ako January 13, 2007 at 4:36 pm |

    Am I crazy, or do some people seem to be defending their ignorance of what EBT stands for as if that were under attack?

    From earlier upthread;

    It’s hard to take someone seriously on issues of equality if someone doesn’t know what EBT is. Seriously, if the only group whose equality you’re interested in is your own, you’re not interested in equality. You’re interested in self interest. the difference between someone who makes a moral decision and someone who makes a rational one is the difference between someone who can be trusted and someone who can only be trusted to look out for themselves.

    So there’s a bit of understandable defensiveness from people who don’t know what EBT is. I’ll be the first to confess that the reason I didn’t know what EBT is until I read this thread, is because I’m privileged enough to have been raised by middle-class parents, given a free college education by those parents, and gotten enough of the special government loans so that I can get a law degree while still being able to afford food, clothing, rent, and the various other necessities of life (and if anyone wants to castigate me for wasting government money, I’ll confess to buying chocolate, movie tickets, and the occassional drink).

    But there’s a fair distinction between not knowing a particular thing about food stamps because I’m privileged enough not to need them, and not caring about equality, not making moral decision, only having my own self-interest in mind, and only looking out for myself.

  36. Auguste
    Auguste January 13, 2007 at 4:38 pm |

    ako, you’re right, I didn’t see that. Thanks for pointing it out. For the record, I don’t necessarily agree with the comment you quote. EBT is relatively new and it’s okay to have an opinion on food stamps even if you’ve never had them…even a wrong opinion.

  37. Bruce from Missouri
    Bruce from Missouri January 13, 2007 at 6:07 pm |

    Not knowing what EBT is doesn’t mean that someone has class issues. After all, most people know what food stamps are. But if you haven’t been on food stamps, or a cashier in the last 10 years, why would you know? I dealt with food stamps as a cashier from 1991-1994, but I had to ask what EBT was first time I used my credit card at a grocery store, because EBT started in the mid-late 1990’s.

    Shorter Bruce: Everybody knows the concept, but not necessarily the terminology.

  38. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 13, 2007 at 6:11 pm |

    Did I object to tax money for roads and communication technology somewhere in there and miss it?

    You said that the government should pay for programs that you approve of. You don’t approve of the government supporting poor people, therefore you shouldn’t have to pay for it. That’s a child’s view of how government works.

    Again, you don’t get to pick and choose. And I, too, find it astounding that you don’t see any connection at all between poverty and crime, and that having extreme poverty makes it difficult to create that “order” you want the government to create.

  39. reddest
    reddest January 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm |

    Food stamps were so much better than EBT. With paper stamps, you could buy items that cost like $1.05, pay $2 in foodstamps, and get back 95 cents cash money in change. Do that enough times, and you can afford socks. But, what the hell, I lost my benefits during Clinton’s “welfare reform” anyway, so I never used the EBT cards.

  40. Hugo
    Hugo January 13, 2007 at 6:26 pm |

    I didn’t know about EBT. But I did wonder what had happened to the food stamps, which I hadn’t seen in a while. Of course that’s evidence of my privilege, but it isn’t necessarily a moral obligation to be aware of the delivery methods of benefits. It is a moral obligation to be concerned that those who need benefits get them without being stigmatized.

  41. zuzu
    zuzu January 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm |

    All I’m trying to say is that society doesn’t owe anyone anything besides order and liberty, which is where we differ. You don’t have an entitlement to food and shelter just because you showed up to the party with the ability to exchange oxygen for CO2. As a civilized (supposedly) nation, we believe that we should, out of the goodness of our nature, help those who are less fortunate, and I’m fine with that. I just object to the idea it’s something we owe the poor, as opposed to a favor we’re doing to be charitable.

    Of course, I’m not sure how much of a favor we’re actually doing the poor, but I’m no expert on that sort of thing.

    Henry, you’re in the military, right?

    Don’t they teach you any history there?

    The reason we have school lunch programs and general feed-the-poor plans is that, during WWII, there were a huge number of draftees who were 4-F due to malnutrition growing up during the Depression. Poverty and malnutrition, therefore, had a significant negative effect on military readiness.

    And given the sector of society a lot of the military comes from, it’s safe to say that there are a significant number of people in the military whose families used food stamps when they were growing up. It’s quite possible they might not have been able to join the military without that food assistance.

  42. liza
    liza January 13, 2007 at 7:23 pm |

    Amen zuzu, amen.

  43. Dan S.
    Dan S. January 13, 2007 at 8:06 pm |

    My issue is with the idea that it’s my responsibility to provide for [road construction/military spending/public education & libraries/Dept’t of Sanitation/etc.] as opposed to an act of voluntary virtue, and that somehow I’m a selfish prick because I feel that I should have as much control over the money I earn as possible. I’m all for private [see above], and the more, the better. The idea that I owe anyone anything is ridiculous. I didn’t cause [the need for (see above), I haven’t exploited anyone, and no one gave me or my family anything*.

    * You’re wrong, the degree of wrongness depending on your family’s history.

    On top of Just-society issues, these things are the *same* sort of thing.

  44. Older
    Older January 13, 2007 at 8:33 pm |

    Oh come on guys, I didn’t know what EBT stood for, much less that it had anything to do with food stamps, and I used to get foodstamps my ownself. It’s purely by luck that I don’t need them now; I’ve never been anything but scraping by, in spite of my excellent education which I have steadfastly refused to use to get an actual good-enough job. No, that’s not true, I had a very good job for years, but sudden and persistent illness wiped out my gains.

  45. PurpleGirl
    PurpleGirl January 13, 2007 at 8:41 pm |

    I first learned what EBT stood for in newspaper articles about the deal NYS was making with Citibank to be the clearing company for the transactions and the various rules and fees the ultimate users would have to follow and pay when they used the cards. So, to my mind, not being a user of the system is not a reason not to know how your government is actually implementing its programs. (Supposedly, using an EBT cards would teach people how to budget their purchases and keep track of the money, blah, blah, blah….) Besides EBT is related to EFT… everyone knows what that stands now, right.

  46. ks
    ks January 13, 2007 at 8:45 pm |

    And given the sector of society a lot of the military comes from, it’s safe to say that there are a significant number of people in the military whose families used food stamps when they were growing up. It’s quite possible they might not have been able to join the military without that food assistance.

    There’s also the fact that many military families qualify for foodstamps, etc. while serving. For instance, my sister (whose husband is enlisted in the AF) got both foodstamps and WIC when she had her babies. While her husband worked and they lived in base housing with reduced utility costs. Of course she’s now gone back to work and they don’t get assistance anymore, but her situation really isn’t all that uncommon.

  47. ks
    ks January 13, 2007 at 8:48 pm |

    That top bit should be in quotes, it’s from zuzu.

  48. mythago
    mythago January 13, 2007 at 8:51 pm |

    The reason we have school lunch programs and general feed-the-poor plans is that, during WWII, there were a huge number of draftees who were 4-F due to malnutrition growing up during the Depression.

    Also, we needed somewhere to put agricultural surplus.

  49. ako
    ako January 13, 2007 at 8:56 pm |

    So, to my mind, not being a user of the system is not a reason not to know how your government is actually implementing its programs.

    I’d heard of the cards, and thought the justification I’d heard offered (swiping a card is less likely to result in social stigma than pulling out food stamps) was a good one. The term EBT may have been in a newspaper article I read twelve years ago, but it didn’t stick. They were always described in conversation as “food-stamp cards” or “debit cards for food stamps” when the subject came up at all, which, since my family wasn’t on food stamps, and if my friends were they didn’t mention it, wasn’t often. So I’d say it’s fair to call someone who doesn’t know about them “not well-informed about the food stamp program,” but I’m not sure how much moral failure you want to attribute to someone not knowing the particulars of a specific issue or social program.

  50. Bruce from Missouri
    Bruce from Missouri January 13, 2007 at 9:34 pm |

    Besides EBT is related to EFT… everyone knows what that stands now, right. (Purplegirl)
    ****************
    Actually, I had to Google it. I’m a paper check guy myself. Once again, just because you are familiar with the concept doesn’t mean you are familiar with the terminology.


    “So I’d say it’s fair to call someone who doesn’t know about them “not well-informed about the food stamp program,” but I’m not sure how much moral failure you want to attribute to someone not knowing the particulars of a specific issue or social program”
    (Ako)

    **********
    Some people will find any reason to attribute moral failure to others

  51. Bruce from Missouri
    Bruce from Missouri January 13, 2007 at 9:40 pm |

    Food stamps were so much better than EBT. With paper stamps, you could buy items that cost like $1.05, pay $2 in foodstamps, and get back 95 cents cash money in change. Do that enough times, and you can afford socks. (reddest)

    Actually, my experience tended more towards people doing that to buy cigarettes, and 40 ouncers… I was glad for the EBT for that reason. I’m perfectly happy for my taxes to buy people food. Not so much to buy their cigarettes and alcohol.

  52. ako
    ako January 13, 2007 at 10:10 pm |

    “So I’d say it’s fair to call someone who doesn’t know about them “not well-informed about the food stamp program,” but I’m not sure how much moral failure you want to attribute to someone not knowing the particulars of a specific issue or social program” (Ako)

    **********
    Some people will find any reason to attribute moral failure to others

    Honestly, I’m not sure if the remark I was responding to was trying to say any such thing. I saw one remark earlier that looked like it was seriously suggesting that people who didn’t know about EBT were bad people, but I don’t know if PurpleGirl was going for that, or just arguing that there might be reasons to know that if you don’t get benefits.

  53. kate
    kate January 13, 2007 at 10:22 pm |

    Face it Henry, just like the other millions of men like you, you can’t stand the idea that you must sacrifice some control at some point.

    You get to keep a good portion of your earnings, the rest you surrender to the government as your civic duty to ensure not only your safety and security, but that of others as well.

    Because, as I have to say over and over again, your safety and security depends on the safety and security of others.

    Also, your attitude smacks of the male priviledge of our culture; that your god-given right to decide who shall and who shall not is trumped by your civic duty just galls you to no end.

    Tough.

  54. ellenbrenna
    ellenbrenna January 13, 2007 at 11:11 pm |

    Shhh if we are quiet Henry will go offline and we can go back to passing around the super secret code word that allows liberals to get out of paying any taxes at all and pushing it all on hardworking conservatives.

    I mean it isn’t as if we congregate in areas with high local and state taxes that pay for exactly the programs we advocate, no maam, we just make those silly white men pay for it all./snark

    None of this has anything to do with moral superiority it has to do with a belief in efficient mechanisms for addressing poverty. As stated above centuries of private charity and education did not work.

    I disagree with the contention that if citizens do not approve of food stamps and think they are ineffective then they can’t do anything about them.

    They certainly can repeal the laws that mandate them but notice that the Republicans had control of Congress for a number of years and did not exactly make it high priority. It is not because they give a damn about poor people they only care about channeling money to big agribusiness. If the Republicans actually gave a damn about the working man they might actually do something about subsidies and entitlements they run against constantly but they never do because they gain power by fueling resentment not by actually solving “problems”.

  55. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 13, 2007 at 11:35 pm |

    I mean it isn’t as if we congregate in areas with high local and state taxes that pay for exactly the programs we advocate, no maam, we just make those silly white men pay for it all./snark

    I pointed out to my libertarian/Republican dad one time that, yes, we have high taxes in California (where I live) but we get decent public benefits by doing so. He actually managed to make him stop, think, and say, “Uh, yeah, good point.”

    I disagree with the contention that if citizens do not approve of food stamps and think they are ineffective then they can’t do anything about them.

    I was more trying to point out the ridiculousness of saying, “I don’t agree with food stamps, so therefore I shouldn’t have to pay for them.” But, yeah, if citizens want to dissent and lobby to change things rather than sitting on their asses on the internet complaining about how the government is stealing all of their hard-earned money and giving it to poor people, more power to them.

  56. StotheL
    StotheL January 14, 2007 at 12:07 am |

    Oh my goodness, Henry’s in the military?? Good lord. Do you get BAH (basic allowance for housing), Henry? That accounts for about half of Hubby’s pay, and it is not taxed. At all. Then there’s the free health care, tax-funded, the food allowance, the dependent pay – that one cracks me up; I’m his “dependent” even though we make the same gross pay – all tax free and funded by other people’s taxes. That means that you, if I’m correct that you receive BAH, are telling American taxpayers what they are compelled to provide for you and your family. BURN!

    So come down off of the old pinto there, Henry. You shouldn’t feel guilty for having food and shelter, as you put it, but you should sure shut the hell up about the tiny fraction of your pay that goes back to folks who don’t.

  57. inge
    inge January 14, 2007 at 1:13 am |

    RE: “bad choices”: This harping that poor people made “bad choices” makes no sense at all. (Nearly) everyone makes “bad choices” now and then. You’d have to be incredibly lucky or omniscient not to do so, especially as the quality of many choices is obvious only in hindsight. The higher your class, the more bad choices you can afford to make. If you’re poor, you might not be able to afford a single one.

  58. Henry
    Henry January 14, 2007 at 5:41 am |

    That means that you, if I’m correct that you receive BAH, are telling American taxpayers what they are compelled to provide for you and your family. BURN!

    I get free stuff from the government because they are my employer, and I might get killed or get my fucking legs blown off in their employ. It ain’t charity. So yeah, I guess I’ve been burned good.

    I never said at any point that I shouldn’t have to pay taxes for things I don’t approve of. Not once. Again, putting words in my mouth. I also did not say that we should do away with all public assistance. If you note, I said that I’d prefer welfare to be handled at the state level rather than the federal. My issue, again, was with the entitlement mindset. I do prefer private charity or initiative over massive government programs where practical, yes. I don’t think the government is a very effective or efficient tool for social work. As far as private charity not working, I’m not sure what that means. It wasn’t working because poverty wasn’t going away? Poverty isn’t going away now either, and it’s never going to go away, I don’t care what you do. I’m pretty sure poverty is the default setting for humanity, and plus the goalposts tend to move. And as far as welfare being essential to reducing crime: really? How’s that working out so far? All those housing projects and subsidized housing the taxpayers built, are they garden spots of tranquility? Has the culture in the inner city benefitted from getting a check on the first of the month? Maybe you folks are right, I don’t know, but crime doesn’t seem to be going away either.

    What is the goal of welfare programs? I ask in all seriousness. Is it to provide a temporary measure for people to correct a disaster or improve their situation, or should it be a way of life? At what point has someone received all they should reasonably get? Or does anything less than unlimitted largesse from the treasury indict us as a nation of heartless scumbags? How much responsibilty do we all bear?

  59. car
    car January 14, 2007 at 6:20 am |

    A friend of mine was on food stamps for a couple of years, when he got his first job as a full-time high school teacher. He was devoted to educating children, but teachers in the area of the country he was tied to make little enough that they still qualified for food stamps and needed them to get by. How does that fit in your schemem of life, Henry?

  60. zuzu
    zuzu January 14, 2007 at 9:34 am |

    I get free stuff from the government because they are my employer, and I might get killed or get my fucking legs blown off in their employ. It ain’t charity.

    You might get your legs blown off, but your non-military dependents won’t. But the government — society really — has decided that making sure soldiers’ families are taken care of is a worthy goal. Just like making sure that everyone gets a sound basic education and has enough to eat. It’s a societal benefit.

    And as far as welfare being essential to reducing crime: really? How’s that working out so far? All those housing projects and subsidized housing the taxpayers built, are they garden spots of tranquility? Has the culture in the inner city benefitted from getting a check on the first of the month? Maybe you folks are right, I don’t know, but crime doesn’t seem to be going away either.

    I’m going to guess “inner city” is a codeword here, since plenty of white rural folks are on welfare.

    We’ll actually never know how well LBJ’s Great Society programs would have helped alleviate poverty, because the war was draining funding, and then Republicans started dismantling crucial elements of the War on Poverty. Reagan especially drove a stake into ending poverty with all his “welfare queens” talk.

    But by all measures, the War on Poverty and the other Great Society programs were having a positive effect on alleviating poverty and making the society more just.

    And Henry — I presume you mean, by your sneering about housing projects, to imply that poor, inner-city black people are animals who foul their own nests.

  61. wren
    wren January 14, 2007 at 9:42 am |

    It seems like the problem with state-based (rather than federally based) welfare systems is that it would decrease the variety in the area from which the program could draw. Take, for example, a state with a relative high percentage of sub-poverty level individuals, such as Louisiana. Are there really enough people with sufficient means in Louisiana who will pay enough taxes to provide for those of insufficient means? It seems like a bit of a stretch to assume so. Having a support system based on federal taxes helps maintain a relatively consistent level of assistance.

    Compare this to, for example, the public school system. I happened to go to a high school that had a major brewery within its district. Since breweries are taxed like mad, my particular school district was extremely well-funded. The surrounding school districts, however, not so much. While this worked out well for me personally, I tend to think it wasn’t actually the best idea to distribute the state capital in that instance.

    There are, of course, assistance programs funded on the state level. I lived in Vermont at one point, and know that my state taxes went toward funding local health clinics and similar services. So there’s definitely a local component, which means that if you truly object you can move to somewhere with less state-based assistance. Or, you know, actually get involved to change the system where you currently live.

    That’s the thing about democracies: sometimes you have to compromise because it’s what the majority of people think is best. I imagine there are probably people out there who would object to the way some of the federal funding of, say, the military is being used. That doesn’t mean we get to refuse to support the Iraq war; what we can do is adjust who and what we vote for.

  62. StotheL
    StotheL January 14, 2007 at 10:31 am |

    zuzu, you’re right about dependents like me not taking chances with our lives, though true dependents can lose their incomes if a military breadwinner is killed. But all military members – including those who work desk jobs, recruit, train, teach, and play in the band full time – receive tax-free pay and benefits. And they’re not risking their lives.

    Henry, you’re right, it isn’t charity. And the housing allowances and health care aren’t fair compensation either, that’s what base pay is for. The other benefits are designed, as others have said, to ensure that members of the military and their families have basic human rights – health care, food, and a place to live. Welfare, food stamps via EBT, and other nationalized social programs are designed to help other Americans get these basic human rights and in most cases, those who receive those benefits are either disabled or working full time. I really think that as long as you’re working for the government and receiving one of the best benefits packages in the country, you don’t get to bitch about the little (federal) tax you do pay funding some human rights programs for other Americans.

    By the way, I work for a private charity and I believe that individual generosity is key to a healthy society – more for the giver than the receiver. I pray for the day when private charities like mine can focus on disaster relief and preparedness, specialty care for special needs, job training, etc because people’s basic needs are being met by their society.

  63. BlackBloc
    BlackBloc January 14, 2007 at 11:50 am |

    What is the goal of welfare programs?

    Social control. FDR was backed against the wall and had to do something to preserve corporate capitalism against the powerful labor movement. The alternative to welfare was the victory of Labor. Socialism. Expropriation.

  64. Ms. Clear
    Ms. Clear January 14, 2007 at 12:16 pm |

    Really, the idea that private charity is best ignores history. No, Henry, poverty has not gone away with welfare. However, if you compare the rates of poverty in the early 20th century, even up until the 50s, you would find that they were FAR higher than the poverty rates in this country today (12% I believe).

    In the early 20th century, private charity was all that existed. It did not function any better than government welfare and the overall poverty rate was higher.

  65. mythago
    mythago January 14, 2007 at 2:37 pm |

    My issue, again, was with the entitlement mindset.

    That seems to be rather more a problem at the upper levels of society than the lower.

    At any rate, that’s not what you said; you’re backpedaling now. Sorry, thanks for trying.

  66. Henry
    Henry January 14, 2007 at 2:42 pm |

    I’m going to guess “inner city” is a codeword here, since plenty of white rural folks are on welfare.

    And Henry — I presume you mean, by your sneering about housing projects, to imply that poor, inner-city black people are animals who foul their own nests.

    Yes, there are plenty of rural white folks on welfare. I’m not sure of the statistics, but I’d imagine there are more poor, rural whites on welfare than inner city blacks. I was addressing crime rates, and the areas in this country with the highest crime rates aren’t poor rural areas (although I’d imagine that culturally it hasn’t helped much in the trailer park either). It wasn’t a codeword, I meant exactly what I said.

    As for housing projects, I wasn’t implying anything. It’s simply true that free stuff in the form of housing projects and the like hasn’t reduced poverty or improved the neighborhoods they are located in. I’m not sure how noticing that fact makes me a racist.

  67. Deborah
    Deborah January 14, 2007 at 3:18 pm |

    How does he know Jane didn’t get pregnant? (Keep in mind I know nothing about Jane; this is just an example.)

    Being middle class gives you, among other things, better access to birth control and abortion. A pregnant middle class teenager is less likely to get stuck than a pregnant poor teenager.

  68. PhoenixRising
    PhoenixRising January 14, 2007 at 5:21 pm |

    Of course, I could have been projecting–race in America often makes for insult taken where none is intended. I once had a man whose tie I’d been looking at abruptly say “What, never seen a black man in a museum before?” before stalking away; shocking me because I’m not sure I’d realised he was black before then. I’d wanted to get his tie (well, another one just like it) for my boyfriend.

    And that little story caused my fertile synapses to craft the first and probably last (I hope) connection between Jane and Eddie Murphy. Whose routine about being a traveling performer in the early 80s covered this interaction from the other side. He’d been warned that Texas was full of racists so when he got off the plane at DFW he was on the lookout when some cracker started in with him:
    ‘This yer bag?’
    ‘Mister, this yer bag?’ Finally the response:
    ‘What, a black man can’t have a suitcase?’
    Only to realize that he’s talking to…the skycap.

    Which is why Pam’s suggestion, that it’s always wise to keep talking about what we think we know about race, is such a good one.

  69. Lamia
    Lamia January 14, 2007 at 5:25 pm |

    “free stuff in the form of housing projects and like hasn’t reduced poverty or improved the neighborhoods they are located in”

    Then what? Just not have them available at all? That’s the attitude I’m getting from you, Henry. And that is disgusting. In many cities, projects are being torn down and replaced with high rise condominiums that are not aimed for low income tenants. Where will they go?

    Compare and contrast. Free housing with standard architectural safety codes and utilities or shanty towns with no plumbing or electricity with dwellings made out of corrugated metal and old rubber tires. Raw sewage running in ditches. Excretement in plastic bags and piled right next to the “houses”. Such settlements can be found in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East. These people are called “squatters” “refugees”. In reality they have no place else to go, and it is intolerable. Intolerable. Do you not understand that? And you begrudge your share in taxes that keeps American citizens from living in such conditions. Disgusting, that’s what your thinking is. Disgusting.

  70. PhoenixRising
    PhoenixRising January 14, 2007 at 5:28 pm |

    Is anyone besides me just exhausted by the faux-libertarian argument, ‘Welfare is failing the poor because the places poor people live are still violent and dirty’?

    Short response: Yeah, if welfare paid enough for poor people to live in a nicer neighborhood than I do, I’d be setting the TANF office on fire. But welfare is a crappy option that doesn’t offer poor people choices about where to live, what to feed their kids, what schools their kids attend, which doctor to see, etc. So yeah, the places poor people live tend to be violent and dirty. If you have choices, you’re not poor anymore.

    For instance, apparently Henry believes that inner city enclaves of welfare receipt have high crime rates and that if welfare were working as a hand up, crime would disappear in the inner city projects. Perhaps he would be surprised to learn that in Appalachia, rural areas have extremely high crime rates, (despite their blinding whiteness) as rate is a function of both incidence and population.

    However, crime rates aren’t UP in rural Appalachia since the War on Poverty, although pellegra rates are down. Crime has shifted into the production of drugs (weed and speed); also, mistreating your wife and kids in certain ways has become criminal behavior. Crime among the rural poor is epidemic, yet for some reason they’re not who you think of when you make the argument that welfare isn’t working.

    So you tell me: has welfare ‘failed the poor’ in Harlan, Kentucky? Or just Harlem? Rates of children with rickets have fallen in both places, and neither provides an environment in which I’d want to raise my kid. Then again, I have choices.

    For the moment.

  71. kate
    kate January 14, 2007 at 6:43 pm |

    Correction Please:

    There is no free housing. The HUD program offers subsidized housing units, usually rehabilitated high rises for elderly and disabled persons. Then there are housing projects, which the government is trying to get away from, some which are successful and some which are not and there is the Section-8 housing subsidy program which allows the tenant to choose their own unit on the open market. The landlord agrees to keep the apartment up to their building standards (which are higher than code) and to follow other stipulations, in turn landlord receives a subsidy and tenant pays only 30% of their income. The thirty percent formula runs through all housing programs; all tenants will pay 30% of their earnings or cash benefits.

    30% of $1200 may seem trifling to you Henry, but these people pay the same amount for other services that you do, with their smaller allotments.

    I know of housing projects that actually have a mix of populations and do not fit into the stereotypical mold of the crime hidden drug haven Henry and others like him wish to cling to. In fact, as of the early nineties, convicted felons or those convicted of a drug offense automatically do not qualify for public housing of any kind.

    Also, Henry, I was on the dole for two and a half years whilst my ex skirted around the country successfully dodging child support enforcement (which isn’t much of a task). I went to school fulltime, took care of my kids fulltime (they were school age) and also was an activist lobbyist. I also had to shuttle one of my kid’s back and forth to counseling sessions and care as he had severe emotional problems. But I wasn’t doing enough and was a burden to the state.

    When I finally brought my ex to court, on my own, on contempt charges for non-payment, guess what the feds did? They came in and scooped up every penny of the $4,000 owed to my children. Ain’t that grand? I was told it was for “repayment of AFDC” and that I signed off on it when applying, must have been a little bitty box, but then, when you have no food or money for the rent, one doesn’t have much choice.

    That’s the law Henry, every person on AFDC that has child support arrearage coming to them loses it to the feds once its recovered — in “pay back”. I’m sure though that the feds needed my $4,000 lest they go into bankruptcy, that the money came from their father — for their care, really doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things does it?

    Also, one final correction: since the inception of Ronnie Raygun’s Welfare Act of 1984, only women with children can get benefits and school/vocational training was mandatory and only for four year programs. Apparently that was a luxury wasted on the poor since Newt Gingrich and his thugs changed all that. Now women on welfare have to start working as soon as twenty weeks on the program, with mandatory preparedness classes and job searches to start right away. So even if you’re on the dole, you ain’t sitting around doing nothing. Oh and women can get their GED, which is a step in the right direction, but does very little toward getting a truly good earning job.

    Might I end also with the fact that welfare bitching isn’t really about the money, its about who’s on the dole; women. Black, brown or white, its about seeing women as not worthy of any public investment whatsoever, period.

  72. Henry
    Henry January 14, 2007 at 6:45 pm |

    Compare and contrast. Free housing with standard architectural safety codes and utilities or shanty towns with no plumbing or electricity with dwellings made out of corrugated metal and old rubber tires. Raw sewage running in ditches. Excretement in plastic bags and piled right next to the “houses”. Such settlements can be found in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East. These people are called “squatters” “refugees”. In reality they have no place else to go, and it is intolerable. Intolerable. Do you not understand that? And you begrudge your share in taxes that keeps American citizens from living in such conditions. Disgusting, that’s what your thinking is. Disgusting.

    Obviously my goal is to have people living in third-world conditions, because I hate the poor. Also, I spend my free time drowning puppies and kicking children.

    Who is this mythical person you’re talking to? And is it possible to have a discussion without imagining the worst motives for your counterpart, or extrapolating positions due to your own prejudice? Good lord. It’s not either or. I think the welfare system is broken, that perhaps there are better ways to handle things than the current way. That does not mean my fondest desire is to see starving people in the street. It must be very comforting to sleep at night knowing that only people who share your opinions are moral actors, and everyone else is a degenerate.

    Perhaps he would be surprised to learn that in Appalachia, rural areas have extremely high crime rates, (despite their blinding whiteness) as rate is a function of both incidence and population.

    Actually, yes it is surprising, in that I was unaware that crime rates were comparable. Not suprising racially though. I’m certainly not under the illusion that race is indicitive of criminal tendencies. As for whether or not welfare has failed the poor in rural areas, I don’t know. I haven’t spent enough time there to form any kind of opinion.

  73. kate
    kate January 14, 2007 at 6:48 pm |

    Not that a woman with kids ever can sit around and do nothing, I had to make that correction to my own writing.

    Also, I failed to mention that the worst slums in this country are and always have been privately owned property.

    As landlords usually participate actively in local politics and have the most available income (income=time) to effect favorable regulations and keep code enforcement departments under funded, most go from barely meeting to grossly violating basic code and health standards with little to no fear of damage to their wallets.

  74. Lamia
    Lamia January 14, 2007 at 7:29 pm |

    Oh, bravo. Henry doesn’t want the poor to live in third world conditions. He can freely admit that, because my use of hyperbole was so obvious. It’s so terrible, living in conditions like that, of course he wouldn’t want them to live that way.

    He still doesn’t think people deserve tax-funded help from the government, though. That’s just giving them free money.

  75. ako
    ako January 14, 2007 at 7:41 pm |

    I think the welfare system is broken, that perhaps there are better ways to handle things than the current way. That does not mean my fondest desire is to see starving people in the street.

    How do you want to fix it then? Keep in mind the following;

    – Every system in existence will have some cheating; the only way to eliminate cheating is eliminate the system.

    – Efforts to narrow who gets benefits in order to eliminate those you consider unworthy puts people in need of benefits at risk of being excluded.

    – Only having private charity leads to a lot more people falling through the cracks than a public governmental system. It simply can’t operate on the same scale in one country.

    – Sometimes spending more money can be better in the long run. Allowing someone to get a four-year degree leading to a career can be better for them, their families, and our economy than encouraging them to forget school and take a job scrubbing floors so that they’re working faster.

    – As mentioned, welfare has had some positive effects in improving health and nutrition, and reducing extreme poverty. It’s not fixing everything, but it has fixed some things.

  76. ks
    ks January 14, 2007 at 9:10 pm |

    Perhaps he would be surprised to learn that in Appalachia, rural areas have extremely high crime rates, (despite their blinding whiteness) as rate is a function of both incidence and population.

    However, crime rates aren’t UP in rural Appalachia since the War on Poverty, although pellegra rates are down. Crime has shifted into the production of drugs (weed and speed); also, mistreating your wife and kids in certain ways has become criminal behavior. Crime among the rural poor is epidemic, yet for some reason they’re not who you think of when you make the argument that welfare isn’t working.

    So you tell me: has welfare ‘failed the poor’ in Harlan, Kentucky?

    Heh. I grew up in southern WV and the crime rate there is pretty high, but it’s not the same kinds of crime that you’d find in inner cities. There isn’t so much the issue with gangs, drivebys, etc., but with other sorts of crime (rape and robbery are pretty bad around there, as are domestic violence and drugs). It also is just a very depressing area to live. Most of the people there who can get jobs have them, either very unsteady jobs (but good paying) in the mines or more stable, but very low paid, at Wal Mart, gas stations, etc. Even working full time, most everyong gets some kind of assistance, and it still isn’t enough. If you want to get anything other than basic necessities (i.e. fresh fruit or decent clothes), you have to drive nearly an hour, the roads are bad, the schools are terrible, the kids know that their only opportunities to get out are to either be a football star and get a scholarship (which maybe happens to one kid every 10 years or so in my town) or join the military (I was very lucky and worked my ass off for an academic scholarship and to keep it–I now live in the midwest and teach). So in addition to being poor, the system lets everyone know that poor=unworthy and what the people really need is hope. Which is something in really low supply. It’s home, and I love and miss the area and the people, but I’m glad I got out because there are no opportunities for me or my children there. And it’s gotten a lot worse now than when I was a kid.

    In fact, my husband (who was born in Sri Lanka but mostly grew up in Ethiopa, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria) commented when I first took him home to meet the family that he didn’t realize there were areas like that in the US. He actually said that it looked like something he would have seen growing up or in National Geographic.

    So, yeah, I’d say that welfare doesn’t really work. But I’d also say that the reason for that is that there isn’t enough assistance and people need more, not that there’s too much and there’s a culture of ‘entitlement.’ Like it was mentioned upthread, Reagan started gutting social programs like mad and the ‘welfare reform’ of the 90s pretty much finished the job, so there really isn’t much that can be said about whether the ‘War on Poverty’ could have succeeded as it wasn’t given a good chance to begin with.

  77. zuzu
    zuzu January 14, 2007 at 9:12 pm |

    Well, meth isn’t so much of an issue in inner cities as it is in rural areas.

  78. shannon
    shannon January 14, 2007 at 11:28 pm |

    *nod* Ancedote: I hear that there are often long waits for section 8 housing as many landlords don’t want to invest the work to make the units good enough for section 8 and so demand is greater than supply I think?

  79. MARes
    MARes January 15, 2007 at 2:31 am |

    Just in general, there is a tremendous sense of entitlement white middle class people feel toward service people like cashiers. Customers will take any excuse to run to the managers over very petty issues. My co-workers have been “reported” for things like wearing a shirt that says “God is dead” (It actually said “God is dead–Nietzsche, Nietzsche is Dead–God, but the customer didn’t get it), not initiating a conversation with the customer (she smiled and greeted the customer politely, then started scanning, our market measures our scan rates for all the diferent catergories and if we’re not scanning items fast enough, we get in trouble, we’re not getting paid to slow down and come up with sparkling topics of conversation), and appearing to be standing in her station dowing nothing when she had no line (what else is she supposed to do? Anyway, she was cleaning it).

    I’m only part time, but I don’t think it would be fun for a fully grown woman who’s been doing this for years to be called on the carpet because some people like to be jerks and make the lives of those who are obviously less well off than they unpleasant if they don’t feel they’ve been treated to their due of deference and servility. So I wouldn’t say it’s unnatural for someone to be extremely wary when a customer is asking questions, either.

    That does not mean my fondest desire is to see starving people in the street. It must be very comforting to sleep at night knowing that only people who share your opinions are moral actors, and everyone else is a degenerate.

    Then maybe you should choose your words more carefully. First nobody ever gave you anything but everyone else is stealing your hard earned money. Then, when it’s pointed out that you get a ton of government benefits, well, that’s fine because you’re entitled to them but what really bothers you is anyone who’s not you feeling entitled. You’re upset that the poor think they’re “owed” things like food and shelter, when the only thing the government owes anyone are the things that affect you, and if we do help them they should know it’s because we’re doing them a favor, not because they’re owed a damn thing. Call me crazy, but conceptualizing the poor as parasites who should be grateful for every mouthful we allow them to have out of the goodness of our charitable hearts doesn’t really suggest that you care whether or not we become a third world country. I hear they’re really good at creating order.

  80. Dan
    Dan January 15, 2007 at 3:11 am |

    The welfare issue really hinges upon the basic notion of what our obligations toward others are, and what obligations we take on beyond that toward other members of our society.

    As a baseline, first world governments and societies do not generally feel driven to relieve suffering outside of their borders.

    As the consequentialist philosopher Peter Singer pointed out in an article in the NYT Magazine a couple of weeks ago, we’re investing in designer clothes, flat panel televisions, tractor pulls and NASCAR races, fine art, hemi-powered V-12 engines, concert tickets, diamond engagement rings, Michelin rated restaurants, and endowed chairs in philosophy at Princeton, while all the resources going toward those things could prevent millions of children from dying of preventable illness or famine.

    Singer’s consequentialism, of course puts no stock in any differentiation between moral obligations to the guy sleeping on a sidewalk in front of your building, and moral obligations to people in Darfur. In fact, the analogy he repeatedly uses is that expending resources on personal luxury is akin to seeing a small child drowning in a shallow pond and not helping because you don’t want to get your sneakers wet.

    Personally, I am not a consequentialist, and I see no reason to value strangers’ welfare equally with my own or that of my family. I see fighting distant ills as a moral good, but not a moral obligation, and I feel no guilt about expending resources on pleasure despite my knowledge that those resources are desperately needed by someone, somewhere.

    In other words, while I acknowledge that it is unfair that a person’s opportunities may be circumscribed based on where they are born or who their parents are, or how much money their parents are willing to allocate, I don’t see that as a pressing issue in need of remedy, or, indeed one that is possible to remedy.

    I think social welfare within a society makes sense to a certain extent because desperation among the poor is extremely dangerous to everyone else within the society.

    A fairly significant amount of welfare remains more efficient than the additional investment in security forces necessary to maintain social stability without welfare. Political crime is very scarce within the United States, and I think, from the perspective of the elites, the political apathy of the poor is a very lucrative investment, since we can maintain a democracy without really significant turmoil from the bottom rungs of society that democratic structures can empower.

    Our two party system also tends to squelch the ideological poles to some extent, which is why there is not a really strong populist agenda being championed. I amm, incidentally inclined to see the recent Democratic surge as a rebuke from moderates to conservatives, rather than a mandate for liberalism.

    Beyond that, I think our social mobility engines really work, now that racial barriers have largely come down down and geographic mobility can be so fluid. When talented people are born into the the underclass, they don’t have to be stuck in the underclass, and they will wind up moving up and moving out, rather than remaining among the disadvantaged and organizing them into movements to promote change.

    Of course, it still sucks to be poor, but to change that would take a much greater commitment to fighting poverty than most people who aren’t poor would feel morally obligated to make.

  81. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 15, 2007 at 11:49 am |

    FOODSTAMPS, POVERTY, ETC…

    Let me start by saying I am a WRETCH:
    White
    Republican
    Employed
    Taxpaying
    Christian
    Heterosexual

    Yes – the bane of your existence, the caffeine in your coffee of hatred and disgust, the root of all evil in liberaldom. I’m amazed I can even access your website.

    As a kid, I worked in my parents Ma-n-Pa grocery store in a blue collar (at best) neighborhood – it was where we grew up, living above the store – so the customers were also our neighbors, our classmates, playground buddies and bullies, kids that came to our birthday parties, houses where we went for sleepovers, etc…

    We were NOT suburban, insulated, rich white folks, dad did what his dad did – owned a grocery store. Mom grew up in the 1930’s dirt poor with an alcoholic father and lived on a farm – working before and after school, and yes – walking 5 miles home from work after school. She knew poverty first hand and didn’t want us to know it beyond helping (volunteering, donating) those that were mired in it. But I digress.

    FOODSTAMPS. Every time they came out, the foodstamp families would descend like locust. Now, if they were there buying meat and vegetables and bread and milk and so forth – that would be great, and some – mostly the elderly – did just that. It was the woman across the corner with her 4 kids (with 3 last names) that would send her kids (5-11 years old probably) in one at a time wit ha $1 food stamp to buy 5 cents of penny candy – you know, sugar, empty, fat-making calories – and get 95 cents of change.
    After a few round trips, they would come in and drop $10 worth of change on the counter and ask for a $10 bill – US greenbacks. Then mom (usually drunk) or the boyfriend-du-jour (also drunk) would stagger in and buy cigarettes with the $10 bill we had given them for the $10 in change from $11 worth of foodstamps.

    THAT is how the system ACTUALLY works – fraud, cheating, etc. Of course, those kids are pretty much doomed to grow up and abuse the system like their mommy taught them too – oh yeah, just to clarify: they were all white too – just so you don’t assume I am racist or anything… ;~) Unfortuately, old Mary and her brats were the norm, not the exception. Of course, you could also find less reputable stores that would buy your foodstamps for 80 cents on the dollar from you, so fraud also infiltrates the stores that handle them, not just the families using them.

    POVERTY: I’ve been to India – THAT is poverty. “Poor” people here still have cable TV, cars, plumbing, free education (for what it is worth) and about 6 different “safety nets” to support them. Poverty here is NOTHING compared to India, or Venezuela, Mexico, and other third world places I have been to personally.

    I know you’re all firing up the “blame the victim” retort – so let me shift blame: LBJ. the war on poverty launched by the worst President (Jimmy Carter is a very very close second) of the 20th century ended up adding millions to the poverty rolls by robbing them of their dignity in exxchange for dollars; replacing the father with the government – the same idiots that take your drivers license photo are raising millions of children – how’s that grab ya?

    As for fat poor people? amazing – I’ve never seen a fat poor person in India, the Phillipines, South Africa or elsewhere… only in America do we have fat poor people. I don’t know – but maybe part of being fat is being lazy? not just buying crap food with food stamps? call me crazy.

    It does not “take a villiage” – maybe it does in Africa, where civil war and tribal vengeance and disease and so forth kill half the villiage and leave orphans everywhere – but here and in the developed world, it takes a mother and a father and a work ethic, and not much else. you know it is true, the sad thing is, the gov’t has trained millions of us to reply on them, not on themselves – that is the true poverty here.

  82. Violet Crazy Girl
    Violet Crazy Girl January 15, 2007 at 12:37 pm |

    All I’m trying to say is that society doesn’t owe anyone anything besides order and liberty,

    I agree with this, as it happens. (Actually, small quibble, I think the “order” bit is redundant.)

    Now define liberty.

  83. BlackBloc
    BlackBloc January 15, 2007 at 1:30 pm |

    We were NOT suburban, insulated, rich white folks, dad did what his dad did – owned a grocery store.

    Isn’t it fun when someone self-refutes themselves in a single sentence?

    I suppose you have never conceived the amount of middle class privilege it takes to be well-off enough to own a damn store in the first place.

  84. ako
    ako January 15, 2007 at 1:55 pm |

    amazing – I’ve never seen a fat poor person in India, the Phillipines, South Africa or elsewhere… only in America do we have fat poor people.

    What parts of the Philippines were you in? How long? How well did you know the country? What years were these?

    Because I spent a couple years there, and I saw a fair portion of people who were poor and overweight. Not starving on the street, but the kind of poverty where they were worried about how many years they could keep their kids in school, if they had any chance of providing medical care in an emergency, and if they’d be able to use electric light bulbs and cook with gas that month. Sometimes they couldn’t and they’d break up whatever old cardboard and firewood they’d find to cook dinner, and make the kids walk an hour home from school (because the ten cents it took to take a pedicab home was too much to spend every day) then do homework right away, before it got dark. Some would only be able to send the younger kids through school by pulling the oldest out and making them work. Some would be able to send nearly all the kids to school, but couldn’t afford the twenty cent daily round trip fare for a disabled child who couldn’t walk the distance.

    A lot of the poor and overweight Filipinos I knew were women, who’d eat rice with a splash of soy sauce, or sugar, or Pepsi on it, and give all the fish and vegetables to their children. I also knew a little girl who was raised perpetually hungry on a diet of almost nothing but sweet potatoes and rice. She looked quite chubby for her height, which was extremely short for her age. When given access to decent food, she ate all of the time, and got visibly slimmer, because she was eating mostly nutrients instead of mostly carbs. And before she’d gotten a chance to eat decent food, she’d been crying with hunger every night. But you probably wouldn’t have spotted her as a poor person at first glance, since she wasn’t lying in the street, begging.

    “Poor” people here still have cable TV, cars, plumbing, free education (for what it is worth) and about 6 different “safety nets” to support them.

    A lot of the poor people I knew in the Philippines had TVs. Even many of the squatter families. I saw a house where people who were living in a plywood shack on stilts in the river because they’d been chased off every piece of land in the city (I followed local politics on this, and the city government couldn’t evict them from the river since it wasn’t legally property of any one person), and they had a television, a VCD player (video cds, a popular alternative to DVDs in some parts of Asia) and a collection of VCDs. They probably could have sold all of that, of course, but they weren’t that desperate for food money yet, and it wasn’t worth nearly enough for them to get property or anything else that would boost them up the economic ladder.

  85. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm |

    Isn’t it fun when someone self-refutes themselves in a single sentence?

    I suppose you have never conceived the amount of middle class privilege it takes to be well-off enough to own a damn store in the first place.
    — ——–
    I don’t suppose you consider the lack of resolve, drive and direction it takes to remain mired in poverty generation after generation in a nation with the opportunity and access like no other on earth. just sit back, watch TV and let the government money and cheese roll in… how sad and pathetic, and what a damning commentary on those who allow it to continue. Hell has a special corner for those who keep the poor in their poverty by robbing them of the self respect and dignity that is inherent in every human being, telling them they cannot succeed because they were born poor, or black, or to a single mom, or… telling them that the government will take care of them because they cannot take care of themselves – never allowing them the opportunity to take care of themselves and earn the self respect that comes with that…

    Oh – gee… my grandfather graduated highschool, started selling brushes door-to-door, then shirts, saved, skimped and worked to get a lease deal to run an existing store – he didn’t own his own store for years. My dad graduated high school, served in the Army, worked for his dad (just like me and my siblings) and did the same thing – saved, saved some more, and then opened his store as a lease deal from an existing owner before buying it out-right 2 years later on the other side of town from grandpa.

    shove your “middle class privilege” crap – my great grandpa was a carpenter before my grandpa went into the grocery store business, my mom grew up on a farm and shared a bed with her sisters, chores, school, job after school when older, etc… dirt poor but a hard worker, determined. they were working class, not managers, not owners – not until grandpa owned that first store.

    I’m very thankful that my parents – well – first of all, that I had both of them – but moreso that they were honest, hard-working and dedicated. The worked their way into the middle class, they never waited for someone else to give it to them. And they instilled in us a work ethic and a moral compass, teaching us to work for what we wanted, to be honest in our endeavors, and in so doing, we would be successful.

    PHILLIPINES: 1997, Mindanao (and of course Manilia) – local economy tied to sugar fields and sugar mills, and of course, the lovely ‘religion of peace’ people running around there too, always causing all sorts of problems.

    INDIA: 1998, Calcutta – Orissa / 1999 Bombay – Surat / 2000-01 Calcutta – Orissa. I’d love to take the American Poverty Pimps (multi-millionaires like Jesse Jackson) to Calcutta’s train station and show them what REAL poverty is – it is mind-bending, gut-wrenching… the stench, the sights, the utter surrealism of it… once you see that, your compass on ‘poverty’ gets re-set.

  86. mythago
    mythago January 15, 2007 at 4:53 pm |

    Hell has another special corner for people who think that the only difference between being rich and being poor is that if you weren’t lazy and spoiled, you’d be rich.

    My parents, too, worked their way out of poverty. And I’m thankful that they taught me not to crap on people who had worse luck than they did, or who busted their asses and had it come to nothing. They also taught me that you get to the finish line a lot quicker when you start out with a 50-yard lead over the rest of the pack.

    Oh, they also taught me that you have an obligation to give back, instead of wallowing in your own privilege and sneering how you’ve got yours, Jack.

    As for poverty being worse in the rest of the world, I doubt that some of the poor families I work with–the ones who dive to the floor of their living rooms when the shooting starts outside, the ones whose teeth fall out because they can’t afford a dentist, the ones whose kids will never go to college because their kids’ schools are snakepits–I doubt that they are patting themselves on the back and saying “Hey, it could be worse! We could be living in a Mumbai slum!”

    So, Cin, kindly shove your “boo hoo they’re just lazy and love the gubmint cheese” self-congratulatory crap up your well-fed ass. Maybe the shock will get it through your head how little your attitude does to help a single person out of poverty.

  87. BlackBloc
    BlackBloc January 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm |

    I don’t suppose you consider the lack of resolve, drive and direction it takes to remain mired in poverty generation after generation in a nation with the opportunity and access like no other on earth.

    Such opportunity and access that you are admitedly only successful because you are third generation entrepreneurs, and both your grandparents and parents had to suffer and toil horribly to get what is their right by birth.

    We can now procede to blame all of today’s poor because they didn’t have the foresight to be born into third generation wealth.

  88. ako
    ako January 15, 2007 at 6:29 pm |

    PHILLIPINES: 1997, Mindanao (and of course Manilia) – local economy tied to sugar fields and sugar mills, and of course, the lovely ‘religion of peace’ people running around there too, always causing all sorts of problems.

    Interesting. I was mostly in the Visayas. I heard you get more extreme poverty around Mindanao. In Manila, it’s eye-popping. People on the street everywhere, with nothing but a sheet of cardboard so they don’t have to lay on bare pavement. They’d probably consider the shanty-dwellers in Iloilo City lucky for being able to build a tin shack in the middle of the river, and not have it bulldozed.

    I lived in the same place for a couple years though, and talked to some of the Filipino working poor. I heard about their concerns and their lives, shopped in the village markets where they shopped, and saw the schools where their kids went, if they could afford school. And I found out that a lot of the extreme, starvation-level poverty came about when the people on the margins, who had food and shelter and jobs, and could put their kids through elementary school and at least some high school had a crisis. There wasn’t much of a safety net, and not many people knew about the help that was there. So if something went wrong for the people who looked too fat, and had to much stuff in their house to fit your idea of poor, there was a good chance they’d either go to the city chasing opportunities and wind up starving on the sidewalk, or stay where they were and starve in their homes.

    shove your “middle class privilege” crap – my great grandpa was a carpenter before my grandpa went into the grocery store business, my mom grew up on a farm and shared a bed with her sisters, chores, school, job after school when older, etc… dirt poor but a hard worker, determined. they were working class, not managers, not owners – not until grandpa owned that first store.

    My great grandfather was a coal miner who was crushed to death in a mine accident. My grandfather wouldn’t have had a hope of college if not fo the GI Bill. He fought in World War II, went home, got an engineering degree, and gave his kids a better life. That’s an incredible accomplishment of his, but doesn’t say anything about how hard I work, or what I deserve.

    My mother got a math and computers degree while raising three kids and working part-time flipping burgers to help out financially while my dad worked full time in hardware. And this is back in the early eighties, when everyone had to line up for computer-lab time because almost no one had a PC. Some of the professors sneered at her for being a woman and a mother in computer courses, but she got her degree, and the good jobs it earned her. My dad worked his way up through sheer talent from carrying lumber to upper managment in the hardware business. They both worked tremendously hard, and earned what they got and what they could provide for their kids. I didn’t earn it, though.

    I got to go to the good public schools in the wealthy district where civic-minded citizens ensured that I got languages and music in elementary school, and could do Talented and Gifted activities. I had music lessons, and swim lessons, and summer camps, and horseback riding lessons, all paid for by my parents. I got a college education without having to spend a dime of my own money. My parents let me stay with them for several months when I was waiting for law school to start. And the government is giving me special low-interest loans to pay for my graduate education. That’s middle-class privelege. What my parents and grandparents earned isn’t what I earned, but it’s what I have. And if your family’s as hard-working as you describe them, I imagine they gave you a leg up as well.

  89. Dan
    Dan January 15, 2007 at 8:12 pm |

    Isn’t it fun when someone self-refutes themselves in a single sentence?

    I suppose you have never conceived the amount of middle class privilege it takes to be well-off enough to own a damn store in the first place”

    Very little. Immigrants come in with nothing but the shirts on their backs and manage to have little bodegas.

    50 years ago, when the bank was local and credit decisions were made locally, a family of modest means, with no history of defaulted loans, which willing to pour all its credit into the store (living in the store means no rent and no home mortgage) coul get the startup cash.

    It takes very little “privilege” to become a small business owner in this country. Plenty of people from relatively poor backgrounds, with high school diplomas or less run contracting businesses and diners across the country.

    Poor people can still get credit. In many cases it becomes a trap rather than an opportunity, but it is available.

  90. mythago
    mythago January 15, 2007 at 8:30 pm |

    It takes very little “privilege” to become a small business owner in this country

    It takes a lot more than the shirt off your back to stay a small-business owner. Hard work doesn’t make bad luck go away and doesn’t stave off crime. It also doesn’t keep your kids safe while you’re working those 15-hour days in the store.

    Oh, and those ‘bodegas’? I think you mean the tiny liquor stores that are ubiquitous in poor urban areas, and which charge far more for basic goods than supermarkets.

  91. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 16, 2007 at 9:02 am |

    Mythago and BlackBloc:

    you assume – wrongly – that because I don’t think the government should be in the child rearing and family finance business that I think poor people should just be left to die in the streets – you know, like they are left in Calcutta and Mumbia. So let me set you straight with a parallel story: the United Way, me and my CEO.

    I loath the United Way – my ex CEO, multi-millionaire, riddled with rich white guilt, was the county chair one year, so we were all thumb-screwed into ‘fair sharing’. I resisted, for my recalcitrance I was awarded a meeting with the CEO who informed me – like you – that I was a horrible human bieing who did not care about the community. When he was done, I asked him a few questions:
    1 – go to church? he didn’t, I do – every week
    2 – tithe? obviously not – I do – twice a month
    3 – teach kids as a volunteer? (BSA and other organiztions) nope. I do, about 36 weeks a year.
    4 – volunteer with Red Cross or similar? yes, he had. me too.
    5 – donate to missionaries in the 3rd world? nope – hadn’t. I do quarterly.

    so – he cuts a check once a year to the United Way and that clears him for the rest of the year from having to do anything. How nice: Mr. once-a-year telling me that I don’t give a crap when he does nothing all year long – Oh, heading a county UW drive is a big responsibility, but he didn’t do it so much for helping people as he did to help himself – it’s a great way to meet other white-guilt-riddled rich white CEO types and pat each other on the back…

    Frankly, this whole nation will have it’s reckoning because we are a nation unlike any other in the history of mankind: blessed beyond the wildest dreams of our founders, rich with opportunity and with goods and freedoms unlike and surpassing even those of our Western European relatives from whom sprang our nascent Democracy 200-plus years ago. We take for granted what millions – billions – of people struggle for daily elsewhere in the world.

    There are poor people here, but teaching a man to fish does more to help him out of poverty than giving a man a fish – then they are like Pavlovian Dogs, salivating at the mail truck on the first of the month. for 40 years liberalism has taught the poor that only the government can help them, that they are poor only because the deck is stacked against them, that’s crap.

    Ako said immigrants come here with nothing and end up owning their own business – that’s because where they come from – Nigeria, Vietnam, India, Mexico – where ever it may be – they had to work to survive, and they had to hope that some corrupt cop didn’t take half of what they earned, or that a rival tribe didn’t hack them to death for being a Hutu or Tutsi, that is why in Philly the US-born blacks hate the African born blacks – because they come here from Africa and work and become sucessful, making the race card hard to play. oops – that wasn’t very politically correct of me…

    It was wrong to relinquish to the government that which family and community, church and synagogue, Red Cross or YMCA, and so forth used to do – and do much more successfully. LBJ’s poor decision making and poor policy making has trapped and doomed millions into a cycle of poverty – poverty of their souls and of their wallets.

    I was not born into wealth – I was born into a working family that put an emphasis on education and hard work. Foodstamp Mary; her kids were not so fortunate – her kids were born into a family that emphasized what you deserve from the government and how to play the system. No matter how you cheat the system, you stay poor – but nobody in the government points that out to them because if they become free from the government leash, then they won’t vote for the democrats anymore.

    have a nice day.

  92. zuzu
    zuzu January 16, 2007 at 10:56 am |

    so – he cuts a check once a year to the United Way and that clears him for the rest of the year from having to do anything. How nice: Mr. once-a-year telling me that I don’t give a crap when he does nothing all year long – Oh, heading a county UW drive is a big responsibility, but he didn’t do it so much for helping people as he did to help himself – it’s a great way to meet other white-guilt-riddled rich white CEO types and pat each other on the back…

    I note that you dismiss this guy’s volunteer efforts and fundraising for the UW as so much liberal white guilt (and refuse to acknowledge his volunteer work for the Red Cross), yet you count your own churchgoing and tithing as big marks in your favor about how much you put into the community.

    Interesting.

  93. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 16, 2007 at 12:29 pm |

    um – I said that heading up the UW was a big task, to be sure, but I seriously question his motivation for doing it. As I recall, his Red Cross effort was Cincinnati’s 1999 tornado that hit fairly close to his neighborhood and fairly close to our office.

    my point about him and “RWLG” was that he did not take time / make time throughout the year to do things, but rather took the opportunity of a once a year pledge drive to assuage any guilt over 364 days of inactivity by cutting a check – and yet looked down his nose at me for refusing to give in to the corporate blackmail that is UW fund raising.

    My point to him was that I did give a crap and volunteered and donated throughout the year, consistently and constantly. He didn’t care about that – he only wanted the 100% company-wide donation rate to get the atta-boy’s back at UW HQ.

    sorry for any confusion.

  94. Blitzgal
    Blitzgal January 16, 2007 at 12:34 pm |

    So, Cin is able to describe ONE individual who abused the foodstamp program and with this anecdotal evidence decrees, “THAT is how the system ACTUALLY works – fraud, cheating, etc.” Wow. I’m surprised s/he didn’t trot out the Reagan “welfare queen” trope and had foodstamp Mary driving a Cadillac.

    Welfare benefits granted to the poor are a drop in the bucket when compared to the amount of money given in no-bid contracts to corporate cronies, bankruptcy bailouts, government subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare. But clearly it’s easier to hate and revile poor people than a faceless corporation.

  95. zuzu
    zuzu January 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm |

    um – I said that heading up the UW was a big task, to be sure, but I seriously question his motivation for doing it. As I recall, his Red Cross effort was Cincinnati’s 1999 tornado that hit fairly close to his neighborhood and fairly close to our office.

    Well, he could certainly question your motivations, too. Certainly, one could question your inclusion of tithing to your church as evidence of your big-heartedness — doesn’t that benefit you and your circle? And your example of teaching kids through the BSA — presumably, you have a kid in one of the troops. That’s close to you, too.

    You’ve certainly not demonstrated that you’re above reproach.

  96. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 16, 2007 at 4:00 pm |

    zuzugals:

    I’m really not concerned about your reproach, to be quite honest – my kids were not in the programs I volunteered for, so.. nya nya nya nya nyaaa nya…. and I don’t think missionaries in India count as “close to my circle” last I checked…

    foodstamp Mary was one of MANY customers we had that ABUSED the system. We were investigated by the state because we had so many food stamp trade-ins for the volume of business we did. (they thought we were buying them at a discount for cash and sending them in, as others had done). Dad explained what was going on, the guy shrugged it off, and we made a sign saying: “no food stamp purchases for less than $0.50″ we were told we could not do that – it was discrimination or some sort of stupidity. so the penny candy parade continued, unabated. Ask anybody that deals with the program – it’s a boondoggle.

    if you think that ANY government subsidized program is NOT wrought with fraud, you’re an idiot – look at the BILLIONS of wasted money on Katrina relief.

    you’re right about corporate cronies too – Pelosi just pushed through a minimum wage hike, but exempted American Samoa… why? because STARKIST Tuna is the #1 employer there, and their HQ? in Pelosi’s district… and Mr. Pelosi? owns millions in their stock (Del Monte owns Star Kist, Heinz – as in Mr John Kerry Heinz and Therezzza) owns a majority of Del Monte – so … no minimum wage hike for them…. gotta love it. but hey, they’re dark skinned Samoans, so who cares if they toil with fish in the hot sun all day for $3.60 and hour? right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  97. piny
    piny January 16, 2007 at 4:06 pm |

    Well, I guess they couldn’t all troll Pandagon.

  98. mythago
    mythago January 16, 2007 at 4:17 pm |

    because I don’t think the government should be in the child rearing and family finance business

    I await your clarion call to abolish subsidized school lunches and tax deductions for dependent children.

    You were indeed born into wealth. Your parents and grandparents worked their asses off so you could sit on your government-subsidized ass and criticize people whose birth circumstances weren’t as lucky as yours.

    You kinda tipped your hand with the “our Western European” ancestors thing, by the way. Might want to skip over that next time.

    but teaching a man to fish does more to help him out of poverty than giving a man a fish

    It doesn’t do a damn bit of good when all the fish ponds near him are polluted and he can’t afford a pole.

  99. Livin in Cin
    Livin in Cin January 16, 2007 at 4:50 pm |

    I await your support of school vouchers to take these inner city kids out of the “snake pit” schools they are stuck in… oh wait – can’t do that – the Not Educating Anybody union won’t allow it, and we need “poor and stupid” as a key voter base….

    indeed born into wealth.. yeah… I was not born into poverty, but I was born into working class, middle class. dad worked 14-16 hrs a day, so anything we made or enjoyed, was through sweat and tears – not inherited – you know, like a Bush or Kennedy… I was working the store by age 8, like my siblings before me.

    I was wondering if anybody would take that “Western European” bait – I was chuckling as I wrote that… sorry for having the best combination of socio-economic systems – capitalism, democracy and religious freedom – in which to develop a society… I’m sure you probably have one of those Che T-shirts, probably sad that Fidel Castro is one day closer to hell… right? he’ll be dead in a month or so.

    lots of people spear fish or make nets – improvise… don’t wait for the government (who was the racist that wrote ‘gubmint’ earlier, by the way?) to give you a pole too!!! holy mackerel!!

  100. zuzu
    zuzu January 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm |

    I don’t think missionaries in India count as “close to my circle” last I checked…

    Sorry, are you feeding them or converting them?

    you’re right about corporate cronies too – Pelosi just pushed through a minimum wage hike, but exempted American Samoa… why? because STARKIST Tuna is the #1 employer there, and their HQ? in Pelosi’s district… and Mr. Pelosi? owns millions in their stock (Del Monte owns Star Kist, Heinz – as in Mr John Kerry Heinz and Therezzza) owns a majority of Del Monte – so … no minimum wage hike for them…. gotta love it. but hey, they’re dark skinned Samoans, so who cares if they toil with fish in the hot sun all day for $3.60 and hour? right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    You might want to look up what your boy Tom DeLay got up to in American Samoa with Jack Abramoff. Forced abortions and slave labor, stuff like that.

    And you might think about providing a non-wingnut link showing that American Samoa was exempted for this reason and not for the reason that it has long been exempted from federal wage and hour laws.

  101. zuzu
    zuzu January 16, 2007 at 5:04 pm |

    Actually, don’t bother answering. You don’t meet the minimum requirements for pet trolls around here.

    Buh-bye.

  102. Henry
    Henry January 16, 2007 at 8:55 pm |

    Umm.. what are the minimum requirements? I’m doing my best not to offend, but I figure if I stick around at all I’ll get painted with the brush eventually. Are there any guidelines I need to know about?

  103. zuzu
    zuzu January 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm |

    Don’t be an asshole.

    That’s a good place to start.

  104. BlackBloc
    BlackBloc January 17, 2007 at 11:49 am |

    Hey, if they can count their church tithe as charity, can I count my union dues? How about the dues I pay to my anarchist federation? At least these two organisations have better track records than religions when it comes to spending my money on helping people rather than increasing their temporal power and influence.

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