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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Praise of Welfare Queens

Are conservatives born hypocrites, or do they study to become so? Consider the frequent outrage visited upon those individuals who accept government welfare via the food stamp, WIC, or similar government programs. From whence comes this outrage? Are not the people who scream about welfare also the same people who burble with praise at the new highs the stock market has reached? And therein lies the hypocrisy.

What has the Bush-Obama "Quantitative Easing" (tm) nonsense accomplished? That money was not sent in checks to taxpayers. It was ladled out to banks and corporations, who promptly used it to inflate stocks and real estate prices. Given the economy, do you really think the endless rise of the stock market to repeated new highs since 2009 actually has anything to do with the underlying fundamentals? Seriously?

All that money had to go somewhere. It went into bidding up the price of existing assets - this is called asset inflation.  How is the rise in my stock portfolio NOT the result of government welfare? How is it NOT government money poured directly into my 501K in one of the most enormous contribution matching programs in the history of the country? Anyone who has a home loan at under 5% is receiving government welfare. The federal government does, after all, set the interest rates.

Same goes for Social Security. I will take out more than I ever put in, as my parents did before me. It was always and will always be a Ponzi scheme. It is accepting a government welfare check. But who turns it down?

Do you think Con Agra, Shell Oil, or any other large corporation got where they are by refusing to take government subsidies? How many colleges - many of whom employ professors preaching against welfare - have fattened their coffers and continuously raised the price of their tuition at rates far exceeding inflation? How do you think they managed that? That's right: it is due solely and only to the government welfare checks they receive in the form of government education grants and loans.

Everyone takes government welfare, but the high and mighty launder the money. They look down their noses at those who receive it via a direct government check. The rich much prefer that their welfare checks first be laundered through their stock market picks or corporate subsidies. That way, they can pretend they actually had something to do with the rise in the value of their chosen asset. It makes them feel important, smart. But it is government welfare, all the same.

How to Earn Your Welfare Check
200 years ago, if my only skill was knocking a small white ball into a hole in the ground, I would have starved. Today, I would be paid millions for my golf game. If it was a large orange ball that went through a hoop, it would be millions for basketball. There is no rhyme or reason to why these skills pay millions today apart from the fact that people perversely enjoy watching someone else do it.

But there are all kinds of skills that are worth money. Perhaps you're good at filling out paperwork. That might win you a lot of college scholarships. You might make a profession out of it as a grant writer. Or that skill might win you a lot of welfare checks. As long as you didn't lie when you filled out the forms, where's the moral problem here? It's a skill. It brings joy to thousands of mid-level government bureaucrats. Those lovely men and women feel like they are doing a very nice thing by getting you your welfare check after you successfully pass their vetting. In fact, without you they wouldn't have jobs. They need you in the same way that the people who run a scholarship trust need college applicants. The same way that grant-funding organizations need grant writers.

If Keanu Reeves can earn millions for acting (which I still don't understand how that's possible - Reeves must playing to a very niche audience), then why can't a welfare queen earn millions for pleasing a different niche audience, government officials?

I hate Keanu Reeves acting, you hate the welfare queen's paperwork skills, but somebody somewhere really likes both of them, which is how they earn their money. As long as no one is lying, there is nothing wrong with that. It's like winning a scholarship for left-handed red-heads. Luck of the genes, but you still get the money, right?

And why shouldn't you? You're red-headed and you're left-handed. The money was set aside for anyone like you who had the sense to fill out the form.

Whose Money?
But consider further. Once Keanu or I actually get that money for our respective skills, who are you to tell either one of us how to spend it? We earned it, him by acting, me by filling out the forms. It may have been your money once, but it was given to us and now it is ours. When you hand out Christmas presents, do you make the recipients urinate in a little cup first? They pass drug tests for you before they get birthday presents, do they? When you give Keanu Reeves your money at the theatre, do you tell him he's not allowed to buy mansions with it?  Do you follow your friends around to make sure you approve of the way they spend the money they got from you?

Because that's part of the job that comes with filling out the forms for government money. Government uses welfare as a form of control. Government is happy to get outraged at the idea that a small business might put restrictions on purchasing birth control through the business health plan, but government is quite happy to tell welfare recipients exactly where they can live (HUD), what they can eat (WIC), it puts a thousand restrictions on how welfare recipients can spend their money. When churches give money to the poor, they don't put restrictions on it - they just hand out the cash. But government uses it as a means of social control. It becomes a way for bureaucrats to manage every aspect of someone else's life.

And we conservatives get upset if the welfare queens figure out how to get around that level of micromanagement? Seriously?

The welfare queen deserves her check just as much as I deserve my stock portfolio. In fact, she probably worked harder to get her check than I did to get my stock increase.

I don't want to hear another word about the horror of welfare queens.
As long as they didn't lie, they earned their money and it is their money.
Quit telling them how to spend it.

If the reception of welfare really upsets you, then mind your own business so well that not even the smallest aspect is government subsidized. By the time you manage that, you'll be living in a cave somewhere in the Rockies, too busy growing your own food to be outraged at anything.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Exc stuff as usual, Steve. The "honest graft" of Tammany Hall was quite a workable system--everybody got what they wanted.

"I’ve told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin' the city get rich the same way.

They didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin' to find the public robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don’t find them.

The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let me tell you that’s never goin' to hurt Tammany with the people. Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn’t isn’t likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I do the same in public life?

Another kind of honest graft. Tammany has raised a good many salaries. There was an awful howl by the reformers, but don’t you know that Tammany gains ten votes for every one it lost by salary raisin'?

The Wall Street banker thinks it shameful to raise a department clerk’s salary from $1500 to $1800 a year, but every man who draws a salary himself says: “That’s all right. I wish it was me.” And he feels very much like votin' the Tammany ticket on election day, just out of sympathy."
---George Washington Plunkitt

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Tom, what a SUPERB link!

Everyone forgets that Tammany Hall was run by Irish Catholics who took care of the poor. They profited handsomely by it, of course, but they helped their friends out when they did it.

And notice that it is a PROTESTANT attitude to test the poor as we do, yet how many Catholics feel righteous when they insist that poor people pass drug tests and be followed about the room to make sure they don't "mis-spend" the money they received?

Protestantism runs deep in the American psyche, especially in that of American Catholics.

pel said...

Mr. Kellmeyer,

It is true - it is hard to tell where exploiting legitimate opportunity ends and taking "welfare" begins.

I'm reminded of conversations with my father, who grew up on a farm/ranch in Texas and still owns land there. I remember a lot of grousing and grumbling from sheep & goat ranchers when the wool & mohair subsidies stopped. Their herds had to be discontinued because they were no longer profitable.

I recently told my father about a coworker who, on the weekends, who pull lugnuts and other parts off of expensive vehicles in junk yards and then sell them on eBay for 5x the price paid.

He grumbled about that a bit and considered it not real work and how his own father would have looked down on it with scorn.

But then, his own father looked at the use of power tools with skepticism and continued to use hand saws and hammers instead of circular saws and nailguns. Aside from their land, my grandparents otherwise lived (and died) in poverty.

The lines have have so blurred, it is hard to tell what is an honest living and what isn't. If you live like my grandparents, it's fairly pure, but it's far from a comfortable life.

Even then, their land's "agricultural use" earned a massive tax deduction. Is that not the same as welfare? If not, why not?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Protestantism runs deep in the American psyche, especially in that of American Catholics.

Heh heh. Ouch.

American said...