Thursday, June 14, 2012
Poor People are Dumb!
Y'know, one of the ideas in the left I see over and over and over again, is that poor people vote for Republicans or favor capitalism or oppose welfare because they're dumb.
Those words aren't usually used. Usually the person making this statement couches the idea in more palatable terms, like "They're being misled," "They're being brainwashed," "They think they'll win the millionaire lottery and become one of those rich people overnight."
But all of those are just euphemisms for the idea that the person buying into this idea is stupid, because the necessary implication is that the speaker, and the people who agree with the speaker, are smart enough to see through this subterfuge, and the poor people aren't.
An honest person reflecting on the issue wouldn't take very long to come to the conclusion that poor people just plain disagree with them on what is best for them.
Most of the poor people I've known - and coming from a rural part of Texas, has been most of the people I've known, dubiously including myself at a couple of points in my life (I wouldn't have described myself as poor, but I know many people would describe me in those terms) - just plain disagree with the welfare system. This has included a lot of people who were on it, which gives me some insight I think many people lack.
They recognize the help welfare provides, the value it provides to them. They also recognize exactly how easy it is to get on it, how easy it is to take advantage of it, and have known -way- too many friends and relatives who have abused the system. They've also seen what they regard as serious damage it has done to those friends and relatives, turning them away from productive labor and self-improvement, where it doesn't outright forbid it.
My parents are among them; they collected, for a time, after they both lost their jobs in the same brief timespan. And were permanently turned off to welfare as a result, because they were literally collecting more money from the state than they had been making when they had both been working, prior to being laid off. It was a very corrupting temptation to continue to use the system, a temptation which they turned down, working harder than ever, and they refused to file for social security aid on one of my siblings, in spite of that the law allowed it.
I've grown up among hard workers. I've also grown up among people who lost all ambition when they discovered that life was easier on welfare. Those who haven't lived in poor communities have no idea why the welfare system is regarded the way that it is by many people in this country. It doesn't take idiocy to be horrified by a system which systematically turned some of my brightest cousins and peers into welfare junkies, horrified by a system which turned lifetime disabilities into a lottery jackpot. There are places in the country where welfare won't cover the bills - but there are a whole lot more places where welfare provides an adequate, if meager, wage, and a whole lot of free time for under-the-counter and unreported income.
Welfare is best described as a narcotic. For some people, it's much-needed relief. But for many other people, it's a drug, a way of removing yourself from the unpleasant nature of reality. The problem is, government isn't great at distinguishing between one sort of person and the other.
You want to know why the regions which most oppose welfare are generally also the regions where its use is most common? It's because they are populated by people who see firsthand the damage it does. It's not religion. It's not trickery or fraud. It's not brainwashing.
It's people, people who have to live with the ramifications of federal welfare policies which don't respect the fact that welfare which might be insufficient in Massachussets could be the jackpot of a lifetime somewhere else.