What is our obligation to those who make bad decisions?

wic3One of the things I’ve tried to drill into my children is the truism that the single biggest indicator of poverty is single motherhood.  That data, incidentally, does not reflect the old-fashioned kind of single motherhood, which was the result of widowhood or abandonment.  Instead, we’re talking about modern single motherhood, the kind that sees women who are deluged with birth control choices nevertheless get pregnant with boyfriends or hook-ups who feel no emotional connection or sense of economic obligation to either mother or baby.

One of my children has a part-time job at a cafe and is, for the first time, meeting adults who have full-time jobs but who aren’t middle-class professionals living in single family homes in solidly upper middle class neighborhoods.  One of these adults is pregnant and is unhappy about the fact that the cafe, where she’s been working for only five months, will not give her maternity leave.

Inquiry revealed that the pregnant woman is not married; that she’s living with a boyfriend who may or may not be the father of her child (my kid doesn’t know), and that the boyfriend doesn’t work.  Except for getting regular nooky at night (assuming that the pregnant woman still wants that kind of attention), the mother-to-be will be, for all practical purposes, a single mother.

My child found it concerning that the boss won’t pay this single mother not to work for him.  My child was therefore stymied when I asked this question:  ”Why should he pay for her foolish choices?”

I noted that, while it’s entirely possible that this woman was using enough birth control to protect six woman, and nevertheless still managed to get pregnant, the greater likelihood was that she was careless. Indeed, if she really wanted to protect against single motherhood, she could have abstained from sex until she had a ring on her finger and some economic prospects.

I threw in the fact that it’s incredibly costly to do business in California, especially in the food service industry, which have extremely low profit margins.  Employers generally are drowning in regulations, which makes businesses very expensive to run.  Add in taxes and all the other costs of business (rent, insurance, salaries, benefits, supplies, etc.), and it’s guaranteed that the employer is clearing just enough money for his personal expenses (mortgage, insurance, food, etc.).  This owner is almost certainly not living extravagantly but is, instead, living a very temperate life.

Much of the money that the federal and state government are taking away from this man, both from his business and from him personally, is going to welfare programs for single mothers, something this employer must know.  Since he’s already paying for the welfare this young woman will inevitably end up using, why should he pay twice by carrying her on the books even though she’s contributing nothing to his business?  Even if he was feeling charitable, the government has left him nothing with which to be charitable,  not to mention the fact that the government, by snatching money from his pockets, has already decided on his behalf which charities he should support — including economically foolish single motherhood.

Such a simple question:  ”Why should he pay for her foolish choices, when the government is already taxing him heavily in advance to pay for all the foolish choices of intentionally single mothers across America”?

 

Democrats: Using band-aid remedies to “cure” systemic failures

bandaid-2One of the mantras to emerge from feminist side of the Leftist swamps during the late 1960s/early 1970s was notion that “the personal is political.”  As used by the feminists, it meant that, when suburban women got together to burn their bras, examine their genitals in mirrors, and gripe about patriarchal oppression, they weren’t just engaging in the updated version of coffee klatches.  Instead, this “consciousness raising” was a political act because the conclusions they reached would drive their politics.

As is so often the case when it comes to manipulating the political process, the Leftists were onto something.  No matter what they say, most people don’t approach issues through education and analysis, nor do they abandon ideas just because those ideas actually fail when they finally leave the analysis phase and become operational.  Instead, most people are driven by emotion:  Do I feel like a good person when I do this?  Is the beneficiary of my political act a good person?  And the contrary is true too:  Am I punishing an “evil” person if I vote or act in a specific way (since punishing an “evil” person elevates my “goodness” quotient).

I’m not saying anything all of you haven’t already figured out.  The only reason I mention this is because I’m struggling with the way in which I can counter a compelling, hard Left HBO documentary that my daughter saw, one that has left her inclined to believe that the welfare state is the answer.  The documentary is “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.”

Maria Shriver, who produced the documentary, chose well when she and her team selected Gilbert as the poster child for single mothers, since Gilbert is a very sympathetic woman.  She got married at 19 (no out-of-wedlock children here) and had three children with her husband.  Unfortunately, her husband was addicted to prescription drugs (no tawdry illegal meth addiction here), wrecking the family finances and destroying their marriage.  The show picks up with Gilbert now in her mid-20s, working hard for $9.49 an hour at an assisted living center for the elderly.  She’s able to do this work because her children attend a government-funded pre-K daycare center in their hometown of Chattanooga.  Further, this loving mother puts food on the table only thanks to the food stamps.

As Alfred Doolittle would have said, Gilbert is definitely among the deserving poor.  When you see Gilbert — who did the right thing when she married her children’s father — struggling to cope with sick children and a flooded house (her boyfriend’s house), you can’t help but feel sympathetic.  You want to help her.  You want her to earn more money considering how hard she works and you want her to have better childcare opportunities.  And you think to yourself, “Heck, if she  lived in Denmark, none of this would be a problem.  (In part, of course, because Denmark’s young people aren’t having children to begin with.)  Gilbert would get free child care, a high living wage, all the benefits in the world, and be able to take endless sick days for her kids, as well as for herself.”

When the documentary ends, by which time you’re firmly rooting for Gilbert, the film hits you with the real numbers.  Gilbert, we’re told, isn’t an anomaly.  She’s part of a crowd:  According to the documentary, Gilbert is the living embodiment of the 42 million women in America who live at or below the poverty line, along with (I believe) 28 million children.  The documentary doesn’t have to say what we need to do.  It’s quite obvious that we ought to raise the minimum wage, make free childcare available to all American children, and provide comprehensive welfare for food and housing.

In case you’re too dim to reach this conclusion by yourself, HBO helpfully provides a guide for you to read alone or discuss with a group.  Some of what you’re supposed to discuss involves smart choices women can make.  Other discussion ideas, though, encourage Big Government as a solution, and advance a highly partisan Progressive agenda:

The Chambliss Center [pre-K childcare] is very important for Katrina. When she picks up her children she says, “The kids are learning so much here. If I went to a normal day care center, it would cost me $300 per week for all three of my children …that’s a whole paycheck.” Child care expenses for families with working mothers can range from 20 to nearly 50% of the mother’s monthly salary. How do you think Katrina would function if her kids weren’t at the Chambliss Center? Do you know anyone who is struggling with childcare needs? What can we as a society do to help? How important is it that the Chambliss Center operates 24/7?

Numerous studies have shown the long-term benefits of high-quality early education for young learners. However, fewer than 30% of American 4-year olds attend high quality preschool programs. President Obama expressed his support for universal high-quality preschool and many states have been developing universal pre-K legislation and programs. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages to government sponsored universal pre-Kindergarten programs?

[snip]

What did you know before about federal programs like Head Start, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit? Has this changed after viewing the film?

What are the social services in your area for families in need of financial assistance? Do you think it’s not enough, or too much? How are they affected by budget decisions at the State and Federal level? Do you think people are aware of what government programs provide? How do you think people feel about receiving assistance? Can you think of other programs that could be helpful to women on the brink?

The study guide ends with a list of resources, the second of which is the hard Left Center for American Progress, which some describe as the “shadow Democrat party,” and which sets the agenda for many of the Obama administration initiatives.  People troubled by the hardships Gilbert faces will quickly learn that Big Government is the only thing that can save her.

After my daughter saw the show, she was pretty sure that we ought to have more free education for the pre-K crowd, more free daycare, more free food, and mandated higher wages.  She was certainly correct that each of these things would have been an immediate benefit to Gilbert.  My task was to get my daughter to see that these are all band-aid remedies that might staunch small individual wounds, but will  not stop the fatal hemorrhaging in the American economy.

The problem I had is that there’s nothing sexy about free market fixes.  They’re abstract and the benefits fall randomly, rather than on specific, targeted people, such as Gilbert.  It’s this last fact that means that market reforms cannot guarantee immediate — or, indeed, any — aid to sympathetic figures such as Gilbert.

People who watch the documentary want Gilbert to be fixed immediately and her personal life becomes an overarching political argument.  When I said that single motherhood is the biggest dividing line between rich and poor, my daughter pointed out that Gilbert had her children within a marriage.  When I said mothers should stay married if at all possible, she pointed out that Gilbert’s husband was a drug addict who destroyed finances, so staying together was not an option.  When I said that education is important, she noted that Gilbert was trying to go back to school, but could do so only with government help.

My prescriptions were a free market (as opposed to the over-regulated market we now have), which has proven repeatedly to provide increased economic opportunities for everyone, not just government cronies; education, marriage, and children, in that order; and sticking with a bad marriage, provided that it’s not violent or otherwise abusive, because that is the best way to avoid poverty for both women and children.  My daughter’s prescriptions after getting a close-up look at Gilbert’s sympathetic struggles were Big Government.

I didn’t increase my sympathy quotient when I explained to her that there will always be poor people, no matter the system.  (In North Korea, outside of government circles, everyone is poor.)  In a strong, free-market, capitalist system, fewer people will be poor and even poor people will do better than in non-capitalist countries.  For example, I said, while Gilbert is struggling by American standards, the reality is that she shares a big house with her boyfriend, complete with a modern kitchen and nice electronics; she has government-subsidized food; she owns a car; and she has a smart phone, as do all the other adults in her low-income world.  It’s almost ludicrous to call her experience “poverty” when one looks at poverty in Brazil or India or Cuba or North Korea or large swathes of Africa.  Yes, she’s struggling, but life is struggle.

ThornsIt would be lovely to give an economic band-aid to the hardworking Gilbert.  But when the Democrats demand 42 million band-aids for all the other single mothers, you’ve got a problem.  If the body politic or body economic really were a body, this would be the scenario:  The American body (we’ll call it Sam) gets entangled in economic brambles, and poor Sam ends up bleeding from millions of scratches on his arms and legs.  He looks at the scratches and thinks, “Yikes, I need some band-aids.”  Fortunately for him, a mobile blood bank rolls by and offers to buy almost all of his blood in exchange for 42 million single-use band-aids.

Sam is delighted with this offer.  He’ll be able to stop the blood flow, even though he’s probably giving to the bank almost as much blood as he’s losing to the cuts.  What Sam ignores is that, when the bandages are applied and the mobile blood bank rolls away, he’ll still be stuck in those brambles.

Economic reality says that, if you’re mired in brambles, you don’t sell all your blood for band-aids, while remaining deep in the thorns.  Instead, you first get out of the brambles Only then do you deal with the worst cuts, ignore the rest, and get down to the business of regaining your health and staying away the brambles that got you into trouble in the first place.

None of the above is sexy.  Advocating a free market capitalist economy so that there will be fewer poor people is not sexy.  Encouraging marriage, even unhappy marriages, for the sake of the children is not sexy.  Acknowledging that there will always be poor people and they will always suffer is not sexy.  And trying to explain that, in a healthy economy, fewer people are poor and fewer people remain poor isn’t sexy.  Appearing to turn your back on the Gilbert’s of the world isn’t only un-sexy, it appears downright sadistic.  And explaining that economic reality means that it’s impossible to be, simultaneously, both a comprehensive welfare state and a thriving free market is un-sexy too.  (Not to mention the fact that you have to explain that Europe managed to have a welfare state with a capitalist gloss only because America paid for Europe’s defense during the long Cold War years.)

I’ve described one show and one child who was moved Left by its message.  However, this close, personal focus is a chronic issue when dealing with the Left.  To gain sympathy for its larger agenda, the Left always focuses on the one child who’s illegal immigrant father is deported (although never the one child whose redneck father goes to jail following drunken revelry); or the one single mother who did all the right things; or the one single Gitmo detainee who was a mere child when the Taliban forced him to kill Americans.  The focus is always tight, obscuring the rest of the message.

I mentioned the other day that Ben Shapiro has written an excellent book about arguing with Leftists, How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them, which you can get free by registering at Truth Revolt. The book presupposes an argument. My question is how does one challenge this type of gooey, emotional propaganda, which gains a wide television audience and promises that the world can be healed, one government band-aid at a time?

The Progressives’ worst mistake is thinking that they know what others want

Homeless woman (photo by dbking)At a certain level, all of us are solipsistic, in that we inevitably exist at the enter of our own universe.  As it is with individuals, so it is with belief systems.  Whether we like it or not, we assume that our way is the way to do things.  That others would do things a different way is invariably a surprise (although, as is the case with Dutch chocolate, often a pleasant surprise).

One of the things that distinguishes the mature mind from the immature mind is the ability to recognize that your way isn’t always the right way.  Sometimes the other person’s (or nation’s) way is fine, even if it seems inadequate.

(As a side note, I’m not discussing moral absolutes here.  I think we’re entitled to be solipsistic about certain moral absolutes, such as “cold-blooded murder is wrong,” cold-blooded stealing is wrong,” “child-beating is wrong.”  Even there, though, we do make distinctions.  Cold-blooded murder is wrong, but we are open to extenuating circumstances.  Cold-blooded stealing is wrong, but it’s probably okay if you’re starving and steal food.  Child-beating is always wrong, of course, except that some describe “beating” as a slap on the butt with a hand, while others describe it as using a child’s head as a battering ram against a wall.  All decent people oppose the second; many decent people, myself included, do not consider that the first constitutes a “beating.”)

Outside of moral absolutes (or moral somewhat absolutes), what remains are behaviors and beliefs.  It’s here that we all fall prey to believing our way is best.  Where conservatives and Progressives differ, though, is that, while conservatives believe their choices are best, they do not believe that it is up to government to impose those choices on others.  They prefer persuasion to coercion. Progressives, however, are sufficiently self-righteous (or emotionally immature) that they believe that they must impose their ways upon others.

What got me thinking about this was a discussion I had with my sister about a couple of homeless men she and her husband have befriended (don’t ask).  Both men are enthusiastically homeless.  They get government checks, but are incapable of — and, more importantly, hostile to — embracing a middle class lifestyle.

The two men live near a city in a somewhat rural area.  They can bike to amenities, but live in a homeless encampment in the woods (which means they offer minimal inconvenience to the bulk of the city’s residents).  One of them built a teeny, portable wooden structure in which he lives, and powers the TV, the lights, the radio, and the electric cook stove with solar panels.  The other dwells in a tent and mooches happily off friends.  They get water from a nearby water pipe that the city makes available to the encampment.  They get free food from various charities, and spend their government checks on food and drugs.

From my middle class, suburban perch, they live a terrible life.  From their point of view, though, they’re free men who have all their needs met:  shelter, food, chemical stimulants.  They don’t want anything more.  Both are a little loopy (one has a mildly aggressive paranoia, while the other believes he communes with alien beings), but neither is rendered dysfunctional by those “quirks.”  They are free to be themselves.  They don’t miss hot showers, and La-Z-Boys, and cars, and the internet, and X-Boxes, and all of the other things with which we fill our lives.  Nor do they miss health insurance, which means that they’re in sync with previously uninsured Oregonians who got Medicaid.  When they’re sick, that’s what the ER is for.  They like that status quo and, despite living in a state that’s embraced government medicine, they refuse to join up.

I thought of these two men when James Taranto pointed out a Fox-Butterfield moment in the San Francisco Comical:

Fox Butterfield, Is That You?
“San Francisco spends $165 million a year on services for homeless people, but all that money hasn’t made a dent in the homeless population in at least nine years.”–Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, March 12

San Francisco has long spent exorbitant sums on the homeless because the Progressive government believes that it can bribe, cajole or co-opt the homeless into adopting a middle class lifestyle.  The experience of 30 years of failure has only convinced the Progressives that they need to spend more.  They cannot comprehend that, while there are people amongst the homeless population who are genuinely down on their luck and need a hand, there are many amongst the homeless who affirmatively embrace that lifestyle.  They are homeless,  not because we (society) have failed them, but because they like the freedom that comes with homelessness.  They have no amenities, but they have no obligations either.

Progressives aren’t insane, notwithstanding the oft-repeated definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Solipsism isn’t insanity.  It is, instead, a failure of imagination and an emotional immaturity that makes it impossible for a person or belief system to accept other attitudes and desires.

The opposite of gratitude is entitlement

BeggingMy Mom is living off the proceeds from selling her house, my Dad’s small pension, and her equally small social security checks.  She is not flush with cash but, thanks to having owned a house in San Francisco, even with today’s minimal interest rates, she still has enough to last her for a few years.  In addition, Mom’s first cousin, who is very wealthy, generously sends my mom a nice check every Christmas.  This last one is, of course, purely a gift.  The fact that it is a gift, however, did not stop Mom from calling me today (the checks are sent to my address) to ask, “Did she send a big check?  You know, she owes me a lot of money?”

That reminded me, of course, of the Jewish joke about the beggar who sits outside an office building.  Every Monday, a businessman working in the building makes it a point to give the beggar $10.  This goes on for quite some time but, one Monday, things change.  Instead of handing the beggar a $10 bill, the businessman hands the beggar a $5 bill.

“What’s this?” asks the surprised beggar.  “You always give me $10.”

“I’m sorry,” the man replies, “but business has been very bad lately.”

To which the beggar responds, “Just because your business is bad, I should suffer?”

Too many people, my mother included, lack a sense of gratitude and operate purely from a sense of entitlement.  This is something worth thinking about when it comes to America’s welfare policies.

Drug tests for welfare recipients

Urine Sample

A little while ago, I wrote about the people who are permanent residents on welfare because of drug abuse issues.  My point was that while they appear like a natural Democrat constituency, the fact is that most of them are too dysfunctional to vote.

Here’s another perspective on that particular class of welfare recipient:

I have a job.

I work, they pay me.

I pay my taxes & the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.

In order to get that paycheck, in my case, I am required to pass a random urine test (with which I have no problem).

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test.

So, here is my question: Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their BUTT—-doing drugs while I work….

Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

I guess we could call the program “URINE OR YOU’RE OUT”!

Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don’t. Hope you all will pass it along, though. Something has to change in this country – AND SOON!

P.S. Just a thought, all politicians should have to pass a urine test too! They should also have to pass an intelligence test, a common sense test and an understanding the constitution test, as well!!! Remember November 2014 is coming.

Hat tip:  Caped Crusader

Problems with Obamacare exchanges are a feature, not a bug

Avik Roy advances a very interesting theory about the disastrous Obamacare exchange.

First of all, you need to think about  how it works compared to other online shopping sites.  At all other sites, you find your product, and then you submit your information.  At Obamacare, you must submit your information before you’re allowed to go shopping for your product.  It’s this information demand that has made a poorly constructed design collapse under the weight of even a relatively small number of visitors.  So why was it built bass ackwards?  Because it’s not really a free market exchange.

Here’s the deal:  prices across the board have increased for insurance as insurers struggle to deal with the fact that they cannot scale prices depending on risk (which is, after all, what real insurance does) and because they are now required to offer a ton of services, whether consumers want to pay for them or not.  Congress knew that this would happen, but it didn’t care.  The real purpose behind Obamacare was to get the haves to pay for the have nots.  The haves will take the high prices and like them . . . or else.  But the have nots cannot be allowed to see the high prices lest they run away screaming.  The reality for them is that, as have nots, their increased prices will be subsidized — and then some — by the haves.  Everyone has to be fed into the system for this wealth transfer to work:

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

Read the rest here.  And then, if you haven’t already, read Zombie’s post catching the SF Chronicle offering a remarkable piece of job advice.

Obamacare: Come join the welfare state

When I read John McWhorter’s superb Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, I learned something I hadn’t known before. Outside of the Jim Crow South, in the years leading up to the Civil Rights movement, black people were very slowly, but still steadily, moving into the middle class. They had stable nuclear families, with working fathers. The Civil Rights movement should have accelerated this trend by removing barriers to black employment.

But something happened at the same time as the Civil Rights movement, and that “something” was Johnson’s Great Society. Burdened by white guilt, and holding welfare checks, well-meaning whites fanned out through black communities and told black men to stop working. Black men had been slaves for too long, they said, and it was time for the government to pay them back. When the men spoke of pride, and manliness, and responsibility, they were told not to let their pride stand in the way of getting what was “owed” them.

The result was inevitable: black men quickly became useful only for sex and procreation. The government stepped in as the family breadwinner. Women with children didn’t have to rely on a man who might do everything from drinking and beating her to leaving the toilet seat up, and men were able to get sex without the burden of fatherhood. Blacks became the only minority group in America that was perpetually mired in the lowest societal echelons. This was not the case for other, equally reviled groups, such as Irish Catholics, Jews, Italians, Asians, or the first generation of Hispanics. (It is somewhat true for the current generation of Hispanics, who have also been seduced into believing that the state should be the pater familias.) Asians who immigrated after the 1960s probably avoided the welfare trap only because they came from Communist countries and had experienced a surfeit of government “largesse.”

If you want to see the end result of the hard-driving government effort to place blacks on welfare, you need only see this video (which I call “All attitude; no gratitude”):

Now that I’ve given you some background into the scourge of a government’s unconstrained push to get citizens onto welfare, you are ready to read Zombie’s article about the advice the San Francisco Comical, er, Chronicle, offers to people trying to figure out how to deal with Obamacare.  It’s time to be very, very afraid for America.

Differing views of Obama’s latest welfare edict

Conservatives, generally, and Romney, specifically, had a field day when the Obama administration unilaterally changed the welfare rules so that work is no longer a requirement for receiving welfare.  Given Obama’s propensity for using executive orders and administrative rules to ignore both legislative and judicial precedent, this seemed like a gift from Heaven to those trying to highlight this ugly, unconstitutional habit.

The Left, of course, is not happy with the way Romney is gaining traction based on this welfare rule change.  At the New Republic, Ed Kilgore makes a very good argument claiming that Romney is lying through his teeth with his ads challenging Obama’s welfare “reform.”  Indeed, after I read the Kilgore article, I started thinking “Have conservatives overreached, just as Obama’s PAC/Obama did with the ‘Romney killed a woman with cancer’ ad?  After all, trust is a very precious commodity, and one that can only be squandered if you’ve got the entire MSM covering for you.”

Immediately after reading Kilgore, though, Robert Rector’s National Review article explaining why the administration’s changes to the welfare rules are so dastardly.  Although Rector makes no mention of, and was clearly not rebutting Kilgore, reading the two articles was  It was point and counterpoint, punch and counter-punch.   think Rector carries the day.  I’d actually written a long post comparing the two, and explaining why I thought Rector’s was the more compelling argument — and then my computer crashed and I lost everything, including the stuff I thought I’d saved in draft form.  I’m currently too disheartened to retype the whole darn thing.

I’ll say this, though — Kilgore’s argument boils down to three points:  (1) Republicans never cared about work, but only cared about destroying welfare queens; (2) per the memo accompanying the rule change, all that the administration is doing is increasing flexibility, which is a good thing; (3) Republican governors have asked for this flexibility; and (4) to the extent Romney says that the changes do anything but increase flexibility (such as, for example, gut the work requirement) that’s a lie.

Rector’s argument, too, can be boiled down:  (1) It was the Republicans who drafted the work requirement element of the welfare reform they forced upon a reluctant Democrat president; (2) Democrats have spent years trying to gut the work requirement; (3) the cover memo on which Kilgore relies is a great example of speak Right, government Left; and (4) the actual changes to the rules mean that the administration has now given itself unfettered power over welfare, trumping any state power to control, including the assurance that no one can be denied welfare, regardless of whether or not that person is working or intends to work.

I’d be interested in your reading of the two articles, as well as your take on the change to welfare based upon anything else you may have read or on your own personal knowledge of the subject.

They trusted their welfare to the Government

I am standing Hwy 2, passing through the Blackfoot “Res” in Montana. What I see before me doesn’t look like much, a scrubby field under low hills and Montana’s incredibly beautiful big sky.

Where I am standing is the former site of the Badger Creek Indian Agency, where the Blackfeet Indians gathered after their buffalo had been slaughtered and the government promised them food and support in exchange for having given up their independence and self reliance.

By the winter of 1883-1884, however, the government had really, really screwed up. The Indians’ own source of meat (buffalo, deer, elk) had been destroyed. Their limited crops had failed. Their limited livestock was depleted. They were running out of food.

Since 1881, Indian agent John Young’s repeated requests to the government for more food aid had been met with bureaucratic indifference. Frankly, the “government” didn’t care very much and there were budget constraints that had to be met.

Then, in the winter of 1883-1884, the inevitable happened: starvation came. By the time the world outside the reservation heard about it, one quarter of the population (600 Indians) had already starved to death. The surrounding Montana communities responded immediately, sending relief trains of emergency food, livestock and blankets to the Blackfeet survivors. The government, by contrast, did nothing. After the fact, they held hearings, absolved themselves of responsibility and, finally, blamed Indian Agent John Young for gross negligence.

This is a story to keep in mind for all those that believe that it is somehow a good idea to surrender their independence and self-reliance to a faceless entity called “government”. Whether it is welfare, social security, Medicare or Obamacare, I can guarantee this: the government will screw up through indifference and people will die. Not because government is “bad” or that the people in government are “bad”, but because people are people and government can never be better than our collective human nature. And, once stripped of our independence and self-reliance, there will be no recourse. We will not be able to rely upon surrounding communities to rush to our aid.

Obama, the welfare president

Newt Gingrich was pilloried for calling Obama the Food Stamp president.  “Racist!” cried the usual suspects.  Huh?  Yes, racist, because food stamps are a form of welfare, welfare is traditionally associated with blacks, so Newt was reminding people that Obama is white-black  (as if the MSM ever allows us to forget that), and that he’s pandering to other blacks, white-blacks, brown-blacks, yellow-blacks, pink-blacks, blue-blacks, etc.

Just the other day, however, another politician went on record calling Obama a Food Stamp president, and his pronouncement was met with stunning MSM indifference.  You see, the man making this statement was black (or maybe, looking at the image, a kind of golden-brown-black) and the statement, rather than being derogatory (“Look what he’s reduced Americans to”) was laudatory:

Here’s the key language:

“We’re headed in the right direction. Unemployment continues to drop and those people who are unemployed, they’re not going to be voting for the party who wants to cut their benefits, cut access to food stamps, cut job training,” Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) said on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton program.

“The idea that Republicans are trying to help those who are unemployed is nonsense and I think that on this election day, those who have a job can credit the administration for stabilizing our economy and those who don’t know that this administration is trying to put them to work,” he said.

Yay, Obama!  He’s the welfare president!  Four more years!  Four more years!  The dream has almost been realized:

It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me.

Government dependency : humans versus animals

This one deserves to go viral:

The food stamp program, a US Government run program, announced it is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, also part of the US Government, asks us to “please do not feed the animals” because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.

You know what happens if you don’t get government money? Sudden attacks of efficiency. *UPDATED*

For months now, local charitable organizations have been sounding the drum:  if taxpayer money goes away, we vanish.  In other words, if evil Republicans get their hands on the budget, poor people will suffer.

I’m already wise to this propaganda, having lived through 1994′s welfare reform.  We were told then that the poor would be cannibalizing each other in the street if we limited (not ended, but limited) “welfare as we know it.” That doomsday scenario didn’t happen. (And really, when have Progressive doomsday scenarios ever come to pass?  Surprisingly — at least, surprisingly to liberals — the poor adjusted to new marketplace realities.  That the Democrats want to use the current downturn to reinstate welfare as we knew it is a completely different story.  Certainly, if they do, the poor will readily readjust to government dependency.

But I digress….

I was talking about those charities that assured us that the diminution in taxpayer support would destroy them.  It turns out that, when push comes to shove, not all are willing to score political points by yielding gracefully to the government scalpel.  Some, confronted with free market realities, are engaging in free market solutions.  Here in Marin, the ones that want to continue providing their valuable services are becoming more efficient:

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 37-year-old Veronica Brady helped whip up lunch for a room full of seniors, people with disabilities and other patrons at Whistlestop’s Jackson Cafe in San Rafael.

Brady, who in 2003 lost her law office job and has struggled with homelessness and low-paying employment since, is learning culinary skills and earning hourly wages as part of Homeward Bound of Marin’s Fresh Starts Culinary Academy.

In what some see as a growing trend among nonprofits struggling to make ends meet in the down economy, Whistlestop and Homeward Bound have teamed up to run the cafe and boost the quality of food there.

[snip]

“What’s happening is that particularly in this environment that’s a very challenging environment for nonprofit organizations and for schools, our experience is that groups really are looking for ways to coordinate and collaborate on their work,” Peters said. He noted that in addition to economic efficiencies, the partnership “almost always results in a better and more coordinated level of service for clients or students or anyone using the service.”

Homeward Bound and Whistlestop aren’t the only nonprofits to team up that the community foundation works with, Peters said. For example, more than a dozen groups have partnered to form the Thriving Families Network, which seeks to strengthen families and help individuals achieve self-sufficiency, among other goals, he noted.

“Over time I definitely am seeing more openness (to collaboration), and it’s clearly the cuts in resources,” said Linda Davis, CEO of the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership of Marin. “What a lot of nonprofits did when the economy collapsed is we reduced our staffing. In order to get our missions accomplished, we are looking at partnerships and collaborations in a whole different way.”

Government money encourages inefficiency and a lack of imagination.  Once the spigot is opened, it flows regardless of market realities and management decisions.  Just as muscles need resistance to retain their strength, so too do humans and businesses need some external pressures to keep their edge.  Take away that pressure and you end up with useless flab.

UPDATE:  Because coincidence is a wonderful thing, just today The Anchoress did a post showing precisely how mentally flabby those dependent on government funds become.

Welfare versus parasitism

When I lived in England many, many moons ago, I met an English student who had spent the previous summer working, very, very hard, at the local zoo.  The highlight of his work day was driving around the little kiddy train, and even that wasn’t much fun.  He spent the rest of the time mucking out the animals’ enclosures.  He found the elephant enclosure especially distasteful.

His sister, who was about his age, didn’t bother to get a job.  She spent her time watching the soaps on telly, going out drinking with her friends, and collecting the dole.

At summer’s end, the sister had gotten more money on the dole than my friend did, despite his hard, honest work.  The result was that, while he expected to work a real job once he had his engineering degree, he was very clear that he would never work again until that degree catapulted him into a different income bracket.  At the lower bracket, living in a welfare state, it was much smarter not to work at all.

Thirty years on, and that message in England has not changed one iota:

A haulage boss was left stunned after an unemployed driver rejected the offer of a job paying more than £500 a week so he could remain on benefits.

Graham Poole, the managing director of a 23-wagon fleet in Rochdale, offered the job to the man who had been out of work for 18 months only to be told told it was not enough to have him come off government handouts.

The man turned the job down claiming he could get more money on benefits by ‘sitting around at home’.

(You can read the rest here.)

Funnily enough, if a government pays people not to work, they won’t work.  The workers have figured that out, of course.  The ideologues behind Leftist government prefer not to think about it, as they pursue their social re-engineering goals.

The reckoning always has to come, though.  At some point, nobody is left to work, and then the whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

An email that’s making the rounds, relating one vet’s story *UPDATED*

UPDATE:  I’m reprinting here Baseballmaven’s comment:

This was sent to me also–researching on Snopes,  while the d’Lynn part wasn’t there; however, the part about the welfare recipient in Florida was there and turned out to be NOT TRUE..variations have been circulating since 2004. The original example actually came from Canada, and even there wasn’t validated. http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/refugees.asp Ironically, of course, sadly it rings true to us that a vet would be ill used compared to an illegal immigrant, especially under the current regime.

So, enjoy it for what it’s worth, but it’s not true.  It would be interesting, though, if someone would take the time to compare benefits for an illegal immigrant with four children, versus those for a disabled Vietnam Vet.  I don’t know what the result would be, but I’d like to see it.  It would clarify things to know the facts.

*************************

I can’t vouch for whether this is true or not.  That is, I don’t know if “d’Lynn” even exists, nor do I know if the facts related regarding the different treatment meted out to vets and illegals are true.  I checked on Snopes, and this email hasn’t been subject to any “urban legend” analysis.  I therefore pass this email on to you so that you can make your own judgment calls, based up0n your own knowledge of how the world works:

Vets Alert

image001

My name is d’Lynn – I’m a disabled Vietnam vet.., don’t look too bad for a beat-up old fart, do I? .., and that’s my ride.., she’s looking pretty good looking also.., especially when you consider that she’ll turn twenty this summer – that’s right .., it’s a 1990 with a 1990 sidecar.., I can’t ride a solo bike…, ergo – the sidecar rig. It’s my sole means of transportation – rain, or shine.., snow, or wind.., and this summer also marks a mile stone.., in both of our lives…, as I will finally be able to pay her off. 20 years old? What? Why did it take so long ? You weren’t paying attention, were you? It’s right at the beginning of this paragraph. I am a disabled vet.., which means I receive a veterans administration disability pension.., which also means; “I’m broke!” .., just one step ahead of being homeless every month.., and that’s not an idle statement.., or an: “oh., whoa is me” .., dire complaint. There is a point to this., so hang in there a minute, or two.., and read on.

There’s a 25 year old illegal immigrant women living in Florida ., with eight kids. Yes., eight “anchor babies”. .., and she receives just shy of $1,500 per month…, per kid…, plus, medical.., plus food stamps. Oh, wait.., I’ve been informed that I shouldn’t call them Food Stamps anymore – that’s not PC. It’s all called – ‘Social Assistance’.., now. You do the math on that yourself. I’d say that she was schooled early in how to make it in the system. 25 years old.., eight kids…, yep – she started early.

You can whip-out the calculator if you want.., but this women who never has paid a dime in taxes of any kind.., [ and still doesn't - she's 'illegal' - remember?] .., is here, in this country illegally.., paid not one cent in medical for all the ‘anchor babies’.., makes more in one month, legally, then I receive in over a year and half in disability payments…, and I can’t even get food stamps ! Oops – I mean.., Social Assistance.

Technically – I am eligible for ‘Social Assistance’.., I was told it would be a walk through – a gimme – being disabled., no problem.., and in the very next breath was also informed that under the law, the amount I received in ‘Social Assistance’., would be deducted from my disability pension.

Let’s say I take a great photograph. It was just luck., a one of a kind accidental – in the right place at the right time, shot. My local newspaper offers me fifty bucks to use the photo in a featured story. [ I live in a small town - fifty bucks is all they could afford.] I have to report that fifty dollars to the VA as earned income – which will immediately be deducted from my next months disability check. If I don’t report it, I am in violation of federal law., and technically they can stop my disability pension and prosecute me under a federal felony. Pretty cool, eh? For fifty bucks.

I see no point in dealing with two federal bureaucracies.., so I don’t bother. What’s the point ?

She’s here illegally – and with just one kid.., would make over twice what I receive per month. She…, has eight.., and she is not a stand-out case.., she is not alone. That’s the way the system works. Millions of illegal immigrants know this.., know how the system works.., and know how to use it. [ Haven't you seen the pamphlet? It's handed out all along our borders - "The Illegal Immigrants' Guide to Keeping America Just The Way It Is."].., and that’s just the way it works.

Did you know that the federal government provides a ‘refugee’ in this country with a monthly ‘stipend’ of $1,890 – plus $580 a month in ‘Social Assistance’., ? That $2,470 a month. Tax free. That’s two and half times what I am allowed to receive as a disabled vet. And just what did they do to earn this? All’s you have to do is show up on our collective door step – raise you right hand and swear that you’re a refugee and bingo – receive $30,000 a year, tax free. That’s more then someone making $15 an hour., and they have to pay taxes to boot!

Now.., in defense of the Veterans Administration.., they are doing what they can – with what they’ve got. This is precious little compared to what they should have to get the job done. At least this country has a VA. It’s the Senate that keeps passing laws, rules and guidelines, cutting their budget.., denying requests for more staff, and computer systems to handle the massive work flow. Their hands are tied – by the very government that’s suppose to give them what they need to get the job done – by the government you voted into office. Don’t scream at the VA.., I have. It’s misguided anger.

The point to this story? Just why are you paying such high taxes to support this incredibly screwed-up government? Why !? .., and I am not proposing you stop paying your taxes. That’s wrong. There are good programs and reasons to pay your taxes and support our government.

What am I proposing? It’s quite simple. Vote.

The government.., our government.., is broken.., and we as the voters serve as the maintenance crew. We fix it.., by voting.

I will say that it ties in with something I heard on Sean Hannity today, to the effect that illegal immigrants serve a necessary function by providing “cheap” labor. As Sean’s correspondent pointed out, when one looks at all the government benefits that can be rained down upon a single illegal and his family, the cost to society far exceeds the “cheap” labor this non-taxpayer provides.

Federal welfare and the undeserving poor *UPDATED*

George Bernard Shaw was a reprehensible human being and, for the most part, quite bombastic (by which I mean dull, because polemical) playwright.  Nevertheless, he occasionally hit the nail on the head, as he does with this little monologue by Alfred Doolittle, from Pygmalion, a man who feels that welfare and morality should never be intertwined:

Don’t look at it that way. What am I, Governors both? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor:  that’s what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he’s up against middle class morality all the time. If there’s anything going, and I put in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “You’re undeserving; so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow’s that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, ’cause I’m a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving. What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. I’m playing straight with you. I ain’t pretending to be deserving. I’m undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it; and that’s the truth.

One of the things implicit in Doolittle’s speech is the belief that welfare agencies would actually recognize the distinction between deserving and undeserving poor.  Certainly it was true for centuries that England tried to distinguish between the two.  England’s ancient poor laws required local communities to care for their own poor.  To use a weak analogy when thinking about pre-Industrial England, the system was a state system, rather than a federal one, with the national government mandating local responsibilities, but otherwise staying out of the way.

These local poor laws had a definite down side:  communities tended to be very xenophobic, since they were worried that any strangers coming through might become a welfare burden.  Generosity also varied greatly from locality to locality, with Town X perhaps being infinitely more beneficent than Town Y.  The gaps in the system left old people dying in their beds of starvation, and orphan children dying by the side of the road.

The old poor laws weren’t all bad, though.  Their main virtue was the way in which they allowed the community to apply to its decision-making actual knowledge about the state of the person seeking charity.  Thus, the community would know for an absolute fact that Widow Green was genuinely destitute, and incapable of keeping herself, thereby making her one of the deserving poor.  Likewise, the community would know that Joe Smith was simply lazy and drank too much.  As to Joe, the hardworking people in the community, who were often hungry themselves, would see little virtue in subsidizing him.  Conversely, looking at Widow Green, each would think “there but for the Grace of God go I (or my wife, or mother, or father),” and would much more willingly aid the poor widow.

As industrialization took over in England, the British had to grapple with the fact that urbanization meant one no longer knew ones neighbors.  It was impossible to tell whether that strange man  seeking aid was truly down on his luck or was simply a slacker looking for a buck (or, I guess I should say, a pound).  The Victorian response was the infamous “poor house,” which institutionalized poor people.  The theory was that, if you were in a poor house, it would be obvious if you were able to work, in which case you would be put to work for your food, or if you were genuinely incapable of supporting yourself, in which case you would be given charity without labor as a purchase price.

In theory, the poor house was quite a sound system, neatly separating the needy wheat from the lazy chaff. In practice, though, the poor house was a magnet for abuse.  The “able” poor were worked liked slaves; the “disabled” poor were starved and abused.  The poor houses were also dead ends from which it was very difficult to emerge.  Unless your local poorhouse had a truly enlightened management, which sought to teach people useful skills and find them employment, it was pretty much a revolving door of slavery and abject poverty.

When the welfare state came along, however, all distinctions between deserving and undeserving poor went out the window.  The system assumed that, with everyone stirred into a single joyful, Communist economic pot, those who could work would want to, and that those who claimed disability would be telling the truth.  Somehow the socialists entirely missed out on the seminar discussing base human nature.

The fact is that there are some people who are lazy, and will not work unless an external force pressures them to do so.  There are some people who feel an enormous sense of entitlement and will not work if they feel they are superior to all offerings in the marketplace.  There are some people who consider scamming the system sufficient work in and of itself.  And there are, of course, people who are genuinely incapable of caring for themselves:  the disabled (mentally and physically), the aged, the widow surrounded by her children, the 0rphan.  In an ideal world, family steps in to help.  In a welfare world, the federals get greeted with “Hello, Daddy!”

In other words, our federal welfare system is set up so that, no matter who turns up at the door, the system does not distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving.  It is a vast bureaucracy that, aside from forcing people through a few meaningless hurdles (such as pretending to look for a job), treats all comers as equally needy.  This is partially because we live in a non-judgmental world (unless you’re a conservative, in which case you deserve all negative judgments rained down upon you), and it is considered politically incorrect to hint that someone’s bad situation might be a result of bad decisions and bad behavior, rather than bad luck.  This is also because, in a system that is the antithesis of the old British poor laws, the people charged with handing out the money are completely ignorant about the identity and nature of those applying for this recycled tax money.

This double whammy — political correctness and the ignorance of a giant bureaucracy — is an enticement to those who, in Doolittle’s words, think to themselves, “I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, ’cause I’m a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving.”

I’ve certainly seen many people over the years who have cheerfully, or arrogantly, abused the system.  And I’m not talking about the infamous “welfare queens” of the Clinton era, those larger than life women who lived in all-black ghettoes, and raised five children, all by different fathers, with each child’s welfare payments contributing to the family pot.  I’m actually thinking of welfare abusers who come from middle class homes and simply feel entitled to support.  When their families stop supporting them, they believe the “system” should take over.

I first became aware of this sense of entitlement as a child living in a home with a father who worked like a dog.  Throughout my childhood, my Dad held two and sometimes three jobs at a time, in addition to earning his Masters in the hopes that he could increase his earning power (faint hope, that).  He was, in other words, an old fashioned moralist who believed that a man is responsible for himself and his family.

Daddy was livid, truly livid, when he learned that a certain shlub we knew through Israeli folk dancing (an activity that attracted both families and hippy-dippies), while on welfare, had indulged himself with a trip to Mexico, and was planning on a trip to Hawaii.  That would have been the year we couldn’t afford a trip anywhere thanks, in part, to the fact that my Dad was subsidizing these scroungers through his taxes.

What also brought my Dad to a foaming frenzy was the way in which the daughter of family friends conducted herself.  These friends were quite well-to-do.  When their daughter didn’t want to live at home anymore (she was in her early 20s), they did not set her up in an apartment, nor did she get a job.  Instead, she simply moved out and instantly applied for welfare.  Once again, my father found himself subsidizing a young woman whose needs were substantially less than his, and whose family much richer.

With the current recession, I know people who lost their jobs, and looked for and found new ones.  For all of them, it was a dreadful, destabilizing experience.  Some had to leave communities in which they had deep roots.  Others had to settle for jobs far removed from their interests or skills.  I deeply sympathized with their travails, and counted my blessings (as I do daily) that I was not forced to make the hard decisions that were driving them.

However, during this same recession, I’ve also known people who feel that they ought to be holding a specific type of job, with a specific market cachet, and refuse to settle for anything less.  These job snobs are on welfare now, and you and I are supporting them.  Apparently welfare is more honorable than the “wrong” kind of job.  Given their sense of entitlement, I can assure you that these people are not at all appreciative of your tax sacrifice.  They feel, instead, that they’ve been done wrong by a system that fails to recognize their true worth.

I don’t have an answer to the conundrum of the poor.  As the Bible says, “For ye have the poor always with you” (Matthew 26:11.)  However, I do have a few core beliefs that would dictate a an approach entirely different from our current federal welfare.

First of all, I would get the feds out of welfare entirely.  I don’t see anything in the Constitution that allows the feds to engage in this type of wealth redistribution, even for ostensibly charitable reasons.

Second, I would drastically reduce taxes all around.  As you know, I believe that government doesn’t create wealth, it simply prints money.  People create wealth.  And, to recycle a hackneyed phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  If we can stop the paper money cycle of an overweaning federal government, and encourage genuine wealth (and job) creation, the scale of poverty would be significantly smaller.

Third, I would take a page out of the old English poor laws and make welfare a local system, although I would agree to make it subject to state, or even federal oversight to avoid the glaring inequities that resulted either from pre-Industrial xenophobia or post-Industrial greed.  By localizing welfare, those charged with distributing money would have a much better handle on that sticky line between deserving and undeserving poor.  Oh, and as to this last one, I would through PC pieties out that window and draw that line with impunity.  If you are capable of working, you work; if not, as a moral person, in a moral society, I will provide for your care.

The final conundrum, which is a subset of my belief that people should work if they can, is to figure out how to create jobs that aren’t tantamount to slavery.  The logical thing, of course, would be to put these people to work for the local community’s benefit:  caring for public lands, cleaning litter, etc.  To avoid the slavery issue, they would be paid the going, non-union rate for their labors.  The problem, of course, would be that these people would complete with the SEIU and other government unions.  So the last thing I’d do is to get rid of the government unions.  Boy, wouldn’t that be a change to the system?

UPDATE:  Speaking of unending welfare….

Woe betide us if we follow in England’s footsteps

England is a benefits culture.  The government, although strapped for cash, hands out benefits like candy, and each Briton feels entitled to his or her share.  It’s no wonder, of course.  Not only is there no stigma attached to benefits, there’s no upside to avoiding them.  Already back in the early 1980s, I had a friend who spent the entire summer before college cleaning up after elephants at the local zoo.  During the same summer, his sister lay on the couch, watched the Soaps on the telly, and collected her dole check.  At summer’s end, after he’d been taxed on his elephant poop pittance, she had more money than he did.  For him, it was a valuable lesson learned about British economics.

The inevitable has happened, with British citizens having become dysfunctionally inert:

The stigma that once went with claiming benefits rather than working for a living has been lost, a study has claimed.

The work ethic that inspired successive generations has ebbed away in the face of the welfare state.

Over the past decades each generation has seen more and more people milking the benefit system, which has sapped their will to work, the research from the Centre for Economic Performance said.

[snip]

The report said: ‘It has long been recognised that generous unemployment benefits create moral hazard – workers are partly protected against the consequences of being unemployed, so they are less likely to search for jobs with the same intensity.’

[snip]

The report in the journal CentrePiece said: ‘A decline in the work ethic, induced by the expansion of the welfare state, is key to understanding European unemployment.’

Researchers looked at answers from countries across Europe to the World Values Survey, a regular poll carried out in more than 90 countries since 1980.

They examined numbers of people in different age groups who said they thought it was never justifiable to cheat to get benefits.

They found that people in their 40s – born in the 1960s – are 12 per cent more likely than those in their 70s – who were born in the 1930s, before the days of all-encompassing welfare states – to say benefit cheating is justifiable.

For those born in the 1970s, those who would never falsely claim benefits were 19 per cent fewer than those born in the 1930s.

For people born in the 1980s, the gap rose to 24 per cent. The report said the rise in numbers prepared to cheat the benefits system held good regardless of the political views or educational level of the individual.

‘This decline in the work ethic could be one of the major factors explaining the evolution of unemployment since 1945,’ Mr Michau said.

Read more here.

This study is important, not only because it explains England’s decline into a nation characterized by sloth and debauchery, but because it presages the future Obama and the Democrats plan for us here in America.  Nancy wants to tax the functional middle class out of existence, and Obama is determined to channel those same tax moneys into a permanent pot for everyone who doesn’t want to work.  Their efforts will not create a new paradise in which everyone is loved and cared for.  It will create a hellish society of dependency and demoralization.  People whose lives lack meaning and purpose seem to slide inevitably into violent anarchy.

Urine or you’re out

Got this in an email today:

THE JOB – URINE TEST (Whoever wrote this one deserves a HUGE pat on the back!)

Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In
order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. So here is my question. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their rump–doing drugs, while I work. Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? I guess we could title that program, ‘Urine or You’re Out’.

The codependent liberal party

In the old days, when someone was a substance abuser, the entire onus for the abuse lay with that person.  At a certain point, however, someone figured out that, in many relationships, the abuser’s partner was part of the dance of drug or alcohol dependency.  A new term entered the pop culture vocabulary:  “codependent.”

The theory behind codependency is that the codependent person, for his or her own psychological reasons, needs the abuser to continue abuse.  That’s why you see the abuser’s partner buying booze for the alcoholic, or making excuses to the employer for the drug abuser’s bad behavior.

Sometimes, of course, the codependent is simply trying to ensure the abuser’s continued functioning for economic reasons.  If your husband is the sole breadwinner, and if he benefits from the hair of the dog that bit him so that he can go to work, it’s in your interest, at least in the short term, to make sure he gets that drink.  Likewise, if Mom has a happy drunk, but a mean hangover, keep her drunk, right?

Practicalities aside, there are definitely relationships in which the codependent gets a sort of sick, martyred pleasure out of keeping the abuser tied to the abuse.  For someone with low self-esteem, or a pathological desire to be needed, there’s really something satisfying in the bizarre dance of keeping an alcoholic simultaneously tied to his bottle and functioning.  You are both better than he is and entirely necessary to his survival.  You are the hero; he (or she) the perpetual damsel in distress.  Until things get intolerable, your needs are satisfied catering to his illness.

Of course, when things finally do get intolerable, you often find that it’s too late to do anything to change the situation.  You’ve gone too far down the slope of abuse and degradation for either of you to recover.

This whole line of thinking flows from the workout I had this morning at the dojo.  Everyone there is fairly successful (I know, ’cause I talk to people), most people there are Obama-ites (I know, because I read the bumper stickers and listen to the talk), and anyone who was at today’s workout is a driven person.  You don’t work out as maniacally as we did, pushing through the pain and fatigue, unless there’s a very deep level of commitment to succeed.

As the workout wrapped up, and we all oozed our sweaty bodies out of the doors, it occurred to me that my friends at the dojo are both a microcosm of the driven personalities in Marin and a microcosm of the liberal mentality.  Liberals actually expect quite a lot from themselves.  And so many of them need to feel that they are better than others.  They can pull an 80 hour work week, carpool their kids all over the place, and engage in a high intensity workout because they are superior — or, at least, they need others to see them that way.

To maintain that illusion of superiority, however, liberals don’t expect the Hispanic gardener, or the black bus driver, or the southern talking Mom in the trailer to prove that he (or she) is capable of precisely the same efforts and outcome.  And in order for liberals to maintain that satisfying distance from that gardener or bus driver or mom, they need to create a dependency system whereby they keep those people in their place. The substance liberals offer these people isn’t alcohol, or meth, or cocaine — it’s government money.

Once the flow of government money begins, the subliminal liberal thought process locks into place:  “Sure I suffer a lot working so hard to keep the flow of government money, and sure I pay lip service to how pathetic your life is, but as long as you’re hooked on that largesse, I can look at myself as a superior, beneficent being.  I’m better than you are.  I work harder than you do.  I’m more productive and I expect more from myself.  And as long as I keep your supply of government cash flowing, I never have to see a situation in which you, pathetic you, prove that you too can work long, hard and successfully.”

Of course, as with the chemical substance abuser, being hooked on a free money is a stable situation for only so long.  The abuser gradually needs more and more of the substance to keep functioning (whether alcohol, drugs or welfare).  Then, at some indeterminate point, but a point that always seems to come as a big surprise, nothing helps anymore.  The substance abuser becomes dysfunctional and the whole abuser/codependent dance grinds to a halt.

That’s what’s going to happen to America.  Right now, we’re creating a two class system, led by Obama, our Codependent in Chief, who is aided by his other obsessive, arrogant and martyred Ivy League educated codependents.  They see themselves as superior beings, who can work harder, be more productive, and be more moral than the “average” American.  But the only way they can maintain this fantasy (and it is a fantasy) is to ensure that the average American is prevented from being hard working, productive and moral.  So Obama and his allies are busy creating a political system that provides disincentives for the precisely the type of virtuous behavior that manifestly characterizes the Progressive leadership.  Eventually, though, those same Americans that we hook on government money will become so dysfunctional that nothing can save them.  And then it all grinds to a halt.

By the way, if you think I’m fantasizing about what happens when you hook a community on government money, just look at what the liberals did to the blacks starting with the 1960s’ Great Society.  Rather than giving the blacks equal opportunities alongside whites, which would have enabled black Americans to engage in the same obsessive, hard-working, compulsive, driven, high achieving behavior that characterized whites, the Great Society gave them free money — and almost destroyed them.  And throughout those years of codependent destruction, even as whites bemoaned the burdens of crimes and drugs and illiteracy that blacks placed on America, those same whites could view themselves as beneficent and superior beings, and that almost made it all worth while.

Perhaps it’s time for us to begin a Twelve Step Program for Democrats.  We need to help them so that they’ll stop “helping” others.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

What next for the nanny state?

Here in California, the hands-free cell phone law went into effect July 1.  (By the way, does anyone know whether there was an actual increase in traffic accidents after cell phones became popular?)  This morning, I heard a story that said that 1,800 fires and dozens of injuries resulted from fireworks last year.  Of course, in most communities around where I live, most fireworks are already illegal.  Yet, I also heard a story this morning that in California alone 50 people died last year from boating accidents, but I’ve not heard a call for a ban on pleasure boating.  And, a few days ago I heard about the latest of the frequent fatal accidents at amusement parks, but I haven’t heard any calls to ban amusement parks.

A few questions:  How do does our government select which forms of entertainment to protect us from?  What is next on the nanny state agenda?  I suppose the next logical step is banning cigarette smoking by drivers.  Hard to picture a hands-free cigarette.  But what else?  And why is the government in the business of protecting us from our own (and, I suppose, each other’s) stupidity? 

This issue has deeper ramifications than one might think.  Perhaps the biggest cause of the decline of American civilization in the last 50 years is that we’ve gotten very soft.  We don’t have the stomach for a serious, protracted war.  When challenged economically, we don’t step our game up a notch, we run for the cover of protectionist legislation (conservatives are especially guilty of this one).  We use social promotion and grades-free systems to protect our children from their own failures.  We teach unearned self-esteem, rather than stressing the need to actually accomplish anything to earn self-esteem.  We ban running, active and competitive play on the playground.

At all levels, we excuse failure.  It’s the parent’s fault.  It’s society’s fault.  It’s the government’s fault.  It’s the fault of stuff that happened to our great great great grandparents 150 years ago.  It’s the UN’s fault.  It’s the EU’s fault.  It’s OPEC’s fault.  It’s the fault of all those other nations who engage in “unfair” trade practices.  It’s everybody’s fault but our own personal fault.

We’ve gotten so soft, in fact, that we expect the government to protect us from ourselves and to give us everything we need, whether we’ve earned it or not (think the push for universal health care, for example).  We think safety, security and even comfort are inalienable rights.

At bottom, all of the various threads I’ve pointed to are attacks on personal responsibility, and there do not appear to be any limits placed on the attackers.  This cannot be healthy, can it?  If we decide government is responsible for everything and no one is responsible for himself or herself how will our society survive?  In a nanny state, we all become children.  And no society of children can long survive.  Does this make sense?  And what, if anything, can we do to prevent the increasing infantization of the American public? 

Life in England

England is becoming an increasingly alien place in terms of modern values. Two articles from today’s Daily Mail (a useful repository for stories the other papers are embarrassed to print):

1. A man was charged as a criminal for over filling his garbage can.

2. Families that refuse even to look for work, finding welfare preferable. Incidentally, I believe this story absolutely. When I lived in England in the early 1980s, I had a friend who spent a miserable summer cleaning up after the elephants at the local zoo. His sister spent the entire summer watching soaps on the “telly” and collecting her welfare check. At the end of the summer, she had almost twice as much money as he did. He was no fool, and vowed never to work again unless he could get a high paying job with his eventual engineering degree.