By Mike Ramey
A few years back, there was a school teacher who was finding it hard to make ends meet. Of course, she made too much money to qualify for Section 8 housing OR the buffet line of welfare services available to the poor in her city. On a whim, she sat down and added up all of the services that she COULD get, IF she met the poverty guidelines. To her amazement, the teacher found that she would be able to receive a full six to eight thousand dollars a year MORE if she would NOT work and go on public assistance.
Needless to say, this teacher had her eyes opened to the poverty ‘industry’.
Recently, the Heritage Foundation provided its “2012 Index of Dependence on Government” report. Some of the immediate findings showed that more and more of the middle class are ALSO receiving ‘government bennies’ ranging from housing assistance to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. The percentage number of those who pay NO taxes in the USA has risen to nearly 50% of the taxpaying population. Lastly, spending on aid to those pursuing higher education continues to skyrocket, from Pell Grants to other forms of student loans.
No longer is the issue of the ‘have nots’ limited to the so-called poor and infirmed. In a New York Times article released in February, 2012, more and more ‘safety net aid’ has snaked its way into the middle class, artificially pumping prosperity into its ranks. The main conclusion of the article is that those who often complain about the ‘safety net’ don’t often mind if someone else gets their ‘bennies’ cut; just leave ‘theirs’ alone.
It’s the new game in town: The Art of the Steal.
POVERTY…THE LATEST INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX?
Let’s explore more truths about the poverty ‘industry’ in the USA.
First, MOST of the people who are recipients of welfare, food stamps, EBT cards and a host of other bennies are of the Caucasian persuasion. Back in the day, when the poverty ‘industry’ went under the name of ‘relief’, the popular culture had little problem with good humored portraying of able-bodied poor whites as recipients of government relief or ‘assistance’.
Anyone remember Dogpatch, USA?
The poverty industry is also a place of insulation from economic reality. It was announced earlier this year in New York City–in the midst of our national depression, coupled with a rapid exodus of young workers anxious to escape higher taxes–that NYC authorities were going have to hire MORE welfare caseworkers, because of the exploding need for services for ‘the poor.’
The poverty/industrial complex is WELL supplied with providers and receivers, just like our prisons. We have social workers, case workers, shelter granters, lawyers–and even cops–serving as providers, dedicated to making sure that welfare services are distributed to ‘the poor’. Each of those who are employed in the provider pipeline get paychecks. Each of those who provide goods to ‘the poor’ gets paid handsomely to provide those goods. We taxpayers are told little about what we are paying for…just that we have to ‘pay’ for this industry with our hard-earned dollars.
Accountability? That’s someone else’s problem.
After all…nobody in the pipeline works, or provides ‘relief’ for free.
BACK IN THE DAY:
The Christian worldview about poverty and aid is the following: ‘…if a man will not work, he shall not eat…’. Thus, when the church provided for the poor, the view is to help those in need to get back on their feet (when possible) so that they may be restored and help others to get on their feet.
The government worldview is to keep as many ‘on’ the public dole as possible.
Lest you think that I’m cruel, I do support LEGITIMATE assistance and aid for those who NEED it. However, let me hasten to add that the average taxpayer has been ‘conned’ more than a few times; seeing able-bodied people marching in and out of the same grocers and merchants with their EBT cards glowing from constant use (NOT to mention the fact that poor relief–as I have mentioned–is supposed to be temporary, not extended to generation after generation of families and turning into an entitlement).
But, I digress…which is a good segue into the school house.
SIMPLY–THE ART OF THE STEAL:
Remember all of the static we taxpayers get whenever someone ‘mentions’ cutting school lunch programs? The programs have been expanded in some cities. Those children who meet the right family income guidelines can get breakfast, lunch and–in a few areas of the country–dinner. Now, with all of the money being poured into public schools to ‘help’ those students who come from low income families, one would ‘think’ that these children would be making gains in the classroom.
According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)–the nation’s report card–for my state for the year 2011, children who qualify for the federal free/reduced price school lunch program were reading an average of 22 points LOWER than those children who WERE NOT eligible for the program.
What are the students doing with their free/reduced price lunches provided by Uncle Sam (via the taxpayer)? One needs only to take a trip to the local school house during mealtime and see how much food is thrown away, wasted, or simply destroyed because the children ‘didn’t like it’. Vegetables–of course–are right near the top of the ‘frequent throw-away list’.
In my travels, I have found a number of young people who have ‘mastered’ the verbal art of the ‘industry’ and are fluent in ‘government-ese’. In some cases, some of our young people are more fluent in what they can ‘get’ from the government than what they can learn from their school books. Some of our teens have learned early from their parents about the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit), to when the monthly ‘crazy check’ comes from SSI (Social Security Insurance), and further still when the Food Stamps come in and the family can go out and ‘hustle’ and STILL approach churches, social service agencies (mainly faith based, of course), and anyone ‘giving away’ something for nothing. It’s the ‘Art of the Steal’. The tragedy? The stealing has gotten worse, and more players are now in the game. The game, unfortunately, is the only one in town–with taxpayer funds consistently up for grabs.
RAMEY, lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. THE RAMEY COMMENTARIES appears on fine websites and gracious blogs around the world. To correspond, email email@example.com. © 2012 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.