One Nation on Welfare

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol building stands prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC.

As Democrats in Charlotte tell it, Barack Obama is helping out the most deserving Americans with federal spending. Last week in Tampa, Republicans accused the President of giving Big Government credit for the private sector’s hard work. Here’s the reality, as Michael Grunwald writes in this week’s magazine, now available online to subscribers: We’re all on the government dole. Republicans have tried to divide the country into bold entrepreneurs and leeching welfare queens. But while everyone who works is a “maker,” we’re all “takers” too. In describing his own heavily subsidized life, Grunwald gets at the intractable nature of tax expenditures and other government goodies that balloon the deficit while pampering those Americans who already have it pretty easy. His opening:

The sun is shining on Miami Beach, and I wake up in 
 subsidized housing. I throw 
 on a T-shirt made of subsidized 
 cotton, brush my teeth with 
 subsidized water and eat cereal made of subsidized grain.

Soon the chaos begins, two hours of pillow forts, dance parties and other craziness with two hyper kids and two hyper Boston terriers, until our subsidized nanny arrives to watch our 2-year-old. My wife Cristina then drives to her subsidized job while listening to the subsidized news on public radio. I bike our 4-year-old to school on public roads, play tennis on a public court
 and head home for a subsidized shower. Then I turn on my computer with subsidized electricity and start work in my subsidized home office.

It’s just another manic Monday, brought to us by the deep pockets of Big Government. The sunshine is a natural perk, and while our kids are tax deductible, the fun we have with them is not. The dogs are on our dime too. Otherwise, taxpayers help support just about every aspect of our lives.

Go ahead and read the whole thing.

46 comments
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Mary Waterton
Mary Waterton

It won't be so funny when the economy finally collapses under the weight of the national debt. It will make the crisis of 2008 look like a sunshiny day. Americans will, for the first time in their lives, experience REAL hunger and REAL deprivation.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Michael takes a whole day and goes through everything he and his family do and how it is all subsidized one way or another. Undoubtly some of it is local, but the amounts we pay for water, electricity, etc. may seem purely local, but there are substantial federal connections there as well. Don't forget the home mortgage interest deduction - RR will have to get rid of that for the tax cuts. Here is another example I'll bet most don't think of.

The silliest handouts that brighten my morning are the boondoggles that funnel billions to America's cotton and grain farmers and maybe knock a few cents off the price of my T-shirts and my kids' breakfast waffles. Uncle Sam sends at least $15 billion every year to farmers and agribusinesses in the form of grants, loans, crop insurance and other goodies. The farm lobby is so omnipotent in Washington that when the World Trade Organization ruled that U.S. handouts give our cotton farmers an unfair advantage over Brazil, the U.S. cut a deal to shovel $147 million a year to Brazilian cotton farmers rather than kick our own farmers off the dole. Our food and clothing may seem cheap, but, oh, we pay for them.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magaz...

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

Hurricane Issac washed up a 1930's schooner on a Georgia private beach.  The beach

owners don't want the public on their land looking at the wreck but don't want to

pay to have it removed.  They'd love to have the govt. do it.  Otherwise, get off my

beach! 

sacredh
sacredh

Haha. I'm a federal employee. I win.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

That explains a lot..

sacredh
sacredh

In the 70's I passed up a better paying job in the private sector for a government job that paid 25% less and involved working outside year round. It was the second best decision I ever made.

doddeb
doddeb

Yeah, us "government leeches" need to hang together.  Or surely Romney and Ryan will hang us separately.  Seriously, I'm mystified by my fellow federal employees that are going to vote Republican this election, since Romney has been very straightforward about how he plans to lower our pay/benefits.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

He should lower your pay/benefits, you're a government worker..You probably already make more than your counterparts in the private sector, but yet you produce nothing, you absorb tax payer dollars, and you give back less than you take from us. You're welcome.

Nic Watkins
Nic Watkins

 The problem here isn't that government workers make to much.  The problem is that private sector workers have been conditioned to accept less.  If you are among those who make less in the private sector, it is YOUR OBLIGATION to change jobs and get into a situation where you make more.  The answer does not involve penalizing those workers who were smart enough to avoid those private sector pitfalls.  For all you people brutalized by the private sector, your enemy is not the postal worker, your enemy is the Koch Brothers.  And I have news for you, even if you successfully penalize the government worker, bringing them down to your poor level, both of you are still being victimized by the Kochs of the world.  This is politics of the nouveau poor at its finest.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

Plenty! I have 2 businesses. One is a very successful Ebay business, that allows me to work from home, and it pays my sons college tuition. Sorry Obama, they won't be going into debt to get an education. My oldest is working for his degree in Physical Therapy amp; Personal Training and my youngest is getting his degree in Graphic Design, which means he's taking a vow of poverty, lol. My other business is in the coal mining industry, which I along with my business partner manufacture amp; sale aftermarket mining parts for Joy Continuous Miners. We have 3 employees, and we are hoping to expand after we figure out this election. By the way, we use only US Certified Steel, which keeps other Americans employed for good measure.

MrObvious
MrObvious

What do you 'produce' Terry?

Diecash1
Diecash1

 

but yet you produce nothing

Says yet another idiot right-winger.  Yeah, all those government employees serve no purpose whatsoever.  What color is the sky in your world?

sacredh
sacredh

We're pretty evenly divided at work between liberals and conservatives. Every person that voted for Obama last time is voting for him this time but a couple of the guys that voted for McCain last time have decided to sit this one out.

Diecash1
Diecash1

Voting against one's own interests is a staple of the republican voter.  Without such voters, the repubs would have little else.

Diecash1
Diecash1

Yeah, I used an online tool to see what the difference might be in my tax burden under Obama and Romney (at least with the details that they've cobbled together thus far) and I'd save several thousand dollars under the Romney plan but ~71% of Americans would be worse off and the country would too. Regardless, I'll be voting for Obama even if it costs me some extra money in taxes. His vision for the country is fundamentally flawed and I can't go back to that.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I was just saying at lunch that I will be voting against my own interests because if RR are elected, I will likely pay almost nothing in taxes because of no taxes on dividends and capital gains.

However, I don't think what they propose is good for the country and any Supreme Court justice they can appoint will be bad for the country for generations, so I'm voting for Obama.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

 I think people tend to think they fall higher up on the economic spectrum than they actually do, so they think the Republican policies affect them positively.  I remember some polls from a few years ago where something like 25% of people think they're in the top 5%.  I'll test my Google-Fu later when I have more time...

doddeb
doddeb

One of my friends at work is set to inherit gobs from her and her husband's families.  So, it makes more sense for her to vote R (although if I have to sit through one more lecture about how President Obama hates rich people, MY head will explode).  My other co-workers are not wealthy and the best I can tell, they have fallen for the austerity argument.  All evidence to the contrary.

Andy Wisniewski
Andy Wisniewski

But you pay taxes right? If your personal income is a government subsidy then you pay no income taxes, that is what the whole nation on welfare thing Republican sound byte is referring to, actual people who are generationally jobless and leaching off a system. Not people who pay into a system and expect to receive some benefit from it. Yes water is subsidized but I pay city taxes don't I? And public roads are public but I pay gas taxes. And when I am unemployed I will collect unemployment insurance which I payed for and when I retire I may collect social security which I paid into. Sure some pay more and some pay less and a all receive about equal but that is the whole point of insurance, but welfare isn't like that, some pay all and by virtue of paying receive none, others receive and by virtue of receiving pay none. I am not saying that you should not help the poor, I  come from a struggling lower middle class family and no what its like to have to go without things others have as a child. What I am saying is you should not create a system which enables the poor single mothers to be poor single mothers of poor single mothers who will though having nothing better to do fail at raising there children and have yet another generation of poor single mothers.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

 Generally speaking, I agree with you.  I too came from a struggling lower middle/upper lower class family, and do my darndest to ensure my children never have to experience some of the things I did.  We absolutely should create a system to help break the cycle of poverty for everyone, not just single mothers.  I think, in a vacuum, Dems and Reps could both agree on that singular sentence. 

The difference is, IMHO, the Reps generally subscribe to the Just World Fallacy, with a healthy dose of throwing the baby out with the bath water.  (I.e "poor people are lazy and have done something to deserve their poverty and we shouldn't help them and scrap the whole system because someone might take advantage of it--welfare queens" type of talking points.)

The Dems, OTOH, want to fix the system, but don't always do that well.  And then, of course, have to contend with the Reps at every twist and turn.

A first step would be for the cut-offs for aid to be more reflective of the actual cost of living (I'm looking at you, Federal Poverty Levels), and to make all aid a sliding scale instead of an all or nothing endeavor.  Here in MO, as a single parent with one child, you must make less than $6800 per year to qualify for subsidized childcare.  How is that encouraging work?  Given the choice between a low-paying part time job and being unemployed, under the current system, unemployment is actually better--and that IS a problem. 

The WIC cut-offs are much more reasonable, but still, they're not a sliding scale.  Making $1 more than the cut-off and getting denied aid, does not give an incentive to make a little bit more money, or get a job that's a little bit better and work your way up.  Instead of cutting aid off, at a certain income level, aid should get ticked down for every $1000 annual increase in income until you make enough to not receive assistance.

Passing out birth control like it's candy, fully subsidized daycare if you're in college or a trade school, readily available job training programs with placement assistance, and generally realizing that education is the key to everything would all help too.  A rising tide lifts all ships.    

Tommy3134
Tommy3134

Pinellas County Florida school board decided to make free breakfast available to over 100,000 plus students in K thru 12 regardless of income this year.  No parent asked for it. No voters voted for it. The Pinellas County school board just did it.

Curious_Quiche
Curious_Quiche

I'll bet this makes the Republican brain trust pine for the days when a man could fall into the meat processing equipment and they could still pass it off as pure leaf lard if they could dose it with enough kerosene.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Ask Ayn Rand about accepting govt. benefits instead of just reading anti-collectivist rants about them.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

 You know, I asked a Randian I know about that.  He said, to the effect of, why shouldn't she take her benefits?  They were legally hers to have.  Doesn't matter what she thought of them, or the system, they were hers to take.  My though was that reasoning actually makes a twisted sort of sense when one subscribes to the cult of the almighty dollar.  There's no reason to turn down a dollar out of principal, because that violates the number one principal of Ayn Rand:  Looking out for Number One, first, foremost and always. 

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Dunno. If you're going to decry that kind of thing, then turn around and do it yourself - it just makes you a hypocrite.

Period.

Looking out for number one is all well and good - but the two things aren't mutually exclusive.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

Oh don't misunderstand-as far as I'm concerned, I think Ayn Rand was a first class hypocrite and morally bankrupt. Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead arent worth the paper they're printed on.

I just thought his reasoning made a twisted sort of sense from a perspective where selfishness is a virtue-the only virtue even.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Ryan does admire her. And he followed her example.

Except in reverse.

MrObvious
MrObvious

The truth is that GOPers have always been for the government throwing out the big bucks but not to actual citizens and 'litte people'. They want the dole for the people who already have trunk loads because ultimately and historically they're for giving power to the already powerful because 'they know and are better' while dems are for giving power to regular folks.

It's not about making people welfare takers - it's about empowering far more people then the ones who have everything but biatch about getting no respect.

Sorry - this is not the 1500's where peasants have to kiss some halfwit nobles arse. This is a representative democracy where everyone get one vote to decide the outcome of this country. Not just the ones who horded most of the resources.

And the best way to make sure people have the same opportunity to strive towards whatever end goal they have in mind is to give each and one of us the same stake and claim to the commons.

gysgt213
gysgt213

This is going to make some right wing heads explode. But the truth is we, using the government as the tool, subsidize each other as individuals as well as small and big business. Everyone in this country no matter how little or how much money you personally have gain some benefit from this system.  It is true that some of us benefit more than others and some of us benefit less than others. But we all get some benefit and the issue is way beyond Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, food stamps and welfare.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Right Wingers like to drone on about property rights. What they fail to realize is that property rights themselves require a fully functional Government, Court and Police system to even exist. Defending property rights is the reason we invented government in the first place.

Tommy3134
Tommy3134

 Romney would not have need successful managing the Olympics without government financial support. Google it.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

When you can get a reputation as a fiscally responsible budget cutter without doing the politically difficult budget cutting, why bother?

Note to journalists. Paul Ryan didn't suddenly become bad at arithmetic. He's ALWAYS been bad at arithmetic.

jtorrey1
jtorrey1

That is one of the big problems with the Ryan Budget plan, first reduce revenue by giving more tax cuts to the rich, then cut "entitlements" that actually support the rich (Doctors, Medical Industry, Landlords and Food Chains). The republicans seem to think that the elderly, poor and unemployed all have off shore accounts (like Mitt Romney) that they are putting the money they get into.

doddeb
doddeb

Ryan voted for every treasury-draining, bloated, big ticket-item that Bush ever proposed.   How he ever got a reputation as a budget-minded wonk is totally beyond me.  He did his level best during the Bush administration, to transfer government largesse to those who least needed it:  defense contractors, big Pharma, insurance companies.  So, yeah, we should just "trust" R/R that this time, it's all about austerity.  This time, it'll be different.  Not.

irish379
irish379

This goes right to the heart of the matter. Voters always say they want less govt, until you ask them what programs and subsidies they want to eliminate.  Sort of like one man's earmark is another man's pork.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Adam, you quoted more of MG's article than is shown at link thanks to the paywall. Why not just post the whole thing? I'll guess (thanks to paywall since I can't read the damn post intact) that MG and his family (and everyone else) are also eating foods without having to inspect everything firsthand (try to judge if a cantaloupe is salmonella-free). MG and other swamp reporters can also fly around the country on assignments in safety.

.

Then again, even Mitt Romney gets government handouts too....

http://www.rollingstone.com/po...

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

The whole article is definitely worth reading. Very detailed and well done.

gysgt213
gysgt213

He's trying to get some of us to subscribe or at least buy the mag off the rack.  These sales still help Time a lot and the money made, I like to believe keeps a human reporter on the job.  This issue might be worth at least picking up off the rack.

sacredh
sacredh

Am I the only regular poster that subscribes? I take it to work after I read it and pass it around. It's a small price to pay if I get swampland in return.

sacredh
sacredh

I'm old fashioned. I like having a book or magazine in my hands. I prefer to flip the pages. I do prefer my p0rn on the computer though. Maybe there's hope for me after all.

Diecash1
Diecash1

 Nope, you're not, Sacred.  I've subscribed for years.  My current subscription doesn't expire for over five years.  I read a lot of material online but I really do enjoy reading magazines.  At least I do when I have the time.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I subscribed because I thought I should support Swampland. I mostly read articles on my iPad and quickly page through the paper copy.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

This is a truth that has been long overdue in the public conversation.

(Unfortunately you only subsidize my access to this free bit in the Swampland so I'll have to forgo the whole article until I run across it in some office somewhere. )