There's Welfare and There's Welfare
What pops into your mind when you hear or read the word "welfare"? Do you picture a homeless person? Do you picture a single mother or a homeless child? Do you picture a disabled veteran or a retiree? How about a young couple working minimum wage jobs who don't have enough money to house, feed, and clothe their two children? Or, does the word "welfare" bring to mind an image of another kind of human being, maybe one who is taking advantage of or cheating the system, and therefore undeserving of help? And, when this word brings these pictures to mind, what kinds of emotions do you feel?
I'd imagine that each and every American adult, depending on his or her experiences, upbringing, political and social compass, and a bunch of other factors, has his or her own set of pictures. The ones I listed above, well, those are some of mine. And, based on the set of pictures this one word brings to my mind, and their associated emotions, I'd guess that much could be said about what kind of a person I am. Just as your set of pictures, and the emotions that accompany them, could say a lot about what kind of person you are.
This issue of welfare is one I've thought about quite a bit lately, mostly because many on the right side of the political spectrum continuously push to reduce the amount of tax-payer dollars used to pay for it. "Entitlements," they say ("entitlements" being another word for "welfare"), "are one of the main reasons for our nation's debt, and must be cut or eliminated." In their view, almost all entitlements, which include food stamps, disability, medicaid, medicare, social security, subsidized housing, and a long list of others, seem to be the root cause of all our financial woes. So, with this issue of welfare being such a hot topic, and with those on the right saying entitlements are costing American tax-payers billions of dollars each year that we can't afford, I thought I'd check into it. So, I opened my web browser and started searching on words and phrases like, "welfare," "entitlements," "total welfare spending," "subsidies," and others that were related to the topic. And, after doing a little digging, I found a lot of eye-opening material.
Material that caused many additional pictures to pop into my mind when I think of the word "welfare." Here are a few of them:
A Fortune 500 CEO, a hedge fund manager, an oil executive, shareholders in multinational corporations, Mitt Romney, and even the fictional Thurston Howell, III - because, believe it or not, many people like these also receive direct or indirect financial aid from state as well as from the federal government. It's not called "Welfare," of course, or even "entitlements"; instead it's called by less politically-charged names, names like "subsidies," or "tax breaks," or "grants," or "tax credits." But whatever it's called, it's the same basic thing: Taking money from the American tax-payer and giving it to someone else. And while the emotions I feel when I think of the first set of pictures the word "welfare" brings to mind, the ones I listed in the first paragraph of this article, are complex and mixed, the emotions I feel when I think about this second set of pictures are simple.
Those about sum them up.
What about you? What do you feel?
And if you don't believe me, then I'd like to challenge you to do what I did. Start looking into it. Start searching the web. Start reading articles. Start researching facts and figures. In fact, I challenge you to prove or disprove this information I found (these are just a few examples; I could have easily made a list ten times as long):
1. When American companies advertise outside the United States, the federal government reimburses them 100% of their advertising costs.
2. Tax-payers in Wyoming paid a major airline over 2 million dollars in subsidies to provide service to their state. After less than three years, the airline left the state, and without paying penalties.
3. For every dollar tax-payers pay for social welfare programs, tax-payers pay three dollars for corporate welfare programs.
It seems to me that if people on the right of the political spectrum are really interested in reducing the nation's debt, they will work to cut back or eliminate the welfare paid not to the poorest Americans, but to the richest Americans. Corporate welfare, not social welfare, is the kind of welfare that is really devastating our country.
-Greg, March 2012