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Who's doing your fishing?

Posted By Phil Elmore On 08/17/2011 @ 9:00 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’re a heartless neo-con tea-party terrorist who wants poor people to eat dog food when they aren’t being herded into concentration camps.

Welcome to contemporary America, in which you are free to express any opinion – as long as you agree with Obama and his Democrat thugs. What you’re not allowed to believe is that our government spends too much money. What you’re not permitted to say is that much of these expenditures are devoted to keeping alive the lazy, the shiftless and the unmotivated.

From the outset, there will be those who want to work who have been forced, by the poor economy, to file for unemployment benefits. I have been asked by readers who find themselves in these circumstances if they can, in good conscience, accept those benefits. In every case, these readers are libertarians, capitalists and other advocates of free minds and free markets who worry they are being hypocritical by going “on the government dole.”

What I tell them is that they are among the few people using the system as it is meant to be used. They are not making a career of such benefits; they are using a system provided (often against their will as voters) into which they have been paying throughout their productive careers. When will you, as a productive and taxpaying citizen, have another opportunity to recoup even a little of the wages confiscated from your paycheck every period?

Unfortunately, far too many Americans treat unemployment benefits as a lifestyle rather than temporary aid. The easier we make it for them to do so, the more we encourage them to remain on the dole.

In July of 2011, the number of “long-term unemployed” – those out of work for a staggering 27 weeks or more – was estimated at 6.2 million workers, or 44 percent of those classed as unemployed. According to the United States Department of Labor, “States reported 3,158,621 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending July 23.” We’re told the unemployment rate is something like nine percent in the United States, but of course this figure is massaged and spun to minimize its negative impact on the Obama administration. The real unemployment rate is closer to a chilling 23 percent. Roughly speaking, one out of every four people who’d prefer to have a job … doesn’t. Another way to look at that is that more than 8.4 million people are collecting either state or federal jobless benefits … and that’s just the people to which the Powers that Are will admit.

The problem is worse than you think – and worse still than that. Back in April, CNN reported that one in six Americans was receiving some form of government assistance. “Enrollment in Medicaid and food stamp programs are at record highs,” wrote Tami Luhby, “while unemployment insurance rolls remain at elevated levels. Many people depend on more than one program.” Luhby went on to say that Medicaid enrollment topped 50 million in 2010 for the first time ever. A record 44.1 million Americans are receiving food stamps (that’s one in seven American citizens).

In 2007, The Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program issued a publication called “Effects of EBT Customer Service Waivers on Food Stamp Recipients.” The study’s abstract explains, “Most State agencies are now using electronic benefits transfer (EBT) systems to issue food stamp benefits. To promote operational efficiency, some States have received waivers of certain rules governing EBT use.” The study’s focus is on the ease with which users of EBT cards spend the benefits allotted them.

This experience – this ease – is directly tied to the trend in applying technology to soften the stigma of using such benefits. There was a time when users of food stamps had to very obviously tear the stamps out of a booklet for all the world to see. You could not stand in a grocery checkout line and not know that the person in front of you was paying in food stamps. (This was especially true when he or she used a pocket full of change to purchase beer and cigarettes. An early exploit of these programs was that hard change from food stamp transactions could not be controlled as were the stamps themselves). Today, the food-stamp recipient slides an EBT card through the electronic reader just as you slide your debit or credit card. The stigma is lifted, the transaction is painless and the speed with which your tax dollars are shoveled into the fires of our mixed economy’s socialist engines is greater than ever before.

The elephant in the room, where government assistance is concerned, is that such programs destroy families. They do so inevitably and inexorably. When your government makes it possible for you to live without working, even compensating you for having additional children, there is neither physical need nor emotional incentive for families to remain intact – or for single-parent welfare dependants to exercise restraint in producing more welfare beneficiaries. If you point out these facts, you’re a terrible person who wants children to starve, who wants to cut the “social safety net” and who probably kicks puppies. Oh, and you’re also a racist.

Call it what you will. Food stamps, EBT, the welfare system, the social safety net, by any name, government assistance is destroying the country. Transfers of wealth from producers to non-producers twist the idea of “taking advantage.” The productive citizen takes advantage of government assistance in that he avails himself of the system in order to improve his long-term circumstances. The dregs of society take advantage of government assistance – by taking advantage of the productive citizen.

Those so sustained abuse government transfers of wealth to further their own mental, emotional and social weaknesses. In the process, they do both us and them a disservice. In such a system, everybody loses – and the only fish on the hook are those few Americans working to support everybody else.


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