Not All Welfare Recipients Are Like That

In the discussion that followed my last post, Daisy Deadhead took issue with Yohami and I, asserting:

I will put my multiple decades of work history against yours or anyone else. Receiving food stamps did not teach me NOT to work, quite the contrary. I have worked very hard in my life, and I resent anyone saying that the fact that my family got welfare means that I have not. It just isn’t true.

Although I saw nothing either of our comments or in my post that asserted that either Daisy or all people who at some point in their lives get government assistance are doomed to lives of aimless dependency, she reveals a belief common to her political allies.  To the contrary, in my post I said:

Granted, to many free-market types, everyone on welfare is a drug-addicted loser who spends all day playing X-Box, and that’s not true. 

(And in case you’re wondering why Daisy’s getting so much time, it’s because she’s just about the only commenter who disagrees with me.  The rest of you like what I have to say.  This boosts my ego a bit more, but it makes it harder to fight with you.)

I’ve no reason to doubt Daisy’s assertion that she got government assistance growing up and became a hard-working adult who pays her taxes like the rest of us.  Daisy’s not the only one, either.  I know such folks, and know of many others.

I am therefore unable to “repeat[] the nonsense that having health care (or anything else) paid for, suddenly turns you into some obscene, lazy freeloader” because I haven’t said it, and Yohami didn’t either.

Nevertheless, she reveals an important fallacy common to the left.  When it’s pointed out, it can make you more persuasive when dealing with them.

There is human nature, what people generally do (A).  There is also a how people should be, and sometimes are (G).

Apparently, Daisy’s family did something right.  Although they received government assistance, they obviously didn’t rely on it to the point that it sapped their work ethic.  Furthermore, they raised their daughter in such a way that she would not be inclined to grow up as a mooch.  This implies that any sense of entitlement they may have had was outweighed by their self-respect.  This is good.  It’s not a myth.  Sometimes people actually act this way.  G is sometimes real.

However, when people are able to get something for free, they’re liable to take it.  Not only will they take it, a lot of times they’ll count on it.  As they count on it, they become dependent on it.

If they’re dependent on it, and there’s also an entire political movement telling them that they deserve it, they’ll likely feel entitled to it.  That’s human nature.  It is what it is.  A is A.

Can other forces counteract this?  Yes!  Are there James Braddocks out there who will give back their governmen benefits once they get back on their feet?  Yes!

But people are like that only if they have a strong moral core (which they usually don’t) or are afraid of being shamed by others (which they’re not–EBT cards were introduced to lessen the stigma of food stamps).  Furthermore, if they have politicians, friends, and community leaders telling them repeatedly that they deserve whatever benefit they’re getting (and actually deserve even more), they’re going to cling to that benefit with every ounce of strength they’ve got.

And we see the results of this in the riots of Europeans almost every time virtually anything is cut.

The Anointed and Benighted perpetuate the belief that most people will feel grateful for whatever their given for distinct reasons.  The Anointed don’t particularly care if they’re doing any good or not; they want power.  The Benighted inadvertently project their own sense of nobility onto everybody else.  They got government support for a while and they turned out okay (or maybe they never did, but they’re absolutely certain they wouldn’t take advantage of it).  The next time they drive through the slums of Cincinnati they need to take a good look around and realize that most people on welfare don’t turn out okay.

If your mother supported you on food stamps for three months and got off them the instant she could, this tells you one thing:  Your mom was special.  Not All Moms Are Like That.

The Benighted aren’t entirely familiar with the A of human nature; at times they recognize it as clearly as the most hardcore Objectivist, for when it comes to the Wall Street fatcats and greedy Big Pharma execs who would gladly regulate their way into an even bigger fortune, the Benighted understand the A is A of human nature to their very core.

What they need to recognize is that greed is not exclusive to the rich and powerful.  No matter how much you may or may not have, you always want more, and rare is the man who insists on earning every penny he acquires.  This is a universal constant.  We are what we are.  We don’t have to be, but it takes work to transcend this aspect of ourselves.  Any given man or woman you meet may be an exception to this rule, you may be an exception to this rule, but it’s still the rule.

I can’t more strongly recommend Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom:  The Worldview That Makes the Underclass.  If you read it, you will clearly see how pernicious and destructive our “help” can be.  First generation or middle-class temporary welfare recipients will often respond like Daisy’s family, but if you spend too much time getting paid to do nothing, work is for suckers.

This doesn’t strike me as particularly helpful, either to those who have to give or those who eventually feel entitled to receive.  The force we use to take from some to give to others divides us, it crowds out much of what unites us.  The G people often feel through their desire to help the less fortunate is crowded out by the sense that they’re being taken advantage of.

The Benighted may not feel such resentment (yet), but they need to recognize that not all of us share their sense of selflessness.  The more people feel like they have to help others, the less they’ll want to.

Also, the Benighted fail to recognize another aspect of A, that of the Anointed.  Many of the problems we face today are the result of the supposed solutions of the past, including (but not limited to) the desperation of our slums and our absurdly expensive healthcare system, The Anointed talk of caring and sympathy, but they want power.  They depend on others needing their “help”, and if they actually solved any of our problems, they’d be out of a job.

Hence, the Tobias Mindernickel effect. the way they break our legs so that they we need them to give us crutches.

How to strangle that in its crib is what I’ll be exploring soon.

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6 Responses to Not All Welfare Recipients Are Like That

  1. YOHAMI says:

    Daisy’s mom is special for sure. Do lefties like science? this kind of data can be measured easily. How animal behavior reacts when given free stuff, or given stuff in exchange of work, and what happens when you widthdraw the benefits.

    I mean this isnt even about moral or fairness. This is psychology.

  2. Jehu says:

    Maybe 5% of the population inherently feels gratitude when you do something for them that they in no way deserve. Maybe 10-15% more of the population does a passable emulation of feeling gratitude—with perhaps a little more of the that part of the population that actually experience REAL hardship (e.g., lived through the great depression). And a few more will fake gratitude if shaming is seriously forthcoming when they behave like the ingrates that they naturally are.
    Planning a society based on the expectation of gratitude is a non-starter, especially when your organs of shame have broken down on that issue, or have been redirected to other targets.
    Ben Franklin got it right, people don’t like you better because you have done them favors, they like you better because THEY have done YOU favors.

  3. Okay, full disclosure, I won’t lie… I did receive food stamps briefly as an abandoned-mom in the 80s. Not for long though, it was for less than two years. The majority are on AFDC for 2-5 years total. Only 25% stay on AFDC for over 5 years. Thus, not really sure *who* you are talking about. This show that it IS really being regarded as an emergency measure. As soon as I could work, I did. But single mothers as a social unit, are a huge aspect of the issue. What do you think the answer to that ‘social problem’ is? Do you think coming down harder on men is the answer? My own ex did not give me a dime for 4+ years, while my present husband (and I) financially supported HIS child. It was all perfectly legal and nobody put him in jail, despite the okeydoke I keep hearing about. (Eventually, I was able to terminate his legal rights, but in many ways, that was a mere formality; he had deserted long before.)

    Further, while 58 billion is spent on human welfare (children), 92 billion is spent on CORPORATE welfare, and what about that? Do corporations get addicted to welfare too? Do you suggest cutting them off too?

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