The folly of beating up on ‘welfare queens’

I’m seeing more and more hostility towards the very poor lately, with the facebook memes galore.  They are obviously from conservative-leaning sites.  This is just one example of ‘conservatives’ speaking out about lazy, do-nothings that just suck up our tax dollars for no good reason.

Never mentioned, not even on their radar screen, is corporate policy.  This contains two elements:  First, one must ignore or be unaware of the huge amounts that are funnelled into corporate coffers at taxpayer expense, either as tax breaks, credits, deductions, subsidies, or even the bailouts which the non-libertarian right wing (hypocritically, in my opinion) decried as violating the basics of capitalism, a practice in which they are, to put it mildly, well versed.   Rarely will you find a major news story about these huge giveaways, especially one that would condemn it.  Conversely, stories about the lower classes (as well as the government) ‘wasting’ money are fair game, often with exaggerations, or even outright falsehood (see the DOJ $16 muffin ‘scandal’).

Second, the constant barrage of advertising, inculcation of values (from television and the internet, as well as other sources), along with generally accepted attitudes about the poor (along with the shitty economy) seem to be a major factor in peoples drive to stop the lazy and shiftless (minorities?) from stealing their hard-earned tax dollars for such immoral and useless endeavors as eating, housing, and health care.  Reality television, as Chris Hedges will tell you, does a great job of humiliating the poor, putting them in their proper place, and keeping us thinking right by blaming their situation on their morality or actions alone, as if they existed in a vacuum independent of society at large.

As noted yesterday on this segment on Up with Chris Hayes, the majority of  people on SNAP (foodstamps) and TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) are single mothers and children.  So if we are to condemn them broadly for their moral and financial failings, we condemn the children with them.  As any sensible person knows (which doesn’t include a large swath of the population), you can’t blame the kids and they shouldn’t suffer needlessly, whether the fault of the parent(s) or society at large.

Basically, this is a classic and well-honed strategy of ‘divide and conquer’, getting people in the same or similar classes to be at each others throats for sharing (wasting) resources that could be put to much better use (tax cuts and wars).  Meanwhile, the ultra-minority at the top siphons wealth from us all, neglecting public needs, and directing anger at the government.  (Tea party, anyone)?

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