It’s Our Money, Dammit!

When did we develop this concept that the government benefits we receive are always “someone else’s money”?

Oh, right; it’s part of the “Republicanization” of this country. And like everything else we have been led to believe, it’s a load of crap.

What is wrong with us? Where does the attitude come from that makes someone feel  guilty because they take unemployment money when they can’t find a job, or take a little money each month to keep their family off the streets, or to pay for food, so their kids don’t go hungry during a difficult time?

We used to think , “There but for the grace of God go I…” Now, too many of us seem to think we’re somehow better than other people because, at a particular moment, we can afford to pay for shit and someone else can’t. The Republicanization is not making us a better country at all. It’s killing our damn souls.

The stigma that attaches to needing help in this country is abhorrent. It’s wrong on so many levels, but the one level that should transform our attitudes is the one in which we acknowledge that the vast majority of people who get government help are getting their own money.

Yeah, that’s what I said! They are getting their own money. Except for a scant few people who take advantage of the system (and some do exist), most people will pay a hell of a lot more into the system than they’ll take out of it.

This is the greatest single reason we have to focus mostly on getting rid of the right wing GOP for the next couple of decades. I have a feeling that even a number of liberals rolled their eyes as they read that statement; that’s how badly we’ve been brainwashed. We actually believe that individuals get “free money.” They don’t. The only entities that get “free money” are the very rich and large corporations.

What started me thinking this was an argument posed by someone who actually posited that, since people have to drug test for most jobs, people who are getting “free money” should have to do that, too.

That’s another “argument” that should be dismissed as ludicrous. For one thing, if a private company decides to drug test, that’s a personal, private decision between employer and employee. Federal and most state laws do not require drug screening for any job. Also, most jobs really don’t drug test. If you would bother to check, the only companies that force drug tests are jobs for which public safety is a factor, like truck drivers and construction workers, or shitty jobs at workplaces owned by cheapskates, who get their jollies from forcing people to piss test for the privilege of working at below living wages for an asshole who just likes to wield power. I can assure you; a graduate of Harvard Law School who’s having $150,000 a year dangled in front of his face by top firms will only have to piss in a cup if he’s actually doing drugs and the managing partner thinks his drug use is affecting clients.

Third, and most importantly, the people who are applying for a job are asking someone else to pay them some of their money to do a job. The people who are applying for welfare are asking for some of their own money. And with that, we get back to the root problem. We don’t think of government money as ours. But it is.

The overwhelming majority of people who receive welfare money get it for less than a year or two, and that includes Food Stamps/SNAP. Assuming that someone gets, say, $1000 per month in benefits, that’s $12,000 per year, or $24,000 for two. And most people don’t get it for that long. If a person’s working life is 50 years, and they make an average of $40,000 per year, they will pay upwards of $500,000 in taxes over their lifetime. Even without accounting for interest and return on investment, that’s a hell of a lot more than the $24,000 they will get back from the government to help them through a difficult spot. As for unemployment, well, it’s called insurance for a reason. Everyone who works for a company pays into the unemployment insurance pool every payday.

There are really only a few government services that we as individual citizens get that we don’t pay for with taxes. K-12 education for us and our kids is the biggest one. We don’t really pay enough in taxes to pay for that; most of that money comes from taxes businesses pay. That’s one reason the schemes to allow people to pay for private school with “their” tax money are so absurd. It’s also why it’s disgusting that the government has put us in the position of paying so much for post-secondary education. Yes, we benefit from getting a college education, but the companies we work for benefit more. The more college educated people there are, the more downward pressure there is on wages. (By the way, the more taxpayers there are and the more money they make, the less our individual tax bills have to be.)

Even with Social Security and Medicare, you’re mostly getting back money you paid into the system. And why not? It’s essentially the country paying it forward. Our parents paid for their parents’ retirement, and we paid for theirs, now our kids will pay for ours and their kids will pay for them. And everyone who is covered by Medicare is saving every other insurance premium payer a lot of money by making sure their bills are paid.

And none of these programs is bad for the economy. In fact, they’re all good. Everyone who is covered by Medicare is saving every other insurance premium payer a lot of money by making sure their bills are paid. Those who buy food stamps support farmers and grocers. Those who get Section 8 rent assistance help make sure landlords get their money. But beyond that, they are keeping you healthy and alive so that you can continue paying taxes. Every dime the government invests in getting us through hard times is basically them giving us back some of our money. There’s a cognitive dissonance in complaining about how much we all pay in taxes and then complaining when someone collects come back to help out. Almost every other industrialized nation in the world

There’s a cognitive dissonance in complaining about how much we all pay in taxes and then complaining when someone collects come back to help out. Almost every other industrialized nation in the world has a much stronger welfare system than we have, and you hear almost none of the complaining.

We need to grow up as a nation, folks.

If you want to complain about those who get “free money,” look at Exxon or Mitt Romney, not the single mother trying to raise her kids to be good citizens on $1,000 per month…

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