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On Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night, Alexandra Pelosi presented a counter-point video showing people in New York visiting a welfare office. Her goal was to present the "other side" of her previous video about racist and hypocritical folks in Mississippi by showing people taking welfare money in New York that are are apparently fully capable of working, yet insist on taking "free checks" instead. She used terms like "entitlement culture" and "freeloading welfare queens", and implied that she's shining some light on the argument by exposing that there are people out there cheating the system.

Putting aside her arrogance and confrontational attitude ("See, they didn't laugh as much!" "The left will be exploding on Monday!"), she's absolutely right. There ARE people out there cheating the system, and probably a lot of them. There ARE many people out there taking advantage of the "handouts" by the government to get free money and benefits that they're probably fully capable of earning on their own.

Where she's wrong is thinking that any of that actually MATTERS.

As I go about my day, just as we all do, I occasionally run into people asking me if I can spare something for them, for one reason or another. And every time, if I have a few dollars in my pocket I give them something, regardless of what reason they give. If I'm with someone else, I occasionally get asked something like "Why do you give them money, aren't you worried that they'll just use it on booze/drugs?" And my answer to that is always, "No, I'm not." Not because I necessarily believe whatever story about needing gas or bus fare or whatever that they give, or that they won't actually use it on booze or drugs. It doesn't concern me at all because there are two risks in this situation - I end up giving them money that they actually don't need or will abuse, or I end up NOT giving them money that they actually need to survive or get by. And to me, the second risk FAR outweighs the first one.

So no, I don't give a second thought about what the person asking for the money is going to do with it, because to me it doesn't matter. What's important to me, and to a society at large, is that we're doing what we can to help the lesser fortunate of us, regardless of whether there are those out there that will try to take advantage. Charity shouldn't be measured by the chances of someone cheating to take advantage - that's a cynical and suspicious mindset that directly conflicts with the concept of charity itself. Charity must be measured by the amount of people it helps, and it's goal should be to help as many as possible. And taking extreme measures to prevent the cheaters just makes it more likely that more people who actually need the help will fall through the cracks. And as above, that risk FAR outweighs the first.

So when someone tries to "expose" the system, as Pelosi did, showing that there are in fact "freeloading welfare queens" that are getting "free checks" that they probably don't deserve, I shrug my shoulders. A true charitable heart isn't afraid of being taken advantage of. There may be 5%, 10%, or even 20% of those getting benefits that are cheating the system. It doesn't matter, because most of the efforts to try to stop them would risk those who need it not being able to get it, and the chance of even one family who needs help being prevented from getting it just to try to stop cheaters is an unacceptable risk in a civilized society.

There will always be people out there who try to cheat, Alexandra. Their ability to succeed or fail is not what matters. Doing everything we can to make sure ALL those who need it are able to get it - THAT's what MATTERS.

Originally posted to ThinkerT on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  you know I don't give a rat's ass (45+ / 0-)

    if someone cheats and gets a little more food from Snap.  

    I do want to say that when I lived in an area that had a lot of homeless in the shopping district, after a while I stopped giving money but usually tried to buy food for whoever asked.  Maybe it was wrong, but seemed like the best decision at the time.

    Of course, there are people who scam the system.  Probably a relatively small percentage. But somehow I don't think any of them are living in anything like Mitt's mansion, Ricky's more than comfortable home nor have they recently charged up a fortune at Tiffany's.

    We all know who the real welfare queens are..we could start with the oil barons...

  •  I think we can all agree (32+ / 0-)

    that waste, fraud, and abuse represents money that could go to helping people and fixing problems. We should take steps to minimize the drain.

    What I despise is that when it is seen in social programs, they say the answer is to close the program. When seen in any other sector, it's just the cost of doing business.

    Also, I give when I can as well. Whatever they spend it on, it isn't up to me to decide what they "need" at any given time.

    •  Agreed (11+ / 0-)

      The goal is to find the proper balance that minimizes the money that goes to fraudulent recipients and maximizes the amount that goes to those who actually need the help.

      That's not trivial -- without some sort of fraud enforcement, too much of the aid goes to those who don't need it, leaving less for those who really are in need.  But the sort of strict enforcement that Republicans advocate creates such high hurdles that those who need the aid are unable to get it because of technicalities or just an overwhelming paperwork burden.  Most of us suspect that's intentional...because Republicans don't think that anyone is actually deserving.

      As you note, any business deals with the same balance.  Consider shoplifting -- with enough security, stores could virtually eliminate it.  But in the process they would create a retail environment that is so unpleasant that they would also lose paying customers.  So they seek a balance.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 06:13:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To you points: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, sharman, Tonedevil

        When welfare reformed happened, I remember reading (and I was shocked) that the entire AFDC program comprised just 1% of the federal budget. That's a whole lot of people (mostly women) raising 2 children on $389/mo. Compare that to just one company, KBR, stealing from the defense budget. They paid fines and went right on stealing.

        Most shoplifting is done by employees of the company. Probably people who are treated and paid poorly.

        Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

        by HappyinNM on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:36:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good analogy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        I was going to write a similar reply, but without that shoplifting analogy. I'm going to use it next time this comes up in a debate.

        How about an Office of Fact Based Initiatives?

        by factbased on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yea I hate the welfare cheats. (18+ / 0-)

    Yep the one's that are in the 1%.

    Bob "Trans-Vaginal" McDonnell...just saying...again ... and again....

    by NCJim on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 02:28:25 PM PDT

  •  You can't tell (44+ / 0-)

    You can't tell who is capable of working.  My sister was dying and she looked capable of working.  You can't tell if a mentally ill person is capable.  I ask people well would you hire the person you are sneering at?  If not, who do you think will?

  •  Large percentage of welfare recipients are kids (11+ / 0-)

    You mean they don't fill out their own paperwork?

  •  One woman I know with a handicap that's not (18+ / 0-)

    always easy to see said several times she has gotten hateful notes, vandalism and mean things written about her because of her handicapped parking permit. I wonder how Pelosi would make her look in one of her O'Keefe style videos.

    •  The difference between her and O'Keefe... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, swampyankee

      ...I think, is that O'Keefe doesn't come out and admit that he selectively edited his footage in order to reinforce a stereotype.  Isn't that what Pelosi did here?

    •  I've gotten those notes on my car, as well. (12+ / 0-)

      I just shrug them off. The ones who leave those notes are the same ones who don't like their tax money to go to welfare to help anyone. Coincidentally, they often don't have a problem with someone who parks in a handicapped spot but have no tags to do so. They just don't like that someone was given a perceived privilege that they can't have.  Screw 'em.

      If I wanted government in my uterus, I'd fuck a senator

      by second gen on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:12:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reminds me of the time (7+ / 0-)

        Mrs. Nowhere and I went to a concert along with a close relative, who was on crutches due to a disability. I'd contacted the concert promoter, whom I knew slightly, and asked if we might be allowed into the hall early, so that my relative wouldn't have to negotiate the crowds. Of course, the promoter said yes; I'm sure she would have done the same for any disabled person.

        Now, granted, getting into the hall ahead of the crowd gave us an advantage; I can't deny that. But I was still surprised by how many people complained loudly as we went in. Would any of them have traded their able bodies for my relative's crutches, just to get priority seating? I seriously doubt it.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:56:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  people do this? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, HappyinNM

        I have to admit, I never imagined that people would put nasty notes on cars with handicapped tags. Wow, just wow.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:32:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HappyinNM, Odysseus, kimoconnor

          One incident, I was going to an art festival on campus, which already requires a ton of walking, on a hot day. I parked back from the main parking on a side street of campus in a handicapped spot and got out of the car with my service dog. Someone parked in the spot behind me, glaring at me. I wasn't sure why, but when I got back to my car an hour or so later (I couldn't stay for long) there was a note that said something like: "You don't look very handicapped. You shouldn't park in a handicapped space if you don't need it."

          Someone just wanted something to bitch about because I wasn't even parked where the congestion was. I purposely avoided the parking lots. Partly because they charged, and partly because the space I took was shaded. I ended up walking further because of the spot I chose. Yet, they needed to complain. It was street parking, so I wasn't taking any student resident spots (they all have permitted parking lots.) And if the person who left it was perturbed because I took a spot THEY may have wanted (I don't even know if they had a tag or not) then congratulations, they got to tell me off and had to park exactly one space further away from the festivities than I had to.

          I very often take the first available non handicapped parking space if it's close to the handicapped spaces. For me, it's not about getting the coveted blue spot, it's just about getting close enough to be able to do what I need to do without suffering.

          If I wanted government in my uterus, I'd fuck a senator

          by second gen on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:11:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with NCJim, it's the 1%er thieves that (4+ / 0-)

    Weigh down the system.  Wonder if mama bear is proud of baby bear?

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:21:53 PM PDT

  •  I despise that loudmouth for HANDING (9+ / 0-)

    right-wing bloggers a meme that they'll use for months.

    And oh, Obama did it.

    Piss on Alexandra Pelosi.

    "...be still, and cry not aloud; for it is an unholy thing to boast over slain men." Odysseus, in Homer's Odyssey

    by Wildthumb on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:33:56 PM PDT

  •  There is plenty of scams out there but they are (10+ / 0-)

    not limited to welfare. Insurance, loans etc. Does it mean that insurance should be banned b/c there are insurance scams? It's just stupid.

  •  I can name a few: (11+ / 0-)

    Doctors and Heath Care Companies that defraud Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
    Big Pharma
    Big Oil (Exxon, Kochs)
    Big Ag

    and last but not least

    Wall Street

    Oh wait!  The entire Military Industrial Complex, Privatized Prisons, Any news station that uses info from the National Weather Service, health insurance companies, -- oh the list of these special people taking government checks or entitlements they don't deserve is endless.

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:11:45 PM PDT

    •  And they get away with it (0+ / 0-)

      by getting the faithful righteously riled about a couple underprivileged grifting a few dollars.  While the huge heists are committed by the very privileged.  Throw in some race-baiting and rah-rah-god 'n' guns, and you got you a faithful voting block, faithfully voting against not just the welfare queens, but their own interests

  •  Both videos were pandering crap bigotry (11+ / 0-)

    If Pelosi put as much effort into the first video about toothless Southerners as she did with her NYC "welfare queens" - one white woman and a half dozen back men - then she proved she's a slacker and demonstrated precisely nothing except about her own lack of substance. She'd done good work in the past... but not lately.  

    And both Pelosi and Maher had the vacuous arrogance to pretend the videos said something about what they called our "entitlement culture". What a couple of self-important air-headed celebrity queens.

    Maher can give Obama $100million and it still wouldn't sanitize his reputation as a bigot. He can try to reduce his act to a mere "potty mouth" comic but he can't hide his inner self. Maher's metaphors and those naked moments when he jumps forward with emotion inevitably reveal his hatefulness.

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:28:50 PM PDT

  •  Completely anti-capitalist (9+ / 0-)

    The drive to catch "cheats" often does not make good business sense. For instance, here in Vancouver the Skytrain system has up to now worked on an honor-and-check system: tickets are occasionally checked but you can get onto a train without one if you want to risk getting caught. Of course, that got the usual sets of knickers in a twist, and now they're installing turnstiles or gates or whatever the 'f they are. Estimated cost of people riding without tickets? about a million dollars a year. Cost of installing turnstiles or whatever? Over twenty million dollars, plus they'll have to be maintained and eventually replaced. The only person who is going to profit is the guy who sold them the turnstiles, though I'm sure he will be nice to the people who decided to install them.

    "Given the fact of servitude, the feudal relationship is the only tolerable one." (George Orwell)

    by sagesource on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:31:47 PM PDT

  •  Cameras (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, HappyinNM

    That can magically tell if someone is able bodied.  Yea right, fuck that.  Having a welfare system is 100% better than no system at all.

    When I'm stupid and incompetent financially, I get calls from collection agencies and higher interest rates. When the 1% are stupid and incompetent financially they get billions from the government.

    by tarminian on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:47:57 PM PDT

  •  People with very poor lungs often look fine when (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, Mgleaf, Mike08, HappyinNM, Odysseus

    not moving. But they can't breathe after exertion.

    If you do not believe that there is an ongoing war on women, then you aren't paying attention. h/t The Pootie Potentate

    by glorificus on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:59:00 PM PDT

    •  and people with TBI (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mgleaf, Mike08, glorificus, HappyinNM

      i.e. Traumatic Brain Injury can really fool you.  Same with some mild strokes affecting cognitive function.  They may look and move in ways that seem completely normal.  They might be able to converse at a fairly sophisticated level but be unable to concentrate or remember information for more than 30 seconds.  They may have severe anxiety when put under any kind of pressure or be emotionally labile.   They may be able to work for an hour or two and then need a two hour nap, which doesn't work out too well with very many jobs.   If put in any kind of job situation their error rate might be astronomically high.  

      People with mild to moderate mental illnesses also often have hidden handicaps that prevent employment.

  •  I don't agree. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Slightly Wobbly, susie dow, ajwagner

    I agree with the diarist that the risk of not helping somebody that really needs the money far outweighs the risk of people cheating the system.

    I can agree with that. What I don't agree is the thought that giving money away actually HELPS somebody. Sure, if you are in an financial emergency, you NEED the money and somebody giving it to you may well save your life.

    But people that you see everyday asking for money on the street (where I live, every stop light has at least 2 or 3) won't probably be helped by that. Yes, they're poor. Yes, they probably need the money. But no, giving the few extra dollars that you have in your car won't help them.

    This kind of "assistance" actually make poor people dependent on the good will of richer people! It's a twisted system, where the poorest among us need "charitable" soulds to keep them alive.

    So I don't give money on the street. I rather volunteer for organized poverty programs. If I could stand working 9-to-5 (I don't like schedules =)) I would probably consider working in the public sector. But I don't give money on the street.

    For me, fighting poverty it's a matter of justice and human rights, not charity. You don't make justice when you give somebody a quarter every day.

    (Of course, if I know someone's in a real emergency, and I can help... then sure, I go ahead)

    •  A question to ask before you give on the street (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie in KY, ajwagner

      This question comes from experience.

      Next time some one on the street asks you for a dollar, ask yourself, are you willing to buy for the fix that kills them? Because without your dollar, they can't buy the drugs or the booze. If you think the crap that people are willing to shoot into their veins or swallow down their throats doesn't kill - you are very very wrong.

      Buy someone lunch or a hot coffee, give your time or money to any of the thousands of organizations out there who help. But try not to give money just because someone on the street stuck a cup out and asked you for change.

      •  Yes. I am. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        You don't know, and you can't tell what that dollar is going to be spent on.  And it's not my place to judge them.  Until we have enough funded free clinics for people who have addictions, those folks are going to have to do their best to live with, and feed those addictions.  It's just pure sanctimoniousness to judge them based on their medical problems.  Even addicts need to eat.

        •  So then do something to get the free clinics (0+ / 0-)

          But it absolutely IS your place to judge them.  By doing so you could be saving their life.  

          I would bet that anyone who has actually had someone with a drug addiction in their family and has poured their heart, soul, and wallet into trying to help them get better, yet their loved one still refuses to cooperate would NOT want the person on the street to give their family member money.  Food, perhaps.  Or a gift certificate to an inexpensive restaurant.  Not money.  

          Taking the easy way out and giving them money is selfish.  You get to feel good about yourself when in reality you have just made the problem worse.  

    •  Panhandling (0+ / 0-)

      Several articles in the Tampa Bay Tiimes, prior to Tampa's enactment of a law forbidding panhandling, seemed to indicate that a relatively "good" corner or intersection could benefit someone with well over $100 per day, in cash.

      When you say:

      But people that you see everyday asking for money on the street (where I live, every stop light has at least 2 or 3) won't probably be helped by that. Yes, they're poor. Yes, they probably need the money. But no, giving the few extra dollars that you have in your car won't help them.

      This kind of "assistance" actually make poor people dependent on the good will of richer people! It's a twisted system, where the poorest among us need "charitable" souls to keep them alive.

      Please bear that in mind. I view panhandling as these people's JOBs.  When you make that kind of money it becomes a job.  It was not unusual for them to interview husband and wife and/or boyfriend/girlfriend teams that raked in $150 a day or more.  Of course it was not like a sum that is going to lift them out of poverty.  Of course everybody/everyday didn't have "earnings" of the kind of  money quoted  But, like waiting tables, you have your good days and your not-so-good days.

      Look at it this way: $8 per hour. 8 hours a day is $64, less taxes is probably under $60.   When you can consistently make more than that panhandling, its a job.

      "The man who has his millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day" - S.Gompers

      by Copp on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:48:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, and that's (0+ / 0-)

        why I don't like it.

        For context, I work with a poverty-erradication NGO in Costa Rica. One of my roles when I first started was interviewing families in extreme poverty as possible beneficiaries for an emergency shelter. Not even a house, but just a shelter (and that's an improvement for many families!!).

        One of the common themes we came along when we were interviewing, it's the people that have a "beggar job". These people would go out every morning, put up their best sadness/guilt inducing faces, and ask for money. I know some of these guys. I see them everyday on my way to work or school.

        And EVEN their neighbors (which are very poor and have a hard time making ends meet) dislike it. For many of them, work is not only money, it's also dignity, and they don't like what their beggar neighbors do. Even from a religious point of view: I remember an older lady telling me that asking money on the street it's against God's will and that everybody else work hard. (And no, she wasn't a fundie... just a regular catholic woman)

        Now, I'm not the judge of these people. Not so much as their own neighbors. And even if they use their money to buy their kids groceries - sure, some of them do, not everybody does drugs or alcohol -, they're perpetuating a system of dependence and clientelism.

        And well, it's not dignity, it's not justice, and it's not the way the society should work. ESPECIALLY when they're able bodied. Society SHOULD provide them with opportunities for an actual, meaningful job, and not wash guilt away by giving 500 colones ($1) on the street every morning.

        And yes, "society" means us all. That's the reason I work in that NGO.

        In summary: giving money away on the street probably does more harm that good, and there are much better ways to help bring justice and fairness to our societies, either in NGOs or in the public sector. Or even in the private sector (if you are able to hire people for a small business, even better!).

  •  Pelosi's piece was cowardly appeasement (10+ / 0-)

    She got push-back from the right over the Mississippi piece, so in order to appease those critics she bent over backwards to fabricate "balance". What annoyed me about her piece was not so really about what it showed. Of course you could go to a food stamp line in NYC and seek out a few people to say stupid stuff and find them. But that's just the problem. That is exactly what she did in order to deliver the "balance".

    Recall, last week's airing of her Mississippi video was prefaced with a long explanation that they did NOT do any cherry-picking here with the editing or who to record. They just went around to some poor areas of rural MS and that's what they got. What they cut was really no different than what they left in, so they strenuously said.

    Then suddenly this week they just moved the goalposts, and very obviously went out and deliberately cherry-picked people saying stuff in line with conservative stereo-types about "all the blacks on welfare". They did not just get those kind of comments from everyone, or just happen upon tons of people holding beer cans in paper bags, and talking about gettin' them some "Obama-bucks". I mean this is a food stamp line. A lot of the people there are going to be normal mothers and old ladies waiting to get their needed food stamps, but they don't say the right stuff for the camera.

    So one week they go out with no intention to manipulate or cherry-pick to get any desired result, and insist they did NOT do that. Then the next week they completely dispense with that and obviously cherry-pick to get the desired narrative, for "balance", and then say hey see how fair and balanced I am. The left is just as bad.

    I call BS.

  •  We should be more concerned about... (14+ / 0-)

    The wealthy who are cheating the system because they are robbing us blind.  I am so sick of how easily people vilify the poor but refuse to be angry about how none of the bankers that caused the financial crisis in this country have had to in any way pay a price (certainly not jail time).  It is people with wealth and power who are abusing the system to a degree that is so much more damaging to our society overall.  I am sick to death of the myth of the welfare queen.  Our politicians live like fat hogs, refuse to do their jobs, are dismantling our society's social safety nets to a degree where many people are going to die (not to mention that already the poor and uninsured and disenfranchised already die in high numbers).  Corporations are allowed "personhood" in this country when actual PEOPLE are not (if they have brown skin, if they have vaginas and uteri, etc.) and are raking in record profits on the backs of workers who get paid less and less with the bleak future of never being able to retire.  They are going to rob Americans - and it will be the largest theft of Americans' personal wealth in the history of the country - of Social Security and Medicare and leave people so destitute they die in the streets - all in the name of reducing a deficit created by tax breaks for the wealthy, subsidies to corporations, and wars we never should have waged in the first place.  Rome is burning, people.

  •  What's our common goal? good? (3+ / 0-)

    When I see a homeless person on the street, I wonder if he's for real. Sometimes I pitch a dollar. It is not much to me, and worth the gamble. If I don't, I resolve to send a bit that week to our local homeless shelterer. Yes, there are lots of scam artists out there.

    But why do we have a safety net, anyway? If we aren't finding most of the scam artists, either the bureaucrats aren't trying or the system is messed up.

    Finding one cheat doesn't discredit the notion that our society is better for the fact that we have a safety net.

  •  Medicare Fraud is truly a problem (0+ / 0-)

    Unlike welfare and other programs that pay out benefits to an individual, Medicare cheats can perpetrate fraud on a massive scale with multiple submissions of fake patients and services not rendered.  If not curtailed benefits could be cut because Medicare is actually in danger of running out of funds unlike other programs.

  •  You believe the people asking for gas money? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ajwagner

    Let me help you: there's a ZERO percent chance they need whatever few dollars you can spare for gasoline, food, or anything that doesn't burn when exposed to an open spark.

    I just don't agree with the logic you're using - you can justify any kind of fraud and abuse in any program by saying the alternative could maybe possibly be worse.

    The better alternative is to give to reasonably efficient and reliable charities. In a government program, the better alternative is to tighten accountability.

  •  this is the heart of it (3+ / 0-)
    A true charitable heart isn't afraid of being taken advantage of
    This isn't about what kind of people they are.  It is about what kind of people we are
    •  A truly charitable heart isn't necessarily foolish (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ajwagner

      Is it truly charitable to waste scarce resources that could be used to help more people more intelligently? Is it truly charitable to bring an entire welfare program into disrepute because you refuse to take action against waste, fraud and abuse?

      And even if you think your own personal charity should be blind, it doesn't at all follow that a government program should be similarly inefficient with other peoples' money. Such an attitude brings the government and all its efforts into ridicule.

      •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

        there is always going to be some "abuse" because of the nature of the system.  Even if there were none, the ungenerous would oppose supporting people because of "abuse"  (see, e.g., "voter fraud" as bugaboo).  

        I think that what we have here is a generalized notion that being generous as a society is bad, so even though there are great resources to bring to bear (for example, by restoring the Eisenhower tax code), we as a people are reluctant to provide even a minimal level of support because "fairness" (e.g., seflishiness) is a MUCH stronger value in our society than is generosity.  

  •  3 things (0+ / 0-)

    #1 All children of God need charity when they are down and out and may God bless you for your kind heart.

    #2- They are almost certainly using it for things other than food and necessities- stats shows that. And speak with anyone in the counseling/social work/charity biz. They have addictions or mental illness or most likely both. The theoretical answer is to give them a food voucher, biz card to the local free counseling center, food kitchen, Church food pantry, etc. Or help with getting government assistance if possible. That is the real issue they need REAL help more than dollars in their pocket. It almost a certainty that the meager funs they get panhandling goes to or allows for substance abuse. Catholic Charities does a wonderful job in that respect. I know others do as well.

    #3- Government assistance. It is almost always available to those in need. Whether  they can (knowledge about, comfort level with authority, etc.) or will take advantage is the problem. The cure? I dunno'.... heavy sigh.

    #4- I think Pelosi's point was the double standard, not the actual merits of systemic abuse- which as you point out is probably not that high in the long run.

    OK that was 4.

  •  So, your argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    is a revised version of "It is better to let ten guilty men go free than to punish one innocent." I understand and have sympathy for that posistion I am just not sure if it is really realistic or intelligent to apply that logic to ever situation.

  •  Hypocrisy. (3+ / 0-)

    Corporate welfare costs this country far more than welfare ever will.   You don't see too many welfare haters out there going off on big oil or big anything who take advantage of every tax break, incentive, or loophole.   Every American has the same right to take advantage of whatever tax breaks, or government programs that exist to help them, too.

    If there are problems with the programs, then do our best to fix them.  But you never hear the haters saying they want to fix or reform.  They want to end those systems.  They want to punish those recipients.  

    Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

    by Back In Blue on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 08:58:54 PM PDT

  •  I really like your attitude. (4+ / 0-)

    There is always a % of people who are going to game any system, just like the bankers gamed their system.

    So, acting like welfare cheats are the worst of all is ridiculous.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:05:27 PM PDT

  •  She was looking in the wrong place (0+ / 0-)

    We have 534 freeloading welfare queens in Washington, DC sucking off the public teat and doing little or nothing to earn it. (Bernie Sanders is explicitly excepted.)

    Not to mention all the corpo-kleptocrats....

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:07:08 PM PDT

  •  Yuck (4+ / 0-)

    Both of Pelosi's videos play into the most pernicious right wing myths that have been critical to the success of those who regard her mom as the devil incarnate.

    1.  The Mississippi video feeds the stereotype of arrogant "elitist" Democrats looking down on "regular people," as much as it feeds the stereotype of toothless southerners.  That idea (whose most recent version is Romney's "faculty lounge" snipes) has been pounded into the heads of voters by Rush, Bush et al. to great effect for years.  Pelosi showing it on Maher (who is now the epitome of left wing elitism and the left wing Rush) only makes it more powerful as a tool for the right.

    2.  The "Welfare" video of course feeds the stereotype that Reagan first mastered and has been the primary reason for working class suicidal voting over 30 years.  "The government has been taking my money and distributing it down to worthless, shiftless people on welfare."  More than anything else, this has disguised the 30 year war on workers that has shifted their money dramatically in the other direction.

    So thanks for the false equivalency, Alexandra and Bill.  Both of your videos are destructive of the things you say you believe in.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:58:25 PM PDT

  •  I watched it (6+ / 0-)

    Seemed like a direct pander to the disinformative right-wing frame that all welfare recipients are black grifters riding the handout gravy train... never mind that Food Stamps, for instance, max out at $200. a month. Ever tried eating off 200 bucks a month and not still being hungry? Pelosi made it seem like Food Stamps are a ticket to caviar and champagne all year 'round until Maher corrected her in the interview segment. Plus, the one guy in her video said it all: if you've been to jail, no one will hire you.

    The incarceration industry in this country -- more people per capita are incarcerated here than in any other developed nation -- ensures that millions of African-American men will have an uphill struggle ever finding gainful employment. Whatever happened to paying your debt to society and moving on? Plus felony convicts are disenfranchised from ever voting, which I believe to be the real agenda behind the mass trend toward the expansion of the prison/industrial complex.

    When do we stop indulging the automatic reversion to classically prejudicial right-wing frames like this? The idea that Pelosi even had to do that piece shows how subservient liberals are to the perception-generating propaganda of the right. Why not just do the redneck piece unapologetically -- look, here are some snapshots of these racist, toothless morons that are stuck somewhere in 1843 and wish all of us to be where they're at because they never progressed past age 2 of their social development -- and be done with it? Real Time isn't a news show on CNN, it's a panel show about news with a liberal dose of comedy -- hosted by a stand-up comic --  on HBO. This fictitious pursuit of a phony, prefabricated "balance" to satisfy people's needs to hear the same old "welfare queen" memes over and over is cowardly and puerile, and demonstrates how pathetically and perpetually on-the-defensive liberals are to the dominant sociopathic framing mechanisms of the demonstrably Neanderthal right wing.

    "Some of you are going to die... martyrs, of course, to the Freedom that I will provide!"

    by emperor nobody on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:18:45 PM PDT

  •  once upon a time... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady

    I think it was 1977... supposedly the GAO (correct anagram?) did a little study. They decided that if the government gave up on all attempts to catch welfare fraud that fraud would multiply tenfold - and that the government would still save money.
    And as for drones who would rather panhandle than work? Good, keep the hell away from my worksite - there are too many drones getting in my way as it is.

  •  the collective cheating of SNAP, TANF or UI ain't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Icicle68, Tonedevil

    squat compared to what has been going on higher up the socio-economic ladder.  I WISH we spent on the "lazy poor" what we blow on the conniving rich.

    those first two guys who thought superman was a bird or a plane, what were they so excited about?

    by bnasley on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:48:14 PM PDT

  •  You're right. I don't care if there are some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    cheaters. That's life. It's the right wingnuts who seem to worry about that. Same with voting. It's outrageous to deny thousands of people their constitutional right to vote to stop one or two cheaters.  It doesn't matter.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:00:49 AM PDT

  •  The point, I thought was... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Copp

    First, I don't like Real Time. I do not think Bill is funny, insightful or offers value. Recently he came up with 'Dispatches From The Bubble' and I thought that was a decent idea. I have digressed
    I thought the piece was a counterpoint to the video of the one from the south to show the ugly side. If we are to ever get past the comments made in the first segment of her documentary series (Half breed ? really) we have to address the second.
    Pelosi did describe the entitlement culture reasonably - from corporations to people , and Maher addressed issues of the second video (they don't hire black door men, prisoners have difficulty finding work-which is illegal to discriminate by the way ) .
    If we are to look at why people say the vial things they say , we have to address the issues we don't want to.
    I live in Philly and everyone is open minded and so pure of heart - until a house for sale is purchased by a realtor and approved for Section 8. All the created equal and everyone deserves help talk stops and the bigotry flies .
    There are many things that have to be fixed in this country and ethnic bigotry is a big problem - it prevents us from facing the common problems we all share.
    Whatever. I wouldn't take the show that seriously, only Bill Maher does. Christ he thinks he is a comedian

    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:10:51 AM PDT

  •  I HATED her reverting to that jaded meme (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SkylarkingTomFoolery

    about bloggers in pajamas in Mom's basement. That really pissed me off, especially when bloggers ARE putting forth fully researched information that competently presents and/or beats the so-called MSM. That was ignorant and low.

    Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 04:26:16 AM PDT

  •  It's called unemployment... (4+ / 0-)

    Just because people in the welfare lines look "capable of working" doesn't mean they can find jobs.
    The Republican Party caused the massive jobs meltdown and has done nothing to create more jobs. then they blame those very same people for looking for assistance.
    Where does Pelosi think people without jobs are going to get the help to buy food?

    I only use extra-virgin olive oil because I've been told that the other kinds are sluts (unashamedly stolen from Cheers n' Jeers!)

    by MA Liberal on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:15:33 AM PDT

    •  Million Dollar Murray, by... (0+ / 0-)

      Million Dollar Murray by Malcolm Gladwell is a wonderful review of this topic. It's a very small % of the poor making them all look bad and being expensive. It could be easily fixed if we were open to new, counter-intuitive solutions for a few problem individuals per community.

      The painy rich 1%, on the other end of the normal curve, have the power to be even more destructive than the poor on the other end of the curve, just because of their bigger access to resources (much longer reach).

  •  I have given money and bought food for people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NM Ray, Odysseus

    Recently I was in a deli waiting in line to buy a sandwich and a guy asked me if I would buy him lunch. He appeared to be homeless and a bit stoned. I said OK. When we got to the counter to order the look on the face of the woman taking orders told me she was shocked I was doing what I was doing. Literally shaking her head at me. Then, I sat down and ate lunch with the guy, asking him a few questions, and chatting about the weather. The woman literally came up to me and asked why I was sitting with this 'filthy' man. I told her off and promised that I would never come to their restaurant again.

    She said, please don't, if you plan to bring in men like that!

    The lack of compassion some people have makes my heart hurt. I am with the diarist here.....and believe that is a trait of liberals vs. conservatives. The hate and selfishness I see coming from the right today gets worse and worse. We need to remember that most of us are a paycheck away from being homeless, and a society only works if we look out for each other.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:44:52 AM PDT

  •  Economic triage (0+ / 0-)

    Consider the following thought experiment: say a car crash victim is brought into an emergency room with two body parts missing, the left leg below the knee, and the right index finger. Now, which should the medical professional treat most rapidly? Anyone knows the answer to this. Losing a finger is disfiguring and inconvenient, but losing a leg means the patient will bleed to death, right quick.

    Now, expand that to the economic situation we're in today: 20 million un (or under) employed (and four applicants for every job opening) versus a few thousand welfare cheats. Which is the finger, and which the leg? Again, we all know the answer here.

    Radarlady

  •  Welfare Queens? (0+ / 0-)

    She quoted Reagan? How sad.

    Entitlement culture --she used the favorite quote of the extremist right? How sad.

    Now I see what all of the hullabaloo is about, I suppose.

    I'll just ignore her like I do Maher, I've much better things to do like get the GOP voted out of Congress, re -elect President Obama.

    Re-Elect President Barack Obama & RECALL GOP 2012

    by Wary on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:11:05 AM PDT

  •  Welfare for the Rich. . . (0+ / 0-)

    While condemning "welfare lines"and "welfare queens", today's GOP worships at the altar and praises the con men of Goldman Sachs - the guys who receive more welfare from the government than anybody in the USA.

    Billions in corporate welfare go to the Military-Industrial complex, enriching the corporate coffers.  Our government gave hundreds of Billions of Dollars to the Big Banks - too big to Fail - and as soon as these best and brightest CEO's recovered from the calamity that they created, they rewarded each other with million dollar bonuses.

    Agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Pharmaceuticals . . . they all line up at the government offices for their subsidies.  K Street lobbyists collect their checks to rewrite the tax laws so that their corporate clients can "legally" avoid paying taxes and send their profits to overseas tax shelters.

    State legislators are more concerned about passing bills that will allow doctors to charge women for more unnecessary, unwanted medical procedures that will not provide any medical relief but that will result in additional charges.

    Yep, the biggest problem that we have is the homeless lady on the street who needs a couple of hundred dollars to find an apartment to live off the street, out of the rain and wind and the snow and maybe buy a few cans of Campbell soup for dinner a couple of nights a week.  

    What has happened to America!?

    Impeach Grover Norquist! Defeat a Republican!

    by NM Ray on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:21:20 AM PDT

  •  BS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ajwagner

    That's not charity, that is allowing persons to not succeed period point blank.  

    If we can't call a lazy person lazy, we are fucked.

    I work 50 hours a week with people in similar circumstances and some of them are lazy and some of them work very hard, and one of my favorite activities on the job is clearing out the lazy people so that more hard working people can get help.

    This idiotic idea that it's okay for people to cheat the system is beyond stupid it's dangerous.

    You need to think about the amount of people that would actually use the system for it's intended purpose, that get cut off because some lazy piece of shit just wants a free check while he gets drunk in line waiting for it.  

    The people that actually work to help people thank you for making our jobs far more difficult.  

    Support Girls High School Basketball. Those girls work hard, reward them by showing up.

    by mim5677 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:41:28 AM PDT

  •  And your poll sucks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ajwagner

    because option one and two aren't opposites.  You clear out the system abusers so more people can get help.

    How could you not see that as you were typing?

    Support Girls High School Basketball. Those girls work hard, reward them by showing up.

    by mim5677 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:42:35 AM PDT

  •  Of course there are cheats! (0+ / 0-)

    Every system has cheats. But we don't say "Fire the cops, they're all crooks" when a cop is caught on the take or stealing drugs from the evidence locker or running a brothel, all of which have happened recently in my area. We don't dump our expensive justice system even though there are numerous instances of false convictions, prisoner abuse, corrupt guards selling contraband to prisoners, and of course its total FAIL in stopping crime.
    This "welfare queen" meme is a deliberate attempt to demonize the poor who receive government benefits, to make it seem they are all a bunch of freeloaders. Most Americans seem to think that 90% of their taxes goes to "welfare", and that 90% of those on "welfare" are people of color. Of course, both assertions are completely false. But our media supports lower taxes for both their corporate employers and their top-level employees, so they push this anti-poor propaganda to demonize the whole concept of taxation.

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 11:55:51 AM PDT

  •  Anytime someone screams welfare queens (0+ / 0-)

    cheating the system I tell them what about the welfare corporations and millionaires?  

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 12:49:59 PM PDT

  •  Pardon me..... (0+ / 0-)

    But were any of those folks welfare "Queens"?  All were males, right?  What does that say?  

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

    by CyberDem on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:18:28 PM PDT

  •  Not only that, but if they are doing that (0+ / 0-)

    Then they are likely to spend that money/food stamps quickly, pumping money into the economy and spreading it around.

    Doesn't matter how, only that they do.

    Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

    by splashy on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 12:52:55 AM PDT

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