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Craig T. Nelson, 2009
Suzanne Mettler and John Sides, in the New York Times:
We have unique data from a 2008 national survey by the Cornell Survey Research Institute that asked Americans whether they had ever taken advantage of any of 21 social policies provided by the federal government, from student loans to Medicare. These policies do not include government activity that benefits everyone — national defense, the interstate highway system, food safety regulations — but only tangible benefits that accrue to specific households. [...]

What the data reveal is striking: nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them. Young adults, who are not yet eligible for many policies, account for most of the remaining 4 percent.

On average, people reported that they had used five social policies at some point in their lives.

The authors were further able to make a distinction between direct benefits, like Social Security or the G.I. Bill, versus indirect or "submerged" social benefits like the homeowner mortgage interest deduction.
Overall, 82 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans acknowledged receipt of at least one direct social benefit. More Republicans (92 percent) than Democrats (86 percent) had taken advantage of submerged policies.
The obvious question becomes, then, why conservatives are insistent on condemning social programs that they themselves benefit from. The answer appears to be stupidity—sorry, I mean cognitive dissonance. Go figure.
Where Americans actually differ is in how they think about government’s role in their lives. A major driving factor here is ideology: conservatives were less likely than liberals to respond affirmatively when asked if they had ever used a “government social program,” even when both subsequently acknowledged using the same number of specific policies.
You might chalk this up to a theoretical conservative bias towards presuming that the social programs they use are not actually social programs, e.g. when a conservative means "government help" they mean unemployment insurance or food stamps, not the G.I. Bill or family-friendly tax credits. That may be giving too much credit: While Chris Christie noting his father's use of the G.I. Bill while condemning all the other little people who are provided similar assistance is indeed a lovely example of the phenomenon, I'm not sure anything can top the famous statement on the subject by American philosopher Craig T. Nelson:
"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No."
Ah. True genius, there. The very picture of a self-made man.

All of this does lead to the obvious question, though: Do Americans really want these things cut? Mitt Romney puts the percentage of moochers in America at 47 percent, since obviously measuring income tax is the only possible measure for such things, but the true number is, apparently, much closer to 100 percent. While not giving George Romney welfare upon his immigration to this country might possibly have saved us from ever having to hear from his droning, self-entitled son, we nevertheless have decided on a rough social compact in which we spend a portion of our taxes on programs to ensure people like George Romney and Craig T. Nelson can, with enough effort, make something of themselves someday. We have decided that risking your life for your country ought to perhaps get you something in return, and that having people dying in the streets for lack of food or medicine is probably unsanitary, if nothing else.

So how do we convince conservatives to support the very programs they, like all of the rest of the country, benefit from? Logic is right out, we know that much. Perhaps a catchy song would help things?

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Comment Preferences

  •  That Craig T Nelson quote is all time classic (20+ / 0-)

    Should be in some hall of fame somewhere. they should invent one just for this.

    is there a pun I'm missing?

    sorry, I mean cognitive dissidence. Go figure.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:04:08 PM PDT

  •  If you don't want to help pay for the common good (22+ / 0-)

    Build your own damn road.  Don't call the cops if you get in an accident.  Forget about insurance -- it's socialism.  Pay your own way in the hospital.  Don't even think about using my airport.  And don't ever, ever ask for anybody's help if you get sick or lose your job or fall on hard times.

    Otherwise, STFU and be glad to pay your taxes.

    For the love of money is the root of all evil; and while some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

    by Dallasdoc on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:05:10 PM PDT

  •  cognitive dissidents! ZOMG protect the 4%! /nt (6+ / 0-)

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:06:20 PM PDT

  •  Cognitive Dissidence (6+ / 0-)

    Was that on purpose or a typo? I like it.

    GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

    by Attorney at Arms on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:06:39 PM PDT

    •  Dissonance, Data-nuance, let's call the whole (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      texasmom

      thing Cognitive

      yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

      by annieli on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:19:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep Gvt. out of food stamps & welfare! (11+ / 0-)

    It is really hard to argue with logic like that.

    It really is.

  •  Pell Grant (7+ / 0-)

    helped me obtain a technical degree eons ago.
    i'm in the 96%.

    "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

    by kj in missouri on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:10:08 PM PDT

  •  It is all about the racism. (8+ / 0-)
    The answer appears to be stupidity

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:17:57 PM PDT

  •  We need a song (5+ / 0-)

    Maybe new lyrics for okie from musgokee?

    I'm proud to be an okie from musgokee
    A place where we get food stamps and welfare
    We go to school on student loans and pell grants
    And our grandparents all get Medicare
    You guys can do the rest
  •  What do you think the probability is (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    714day, Khun David, boofdah, drmah, JustGiaco

    that Mitt and Ann are also in the 96%?

    On average, people reported that they had used five social policies at some point in their lives. An individual typically had received two direct social benefits in the form of checks, goods or services paid for by government, like Social Security or unemployment insurance.

    Most had also benefited from three policies in which government’s role was “submerged,” meaning that it was channeled through the tax code or private organizations, like the home mortgage-interest deduction and the tax-free status of the employer contribution to employees’ health insurance. The design of these policies camouflages the fact that they are social benefits, too, just like the direct benefits that help Americans pay for housing, health care, retirement and college.

    op cit

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:21:44 PM PDT

  •  Droning, self-entitled, self-absorbed... (3+ / 0-)

    He has failed to grow up, while his father had no problem.  I really think it's emotionally crippling for children to grow up with everything.

    On the issue of having this debate, there can be plenty of debate. But on the issue of wanting to have this debate, there can be no debate. — Paul Ryan, as channeled by BiPM

    by Jensequitur on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:23:27 PM PDT

  •  Anyone Have The List of 21 Programs? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri
  •  The first step is to reveal to them (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, 714day, redstella, boofdah

    that direct social benefits and submerged ones. are all social programs, even if they're the ones getting them. I've begun to think that the minions honestly don't know that the benefits  they get, directly or indirectly, come from the government, and that they are social programs. They apparently think they come from kindly rich people or charities or even the deity itself.

    Remember what happened when we turned the country over to that dumbass rich kid? So now we're thinking about doing it again? Really?

    by DaveW on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:25:28 PM PDT

    •  I remember an argument I had (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      texasmom, boofdah, drmah, jimcbq

      with a co-worker whose hubbie was a deep conservative - who used the GI Bill to go to law school. She was shocked that I called that a government welfare program. And this was an educated (smart? well a lawyer) woman.  They slagged all of the people on welfare or food stamps - thought of them as drags on the economy and never never realized they were too! This is important information.

      Keep constant watch on your mind.

      by redstella on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 05:15:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We're ALL Moochers {{Conservative Heads Explode}} (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    icemilkcoffee

    Sweet Bejeedbus!!! Save us nows! 96%? Holy Shit, Batman!

    Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

    by TerryDarc on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:25:52 PM PDT

  •  God, the douchebaggery. (4+ / 0-)

    While there are a handful, actually a small handful, of conservatives entertainers whose work I admire, it seems most of them are of the Craig T. Nelson, Pat Sajack variety.

    The Republican Convention: Fifty Shades Of White.

    by jazzmaniac on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:26:15 PM PDT

  •  how do we convince conservatives (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nominalize, Kimbeaux, boofdah
    to support the very programs they, like all of the rest of the country, benefit from?
    Simple. Call the opposite of the program "socialism". The average conservative obviously don't know what the word means, they just know it's bad. So the opposite must be good.
  •  Bump that up to 100% (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    714day, Aquarius40, redstella, boofdah

    when you include the protections provided by military and law enforcement.

    What about public schools' affect on society in general?

    Water and sewage treatment is pretty important.

    Food inspectors?

    Should I go on?

  •  Conservatives hate government program (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redstella, alice kleeman, boofdah

    specifically due to their anti-gov't ideology.

    Plus repubs are pervasive hypocrites; they will schmooze every last benefit they can get from gov't but dream at night of destroying it for others BECAUSE republicans reprsent a group of people who find you and me useless, needless and just in the way. They are so rich and so powerful they don't need most other human beings and they have developed open disdain for us. This is why they keep working to destroy access to medical care for all but the wealthiest people. They want us to die.

    That disdain is what austerity is about: it's not a 'fiscal policy' - it's a complete, full-on assault on our lives as we know them. Nothing less.

    So yeah they will grub every last tax dollar for themselves and work day and night to destroy every last benefit for others.

    'Please' and 'May I' will NOT stop this.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:31:32 PM PDT

    •  Since conservatives hate government programs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimbeaux

      shouldn't they also hate corporate welfare? Currently in discretionary spending programs corporate welfare accounts for $92 billion annually while discretionary spending for social safety net programs is $59 billion. Why do they insist upon preserving corporate welfare while dismantling the social safety net (other than the fact that nearly every conservative is a hypocrite)?

      Whenever they bring up their BS meme of I've got mine, so, screw you, we should redirect their ire to 'corporate welfare'. Need more revenue? Why don't you whack that big corporate welfare pinata a few times before anyone has to defund the social safety net? That big pinata is just hanging there. Have at it, and when you're done, we'll take a look at the social safety net...  

      Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately it kills all its students. - Berlioz

      by cwsmoke on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 05:32:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think it's cognitive dissonance, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redstella

    Which references the perception of sound. I don't think the sense of hearing is to blame. Conservatives hear quite well and are good at repeating what they hear. That's why they're good mimics or parrots.
    But, I do think there is a cognitive disconnect. There's a missing link. And I think that the sense that's not properly synced is the sense of touch. Which is why we say of people like Willard that they are "out of touch" and why they often touch inappropriately (Willard cutting boy's hair) and why their clothes don't seem to fit. Some seem to like being tightly wrapped.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:32:00 PM PDT

  •  Social Programs: Medicare (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, grandmajanet

    And then there was the lady who told me she opposed Obama because she wanted to keep the government out of Medicare.  Really!

  •  Just on education alone I've (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, drmah

    1) Attended public schools
    2) Attended 2 public universities
    3) Relied on the following to pay for my education
                 a) GI Bill for grad school
                 b) Pell Grants
                 c) Subsidized Stafford and Perkins Loans
                 d) Federal Work-Study grant
                 e) NYS Tuition Assistance Program

    Much less everything else that I have benefited from over the years, so I have no problem being part of the 96% and will do what I can to enable others to benefit in the same way.

  •  meme Craig T. Nelson (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, boofdah

    The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. --Calvin & Hobbes

    by reid fan on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:41:45 PM PDT

  •  I saw that mountain of intellect, Craig T. Nelson, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimcbq

    in a cafe in Malibu, CA, waiting for a table. He seemed about
    six-foot-six or thereabouts.

    As we used to say in high school, I didn't know they stacked shit that high.

    "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical."--Spock, in Star Trek IV.

    by Wildthumb on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:45:49 PM PDT

  •  Too bad can't put 'Obama' or 'Federal gov't' befor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40

    e every aid program and then ask the morons 'Do you want your Obama Medicare?  Your Federal government Social Security?'

    Then when they say no, cut them off.

    We'd go along way to balancing the budget and, in the long term 'Darwin-ianly' politics in this country.

  •  They aren't going to get it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, Aquarius40, alice kleeman

    The perch of arrogant delusion on which wingers sit always makes room for moral relativism. It's 'different' when they access all of these government services and perks of the citizenry; they 'earned' them, unlike the shiftless, lazy, and dark other that blows the blanket from their insecure tushies.

  •  All of this does lead to the obvious questions: (0+ / 0-)

    Do Americans really understand that these entitlements are unsustainable?

    Do Americans really understand that these entitlements empower the 1% of elites in Washington and their corporate and special interest voting cronies instead of serving the vast majority of those on Main Street?

    Wouldn't it be far more effective to identify and to contribute directly to those in need instead of empowering the most corrupt, wasteful, and inefficient 'middle man' in the history of the world?

    Hence, the citizenry (you and me) need to get off our asses, open our checkbooks, and stop contracting out to self-serving government the most important job in society -- that of attending to the needs of our most vulnerable fellow citizens.

  •  The reason they oppose (0+ / 0-)

    Social spending is that they are persuaded to do so by their .1 and .01% leaders, for whom such programs are (at least directly) a net loss.

    I don't understand why the Randians think that it is OK to do nearly anything to a weaker person if it is in your individual selfish interest, but balk at me and fifty of my friends getting together to decide that what is in our collective interest is for you to cut it out before we have to break something. How is it wrong to gain strength through unity and then use that strength, if the rule by which we are governed is "do as thou wilt is the whole of the law"?  

  •  Used my share (0+ / 0-)

    -Social Security survivor's benefits from age 3 - 17
    -Enjoyed white-box butter, cheese, etc. as a child
    -Parents made Federal Crop Insurance claims
    -Pell Grant
    -SEOG Grant
    -Perkins loan - at a whopping 3% interest!

    I have a somewhat longer version for use as a response any time I get on of "those" emails complaining about the drag of government programs on society.  Other than helping to provide me with food and shelter as a child and a chance to go to college, I guess I didn't really need it.  

    The truth always matters.

    by texasmom on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:02:58 PM PDT

  •  It would give us some pleasure (0+ / 0-)

    to list all of the programs and then say to the far right, "If you got any help from any of these programs, shut the hell up."

    But ... that wouldn't be helpful, in the end, to either side.

    Simply listing them and saying 'over 90% of the American Public has used these services at one point or another in their lives. They're important. And yes, we --and you, and your loved ones-- need them to be there."

    Or some such like.

    "Guns don't kill people. People in states without gun-purchase background checks & waiting periods kill people." --John Fugelsang

    by Artryst on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:31:21 PM PDT

  •  Fixed it for you: (0+ / 0-)
    when a conservative means "government help" they mean unemployment insurance or food stamps for non-white people
    Bolding denotes edit. :p

    Seen on Facebook: "Rich people are not the cause of a robust economy, they are the result of a robust economy."

    by boofdah on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 07:01:28 PM PDT

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