For those of you who like to see their own opinions expressed in an incredibly well written manner, I wanted to bring up a fantastic article that I read on the New York Times website by Amia Srinivasan.
The rough purpose of the article is to:
a. Describe what it means to be dependent on something
b. How the current picture in many American’s heads (i.e. non-President Mittens' 47% remark) is inaccurate and incomplete.
c. Why Americans feel like it is ok for certain groups of people to be applauded for their use of government dependency whereas others are vilified.
I’ll go into some of my favorite quotes and what they mean to me below the fold, but I absolutely encourage anyone who is subscribed or hasn’t used up their 10 free articles on nytimes.com to read the entire article. She says a few things that are over the top for effect, but it’s a great read.
First off, she eviscerates the "Welfare Queen" myth (which has been discredited so many times, but a few more can't hurt):
Americans who collect food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance or welfare checks are said to be dependent on the state because the lives they lead would be different (indeed, worse) if the state did not provide these services — at least without their working harder and longer. Despite the symbolic resonance of Ronald Reagan’s fictitious “welfare queen,” most of the people who rely on means-tested social services either cannot work, have been recently laid off thanks to the economic downturn, or are already working in poorly paid, immiserating jobs. Of the 32 million American children currently being raised in low-income families — families who cannot afford to meet their basic needs — nearly half have parents who are in full-time, year-round jobs.This cannot be stated enough: the working poor are just that - working. These are people who are spending 40 hour work weeks (if they are lucky enough to get the full 40) working jobs that are way worse than what most people work for 1/2, 1/4, or less than what most of us make. Shit, I've got a job where I can spend some time posting diaries on Daily Kos. While I work hard at work and have worked hard to get to where I can have my job, it would be absurd for me to think that I got where I am without a number of built in advantages, and government provided advantages.
I am white.
I am male.
I was born to a middle class family in the suburbs.
I worked directly for the Government for 4 years when I was in the U.S. Army.
I took advantage of the Montgomery G.I. Bill to attend college.
I took advantage of state subsidized schooling at the state college I attended.
I briefly took advantage of unemployment compensation.
I'm nearly certain I've left out advantages that I'm completely unaware of. But the point is that even those who are successful are "dependent" on the government for their place. And the richer you get, the more dependent you are, as Ms. Srinivasan says next.
But if the poor are dependent on the state, so, too, are America’s rich. The extraordinary accumulation of wealth enjoyed by the socioeconomic elite — in 2007, the richest 1 percent of Americans accounted for about 24 percent of all income — simply wouldn’t be possible if the United States weren’t organized as it is. Just about every aspect of America’s economic and legal infrastructure — the laissez-faire governance of the markets; a convoluted tax structure that has hedge fund managers paying less than their office cleaners; the promise of state intervention when banks go belly-up; the legal protections afforded to corporations as if they were people; the enormous subsidies given to corporations (in total, about 50 percent more than social services spending); electoral funding practices that allow the wealthy to buy influence in government — allows the rich to stay rich and get richer.I don't want to summarize the whole article, everyone should really read this, but it knocks down a number of myths about social programs. It talks about the Myth that the rich "earn" their benefits while the poor get something for nothing. It talks about the Myth that the rich are "job creators" and thus this economic inequality is the price to pay for growth.
But it also includes my favorite Steinbeck quote of all time.
“Socialism never took root in America, because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”Let's try to make people see that exploitation is real, and it's something that they can fight.
Thanks for reading, and keep fighting for Equity!