Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Returning With A Conversation On Government Assistance

This blog has been quiet for some time.  Honestly, I just couldn't stand to write about things for a while.  Now, I feel the need to write a bit again.  I think it's because my health is improving, for the most part, and I am able to think things through and argue a bit better without succoming to major anxiety issues.

Today, I want to share a back and forth I've had on Facebook about the issue of assistance programs, in particular government programs.  Over the past months, and in the past few days in particular, I have noticed an increase in the comments and meme pictures about people abusing programs such as food stamps.  This morning I shared this picture:

with the caption/comment: "There seems to be a bit of a general meme lately ragging on people receiving assistance such as food stamps. Let's take a moment and look at the larger picture about government assistance."

received a comment from a person whom I don't know, but apparently we know some people in common. I will identify their comments simply as from CKC.

CKC: The BIG difference is companies usually shows a return on investment and HELP out the economy vs. the other group that frequently only takes and gives nothing back to the economy.

Me: I think people too easily dismiss how much the poor contribute to the economy. Also, while assistance to the poor may not show quite the direct return, much study has gone into how it does make a return of investment to the economy and even government.

CKC: I do agree that many that receive assistance do eventually contribute to the economy......but all too many able adults play the "Oh, poor me card - the world owes me." I worked with a gentleman that had the IQ of probably a four year old. HE came to work everyday and cleaned our building and loved doing it. We also had a gentleman there that had lost his legs in a war. He worked just as hard as everyone else doing manual labor. HE was very fulfilled in life. A great guy. My children go to school with a child that has NO arms and NO legs. HE is unstoppable. You can not tell that child that he is disabled. He writes much neater than my children. He gets up stairs and down stairs all by himself. He plays sports. He can carve a pumpkin!

Me: Yes, and do you realize that many of those people you list will never be allowed/chosen to fill positions and earn enough to fully support themselves? These people work, in many ways harder than many "average" people. However, due to their conditions they will most likely need additional assistance to be able to afford to cover the medical needs they have to be and remain productive, contributing member of society. In fact these people are probably only able to be where they are and do what they due because of the very programs people are constantly saying are a waste because it just coddles a bunch of "freeloaders" and "parasites" who "give nothing back to the economy." As for "the world owes me," it's hardly just the poor who say that. Everyone, at some point in some way, say it. If anything I've seen that mentality more and more from the very wealthy over the past years.

What bothers me is the mentality I see of so many who completely dismiss anyone receiving assistance as inherently unworthy of it and even a waste of flesh. No consideration is given to what they may have contributed in the past, what they could contribute in the future, or what they are even contributing in the present. Another issue is how much people think it's easy to receive assistance. Putting aside the intense social stigma, personal shame, and all too often hidden soul breaking hardships people go through, I don't think many (any?) people who criticize the poor realize the onerous gauntlet it is to apply to, qualify for, and sustain oneself on public assistance programs. Nothing is just "given" out; everything is scrutinized; all claims must be validated over and over and over again; and the process takes months, if not years, before any actual benefits are paid. No surplus is given and none is allowed--and should a surplus somehow be obtained the assistance is quickly ended. People subsist on poor quality food because it's cheap, and that way they will at least have something to eat the next day. The housing one can afford is barely within zoning requirements, and grossly lacking in anything that would be considered a "comfort." Utilities and basic amenities that have become essential to functionality in today's world must be sacrificed because they are too much of a "luxury" compared to being able to eat and keep from freezing during the night. ...

... All the while, they must endure a constant stream of politician threatening to remove any and all support they have to their survival, and a constant barrage of shaming criticism from people who feel put upon because their actually very low taxes meant the difference between getting the new iPhone the day it came out or a couple weeks later.