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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So Who Exactly Is Dependent on Whom?

Posted by on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 8:47 AM

I get Kristoff's point about "soul-crushing dependency," and I don't deny that well intentioned social programs sometimes (though sometimes anecdotally) have unintended consequences. Just not sure that this is the best example.

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Heaven forfend!

Rich people sometimes forget that they need poor people—to cut their lawns, to pick up their garbage, to fight their wars. Yet another reminder that one of the biggest American myths is that we live in a classless society.

 

Comments (24) RSS

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seandr 1
Ya know, military or some other civil service instead of welfare (at least for some folks) isn't a bad idea.
Posted by seandr on December 11, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 2
A lot of our entry level military is also on food stamps and other social programs - especially if they have children. And the military itself is the largest Socialist Collective the world has ever seen. It has done more than its share in creating a lot of those with "soul-crushing dependencies" - whether that be a disabled veteran, or just some slob who sat on his butt at a military base for thirty years and is now living off military retirement while complaining about the government.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on December 11, 2012 at 9:02 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 3
If you want capitalism that's largely uncontrolled (like we have here in the US) then you need to have programs to protect the poor and weak. If you decide you don't want to protect the poor and weak....well have a look at Russia in 1917 or Paris in 1789.

The rich may think they have control but it is ulitmately only at the fiat of the poor that they have that control.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on December 11, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 4
If we end the poverty draft, the terrorists have won!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on December 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Report this
internet_jen 5
America's obesity problem is also the military's recruiting problem, this article is from 2010, but I did hear a story on NPR about it this past fall:

Army Fitness: Unfit Recruits "Too Fat to Fight" Force Army to Ease Training
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-2…

Posted by internet_jen on December 11, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 6
Those in poverty wouldn't be on the "government dole" if the wealthy and well-to-do in this country gave their money away to build free housing, schools, medical centers, and other things the poor can't afford on their own.

But since the rich don't want to give their money away, for good reasons or bad, someone else is forced to do it, and that 'someone' is all of us who pay taxes.

Conservatives have lots of complaints about social programs but no answers of their own. Don't want them to get government help? Well then, what should they do? Should we let them die? No? So what then? Oh, they should just "help themselves?" Yeah, that's a real nice platitude, but it's obviously not working. Any other bright ideas? I didn't think so, now pay your taxes and shut the fuck up.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on December 11, 2012 at 9:19 AM · Report this
7
Do I have to be the one to point out the obvious in that quoted inset? If you're eligible for disability payments, you're not going to be eligible to enlist.

Thank you very much. I'll be here all week! Try the veal.

Speaking of military service, I've been forced to reconsider my views against the draft. Since we abandoned it, we've severely exaggerated the class differences in this country. For good or ill, the military draft was a unifying force in America that's now gone. I think we should reinstitute it, but as a mandatory National Service program, 2 years out of everyone's life, perhaps some choice of military or civilian service, but no deferments.

It might let us address some infrastructure development issues, some poverty programs, and it would pull enough people out of the workforce to drive down unemployment and possibly raise private sector wages. Plus, it might reduce the crazy-making pressure on our deployed military forces, not to mention lower costs, as you don't typically pay draftees anything near professional military salaries.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 11, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 8
I have always thought that a military service option in lieu of jail for certain crimes was a good idea.

Of course, they would essentially serve a military "sentence," and would of course be taken back to jail with possible penalties for poor performance, and definite penalties for desertion/escape.

Might screw up the structure of the military and unit coherence though, which is basically why we stopped the draft anyway. Never served in the military, so I may simply be ignorant of other factors which may make this a terrible idea.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 11, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
JensR 9
Meh... a time will come, eat the rich and so on.

Btw, kinda on the subject, does anyone remember an Outland comic where Bill the Cat (but with Donald Trumps brain) talks to Ronald-Ann about how glad he is the poor hasn't yet killed all rich people?
Posted by JensR http://ohyran.se on December 11, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
care bear 10
I can't stand Nick Kristoff.
Posted by care bear on December 11, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 11
Some of the biggest welfare dependent "takers" are those that receive subsidies for farming. And they vote Republican.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on December 11, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
treacle 12
I wouldn't be opposed to some sort of year (or 2, I guess) of National Service. As long as there were clear non-military options, as there are in Germany.
Posted by treacle on December 11, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Posted by atown on December 11, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
14
what the fuck does "some young people here" mean, anyway. Anecdotes are TOTAL BULLSHIT, no matter who they emanate from.

DEMAND EVIDENCE! ASSESS THAT EVIDENCE!! This should NOT be a discussion about whether Military/National Service is a worthwhile idea. It should be about blasting bullshit anecdotes out of the water.

Thank you.
Posted by LuisitaPhD on December 11, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
15
@8 I think they already have that, some states sending convicts to serve in the military as opposed to serving time in jail. And no, I don't think it's a good idea. It's another way to entrap the poor (these are poor criminals convicted of minor crimes) to fight the wars that are for the benefit of the rich - those who build the instruments of war, those who rebuild a nation after we reduce it to rubble, and those who gain control of the natural and economic resources of the vanquished. Wars are enourmous gifts to the plutocracy bought at an enourmous price with the blood of the impoverished soldiers who fight them and the citizens living in the battlefield who have their lives and livelihood demolished by the war. Very rare is the war fought in the interest of "defending freedom." To preempt public disgust for this reality, we worship and deify militarism and the idea of the soldier. (Not the actual soldier, who is eventually ignored by society.)
Posted by floater on December 11, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Report this
16
Yeah. Kids don't join because of food stamps.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the possibility of ending up getting shot at and suicide bombed by religious fanatics in some high altitude bronze-age hell hole in freezing temperatures for months, possibly years, on end. For basically minimum wage. Nope. Nothing to do with it, I'm sure.
Posted by tkc on December 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
17
@2 All good points. The total cost of disability support for veterans went up 25% in 2012 alone. So when one is describing virtually any alternative to military service, the absolute last word that should come to one's mind is "crippling."
Posted by Furcifer on December 11, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 18
Every time a corporation breaks the law, we should draft the CEO and top ten named execs (on the SEC filing) and the top shareholder and have them serve four years in a front-line combat unit at the rank of private.

There. Welfare problem solved.

... Oh, you meant aid for kids, not the largest budgetary welfare ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on December 11, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
I worry most about the soul crushing dependency caused by corporate welfare and repeatedly bailing out Wall Street. The rich will never break free and reach their full potential if we coddle them forever.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
20
@6 : You write as if we had Evil Gummint Welfare because we tried everything else and it didn't work well or dependably enough, whereas tonnes of anecdotal people just _know_ that our welfare state was imposed by Space Masons who landed one day and hook-nosedly foisted it on a country where everything was going just _fine_.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on December 11, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
21
Kristoff is a jackhole and a faux crat, but that phony pile of crapola has never been an authentic democrat, or liberal and certainly not a progressive, with all his constant rightwing bullcrap thinly disguised as "liberal writing" ....

They've offshored the vast number of jobs, technology and investment, then they always blame the victims --- which no amount of education, etc., will have any effect upon as long as the financial/econ pipeline is pointed offshore.

Speaking of "soul-crushing dependency" on junk paper (pp. 10 & 11):

http://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-market…

Let's see now, 97% bank credit derivatives at the end of 2011 were Credit Default Swaps!!!!!

Why we exist in a fantasy finance economy --- NOT a consumer-based economy (since that 70% figure is vastly consumer by the uppermost 15%).
Posted by sgt_doom on December 11, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
thelyamhound 22
I don't necessarily object to some sort of civil service requirement for welfare, or even for voting (a la Israel or Heinlein), but I object to its default setting being towards the military. I may accept the fundamental absurdity of war as a necessary evil, but admitting that a necessary evil is evil, no matter how necessary, is a key component of that acceptance. It seems to me that there should be a default setting of peaceful service to one's country as an alternative to welfare (or, in some cases, incarceration), with warfare being only a wartime option to which no one is involuntarily indentured.

Those who wish to make a career of military service could, as now, have that option.

What I don't understand is why killing people en masse is the only government employment program of which certain anti-government tempers seem to approve.
Posted by thelyamhound http://thebayinghound.blogspot.com on December 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
23
So I guess the idea is that poor people should have to serve at least a single tour of duty as cannon fodder before stepping back into a civilian life of subsistence wages and dependency on government programs.
Posted by Proteus on December 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
24
@2, I'm of the opinion that junior enlisted soldiers should not be marrying or having kids in the first place. Not just because the pay's inadequate, but also because the majority of junior enlisted people I saw getting married did so for the wrong reasons (e.g. to move out of the barracks), were not mature enough to balance work and family, undermined esprit de corps, and frequently ended in disaster.

Leaving marriage and family life to officers and NCOs would fix a lot of problems.

@8 We had two soldiers in my company at Fort Campbell who'd been given the option of enlisting or jail. Both were shitbags of the first order. Military service can help put some young people on a better path in life (it certainly helped me). But you need the right attitude and approach it in the right way. For those who do, it can be a great transition to life as an independent adult (your room and board and health benefits are covered, plus extra money; the GI Bill, veteran's benefits, etc. ). But some people simply aren't suited to it.
Posted by Corydon on December 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this

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