Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welfare Queens and Big Government

Warning: The dog's in her street corner prophet mode here. Strong opinions below.

To my mind, one of the most offensive propaganda images promulgated during the Reagan years was the "welfare queen." This mythical being, footloose, fancy free and living high off the hog, was often spotted being "driven downtown in her Cadillac" to receive the "taxpayers' hard earned money." This high living sponge became one of the icons in conservatism's war against the poor.

The conservatives wanted us to know that they did not want to compromise our honest work with dishonest handouts. The era of Big Government and Free Rides was at an end. From here on, it would be each one for ourself. Competition and market forces would determine the winners and losers, not some bleeding heart pity for the unfortunate. Government, too, fell under feminina approbation, being called "Mother" or "Nanny," exactly what no red blooded frontier boy could be expected to tolerate.

Reagan's doctrine had two big effects: 1) The end of the social safety net and 2) The biggest welfare state for the rich that history has ever seen. By deflecting public scorn against poor women, Reagan, and all his successors, were able to tip the scales towards rich, corporate folks, mostly white and overwhelmingly, men. By declaring the poor dishonest, the unspoken corollary was that corporations and rich people were honest and able stewards of wealth.

Few people have ever admitted that the poor mostly imitate what they see the rich doing.

No one declared a national crisis when 45 million Americans were found to be without access to health care. No bailouts were scheduled for those who had to declare bankruptcy to pay wealthy doctors needing cash for a second home or a vacation to the Antarctic; indeed, bankruptcy laws were tightened, lest someone get it in their head that they deserved help after such a reckless binge of spending.

During the past two weeks, some of the greatest fraud in American history stands exposed. Most of these men and their corporations have reviled big government and have been resolutely opposed to a social safety net as being too costly for the nation to afford.

My question to you: Why should the government bail them out?

1 comment:

FranIAm said...

Great post - this is a dark and dangerous time.

Blame the victim is always the order of the day and a tragedy.