Magic Carpet Ride

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“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be, but before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean.” -Bob Marley

I haven’t written in a very long time, primarily because I have returned to school which takes up any free time and/or energy I have. Of course, silly rabbits, that does not mean I’ve not had a lot to say. That does not mean that I’ve given up attempting to figure out how to make my voice heard and attempt to make change through activism, e-mails, calls to my representatives, etc. That also does not mean I have stopped trying to get to the facts– and cut through the b.s.– to somehow get to the truth hidden in the gooey center of most issues.

What it does mean is that in order to freely express my views now, I am left only with the option of writing snarky quips in the comment sections of Facebook news feeds to peck at the festering sores of ignorance. But alas, the very act of arguing with a Teapublican troll can be at once an exhilarating, and yet despairing, undertaking. Pointing out to someone on the inter webs, whose Facebook handle is “Obamasux”, that perhaps their “theory” that President Obama was surreptitiously responsible for the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook because Adam Lanza’s date of death was incorrectly typed into a Social Security death database, was perhaps a smidgen daft, leaves me acutely unfulfilled.

So today…today I decided I was going to take a few minutes before starting the laundry to vent. Today I am dipping my toe back into the murky waters of the  blogosphere to matter-of-factly confer a Blithering Idiot observation. This will not be any fact-checked or link-filled essay, opining hilariously about the latest non- scandal scandal-du jour. There will be no Sarah Palin dispatch to poke at and ponder. Nope. Today I will write what I’ve been thinking about for some time, but perhaps have been too cautious and perhaps too timid to say, because it strikes at the heart of people’s character. I wish to illuminate the duplicity of people’s beliefs as compared to their actions.

The last few months, heck, the last year, has been pretty much a depressing cascade of one piece of bad news after another for our country. NSA revelations, Syria, tepid employment numbers, the supposed IRS debacle, more gun-rampages by lunatics murdering people at airports, workplaces or schools, and of course, the latest whipping-boy… THE OBAMACARE ROLL-OUT…

MUHUHAHAHAAAAA.

But today none of that matters. Today, this is what is really bothering me.

Because of the sequester, and as of Friday, the food stamp program will be cut by about 5%. Food stamps. These two little words are a fire starter for this country. Being “for them” or “against them” is akin to holding a big, neon sign that says either, “I’m a limp-wristed liberal” or “I’m a cold-hearted scumbag.”

Neither is true.

For years I have watched various Facebook friend’s news feeds displaying their “likes” of various memes on Facebook having to do with this subject. Have you seen the one where it says we should be drug-testing everyone who applies for them, or the picture of  this white trash yahoo with tattoos, Bud in hand, arrogantly leaning against a beat-up pick-up truck that says, “If you can afford beer and cigarettes, you don’t need food stamps!”? That one especially always gets gazillions of “likes” with the requisite “hells yeah you lazy-assed muthaf*kkers!” pasted all the way down the grammatically defective comment feed.

‘MURICA!

I’ve also listened to people at work or out in “polite” company who bitch and moan about this or that, and often hear the rants about EBT cards (food stamps) and the “scam” and “disgrace” that they are.

Because clearly people, everyone using them is able-bodied and just too damned lazy to get a job. They are nothing but low-life moochers, standing in the Food Lion aisle, their carts stuffed with lobsters and rib-eyes, their necks adorned with diamonds, sporting the latest couture, talking on their Iphones, who then have the balls after stealing our hard-earned tax dollars, to hop into their Escalades and drive away as we are left in line with nothing but a dented Hamburger Helper box and bitter resentment.

I know, I know.

And here is what may surprise you. I am in sympathy with some of the rants a wee bit more than you might think old Blithering would be, but the reason is not really because I think the diatribes are substantially true and as widespread as people make them out to be. When you actually look into the program, the public’s perception turns out to be a distortion of reality. Most people using SNAP are working people, and if they aren’t able to work, they can only get a few months of support. Most people who use the program are off it in a few months. Most assuredly, most people would rather not need to enroll in this vital government “safety net.” But the perception out there is, no matter what we know to be the facts, that food stamps= parasite.

That being said, I  actually do have an issue with any fraud and abuse of SNAP, although the statistics say that fraud is relatively minor in this program and has been steadily declining with better oversight, technology, and administration. However, I certainly don’t like it when anyone tries to game the system. It isn’t something that I dismiss as completely unworthy of anger or disdain from the public. I get it. However, that statement of acknowledgment comes with a king-sized caveat, because likewise, I have an issue with fraud and abuse of any system of governmental largess, whether it is iniquitous tax-loopholes given purely  as a gift to the rich and powerful who subsidize their campaigns, or continued subsidies to entities like oil conglomerates who make billions in profits (sometimes quarterly). I despise bailing out Wall Street hustlers with our tax dollars and not attaching massive strings to it to stop them from rewarding their own flagrant criminal behavior, like absconding with golden parachutes or pocketing colossal end of year bonuses, after literally bankrupting their clients and nearly the country.

But here is what really makes me exasperated almost daily. It is something that has bothered me for a long time. I have a more substantial beef with individuals who conveniently and consistently forget their own “taker” scenarios.  It is usually here where I split the blanket with my self-righteous brethren on most occasions.

I could dish about the corporate welfare run amok in this plutocracy we call America for pages. I could quote facts and statistics about subsidies and tax breaks for businesses who abuse workers and the taxpayers all the live long day.

But, what I would say to those who fume over SNAP, or any “safety-net” program, is, look in the mirror buddy. Look really long and look really hard, because chances are, my friend, you have a lot more in common with “those” people than you care to admit.

Too many Americans believe that they are above “taker” status. Statistics say, they are dead wrong.

There are very few people in life who don’t stumble financially at some point or another. people lose jobs, get injured, have unforeseen accidents or calamities that befall them.

There are also very few people who don’t “take advantage” of what the government has to offer.

What? WTF are you talking ’bout? I pay outrageous taxes, and I don’t live off of the government! I’m so sick of lazy-ass people looking for a hand-out!

The thing is Mr. or Mrs. Outraged taxpayer, your claims of purity are pretty much bullshit. And here’s why.

First of all, as far as this food stamp issue, I have looked at the stats. The amount of fraud in the food stamp program is not what most people think it is. The amount of people who are “able-bodied persons who are unwilling to work” is also not what most people think it is. The fact is, most people don’t know all the facts about the SNAP program, but why the hell should that surprise anyone, since most people don’t know the facts about much of anything in this country, but sure talk like they do.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been around the block a bit. Eons ago, I worked in the restaurant industry, which afforded me the accumulated knowledge about a lot of different types of people. Rich people, poor people, smart people, dumb people, alcoholics, drug addicts,  sex-addicts, nice people, mean people,  generous folks and greedy ones too. There is no school in the world that could have taught me the valuable insights as to the nature of people like working in that atmosphere for over a decade. The bottom line is, you learn a hell of a lot in a place where everybody knows your name…and your dirty little secrets. What I’ve learned is that it is usually the most self-righteous people that you have to watch out for. The ones who are always pointing fingers are often the ones who have the most to hide.  Often, people like this have a tendency to forget how much they game benefit from the “system” as much as any “freeloader” on SNAP. Couple that with my age, and I can honestly say my data banks are pretty jam-packed with anecdotal evidence that most people are delusional when it comes to how they got to where they are.

There are a hell of a lot of citizens out there who hate the pieces of trash sucking up our tax dollars by taking food stamps, but who think nothing of their own liberal use (and often forget their use) of the government slush fund.

Here are just a few “for instances.”

Hello Mr. “Self-made Man”, you are to be admired what with your spectacular job as a hedge fund manager at “Paper-Pushers Inc”. Your job nets you some hefty paychecks, that’s for sure. The fact that you earned that money all on your own, without any sponging off the government what-so-ever, is a fine example of what America is all about…except…what about this?

Let’s talk about all of those taxes you pay to the government to fund the lazy “takers” out there? You must be getting zonked, right? But wait. I see here that you only get taxed at the capital gains rate (15%) instead of the “ordinary income” one (39.6%)? Huh? That could seriously change the digits on those paychecks.

I suppose you have conveniently forgotten that it is the outrageous tax-loopholes rules written by Congress, who are lobbied by the financial interests ( like your firm) that allow you to keep much of that “hard-earned” money through these little schemes?

Next, how about we examine hard-working, average “Joe.”? Joe wouldn’t dare take food stamps because he hauls his butt to work every, single,  day to earn his keep. He worked hard in college to get this job. He hasn’t taken a penny from the government and never would because he isn’t a deadbeat.

EXCEPT, you actually have had a little help from the government Joe, right? I mean, you did take out quite a sum of money through the government-backed student loan program in order to get through college right? You did have a work-study program that helped you make a few bucks (mostly for those keggers– am I right Joe?) while you made your way through, correct? You did go to a fine public college, which was much cheaper than a private one, and propped up by the taxpayers of that state, correct? You do use your mortgage interest deduction to reduce your taxes and shhhh, you maybe… just maybe… do overestimate your “charitable” giving for the year just a smidge…wink-wink.

Say it ain’t so, Joe?

How could you forgot those little nuggets, Joe?

Finally, how about you Ms. Self-righteous Taxpayer? You are enraged by those stories you see on GOP tv about some low-life who surfs all day and takes $136 bucks a month from the government (us!) because he is too lazy to work! Yup, that’s pretty devious I’d say.

However…

Let’s just first forget the obvious fact that you hit the parent lottery and mommy and daddy have made sure that you would never have to worry about a monetary issue in an entire lifetime, no matter what you did or what catastrophe might befall you. They paid your way through the best schools. You didn’t have to work like Joe while going to school because you were bank-rolled by the folks. Good for you! Lucky girl. But please understand something. Not everyone can breeze through life on that magic carpet that you know will never let you fall. Like, if your car breaks down and needs major repairs, no worries, right? Dad will make sure you have a vehicle next day. Thanks dad! You lost your job due to downsizing? Well that stinks. But don’t worry,  due to the folks bank account generosity, you’ll be just fine as you search for that next job. I mean, it’s not like you would be some low-life taker using food stamps, right? You will just never understand how people get themselves into all of that nasty financial trouble, will you? Why can’t people save their money for that looming disaster so they won’t need to depend on the government (us!) to bail them out? Right?

Riiiight.

Yes, I know the last vignette had nothing to do with government, but for me, it falls under this delusional aspect of how individuals determine self-worth. The illusions that too many people have of their own integrity and purity is laughable. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care who you think you are. Chances are, you have “taken.”

My point is, there are millions of people out there who benefit from government programs or legislation who think that it is absolutely not the same as taking foodstamps to get by a rough patch in life. Unemployment insurance is a Godsend to those who go through unfortunate circumstances and lose a job. Disability is there when workers are injured, or permanently disabled. Social Security picks up the pieces for people like Congressman Paul Ryan whose father died and who used that check from Uncle Sam to get through school…and who now wants to make cuts to the program and privatize it, because we “just can’t afford it.”

You may work, and work hard, and good for you, but what you fail to see is that most people who are in the SNAP program are working.

You may work, and work hard, but the stats say you probably benefitted somewhere, somehow by government programs.

You may work, and work hard, but there may come a day, when life hits a speed bump, and you may need a hand up for a bit, whether it’s from mommy and daddy or grandpa or Uncle Sam.

That doesn’t make you a moocher. That doesn’t make you a taker. It makes you human. And it should make you happy and proud that you live in a country that takes care of people who need taking care of for a while.

Don’t be “that guy”, like Paul Ryan, who pulls the ladder up behind him once he gets to where he needs to go.

…and check the mirror once in a while.

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About Blithering Idiot

I am a teacher and I love my job.
This entry was posted in Food stamps, SNAP and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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