Thursday, July 12, 2012

Subsidize This!

by Dick Mac

One of the saddest by-products of America's movement towards the right-wing the past few decades is the absurd notion that one person's stupidity is just as valid and important as another person's intelligence.

Smart people are called "elitists."

Right-wingers like to demean a smart person by calling her an "intellectual," as if intellect is some kind of mental health disorder, or worse, it's like socialism.

Stupidity is rampant; and it's not just American right-wingers who bask in its glory.  It's a universal truth.
Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense. . . .
See, wikipedia.
Just like parents who've removed competition from their child's life by having every team and every challenger awarded a prize, because he's a winner just for showing-up, we have allowed stupid people to think that their thoughts are just as important, and their ideas just as valid, as those of intelligent people.

Ronald Reagan is the hero of the stupid.  He was the politician that convinced poor people they weren't poor, and convinced working people that it was because of poor people that they didn't have enough money.

He convinced the majority of Americans that by taking their money and giving it to the people with the most money, that everyone would get more money.  Even the lowly poor people.

We used to call these people "stupid"!  Now we call them "conservatives"!

This trick was successful because Reagan had convinced people that all their money was already being given to poor people who didn't want to work.  The "welfare queens" were robbing us blind.  A stupid person actually believes that poor people have taken, or are getting, all the money.  An intelligent person has familiarity with mathematics, and doesn't need to spend a lot of time counting on his fingers and toes to conclude that poor people aren't getting all the money, because then they wouldn't actually be poor people anymore!  (An intelligent "conservative" just rationalizes that welfare for the poor is somehow unAmerican because it is socialism.)  But, let's take off our gloves and our socks, loosen all our fingers and toes, and do a little math!

Let's say that 100,000,000 Americans are on welfare, one-third of our population.  That is a gross exaggeration, of course; but, for argument's sake we will use that number.

A family of four receives approximately $900 in welfare payments and $400 in food stamps.  So that's $1,300 per month, or roughly $15,600 a year.  Not much less than a minimum-wage worker, actually.

If one-third of the American people are on welfare, it costs a few billion dollars a year to support them.    

Thirteen hundred dollars per month for twenty-five million families of four for twelve months:


Just under three billion dollars.

In reality, about 30,000,000 Americans are receiving welfare benefits (ten percent of the population), so the annual cost is actually about $812,500,000:  less than a billion dollars.  Let's add 25% as a margin of error, and that number gets all the way up to $1,015,625,000, just over a billion dollars.

How much did we give the millionaires and billionaires over the past few years?  A lot!  And they are not even one percent of the population; because not every millionaire and billionaire received this windfall, only the bankers.  I don't know the exact number each banker received, but they all got a hell of a lot more than the equivalent of $15,600 in each of the years we have been bailing them out.  They have received trillions of dollars.  Free money.  Money taken from the hands of those who earn a hell of a lot less than your average banker.

Back to "welfare"!

Sadly, some "smart" people cop to the myth of conservatism, too.  

Intellectuals who preach notions of conservatism have language skills that help them make their stupid position sound like history and reality.  Because they know the math is fraudulent and the notion that poor people cause economic hardship for the rest of us is absurd, they couch their argument to subsidize the rich and not the poor in a discussion of what they call "libertarianism."  (For those who are unfamiliar:  libertarianism is a mythical social, political, and economic philosophy that has never existed among human beings.)  

The notions of "libertarianism" are adorable when passionately presented by teenagers and twenty-somethings who are honing their intellectual skills and trying to grasp the reality of life in the real world.  I absolutely love hearing a young intellectual promote the notions of "libertarianism."  It is a sign of intelligence when a young person waxes eloquently about "libertarianism."  

A young person should be energized by someone like Ron Paul.  He preaches a mythical land of Reagantopia, where "libertarianism" rules and everybody is freer than free, where they can smoke weed, and spend all their money on anything they want because they don't have to pay taxes or subsidize the poor.  (But, they probably will have to subsidize the rich; we just won't talk about that.)

After a few years in the workplace, facing real economic and financial realities, smart children generally grow out of this phase.  It is most unbecoming when an adult, someone who should know better, promotes the notions of "libertarianism."  Their argument is that the government shouldn't be in the business of providing benefits to anyone.  Nobody should receive subsidies.  

When you go deeper with them, however, the things they need are important and should be managed or subsidized by the government, whereas the things poor people need are frivolous, and provision of those things is socialism.

Are stupid people bad?  

No.  Stupid people can be dangerous, because they lack sense; but they are not in-and-of-themselves intrinsically bad.  

Should stupid people be given a voice at the table of political debate, international diplomacy, and economic planning?  

Probably not in a civilized society.  

Let me re-phrase that:  "NO!"

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