Friday, March 13, 2009

Conservative Dogma on Welfare

I'm currently in an on-going debate with a few conservatives over Obama's supposed expansion of "Welfare Handouts." And let me tell you, the whole thing is ludicrous. It's a bit hard to tie any of them down on what specific programs they're even complaining about, but it sure does seem like they're complaining about everything the government does. But I suspect the vagueness is a necessary ruse to hide the fact that they have no idea what they're talking about. Big surprise.

And it really is absurd, as they seem to be including Social Security and Medicare as "handouts," despite the fact that these are programs that recipients paid to be a part of. And unemployment is an insurance program that your employer pays into and can be seen as a sort of employee perk. And again, you don't get it unless you worked. And so they're lumping in these popular programs as "welfare handouts" and attacking them as if they discourage work.

And they're also attacking public education, job training programs, and even drug rehab. These are programs which have a specific intent to turn people into productive members of society and make them self-sufficient. Yet I'm told that these liberal programs are:

"removing more and more of the individual's ability to live free and pursue happiness, be that through taxation, regulation, and/or degradation of
economic and educational opportunity..."

Huh? That's nonsense of the highest order. This is a guy hyping "educational opportunity" who has directly attacked spending on education. And that's not to mention that they ignore the $288 billion in tax cuts that were in the stimulus bill. Somehow, that's not nearly as important as the $3 billion in Welfare.

Stimulating Handouts

But that's not even the stupidest part of this debate. The stupidest part is that we're even discussing this end of the issue at all.

Because sure, I can understand why people might think Welfare was a mistake. I myself always thought it should have been considered a quickie bandaid on the way towards finding real solutions. And I can understand why they might disagree with food stamps and Medicaid, even if these programs go to working people, too. And hey, I can even understand why they don't like any of these programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and job training programs. For whatever reason, they don't think the government should try to be the safety net that doesn't exist in nature. And I suppose that does make some sense, assuming you were an idiot who enjoyed human suffering.

But what I don't understand is why they think this matters in this particular debate. It was a STIMULUS bill. The purpose of this was to stimulate the economy. And whether or not you agree with the wisdom of giving poor people free money, food, healthcare, and training; they're an excellent way of stimulating the economy. This stuff spends just the same as if an employer gave it and that's all the economy cares about. Conservatives might not like food stamps, but you can bet your local grocery store does.

And so they're entirely missing the boat on this. Republican leaders told these people that the stimulus bill was just a spending bill solely designed to expand the government, and so they imagine this is the only way to look at it. They won't even consider the spending side of it. It's all about how giving "handouts" to lazy people will only make them more dependent on the government, even if many of these "handouts" were earned privileges like Social Security and Unemployment.

But again, it's obvious they have no clue what they're talking about. They won't name the specific programs they're denouncing or provide their supposed evidence of the failure of these programs. They won't give the price tag of these programs. Nor will they even consider the idea that they could stimulate the economy. They've been told that these programs suck and that's good enough for them.


Donald Douglas said...

Actually, I did name specific programs, I showed how social welfare consumes more than half the budget, and I cited budget experts who critized the Obama program and who said the FINAL numbers for specific programs would not be available until April.

You have not rebutted anything I have written, and have instead resorted to name-calling.

It's clear that you do not know what YOU'RE talking about.

Anonymous said...

only if you define social welfare so it includes programs that are funded outside of regular budgeting like social security. Doc B called that out specifically. Why is it that right wingers think they don't have to defend their funny numbers when they're shown to be funny numbers? Are they just too fucking dumb to do anything other than spout prepared talking points?

Doctor Biobrain said...

Yes Donald, I suppose you DID name a few specific programs. As I said, I found it quite odd that you'd lump successful and popular programs like Social Security, as well as drug rehab, which no sane person would consider a welfare program. But what exactly was the point? Are you so delusional that you actually support allowing old people to suffer after a lifetime of work? Or perhaps you just like the idea of a coal miners and mechanics being forced to work into their 80's and 90's? Or more likely, you refuse to even acknowledge what these programs do and pretend that there would be some magical safety net that would protect them in ways that they weren't protected before we had Social Security and Medicare.

And would you care to explain how these programs are "handouts," which is how you described them? Look, these programs aren't handouts. They're for people who have already paid to be a part of them. We can't deny it to them now. Nor does anyone suggest that we should. You're just looking for a way of making this amount sound large, so you include the two biggest programs that could fit into the category. But as I said, it's obvious they don't fit into the category of "handout" or into the welfare programs Rich was attacking. He was referring to the specific Welfare program which pays people for not working. And when I called him on it, he had to expand his target, just as you have. Heck, why not just call National Defense a welfare program and be done with it? After all, it is done for the welfare of the citizens.

And just to clarify: Please tell me if you'd like to abolish Social Security and Medicare. I'd really like to know if you're that delusional, or if you realize you're trying to score cheap debate points by referencing them.

And unless you did so elsewhere, you didn't cite "experts". You only cited one "expert" who asserted with no backing information that Obama's programs wouldn't stimulate the economy. But his argument is entirely counter-intuitive and anti-expert. As I'm sure you know, spending is spending, no matter where it comes from. If a paycheck would stimulate the economy a welfare check would do the same thing. There's nothing magical about this.

And as I said, the other two "experts" were merely making predictions about what might happen. And their criticism was limited to their belief that these programs were being permanently expanded, all evidence to the contrary.

And just so it's understood, this post wasn't meant as a rebuttal. It was meant to highlight the ignorance of those attacking Obama's plan. My rebuttal was posted in a comment at your blog, and you don't seem to have responded to it. There was so little to rebut that I didn't think it was worthy of posting it here.

And when did I call you a name? I completely blasted your position and stated that it showed how little you knew about this stuff because you held those positions, but I didn't call you a name. Not that I'm above name-calling. But I most assuredly didn't call you one here.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oh, and Donald. Just so it's understood, we need to be talking about the specific numbers that OBAMA is responsible for. Not all federal expenditures like Social Security and Medicare that we would be paying no matter who the president was. And while the stimulus did provide extra funds for those programs, it's not a third of our budget.

Green Eagle said...

Dear Doctor,

You so do not understand the brilliance of Mr. Douglas' plan.

If we just do away with all government regulation of business at the same time as we do away with social security, we will not have the spectacle of coal miners and mechanics working into their 80's and 90's, as they will all be dead by their 50's.

See how well conservatism works when you really give it a chance?