run away and go on welfare

In the USA, people expect you to work yourself to death. And not only that, they want you to smile while doing it.

Y’know what I’ve noticed whenever someone mentions “Lazy people on welfare”? That the person bitching is never on welfare. Despite claiming that it’s privileged and entitled to “live off the government” none of these people seem to be willing to give up their cushy corporate jobs for the luxurious life of “Welfare and Food Stamps”.

If you can have a “good life” depending on SNAP benefits and welfare, go do it! I fucking dare you. I bet you won’t. Because despite proudly repeating this sentiment, people know it’s bullshit. The people who legitimately live off of various forms of government assistance are not privileged or entitled. They are poor. They do not have enough money to live. Don’t believe me? Quit your job and apply for government assistance.

If you could live off the government, everyone would do it.

I’m constantly hearing arguments about “Lazy people who don’t want to work and live off welfare”–Today it’s time to dismantle this stupid bullshit. Work, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Work is obviously needed for things within society to happen. Working therefore is also necessary for the advancement of human society.

What is not necessary is working a shitty job with people you hate for no money. Reactionaries conflate not wanting to be underpaid with a complete aversion to employment. There are limited groups of people who are not able to work either physically or mentally–Take these out of the picture and what you find is a population that is merely attempting to supplement low wages.

If the arguments were true, that lazy people could make more money sitting at home than working, why would anyone work? In fact, I would say that if you could make more money by quitting your job and being at home, you would be stupid not to. It would be silly of anyone to choose to spend time away from their loved ones simply out of pride when more money could be made “doing nothing”.

See, this argument isn’t meant to be analyzed. It’s meant to attack the poor and cover for the rich. Instead of talking about how underpaid workers are the conversation shifts to how the poor should have even less money. While the owners walk off with millions of dollars the “middle class” sits around complaining that people worse off than themselves are actually doing too well.

Democrats and Republicans both say this stupid shit

The idea that the poor are a drain on society is inherently a reactionary one. Today, these ideas have been strongly racially coded as well. Ronald Reagan famously decried “Welfare Queens” based on the story of Linda Taylor. Linda, a convicted fraudster, was a prime target of Reagan’s 1976 campaign. Linda Taylor was used as the face of Black women in the USA for decades to come and the phrase became heavily associated with Black women in the USA.

“Welfare Queen” became a term that both Republicans like Reagan and Democrats like Bill Clinton were very concerned with. Bill Clinton was responsible for the reforms in 1996 to the Welfare that led to the creation of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). TANF set a limit on the amount of time that a citizen could receive government assistance, along with a plethora of other stipulations meant to keep “undeserving” people out of the program.

This entire process is a perfect example of Neoliberal bureaucracy. The insistence on means-testing and ensuring that those at the very bottom have the hardest time attempting to reach any semblance of “economic freedom” (AKA not starving or becoming unhoused). While Bill Clinton was gutting social services using racially charged language, he was also passing some of the most horrific crime bills in modern history (also targeting minorities).

We can and should acknowledge that these arguments stem from reactionary and conservative thinking–But these two words are not synonyms for Republicans. The ideology at the root of opposing social services is the myth of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”. These are embedded in the very fabric of the American mythos.

A problem exists, let’s make it worse!

Supporters of this “anti-welfare” rhetoric have only a few variations of their views. Some want to totally get rid of these programs, these would be the more principled conservatives or libertarians who genuinely would not give a shit if all recipients became homeless.

Others on the more “liberal” side agree that “undeserving” poor people shouldn’t receive benefits either. We should increase the barriers to receiving assistance and make it even more difficult for poor people to get help. We should help poor people, but only a little bit.

These are both wrong. Both of these positions fundamentally side-skirt the issue of poverty while obfuscating and worsening the problem they claim to be concerned with. The real “solution” is to legitimately help people in poverty get to a stable economic situation through systemic changes in society. Both canceling the programs and increasing their barrier of entry would increase extreme poverty. At this point, the argument would shift from “lazy people on welfare” to “homeless people just want to be homeless”.

The real problem is Capitalism

“Welfare” isn’t a Marxist concept. This piece is not meant to put liberal social services on a pedestal–They are flawed inherently through being a part of a capitalist system. The truth is that it is impossible to avoid austerity in social programs within Capitalism. These programs, even when truly well-intentioned, are in a constant battle for their own existence.

TANF, SNAP, and Low-Income Housing (Section 8) are all in a never-ending battle with budgets and profit seekers. Unfortunately, the contradiction here is quite simple. It is not profitable to help people. There is no money to be made in giving people who need houses, houses.

On one hand, I support the existence and mass expansion of these programs. Supplemental income would be useful for the vast majority of all people across the globe. That being said, these programs as mentioned before, are fleeting. They are fighting a battle within a system that cannot be won.

What would help is to make these programs into fundamental constitutional rights–On par with that of free speech. If Americans treated social services like “Free Speech”, we would live in a country with a record-low poverty and homelessness rate. Along with that, the constitutional right to a living wage and safe housing should be installed.

The obstacles are clear, the current US Constitution enshrines the right to private property and subsequently protects those who own it. Capital is the biggest obstacle to a society that treats people justly. This is not impossible, however. A world in which Socialism is the fundamental outlook is not a fantasy. It is not idealistic to believe that the poor could someday live comfortable lives. It is not easy and it won’t happen tomorrow. But it could happen. If we make it happen.

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