Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It started as a comment

I've been having a lively discussion with a blogger this week over ideology. He's a proud gay republican independant, and me, well we all know how flamingly liberal I am. I understand him well because I used to parrot the same tired conservative lines. Capitalism is what made us great, why should I pay more taxes while others benefit from welfare, and that entrepreneurs are what make us as a country "richer" (that trickle down nonsense). I used to think "welfare" was about as dirty a word as you could utter. And then, to use his line, I grew up. Or rather I met people who were actually at a disadvantage in this system. The unemployable for one reason or another (as simple a thing as a facial tick will cause employment difficulties). The punishing of unwed mothers in our society in particular made me change my mind. Welfare is not a bad word, it's a leveling of the playing field. I have never relied on government assistance (except for the white man's welfare - bankruptcy) because I've always pounded the pavement and found ways to make ends meet. It's easier being childless I must admit. But for me to assume that everyone is as able as I am to do this is fallatious reasoning. Do black people start out at a disadvantage in society? Absolutely. That's why affirmative action programs are in place. Not because minorities are lazy, but because they have to run a longer and harder course to keep up with white men. Why do women still make less than men doing the same jobs? Because the system favors the white man. Basically it all boils down to this. Conservatives blame poor people for their own poverty. Do some abuse the system in order to work less? Sure, but we can't label all welfare recipients as lazy. (Though laziness is a huge part of human nature. All technology improvements are aimed at helping us make less effort. It seems hypocritical to demonize it.) I'm not going to tell you which blogger, he can out himself if he wishes in the comments.

26 comments:

CoffeeDog said...

"Why do women still make less than men doing the same jobs?" It's because of that piece of flesh dnaglin' down there in the nether regions. So sad that it all comes down to a penis. Ok...sorry I had to get that out. Being female, in a technical field, I am certain I have always made less than my male counterparts, AND have worked much harder than a lot of them. The man thing, it's why I wanted Hillary to be our president and why I was so upset when that didn't happen.

Your post reminds me......I hear rumblings that Obama is telling Shrub that we need to bail out the auto industry. Now I'll admit I haven't really listened to the reasons behind it, but this sounds fishy to me. Bail out an industry that has exploited the consumer and hasn't readily embraced alternative energy sources? They are where they are for the want of profit, golden parachutes, etc. I do see two sides of the coin. The failure of the auto industry would be a huge blow to America. At the same time, why are we looking to the govt to bail out a failing industry? We're no better in China in that respect. China looks good on the surface because the govt is propping everything up. Do we want to live in an America like that?

Mel said...

Bah. I have little time for that. The people who say that churches and charities should be the ones taking care of the poor are usually the ones who won't contribute to said churches and charities sufficiently to allow them to do so. It's just plain selfish, not to mention an inefficient and uneconomic duplication of effort.

My sister has needed public assistance on occasion to get through her two pregnancies and feed her children, and she has always been a hard worker. She just happened to get involved with someone who turned out to be an addict and then a dealer, who still barely provides for his own children. Right now she's employed full-time, but if he decides not to pay child support one month she has a hard time making ends meet. And if the economic downturn takes her job she'll have little other recourse than to turn back to the state to help out.

Unless, of course, Mr. Log Cabiner wants to bridge the gap between what her family can provide in assistance and what she needs to get by.

Snooze said...

I'm mixed - I don't see much difference between individuals most of the time. We all take the good and the bad in our political choices when we vote. Most people, on either side, don't have a hatred of the poor. Just different ideas of how to help. The reason I could never vote for Harper is that I do think he has a hatred of marginalized groups.

Rick said...

Proud gay republican? You've got me painted with the broad brush. I'm an Independent with fiscal conservative tendencies.

I don't think anyone is going to argue certain welfare programs are necessary. Extremism is the problem. And unfortunately Obama is the most extreme liberal in the Senate.

Anonymous said...

Liberal is not a dirty word. The Christian Right ask WWJD? Jesus said sell all you have and give it to the poor and come and follow me. The Conservative went away sorrrowful because he loved his things more than his fellow man. Here all of the food banks have ran out of food to give. The need is greater than ever. Since it is Bush's policies that caused much of the grief it is his supporters who should bear the cost. ed

conortje said...

Well said - it is almost always life experience that makes one 'liberal' to begin with. To realise that not everyone has it the same is an invaluable lesson.

Zach said...

i think if ANYONE did a little research (it's super easy--i just typed in senate ranking liberal and go this NEAT ordering done by an actual academic institution UCSD with scientific reasoning and EVERYTHING--http://voteview.ucsd.edu/sen110.htm) that obama, while clearly on the liberal side of the senate in NOT the most "extreme" liberal (whatever that means). The most liberal is Feingold from Wisconsin--you actually have to go through ten senators before you get to Obama.
Also, I think everyone will be surprised at many of Obama's inclinations after taking control of the presidency--he can be quite a hawk, and has surprised me before on some of his fiscal policies--only time will tell.
but please don't go spouting off "facts" if you aren't going to take at least the five seconds necessary to type something into google to back up your assertion--especially one that has been debunked time and time again in the news media about Obama being the most liberal in the senate.

Lemuel said...

I was amused and taken by your comment about accepting "white man's welfare" because when one looks at the scene with neutrality one can see that anyone who has "made it" never made it on his/her own (as they would like to think/claim), but rather they had some kind of special "break" or "assistance" - whether it be accident of birth, location, family ties, being in the right place at the right time, etc. When they rail against "hand outs" to the poor and disadvantaged, they are being blind to the subtle "hand outs"/advantages that they themselves have received.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

I'm always struck that people who complain about a progressive tax structure don't seem to recognize that without government there wouldn't be an environment in which they can make all that money. Asking them to support the system that makes them rich hardly seems unfair to me. But most of them will tell you that they earned everything through their own hard work and won't acknowledge all the public and private help they've received and that less fortunate people haven't.

I'm much more concerned about keeping the government away from my rights to free expression than I am about keeping them away from my wallet. They can have my money, but not my freedom.

Patricia said...

Liberal, conservative, they're just words. And yet we give them so much power. I happily admit that I identify with most things liberal, and that's because I consider things like equity, compassion and helping others to be among the most important values in life.

I can't resist a short comment about the potential bailout of the auto industry, especially considering where I live. It is estimated that the auto industry accounts for 1 in 10 jobs nationwide when factoring in all of the related jobs. To see this industry crumble would cripple the economy in ways that would make the real estate fallout seem like a blip on the screen.

We've gotten ourselves into such a mess, I think we're truly at the point of choosing the best of the bad options. Failing to act will only make things worse and continue our heads-in-the-sand philosophy. Continuing with the same failed policies and expecting a different outcome truly is insane. And that is the reason I am grateful every day that McCain is not headed to the White House.

Roxrocks said...

There's a difference between "hand out" and "hand up." I don't think there's anything wrong with a "hand up." Of course, if it means someone goes without food, clothing or shelter, I don't mind giving a "hand out" either. I hate to see people suffer and I'm afraid we are going to see more of that in these troubled times.

GayProf said...

"The test of our progress," Franklin Roosevelt advised this nation, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Most people who go onto welfare A) Don't want to be on welfare and B) Get off of welfare within two years. With the exception of individuals are permanently disabled, it is a short term salvation that keeps people a float.

Anonymous said...

Damn---I just got stung. You have upset the hornet's nest.

hh

Ultra Dave said...

Well, I'm a gay 43 year old man. I've had 33 jobs in my life, have recieved unemployment, food stamps, vocational rehibilation, medication assistance and untold help from my parents. I have mostly worked in the sales/management fields my adult life. I'm currently unemployed yet again. I left my last job to be a caregiver for my grandfather that passed away. My problem is depression. ongoing, constant medication. though I have applied for disablity it was turned down as not being sever enough. I'm currently back in school to learn new skills to get me out of the environments that trigger stress. I've made both good money and very little. I've been bankrupt. I've never given up though I've certainly felt like it many times. I've even attempted to off myself. The point is there are things people can't control and it is a comfort to know in this society, there are places to turn to for help when you needed it. I would gladly pay more tax to help out others who are suddenly less fortunate because I know what it is like to be the one in need.

dr. mo said...

If you're still having that conversation, may I suggest you pass on a great read that lays out all the good reasons for compensating people who start out at a disadvantage: John Rawls's "A Theory of Justice". It's a hefty book, but it has a very powerful argument for putting in placea system that takes thse disadvantages into consideration. And before any hard line capitalists start to balk, it is conceived from the self-same individualist idea of rational self interest at the heart of the capitalist system.

"Just David!" said...

Wow, what interesting comments you've gotten!

travelling, but not in love said...

It's true - it's all about working together as a society. And you know what? I don't believe in a god, but really, 'there but for the grace of god go all of us' is a very true expression.

I've seen people just like you and me, down and out, homeless and without hope just through two or three simple things happening to them in a row. Awful.

justabamaguy said...

Hey there, thanks for stopping by the blog recently. I'm enjoying your ideas, well written, liberal (great thing) and it flows so well the way you write. I wish I could do half as good as you on the issues that you and I both totally agree on. Keep on writing these types of entries. I enjoy reading them and see that not everyone has to think like a conservative and cluck like a republican!! Have a great week Sticky!!

la pequena retardo said...

Oh sweet and tiny christ child in a pita pocket! You got me riled with this one. But I won't get started. You know our story...well, most of it. Until it happens to them personally, most people will never understand how easy it is to go from having it all to having virtually nothing. Blaming poverty on the poor is the most selfish and narrowm-minded arguement out there. It makes me wonder how R's and my situation would be "analyzed" by people who think that way. Then again, I don't think I want to know.

truthspew said...

I am now and always have been an ultra-left wing liberal Democrat.

The tax thing irritates me. I don't mind paying the tax, so long as we don't use it to prop up corporations or start wars.

I'd much prefer our taxes be used to improve infrastructure, provide health care, in essence things that benefit we the people.

I'm also very much in support of equal pay even though I sort of abhor working for a woman. I find they turn into super-cunts when given a position of authority. I guess it's just overcompensation.

Rick said...

To correct Zach: "Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal's 27th annual vote ratings." I guess it's a matter of who you research.

Also, no one in there right mind would want to deprive someone of help. I'll be the first to lend a hand to the down and out. My issue is laziness. Now that's not to say ALL welfare recipients are lazy. That would be ridiculous to make such a broad assumption. When we start pushing the envelope on what we need is the problem: "Obama's going to pay for my mortgage and put gas in my car." Is the now famous quote.

dykewife said...

i've been on welfare. i had no choice since neither me nor my husband could work. luckily for us, now i can, but for many years i was laid low by debilitating depression, self-destruction crippling fear. he still can't work, at least not yet, thanks to depression and chronic, debilitating pain (fibromyalgia sucks). welfare was a solution that allowed me the privilege to get back to my psychological feat, but at a mighty cost to my self esteem because of those self-same people who insisted that because i wasn't pushing myself around in a wheelchair, i was lazy and depression wasn't an illness, it was a character flaw.

welfare isn't living, it's existing. paying rent, bills, feeding ourself and doing other very basic things was a constant trial of robbing peter to pay the piper.

to make matters worse it's made difficult to get off of assistance by the claw-backs and overpayments if one manages to find a job.

yeah, welfare is a real pip. :P

RJ March said...

I wish you'd post a pic of some leaves or your apartment for rent. Really. Anything but more angst.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Torn,

I've been trying to stay away from politics, but I can't with all the outrage going on. So I sympathize.

Now that I have finally figured out how to follow bloggers while still maintaining a classic template, I will be a more regular presence.

Just warning you--I've been asked to review two books by an online publisher. I wanted to quote you. I may email you for your permission. Nothing unflattering--it was a great comment that I wish more people would read.

"Just David!" said...

Even more interesting comments, I'd like to know more about that last one though. Interesting. Do share!

Mark in DE said...

I was once on unemployment for the maximum time(6 months), not because I was lazy, but because the industry in which I had worked became obsolete. My job search was my full-time job, and I tried absolutely everything to get re-employed. Thank god for unemployment benefits! We all pay into them so we shouldn't feel bad for utilizing them when necessary.

Mark :-)