Monday, March 24, 2014

Welfare Queens and Stereotypes

We have all heard of stereotypes.  We have all likely used them before.  They are a fixed view of a group of people, generally based on race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, occupation, etc.  But here is what is bad about them, they tend to lead to discrimination.

Here are some examples of stereotypes.  All poor people are lazy, they need to work harder.  Those on welfare are living high on the hog.  The Jewish people are cheap, rich money grabbers who want to rule the world.  All African Americans are thugs.  All Gay men are effeminate, and Lesbians are all "butch".  Women are not smart enough to do anything outside the home.  Americans as a whole are addicted to plastic surgery.  These are all things that are untrue, actually they are outright lies. 

Sure many people might fit the mold of a stereotype, but that does not make a case for the whole of a group.  +Larry Dillon does not fit the stereotype.  Michael Harris does not fit the stereotype.  I do not fit the stereotype, even if I am cheap (I thank my father, who is cheaper than I am).  Most women I know are not "dumb blondes".  And most of the people I know here might joke about upgrading their spouse or talk about plastic surgery, but those conversations are usually followed by a punchline of some type.

However, there are some of us who fall into more than one category of stereotype, even if we don't realize it.  I am stereotyped as a cheap rich Jew, who wants to rule the world.  I am cheap, I admit it, it comes from working low wage jobs, and a desire to have money in the bad times of farming.  I by no means rich, nor do I desire to have all the rest of humanity under my oppressive heel.  But I fall into another stereotype.  I am poor, therefore some seem to feel that I am lazy, and that if I just worked a little harder I would be middle class.  The bad thing about stereotypes is, there might be some truth in there.  I was raised in a manner that dictated to save money, because things might not be so great in the future.  To be more explicit, things happen, you need to ensure you have the money on hand to take care of a problem when it comes up.  So, you shop around for cheap good deals, and hold money.  In most normal cases that would be considered living within your means, while planning ahead.  But because I am Jewish, its called being cheap.  Speaking of which, the man I call my father is not my biological father, just the man who filled the role and raised me.  Sure, if I actually had a job, I could lift myself out of poverty, given the job paid a decent wage, not the minimum.

But there are others, and they are the point of this post.  The first two examples, if people worked harder they would not be poor, and people on welfare are living high on the hog.  These two stereotypes are very harmful, more harmful than some of the others I mentioned.  Certainly if people could get out of poverty by working a job or two, the poverty rate would be drastically lower.  You will always have poverty, unless we go post scarcity like Star Trek (yes there is money but its not really required), but work does not always equal success and tons of money for one to go swimming around in like Scrooge McDuck.  But lets look at some numbers from Texas.  Sure the economy on the surface is booming.  Low unemployment rate, tons of people working, but here is the hitch, there is always a hitch somewhere...  While it is creating jobs, those jobs are low income job, which means more people are working multiple jobs.  It just happens that so many of these low wage jobs are being created that the unemployed numbers are still dropping.  Overall, you can see that even in the national market, when unemployment remains the same, or increases, while jobs also increase that is happening.  So, if the poor are lazy, why are many of them working more than a single job?  I often worked two or more jobs, it was the only way to maintain the primary job I had. 

The next is the welfare queen.  Something that does exist, but is a rare occurrence.  How rare you might ask?  2% rare.  Basically, if I flew on a plane every day for the rest of my life, I would still have a lower percentage risk of dieing by terrorist plot, than exists with someone defrauding welfare.  But where did the myth of the Welfare Queen come from?  Ronald Reagan.  See he told us the story of a woman with 80 identities, who was collecting 150k a year off the government.  But that was not entirely true.  She had 33 aliases, and that money, wasn't all from welfare.  Most of it as we would learn came from the multiple husbands she had, at the same time, and various other people that she victimized.  She also defrauded several government agencies, not solely welfare. So the legend of the Welfare Queen began as a political lie, with most of the truth omitted, and people unable to verify.  But it took flight, and here it is. 

Really, there is no welfare queen.  Sure there are people who job the system.  However, the truth is, outside of at least one community, 80% of people who go on welfare are off of it quickly.  Unemployed single mothers make up around 10% of the total welfare population.  The rest are the old, the working poor, the disabled, and our military men and women.  I would love for a conservative reader to walk up to a member of our military and call them a welfare queen.  Just give me advanced warning so I can film it.  Speaking of which, the average stay on welfare?  Around two, two and a half years, by which time a massive 80% of people are off it, never to return, and I wonder why?  $200 dollars a month, for a single parent, if you are in a family of four, $900 a month.  Yeah, when you have so little, it tends to light a fire under you.  That is breaking the bank there.

Just something to keep in mind when you see someone paying for stuff with an EBT card, then going outside and getting into a Lexus?  Unless they have triple A credit, they either stole it, or borrowed it, because their is no way they could buy it on the money the get from Uncle Sam.  Given the restrictions they live with.