Thursday, May 16, 2013

Facebook is stupid

Part of an ongoing series about things I hate in my facebook timeline.

Here are my problems with this stupidity. First, the implication that we are giving outrageous amounts of our paycheck (half?!) towards safety net programs (like TANF and SNAP) is wrong. Second, the implication that recipients of those programs are lazy is disgusting, classist, and morally reprehensible. I'll tackle these issues separately.

First, where does our paycheck go?

Only 12 percent of your federal taxes (which, I'm going to be real, I don't think the person who posted this even pays federal taxes) go to safety net programs. So 12 percent of whatever percent federal tax rate you pay definitely does not equal half your Legos. mmkay? Anyway, we spend 19 percent on defense and international security assistance. Seems like this would make more sense if Obama were saying, "Wow! It looks like you've worked very hard here. I'm going to take a handful of these Legos and throw them really hard at Iraq and Afghanistan!"

And while you're implying socialism, let's step back and think about what socialism actually means? Here's a hint: it is not America with a democratic president. And it is actually something that, when not called by its politically contaminated name, the vast majority of Americans demonstrate a preference for: 92% Of Americans Are Socialists They Just Don’t Know It. I'm not saying I'm a socialist. All I'm saying is AMERICA/OBAMA IS NOT SOCIALIST. And if you find yourself throwing that word around? Take a civics/government class, maybe? And if you throw the term "national socialism" around? You are very likely either losing your mind or a sociopath.

And just to be clear, here are some important facts from Ezra Klein's Comparing Obama and Reagan’s economic records:
  • Contrary to popular belief, taxes are lower under Obama than they were under Reagan
  • Obama’s policies have temporarily increased deficits. Reagan’s policies permanently increased them.
And also the deficit is actually shrinking (source) and repealing Obamacare would actually increase the deficit (source). So there is that.

Second, what is up with hating on people who benefit from safety net programs?

First of all, to humanize the issue, please read this: Rage Against the Minivan's guest post what I want you to know about being on food stamps.
So next time you think to complain about taxes or those who "live off the system" remember many of them are just like you. We want to be treated like normal people, not like a charity case or someone who is lazy. We work hard and desperately want to provide for our families that we love.
And so we are clear, many of the people who receive these benefits are kids. In 2010, over 40 percent of families receiving cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program were "child-only," meaning the adults in the household were not included in the benefit calculation, and aid was provided only for the children (source). And many of the rest are households that include children, as well as adults. So it looks like the only thing this annoying little meme got right was that Obama is going to give something to a child. A damn lazy child who naps all day! (that was over the top sarcasm, ICYMI.) And if you are going to argue those children should go hungry or without shelter, then congratulations on not having a soul.

I'm not saying our safety net programs are perfect or above reproach. Nicolas Kristof made some important (although somewhat data-less) criticisms this past year about problems with incentive programs (Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy). And I'm the first to say that government isn't the always known for at being effective or evidenced-based or competent or whatever. There is always room for improvement. But stuff like this Obama/Lego meme? That's just stupid and offensive. Kindly knock it off, people who like/share crap like this.


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