July 16, 2012

Talking Points on Welfare: parts 1-4

Part 1

So after my last video on How to Fix the USA’s Economy, I saw a lot of ignorant comments in the comments section about WELFARE.

They weren’t NEW ignorant comments, they were the SAME ignorant comments that you hear over and over. Apparently nobody out there is challenging people on their declarations, and allowing the virus of ignorance to spread.

So I wanted to make a list of facts and talking points for progressives when confronted with these conservative... well, let’s call them what they are-- they’re LIES, and stop the spread of ignorance in it’s tracks.

So let’s go down the list, and tackle them one by one, shall we?

1) Welfare spending is the reason our government is in debt.

If you had the choice between giving somebody a dollar and getting back either $1.50 or $0.80, which would you choose? Hold that thought.

According to USGovernmentspending.com The Federal Government is committed by law to spending 557 billion on welfare in the year 2010. Which seems like “Oh my! That’s a lot of money!” Which, for one person, yeah it is. But for our federal government, not so much.

Especially when you compare that to the $895 billion we’re committed to spend, by law on Defense spending. Which doesn’t account for the $711 billion in our discretionary spending on stuff like the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, and useless cold war-era weapons that we don’t even use, and never will.

Next you have to take into account what we get for those dollars spent.
Most economists agree on the following figures, including conservative ones:
Welfare spending has a fiscal multiplier of about 1.5-- while military spending has a fiscal multiplier of 0.8.

To which you might say, “wow, you just said some numbers, but what the hell does that mean? It means that for every dollar our gov’t spends on welfare, we get one dollar and fifty cents back in the form of GDP. With military spending, for every dollar we spend, we get back $0.80.

That seems really stupid. And that’s because it is. Which is why politicians frame their arguments about or disgustingly wasteful military spending as being “patriotic” or “supporting the troops.”
How much support actually goes to our troops? You, know, like after they come back from getting shot at and having their legs blown off?

According to the White House’s own figures, we’re slated to spend $125 billion on veterans affairs. And we all know about staffing shortages and underfunding that goes on in our VA system. So clearly this isn’t about supporting our troops.
For those who don’t care about human lives, and only the hard economics, I want to ask you again: If you had the choice between giving somebody a dollar and getting back either $1.50 or $0.80, which would you choose?
Now for the humanitarians out there, if you had to choose between giving somebody a dollar to feed their family, knowing you’d get back $1.50, or give somebody $1 knowing that your next door neighbor would have his legs blown off and you’ll only get back $0.80, which would you choose?

Part 2

Talking Points and facts on Welfare part 2:
"I was denied welfare because I’m white."

The largest population of welfare recipients, by race, is white. So that’s clearly false.

You were denied welfare because conservatives like you threw a hissy fit back in the 1990s, because you thought it was too easy to get on welfare, and that too many people were getting on it. Now that you’ve applied for it, you’ve seen hard to get on it, and rather than admit to your own mistake, now you’re playing the race card.

Part 3

People on welfare are mostly black teenage mothers:

FALSE: This is a fiction created by assholes like Newt Gingrich to get poor white people to get angry at poor black people, so that poor people in general would spend our time fighting against one another, instead of coming together and fighting against rich assholes like Newt Gingrich.
According to our gov’ts figures, white people receive the largest amount of welfare by race, making up nearly 40% of the welfare recipient population. 43% of welfare recipients with children have only one child, 30% have two, 15% have three, and there’s a real sharp drop-off after that.
Of those who are on welfare, and are mothers, 47% are between the ages 20-29. 32% are between the ages of 30-39. Only 7% of welfare recipients who have children are teenagers.

So sorry. The most common welfare recipient is white, between 20-40 years old, and has two kids or less.

Part 4

"Taxation is theft, why should I have my pay stolen to pay for a free ride for other people?"

This one is going to take a while to unpack. It requires some knowlege of recent economic history, which is going to mean explaining. I hope I don't bore you.

In 1960, the average household worked half as many hours. Adjusted for inflation, the Cost of Living was a third of what it is today. Yet, the average household income for a person in the lower 85% of income brackets, in terms of real dollars, has remained stagnant for the past 40 years.

That’s right, 85% of the population has seen their cost of living triple, has had to double their hours they spend working, and as a reward for working twice as much have LESS expendable income than we did 40 years ago.
To recap really quickly- [drawings] the dollar cost of living has tripled, but the actual stuff we’re getting for that cost isn’t three times better. We’re still buying pretty much the same houses and the same wonderbread and the same Jif peanut butter as we did 40 years ago.
So we’re paying three times as much today for the same things we had in the 1960s.
The Average American household had one income earner working 40 hrs a week in 1960, and that was enough to maintain a comfortable standard of living.
For twice as much labor today, 85% of Americans still have an income gap of a third. That money has to come from somewhere. Some households have two adults working 80 hours a week, and still struggle to make ends meet.
For 85% of Americans, we’ve been slowly eased into a starvation diet over the past 40 years.
That income gap, for many people, who thought that going on welfare was irresponsible, had to borrow their wages. Where did they borrow their wages from? From the wealth they already had. We’ve borrowed against our houses, and we’ve used credit cards to fill our income gap. We were told that this was the responsible thing to do. The fiscal reality of it, is that we’ve been cannibalizing ourselves.
If you look at this through another lense, by indexing things to the value of labor-- the value of the labor you produce has been devalued by two thirds. You have essentially been getting paid a third of what your labor is actually worth. That income gap of a third should rightfully be paid by our employers. And where has all that money gone?
Check Wall Street. While the value of our labor has been cut to a third of what it was, the value of labor of the average CEO has skyrocketed, from just 30 times the lowest paid employee at their company to 300 times the lowest paid employee.
So while the 85% of Americans who work our asses off just to get by, we’ve seen the value of our labor be devalued, fraudulently, by 300%. We’ve seen the value of labor of CEOs increase, fraudulently, by 1000%. What are they doing differently that they need to be compensated at 1000% more than they were back in the 1960s? Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer:
The short answer: Nothing.
The Long answer: Absolutely NOTHING whatsoever, at all.
Now, who has been deciding what everybody’s labor is worth? The invisible hand of the market? Bullshit. It’s been those CEOs. Of course they are going to give themselves raises and reduce the value of our labor by 2/3rds. They’re greedy, shortsighted people. You would probably do the same. Right? No, actually you probably wouldn’t, because that would be THEFT, and THEFT is wrong.

So let’s get back to our initial conservative talking point: Why should you allow somebody else to get a free ride from your labor? You shouldn’t. Which is why we need a maximum wage.
Is taxation really theft? Well, if you’re taxing that top 15% of people who have increased the value of their own labor and decreased the value of everybody else’s labor, we’re not stealing from them by taxing them to pay for welfare. The lower 85% earned that income, but were not paid that income.
The *real* problem is that those richest 15% aren’t PAYING what the 85% is earning by their labor leaving an income gap. How the hell are people supposed to fill that gap through working more if their labor just keeps getting further and further devalued?
With welfare. Welfare is just the lower 85% of people getting what their labor earned them.
If we don’t reverse this trend of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer, eventually there will be no way for the lower 85% of Americans to feed themselves by our own labor.
At which point, we will be forced to kill the top 15% and eat THEM.

One source: http://20somethingfinance.com/american-hours-worked-productivity-vacation/

Another one I didn't specifically use, but has a lot of the same info as a presentation given at the Commenwealth Club of California two years ago, by an economist whose name I can't remember:

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