2010 Index of Government Dependence

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
2010 Index of Government Dependence

I know many people around here tend to see Heritage links to be slanted to the right but numbers are numbers.  Along with all the craziness we already cover around here (energy, environment, politics, economics, even Glenn Beck), there is still another aspect to America that is dragging us down - it is ourselves.  We are our own worst enemy.  I have made several posts about these issues as of late.  This is the next installment on that theme.  It is what it is and it is not healthy.

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/10/the-2010-index-of-depen...

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

Thanks for posting this, even if it was depressing.

Personnally, I am planning for a retirement (ha!) where I do a lot of subsistence gardening and bake my own bread in a solar or wood oven; a "retirement" where I teach any young people who want to learn to read (hubby will teach math and fix any machines as needed). No air conditioning, little or no electricty/  A Third World "retirement." Step daughter can sew by hand or with a treadle machine and son can be our farm hand...and we will stay as healthy as we can manage, since the only drugs we will be able to get will be the herbs we grow.

In other words, in my opinion none of these entitlements will be around much longer. I expect that not only will Social Security payments will stop, but so will any other payments from the government. Whether it happens in a series of shocks or all at once, it is coming. God help us all since so few Americans know how to grow their own food. live without medicine or live sustainably.  Heck, they moan if the cable goes out! Surprised

dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

yes - it is impossible to see how the current situation is going to be sustained for very long.  the people of america themselves are turning into a disaster.  what happened to the self reliant, responsible, and hard working american ?  they are still out there but for some reason they are dwindling in number.  it is strange.  it is like a disease.  do less, blame other people for your problems (victimization) and try to live off the government (the rest of society) as best you can.  i know some people in kansas city that throw a big party every time the government extends unemployment benefits.  that is all broken and it pervades a decent sized percentage of our society.  i do not know how we ended up like this and i do not know how you turn it around.  it looks a lot like we are doomed.  when you add this stuff in to the situation with the economy and energy it looks really bad.  we are our own worst enemy.

 

wvcaveman's picture
wvcaveman
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2010
Posts: 15
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

I happen to be a welfare dependent myself. Growing up I never saw welfare being in my future, but then I hadn't envisioned being a single parent by age 22 either. Honestly, I am not a fan of the welfare state and know that it is unfair and unsustainable, but a person has to survive and care for one's own. A little background:

It started with being in a bad situation that I had to get out of, and that left me a single parent of a very small child. I moved in with family, and soon after was able to get a job because the hours that my family members worked meant that there was always someone to watch the child. This was not an ideal living arrangement, but it worked, and the plan was to work my way up from there. When my brother got a promotion and his hours changed, that meant that the arrangement could no longer work. Childcare is extremely expensive unless one is making pretty good pay. Children are not allowed to be left alone, legally, until age ten. Though I was a latchkey kid as a child it was a workable scenario at that time and place. In any case, at that time my child wasn't even in school yet so that wasn't an option anyway. Now that he is as old as I was, it is still not practical because while I think that he is now mature enough, I do not live in a place where we have the privacy to do so without the government getting involved.

But back to then, I did try vainly but at best could only find occasional weekend work. I finally broke down and got on food stamps just so that I could help contribute to the household, but my luck never improved. I did make money for a while watching a friend's child so that she could work, because she could not afford regular childcare herself at the time. Eventually she finally got promoted, and put her child in regular childcare because she could then afford it. The family situation was cramped and uncomfortable, so in the meantime I applied for subsidized housing just to improve the situation for myself and my child (even if I got a job what are the chances that I could afford rent, let alone rent and childcare). Finally I broke down and applied for welfare. It was an act of desperation, I had avoided it for a long time because I knew it was a trap. As part of my program I got trained in a skilled trade (automotive painter) but now have not yet had success in finding a job.

Now: I can't just take any job because once I do I lose my benefits, my rent goes up, and I have to pay for my own childcare, so I have to get something that either pays decently or is in a field in which I can make good connections to pursue better positions in useful directions. That said, I still have a variety of fields that I'm looking in (the ideal for me would be working with plants, agricultural or nursery as for obvious reasons I do not see a long term future in cars, but I'm trying for those jobs too). Here's my list of IFs: If I had family that could watch my child while I worked, as I did for a time, it would be simple and I could take a survival job if need be. If I had a friend or neighbor who was willing to watch my child at an affordable rate as I have done for a friend of mine before, likewise. If my child was ten, likewise. Now that my child is (I feel) old enough and responsible enough, If I lived in a situation in which it was viable to let him be latchkey as I was at his age, likewise.

As it is its hard to find a job, period. Taking a low paying job would leave us worse off, but I'm still willing to do that if that job is going to be something that puts me in a better position for resiliency (such as agriculture related, etc), or at least if it close enough to walk and otherwise realistically manageable given the limited resources that I will have to work with. School/childcare presents huge logistical issues that cannot be ignored. (by the way, it's nearly impossible to find any childcare that is available after 6 p.m., and providers want a finger if you show up late. I have to work within realistic limitations.

All this is not a sob story (I'm not the crying type). Just a situational description. Are there possible remedies to these hurdles? Yes, and I'm still seeking them out. Ultimately the overarching problem that I see is that there is little community (note that most of the solutions that I listed as IFs are community related). People these days have few friends, families are separated and distant, neighbors don't know each other and are distrustful, and everyone's looking out for their own self-interest. Everyone is supposed to be able to make it on their own, when in fact many only make it because they have some form of community to rely on. The question of welfare cannot be brought up without a look at the larger social picture. As individuals we still have a lot of control over our lives, and for my part I am actively seeking a more sustainable way of living, but as long as corporations (the much, much greater recipients of state welfare) are being aided and abetted in destroying communities there is no simple resolution to what is a collective problem for all of us, the human beings on the ground.

I fear that this will not be resolved well. The American people who allowed this situation to arise are as a whole still looking out for their individual interests while our liberty is stripped away by a cooperative effort of government and corporations. I have not seen the kind of collective will and desire to take back control of our lives. It's growing, but still small and still manipulated by those in positions of power to keep people's focus narrow enough for the same old divide and conquer tricks to keep working (like the artificial left vs. right paradigm). As a result, I do not see a change of direction coming soon enough to avoid catastrophe.

As for the welfare state itself? Families will be cut off before corporations, I'm sure of that. I've built enough resiliency for us that we could live a couple months without a significant loss of living standard, but beyond that we will need community. Do any of my low-income subsidized rent neighbors have any resiliency at all? Not likely, and they are just as blind to the need for it as the average middle classer with the added 'benefit' that many of them actually think that the government has to support them. Much like many on social security won't imagine the possibility that the government might not pay up. If we were to do something constructive it would require that individuals forget about their benefits and start working together on practical solutions - as in things that work functionally rather than making it an issue of income. All of these individual benefits are a way of papering over larger structural dysfunctions in our society, while corporate/institutional benefits subsidize conditions that contribute to these dysfunctions.

The practical questions on a community level are, can we support ourselves? If not, what do we need to do to be able to do so? The best place for government in this issue is out of the picture, or at least I think so, because from my point of view whenever the government gets involved in this issue it becomes "someone else's problem."

land2341's picture
land2341
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 20 2009
Posts: 402
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

I fear that this will not be resolved well. The American people who allowed this situation to arise are as a whole still looking out for their individual interests while our liberty is stripped away by a cooperative effort of government and corporations. I have not seen the kind of collective will and desire to take back control of our lives. It's growing, but still small and still manipulated by those in positions of power to keep people's focus narrow enough for the same old divide and conquer tricks to keep working (like the artificial left vs. right paradigm). As a result, I do not see a change of direction coming soon enough to avoid catastrophe.

 

This is well said and far too true.  Why are so many people dependent on the government?  Because the small percentage at the top raped and pillaged the economy, leaving many many americans who made no mistakes, who followed the rules, left with nothing to show for their honest labor and efforts.  Are there people at either end of this paradigm who were greedy and overreached,  yes of course.  But, there were many many more who did not do any such thing.  But, we are constantly encouraged to view "them" - there has to be a them for there to be an us - as leeches stealing our hard earned tax dollars.  As long we can be kept at each other's throats we will never question who is really keeping their foot on all of our throats.

 

 

machinehead's picture
machinehead
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 1077
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
wvcaveman wrote:

Ultimately the overarching problem that I see is that there is little community (note that most of the solutions that I listed as IFs are community related). People these days have few friends, families are separated and distant, neighbors don't know each other and are distrustful, and everyone's looking out for their own self-interest. Everyone is supposed to be able to make it on their own, when in fact many only make it because they have some form of community to rely on.

You've hit the nail on the head. In many countries, there would be practical, affordable solutions to the childcare dilemma you describe --whether through extended family (in Latin America) or state-subsidized creches (in Europe). Plus, neither of those regions would impose the level of government surveillance which you describe as a lack of privacy.

You sound quite articulate, capable of aiming higher in responsibility and pay. WV has never had a very dynamic economy, at least not during our lifetimes. I hope you find a position commensurate with your obvious talent.

soulsurfersteph's picture
soulsurfersteph
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 16 2010
Posts: 204
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

wvcaveman, I applaud you for taking care of your kid...but your story does highlight one of the main problems...people who really have no business having kids are having kids. With the vast amount of birth control options available, there is really no reason for anyone in this day and age to be having children poor and out of wedlock...except that with welfare to catch you (and even pay for more kids) it seems a lot of people don't think before getting sexually active.

I don't mean this as a personal attack. I'm just saying that if you had been a lot more cautious with your sexual behavior, you would not be in the position you are in today.

I have to wonder...if the welfare net wasn't there, how many young people would be blithely having sex without condoms.

With the obvious level of intelligence and writing ability you demonstrate in your post, there's absolutely no reason why you need to be working a minimum wage job where you couldn't afford a babysitter.

I accidentally caught a radio show last night...can't remember the host...but he shared that since the recession started, Americans who are out of work aren't actually DOING anything to improve their situation. They are not volunteering more (which leads to connections and opportunities), they are not educating themselves to be more viable in the job market, they are not networking or otherwise engaging more in their communities.

What they are doing is sleeping and watching more television.

If you want more community, go create it. You can't expect it to show up at your doorstep. I just moved to a new city and I'm doing at least one if not two activities per week to get myself out there. With that, I already got offered a potential freelance job, and I haven't even been here a month.

Go online, check out your local churches, meetup groups, and other organizations. No-one's going to hand you your life, you have to create it yourself.

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
machinehead wrote:

You sound quite articulate, capable of aiming higher in responsibility and pay. WV has never had a very dynamic economy, at least not during our lifetimes. I hope you find a position commensurate with your obvious talent.

wvcaveman,

I echo MH's thoughts.  You are far too articulate, knowledgeable, wise, and intelligent to be stuck in the situation you're in.  Don't settle.  Go for it.

dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

wvcaveman - i got trapped at work for the last few days but i am back and read you post.  it is very interesting.  you do not seem to be one of the folks in kansas city throwing a party when unemployment benefits are extended.  i think you are young.  i was young once and worked like a madman to build a career.  i went here and i went there and it has worked for me so far.  however, the economy hs changed so much since then.  i got out of college in 1981.  it was a different america then.  there were jobs.  you could work hard and work your way up.  i have a 20 year old kid.  he makes excellent grades in college but he will live in a much much tougher america than i did.  there are less jobs for hard working talented people now.  i agree with machinehead.  you are not the typical person living off the government.  you are getting government assistance for all the right reasons.  you are the reason the programs were invented.  however, i do beleive that you are in the minority.  the people my wife and i know who are on government assistance stay on it forever.  they do not even try to get off it.  i remember a conversation with one of them in the recent past and he told me that car insurance is for "chumps".  well, that may be, but i guess i am a chump then.  i live in NJ and i pay outrageous money for car insurance but i bite the bullet and buy it.  i suppose that is the difference between the two types of people.  you need to just keep on rock'in and if you don't give up or give in you will be fine.  although i will tell you that you are trying to make a life during a very difficult time indeed.  you face a very difficult future.  you better be voting republican however crazy that seems, it is the best vote for your future.

wvcaveman's picture
wvcaveman
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2010
Posts: 15
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
soulsurfersteph wrote:

wvcaveman, I applaud you for taking care of your kid...but your story does highlight one of the main problems...people who really have no business having kids are having kids. With the vast amount of birth control options available, there is really no reason for anyone in this day and age to be having children poor and out of wedlock...except that with welfare to catch you (and even pay for more kids) it seems a lot of people don't think before getting sexually active.

I don't mean this as a personal attack. I'm just saying that if you had been a lot more cautious with your sexual behavior, you would not be in the position you are in today.

I have to wonder...if the welfare net wasn't there, how many young people would be blithely having sex without condoms.

True enough... but I was naieve as young people often are. I actually did marry her and tried very hard to make the relationship work. It finally came down to realizing that if I had any hope of living with some sense of personal dignity and of raising my child in a decent environment I had to get out of there. Should have is forever. (She has since had three more kids, BTW).

As for if Welfare wasn't there? I know there are some people who use it that way. I hadn't planned on it. I will say that it has been my experience that the presence of welfare gives the family and community an excuse to say that it's 'someone else's problem.'

 

dshields wrote:

 i have a 20 year old kid.  he makes excellent grades in college but he will live in a much much tougher america than i did.  there are less jobs for hard working talented people now.

...

the people my wife and i know who are on government assistance stay on it forever.  they do not even try to get off it.

The opportunities have been drying up for a while. From my late teens to now I have borne witness to a world in which the small businesses are going out of business by the day, I heard all the time how it was getting harder and harder to start a business or keep it going, how this or that career was getting harder and harder to get into and required more and more paperwork all the time. Now we have the Obamacare debacle, right in there with the common theme: government regulations that favor big business over small business and communities. I have to make an exception to vote for either a Republican or a Democrat, as both seem to play for the same team.

As for those who try to live on the state forever, 'lifers' as they're known to the rest of us, yeah there's plenty of 'em around here. When they lose their benefits, because surely they will, I worry about what they will do. How does a person who is conditioned for dependency respond to being cut off? It brings to mind a toddler... a big, dangerous toddler.

Note: WV = Willamette Valley

darbikrash's picture
darbikrash
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 573
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
dshields wrote:

I know many people around here tend to see Heritage links to be slanted to the right but numbers are numbers. 

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/10/the-2010-index-of-depen...

Indeed, numbers are numbers. I find it curious that the Heritage Foundation, as well as most other Right wing think tanks like to use such numbers in a very specific way- namely as characterizing our society in terms of taxation.

The number of Americans who pay taxes continues to shrink—and the United States is close to the point at which half of the population will not pay taxes for government benefits they receive. In 2009, 64.3 million Americans depended on the government (read: their fellow citizens) for their daily housing, food, and health care.

And:

·  This rapid growth of the Index has been accompanied by a rapid increase in the percentage of people who do not pay taxes. The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes themselves, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who pays federal income taxes, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 43.6 percent in 2008. Counted this way, in 1984, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes; in 2008, 132.5 million paid nothing.[1]

In general, the entire thrust of the article, and in the main, the thrust of the conservative right is to frame modern politics within the construct of taxation. This is a very effective tool to instigate strong emotions, as many (including me) can relate and respond emotionally to what we all consider excessive taxation. Nobody wants to pay taxes. This framework invokes strong emotional bias against confiscatory taxation, the perception of punitive taxation against the wealthy, a sense of fairness, and the Puritanical ethic (evident on this very thread) which suggests that we should just lift ourselves up by the bootstraps and prevail against any and all adversity.

This is exactly what the Heritage Foundation and other like them are being paid to do.

They are laying the groundwork for what can be euphemistically called conventional wisdom. They are providing a “common sense” framework that captures some small kernel of truth in the above description, thereby establishing credibility, then leveraging the emotional buy-in to establish their agenda. Their neo-liberal agenda is manifold, but this particular piece is part of a campaign to build consensus for reduction in entitlement benefits. The paymasters of Heritage Foundation know something that CM members also know, that the current economic conditions are not sustainable and unpleasant changes are afoot. The objective of Heritage Foundation and others like them, is to get in front of this by coalescing public opinion on what constitutes acceptable and appropriate reaction to this inevitability.

In other words, in advance, influencing the group think as to who is to blame and who should be penalized. And of course this means anyone but the constituents, but we have to have a target don’t we – so the think tanks create the targets, then pass these philosophical edicts through to the general public usually through media portals such as the gang at Fox News and good ole boy Rush Limbaugh. If you want to have a look at what happens when you fail to do this, have a look at France right now for their response to unilaterally changing entitlement benefits.

Centering the discussion around taxation creates a ready made indelible series of targets.

The funny thing is, I have learned something in business, and that is if I don’t have income I don’t pay tax. A point that seems disturbingly absent from the article you quoted. Why not instead foucs on the fact that the lower class is not making any money, and this phenomona is now extending deeply into the middle class?

So I have an idea, what if one were to recast the article and at every place where reference to Americans not paying taxes occurs,  replace this with the words, Americans that are not receiving any income. We can start with the excerpted snips from above. How does this change the subtext of the article? How does this affect the conclusions?

I’d suggest that it profoundly changes the meaning of this article. Further, if this perception were to become mainstream, well, we’d have Joe Six-pack mad at the wrong people. And we can’t have that can we.

Yes, it is only numbers isn’t it.

machinehead's picture
machinehead
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 1077
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
wvcaveman wrote:

The opportunities have been drying up for a while. From my late teens to now I have borne witness to a world in which the small businesses are going out of business by the day, I heard all the time how it was getting harder and harder to start a business or keep it going, how this or that career was getting harder and harder to get into and required more and more paperwork all the time. 

Actually, the trough of an economic cycle is a good time to look around and see which businesses are still surviving. When the cycle finally does turn up, these fields will be good places to be.

On a DIY plumbing forum, someone claimed that only one of five plumbers apprentices actually complete their training ... and about one-third of master plumbers are within 10 years of retirement now. I don't know whether this is true, but the great merit of service businesses is the absence of foreign competition. Talk to people in the community, especially older business owners who might be looking to find someone to take over. They might be willing both to train you and to accept deferred payment out of profits. Networking should help in turning up something.

p.s. It was the busted truck in your avatar that made me think West Virginia instead of Willamette Valley -- sorry! Smile

soulsurfersteph's picture
soulsurfersteph
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 16 2010
Posts: 204
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
wvcaveman wrote:

True enough... but I was naieve as young people often are. I actually did marry her and tried very hard to make the relationship work. It finally came down to realizing that if I had any hope of living with some sense of personal dignity and of raising my child in a decent environment I had to get out of there. Should have is forever. (She has since had three more kids, BTW).

You get points for trying to do the right thing...but this still goes back to the big issue of having a kid when you couldn't afford it. I would also suggest being a bit more selective in future mates. I'm sure she was cute, bubbly, fun or something or other to make you like her, but any girl at your age who is busy popping out 4 kids when she can't take care of one is not sensible. Or responsible. She's got issues. 

She sounds like she's gearing up to be another Octomom. 

I feel sorry for her other kids. What happens in this situation is that they won't grow up with the right support to excel and end up probably burdening others by having more kids they can't afford when they get old enough to breed...assuming we even have social support 20 years from now...because if things collapse, these kids will be dying of starvation like they do in third world countries instead.

You need to consciously decide that you and your child aren't going to be like that. But I can already hear from your words that you are disempowered, giving up, blaming your predicament on the economy, Obama, the job market, etc etc. Guess what? When I graduated from college in 92 we were told there were no jobs either. There will always be something to point the finger at, even in the best of times.

I've dealt with chronic illness and I've struggled with money. But I got myself off of disability at 23 because I hated being on it, and I've never been on the dole since.  And even when times got really tough, I never went out and took the easy way out (like a lot of young women do) by stripping or otherwise exploiting myself. I never got myself a sugar daddy I didn't love just to take his money, nor did I move back in with my parents, even though that might have been more sensible financially. I've paid for rent by overdrawing my bank account many times. But I survived.

So guess what? Life is hard and it sucks. Welcome to adulthood.

You can decide to pick yourself up and make something of yourself (and your child) or blame the world around you. I'm not saying it's easy, because it's not. I'm not saying that circumstances don't totally bite...and I do sympathize. But you need to take responsibility for yourself and take action. No-one will do it for you.

darbikrash's picture
darbikrash
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 573
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

Charles Hugh Smith, one of my favorite authors, and guest columnist at CM.com weighs in with his usual unflinching glare of brilliance;

Link

The depth of our own pathology can be measured by our resistance to admitting the systemic fraud, lying, entitlement and narcissistic pathologies in whatever slice of American society we value. For example, Liberals experience an overwhelming urge to excuse or deny welfare fraud and indeed, all the pathologies of the "underclass."

That is a direct measure of their own internal normalization of social pathologies.

Conservatives experience an overwhelming urge to excuse or deny Corporate Welfare and the partnership/collusion of the Central State (which they fear) and Crony Capitalism (which they revere, even though it is only a simulacrum of classic free-market capitalism).

To the degree that an individual dismisses cheating on tests in school, fabricated resumes, bogus balance sheets and dishonest mortgage applications and tax returns because "everybody does it," the sociopathologies have been fully absorbed as not just normal but as beneficial and acceptable.

Though we like to favor ourselves as autonomous entities brimming with individuality, most of our worldview and behaviors are programmed by our social-economic status and conditioning.

Consider how easily the behaviors and values of most Americans fall into three basic classes in American culture which are remarkable predictors of worldviews and largely unconscious "values" and behaviors.

This reality is part of what I term the politics of experience: we can't experience the "water" we swim in until we consciously occupy another more objective perch which is informed by history and the awareness of who benefits from the normalization of various beliefs and behaviors.

The "working class" is programmed to rely on television for most of its "information" about life, and thus they are programmed to:

1. Consume copious quantities of fast foods and convenience foods, and consider indolence a luxury. As a result, they are programmed to become obese/diabetic.

2. The boys are programmed to favor football and basketball in sports, service in the Armed Forces as the only viable choice to low-skill, fitful employment, to drop out of four-year college if pressured to enter, and vocational training, often paid for by the G.I. Bill after military service.

3. Males are programmed to place identity value on their vehicles and real-world "manly" skills (working on vehicles, farm equipment, woodworking, etc.), but their programmed aspirations are aimed at impossibly narrow fields: professional sports, hip-hop and other entertainment, etc. As a result, their real-world skills are generally undeveloped or modest.

In essence, they are programmed to fail in the "knowledge economy" and in real-world practical jobs which are not glorified by the broadcast media. They accept low-level work and are dissatisfied, often turning to drugs to relieve their ennui.

4. Their interests are channeled by the media into extreme sports, mixed martial arts, auto racing, football, etc., but they are programmed to express these interests through passive video games rather than by real-world experience. Programmed to low confidence, they generally give up quickly when faced with arduous training, except when forced by institutions such as the Military.

5. Working class families have few resources to draw upon, and the mobility favored by Corporate America has shredded the social networks which once offered support (church membership, social clubs, neighborhoods, etc.) Family "help" is a sofa to sleep on at a relatives' house.

6. The girls are programmed to have sex and children early, as motherhood has positive identity value, even if they are woefully unprepared for parenting. Career choices tend to be "pink collar" type labor in Corporate America's sickcare system or government jobs; females are programmed to support their children and demand little of the fathers. Dependency on the State /Welfare in one form or another is the norm.

7. Politics holds little interest and most of the working class are programmed not to vote as it "never does any good anyway."

8. There are few books or other reading materials around the house, little to no original decorative art, few musical instruments that can actually be played with any joy or expertise; the lived environment is a cultural desert. The TV and a computer offer distraction and entertainment and little else. If they pursue social media, they are members of My Space and Facebook. They are deeply attached to their cellphones, which are perceived as markers of accessible status. Passports are unknown; foreign travel is experienced through military service only.

The "middle class" aspires to the "upper class" life they see on television and other media, but their aspirations are for the trappings of wealth rather than for the engines of wealth.

1. Though the middle class person clings mightily to various totems of "membership" in the middle class, and experiences tremendous loss of identity and self-esteem when these totems are lost, in reality their wealth is modest and they have few family resources.

2. Though they watch a lot of TV, they also consume massive quantities of other low-value media through the electronic devices they see as emblematic of the "middle class" lifestyle: laptop computers, iPods, etc. Their cellphones and other electronics are key identity markers: the higher the status of the brand, the more valuable the device. Apple products are de riguer "high status."

3. Books and reading materials around the house tend to be best sellers or materials assigned in class; few households receive newspapers or magazines other than National Geographic. If books are read, they are genre books such as mysteries. Dog-eared copies of the Harry Potter series abound. Those households which aspire to "upper class" education may subcribe to a few magazines which are viewed as totems of high-class lifestyles: The New Yorker, Saveur, etc.

4. "Education" is valued but mastery is not; the goal is to obtain the certificate or paper required by gatekeepers in the government or Corporate America, not the actual skillsets. Though education is "valued," few households (regardless of income, which is often high) save religiously enough to fund university educations; borrowing vast sums of student loans is the norm. Adult education is pursued to obtain the same gatekeeper certificates in whatever field the adults toil in. Learning for the pleasure of learning is unknown or deemed a waste of time when "we could be having fun."

"Enrichment" classes are provided to the children, but the purpose is to gain a veneer of respectability as an aspirant to upper-class membership; piano lessons are dutifully offered but nobody plays music in the house for enjoyment, so the lessons are soon dropped. Live performances are also attended occasionally as "enrichment." Foreign travel is experienced via college programs or packaged tours fit into 2-week vacations allowed by Corporate America.

5. Favored sports include soccer and volleyball for the girls, and skateboarding and baseball for the boys. Team sports are favored over individual competition, and adults spend significant time ferrying kids to various after-school sports, which are deemed "character-building."

6. Ownership of status brands is highly important; brand consciousness is acute. Target is favored over Wal-Mart, and designer-luxury brand purses, shoes, autos, etc. are highly desirable "markers" of success and identity. Most of the family income goes to paying for these "markers" of membership.

7. A four-year college degree is the goal, with an MBA or master's degree considered a higher-level enabler of a better career. The cherished goal is acceptance to an elite university which is viewed as a magical ticket to "fast track" advancement in the government or Corporate America. Meritocracy is accepted as the norm. Military service is shunned in favor of attending college right out of high school. Favored social media are related to career/corporate advancement: LinkedIn, etc. Foreign films and chic dining are valued as "markers" of high-class status.

The upper class has the confidence born of the knowledge that the family resources can always bail one out. High-paying jobs will be provided via networks; art-aspirant careers are highly valued, and family resources enable dilletante dabbling in acting, film-making, visual arts, etc.

Entrance to prep schools and family money/connections enable entrance to institutions the middle class must gain entrance to via meritocracy.

Favored careers include venture capital, high-status government positions, management of family businesses, plum slots in NGOs, etc. Noblesse Oblige is served via membership on boards of charities, the local symphony and museum, etc. These networks provide connections to business opportunities unavailable to the middle class.

Children already get passports and foreign travel to exotic locales is standard. Middle-class aspirants are viewed paternalistically or with scorn; they are worker-bees for the Corporate America/State owned or managed by the upper class. The working class is avoided except as servants, who are often immigrants.

My point is that to varying degrees, the normalization of narcissism and social pathologies is now embedded in the programming of all social classes. The rot in America is not limited to "deviance" in any one class; it is present in various manifestations in all social classes.

Tweaking policies and gaming the gaming will not "cure" what ails America. Moral will "must be cultivated and it demands truthfulness and willingness to sacrifice for its actualization." Until we are prepared to make those sacrifices, then the rot will only deepen.

littleone's picture
littleone
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 24 2009
Posts: 203
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
wvcaveman wrote:

I will say that it has been my experience that the presence of welfare gives the family and community an excuse to say that it's 'someone else's problem.'

 

Bingo!

-littleone

dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
darbikrash wrote:

 

The funny thing is, I have learned something in business, and that is if I don’t have income I don’t pay tax. A point that seems disturbingly absent from the article you quoted. Why not instead foucs on the fact that the lower class is not making any money, and this phenomona is now extending deeply into the middle class?

So I have an idea, what if one were to recast the article and at every place where reference to Americans not paying taxes occurs,  replace this with the words, Americans that are not receiving any income. We can start with the excerpted snips from above. How does this change the subtext of the article? How does this affect the conclusions?

I’d suggest that it profoundly changes the meaning of this article. Further, if this perception were to become mainstream, well, we’d have Joe Six-pack mad at the wrong people. And we can’t have that can we.

Yes, it is only numbers isn’t it.

you make a good point here.  if you don't have a job you don't pay taxes.  way too many people do not have jobs at this point.

however one looks at this issue the truth is that it is not sustainable.  i am one of those people who believe that above a certain threshold everyone should pay taxes and pay the same percentage.  those that make less money would pay less and those that make more would pay more but it would be the same percentage.  that seems fair.  how could everyone being treated the same not be fair ?  then everyone has some skin in the game.  somehow it all looks different if you are on paying end verses the receiving end.  if you don't like that plan then abolish the income tax have institute a national sales tax.  i actually think i like that better but it has to be added on at the point of sale as a tax just like state sales taxes.  that works and accomplishes the same thing.  the good part about a national sales tax would be that people would see it and that would be a very good thing indeed.

a smaller and smaller percentage of the people in america can not keep paying more and more taxes.  that does not work and will lead to some kind of terrible implosion which would be bad for everyone.  for some reason the democratic party has trouble seeing that.  i am not sure why.  but you are right, this is going to get corrected one way or another shortly and it will no doubt be very unpleasant.  it is like obama care, that will corrected one way or another also.  basically, the economy is going to veto obama care. 

 

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

Caveman--

Treasure that time with your daughter.  Soon she'll be in school and you will be back to work, wishing you could spend more time with her.  Give her a good head start with love, attention, and strong values.

The welfare system does not encourage parents to work.  My own daughter was told that to get government childcare she would have to drop out of high school.  To avoid that, she took a job at the same daycare her son was at after school to pay for his day care.  It was hard, but she did it, and learned a lot of other lessons in that experience.  She has finsihed law school now and is now employed doing something she enjoys. 

Personally, I was a single parent, and teetered on the edge for years in spite of having a good job.  I never had welfare or government assistance.  I did get family help, so maybe in spite of my self image I am of the wealthy class in darbikrash's analysis.

Taking the long view, raising my own children has been one area of my life that mattered most to me.  Now that they are self-sufficient, productive, thoughtful adults, I take satisfaction in being part of their lives.  Ask any parent, and they will tell you the same thing. 

Gotta enjoy the journey,

maceves

dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

we have created a class of dependency and it is a very difficult problem.  once in a while i have to go to newark (nj) to do the airport thing.  coming in on I-78 i find never ending amazement in examining the huge slum there.  that place should not exist.  the people who live there must be tormented by it.  the costs associated with the class of dependency are staggering - check out the link at the top of this thread.  it is dragging us down as a nation and it is like a cancer that eats away at america.  the one big weakness in democracy is when 51% decide to elect politicians to redistribute the wealth of the other 49% to themselves.  2008 was the first election in my memory where politicians (obama and others) actually got elected by promising to confiscate the assists of the hardworking successful people of society and transfer their wealth to the 51%.

on this site we sometimes tend to miss the fact that politicians control the economy and our current situation is a direct result of their decisions.  people here tend to be technical in nature and to focus in on the economic stuff in great detail (and it is a good thing) but the bigger picture is politics.  the repub and dem parties are both guilty of many incorrect and some would say fraudulent decisions.  they clearly are in violation of their oaths of office and have passed many laws that are not constitutional.  the financial sector has their issues also.  but at the root of it all is the politicians.  they make the big decisions that effect us all.  and, primarily the dems and secondarily the repubs have made a series of decisions that have led us to a very serious situation with the people of america.   there are many people in america that honestly believe the government is supposed to pay for their food, their housing, their child care, their health care, their you name it.  if the government tries to stop paying them they will get very angry because that will mean that will have to get out and get a job and work and budget and pay their bills and live a normal life.  if the government trys to enact any meaningful cuts in welfare there will be riots and violence.  why ?  because the people who will be rioting, destroying property, stealing, and committing violent acts believe the government is supposed to be paying them.  they will see it as a great injustice that the government will not be paying them so they will riot.  it is all so broken.  it also is very dangerous.  it is a power keg of social madness just waiting to be ignited.  just take a few minutes to check out the link at the top of this thread.  the numbers are shocking and the trend is clear.

the inescapable truth is that smaller and smaller numbers of people paying taxes to support larger and larger numbers of people is not sustainable and will lead to very serious social problems in the future when the welfare system collapses.  a much better path would be to start to address these issues now and start to ween the millions of people who depend on welfare for their entire lives back into the working class of self supporting people.  there will be much resistance to this but it simply must happen.  the europeans are actually making more progress in this area than we are.  specifically, england and germany have both instituted changes in the last year to turn around the trend of the class of dependency in their countries.  we are going to have to do the same thing.  obama and the dems have expanded the class of dependency in the last 2 years and are moving as fast as they can to a massive expansion.  this is one of the reasons they are going to be removed in the next 2 election cycles.  this coming tuesday is judgment day for the dems.  there is going to be a blood letting at the polls.  the silent majority has woken up and looked around and they do not like what they see.  america got busy and lazy and quit paying attention to politics.  the mainstream media lulled them to sleep with lies and distorted information and the dems got elected and then they acted on their beliefs.  the result shocked the people of america back from their state of apathy and when they took a good look at what the dems were doing they were shocked.  and rightfully so, as it is shocking what the dems have been up to.  the repubs played along for some reason i will never understand for the first years of the bush presidency but in 2006 the dems took control of congress and the march toward socialism started.  but even complacent congressional repubs have become shocked by what the dems have been doing and want to do (even more scary) and now they are taking action.  halting the increase in the class of dependency will be a priority over the next few years in congress.  it is going to be a tough journey for sure.

 

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 28 2009
Posts: 854
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence
dshields wrote:

we have created a class of dependency and it is a very difficult problem.  once in a while i have to go to newark (nj) to do the airport thing.  coming in on I-78 i find never ending amazement in examining the huge slum there.  that place should not exist.  the people who live there must be tormented by it.  the costs associated with the class of dependency are staggering - check out the link at the top of this thread.  it is dragging us down as a nation and it is like a cancer that eats away at america.  the one big weakness in democracy is when 51% decide to elect politicians to redistribute the wealth of the other 49% to themselves.  2008 was the first election in my memory where politicians (obama and others) actually got elected by promising to confiscate the assists of the hardworking successful people of society and transfer their wealth to the 51%.

on this site we sometimes tend to miss the fact that politicians control the economy and our current situation is a direct result of their decisions.  people here tend to be technical in nature and to focus in on the economic stuff in great detail (and it is a good thing) but the bigger picture is politics.  the repub and dem parties are both guilty of many incorrect and some would say fraudulent decisions.  they clearly are in violation of their oaths of office and have passed many laws that are not constitutional.  the financial sector has their issues also.  but at the root of it all is the politicians.  they make the big decisions that effect us all.  and, primarily the dems and secondarily the repubs have made a series of decisions that have led us to a very serious situation with the people of america.   there are many people in america that honestly believe the government is supposed to pay for their food, their housing, their child care, their health care, their you name it.  if the government tries to stop paying them they will get very angry because that will mean that will have to get out and get a job and work and budget and pay their bills and live a normal life.  if the government trys to enact any meaningful cuts in welfare there will be riots and violence.  why ?  because the people who will be rioting, destroying property, stealing, and committing violent acts believe the government is supposed to be paying them.  they will see it as a great injustice that the government will not be paying them so they will riot.  it is all so broken.  it also is very dangerous.  it is a power keg of social madness just waiting to be ignited.  just take a few minutes to check out the link at the top of this thread.  the numbers are shocking and the trend is clear.

the inescapable truth is that smaller and smaller numbers of people paying taxes to support larger and larger numbers of people is not sustainable and will lead to very serious social problems in the future when the welfare system collapses.  a much better path would be to start to address these issues now and start to ween the millions of people who depend on welfare for their entire lives back into the working class of self supporting people.  there will be much resistance to this but it simply must happen.  the europeans are actually making more progress in this area than we are.  specifically, england and germany have both instituted changes in the last year to turn around the trend of the class of dependency in their countries.  we are going to have to do the same thing.  obama and the dems have expanded the class of dependency in the last 2 years and are moving as fast as they can to a massive expansion.  this is one of the reasons they are going to be removed in the next 2 election cycles.  this coming tuesday is judgment day for the dems.  there is going to be a blood letting at the polls.  the silent majority has woken up and looked around and they do not like what they see.  america got busy and lazy and quit paying attention to politics.  the mainstream media lulled them to sleep with lies and distorted information and the dems got elected and then they acted on their beliefs.  the result shocked the people of america back from their state of apathy and when they took a good look at what the dems were doing they were shocked.  and rightfully so, as it is shocking what the dems have been up to.  the repubs played along for some reason i will never understand for the first years of the bush presidency but in 2006 the dems took control of congress and the march toward socialism started.  but even complacent congressional repubs have become shocked by what the dems have been doing and want to do (even more scary) and now they are taking action.  halting the increase in the class of dependency will be a priority over the next few years in congress.  it is going to be a tough journey for sure.

 

There don't seem to be any easy answers, DShields. I think that welfare should be available to people who are willing to forfeit child bearing in return--and I mean that on a long term basis. It would kind of imposing to expect someone on temporary unemployment benefits to have their tubes tied, right off the bat! Repealing globalization, though an appealing idea may not work as a solution to getting people off the dole.  Even if industry returned to the U.S., it wouldn't create as many jobs as we imagine it would, as highly automated factories would be the norm. I suppose those maintaining the machinery would be employed, but that's all.

Charles Hugh Smith made some great points about the bogeymen of both the left and right, and the blinders both wear when it comes to fully appreciating the concerns of the other side.  "Liberals" dismiss the awful consequences of multi-generational welfare. "Conservatives"  dismiss the awful consequences of multi generational warfare and croney capitalism.

Thanks so much for taking the time to post  your thoughts here. You've spent a lot of time detailing some very real concerns you and many others have and it's appreciated.

dshields's picture
dshields
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 24 2009
Posts: 599
Re: 2010 Index of Government Dependence

Yes, agitating prop, i agree.  However, I am a renegade repub.  I do not fit the standard repub mold.

The class of dependency is a very tough problem.  The current jobs issue pretty much makes it intractable.  We are either going to collapse due to financial malfeasance or we will recover to a certain degree.  If we collapse then I do not know what will happen.  No doubt it will be very very bad.  If we recover we will need to start to address the class of dependency problem.

I believe that the current state of high unemployment is not just a phase but the new normal.  Untold thousands of construction jobs created during the crazy housing boom are gone and will not be back.  We exported our manufacturing base to third world countries and I very much doubt those jobs will be back.  Working at Wal-Mart, while not perfect, is better than sleeping late, getting loaded, and just hanging out waiting for your government money.

Entitlement programs are going to eat us alive as a society unless we get a handle on them.  The French just rasied their "retirement" age from 60 to 62 and shut down the country with protests for weeks.  I found that fascinating.  Retirement in America used to be when you saved up enough money or when you simply could not work anymore.  It has been redefined to some new concept where there is a specific age when you become entitled to stop working and after that you are funded by the government.  Whatever happened to the saving part ?  I find it strange.

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments