Skip to main content

On Thursday, Sweet Bill from Portland Maine, in one of his Cheers and Jeers diaries, performed one of the multitude of his dazzling public services by quoting the late, great, terribly missed Molly Ivins from 1998:

“In one totally berserker speech, House Speaker Newt Gingrich actually claimed poor people were "coaching" their children to 'act crazy' so they could obtain 'crazy money' and then beating the children if they didn’t get it.  There is no evidence whatever for this insane charge.  Try to get a three-year-old to fake cerebral palsy sometime.  Gingrich actually implied that Congress was justified in cutting SSI [Supplemental Security Income] as a way of ending child abuse.”

This got me to thinking (always dangerous, I know).  One of the persistent themes of the right-wing (for the past sixteen years at least, based upon the age of the above quote) is that SSI or Welfare or food stamps just must, must be cut because of fraud.  I can only conclude, WTF?!?!  See below the fold.

Let’s set aside the fact that most right-wingers believe there is fraud in safety-net programs because their landscape architect’s foreman employs a guy whose brother-in-law’s girlfriend knows a high school friend who heard from her son via a co-worker of a woman who used her food stamp allotment to buy caviar and an Escalade and refuse to look at the actual, verifiable studies that show fraud in social safety net programs is much less frequent and of an infinitesimally smaller magnitude than offshore tax dodging by the wealthy.  What still doesn’t make sense is why the reaction to fraud is to cut the program.

Suppose we decide as a society that running red lights is very dangerous.  And then suppose that, in order to combat the problem, we decide that we will cut the number of eligible drivers by 50 percent.  Now, in terms of reducing the actual numbers of drivers who run red lights, this would lessen the occurrence of the unwanted behavior.  The problem is that it doesn’t actually address the issue of scofflaw drivers.  Even with the number of drivers lessened by half, there will still be some who run red lights and endanger other drivers and their passengers.

Also, imagine how well this “solution” would be received by vast majority of the 50 percent of drivers who hadn’t run red lights.  There would be an outcry across the land:  “How dare my ability to drive be taken away based upon someone else’s bad behavior!”

When conservatives use fraud as a rationale to cut social safety net programs that is exactly what they are doing.  Punishing people who qualify for the aid because a few other people are abusing the system.  It’s not only ridiculously unfair, it doesn’t address the problem.  If fraud is an issue, you don’t reduce the beneficiaries, you beef up enforcement.  You rout out those who are cheating so the dollars go to worthy recipients.  You don’t make across the board cuts that punish the worthy and unworthy alike.  Why no one has challenged the right wing on this is beyond me.  Except for the fact that our society greatly prefers shaming the poor to actually helping them.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site