In response to Food Stamp Using Surfer Rocker Dude Approves:
I remember how angry liberals got that we merely noticed the existence of the Food Stamp Surf Dude, and other abusers like him. There was a tidal wave of outrage that Fox News would dare to run a program spotlighting these characters, even though they also included the kind of honest and hopeful welfare recipients the system was intended for. We are instructed to pretend the abusers don’t exist at all; to pay a single moment of attention to them, even when they’re openly taunting taxpayers like this guy does, constitutes serious thoughtcrime.
Remember how the liberals boiled over with rage when billions of dollars in abuse of the Earned Income Tax Credit was identified, and it became clear that a good deal of it comes from illegal aliens? You’re not supposed to notice things like that, much less call for legislative remedy. It’s an unforgivable narrative violation. The Narrative says that welfare programs are vitally-needed entitlements of the hard-working, honest poor, who would all leap to work as top-shelf employees tomorrow, if only greedy businessmen would create some jobs for them.
No doubt many welfare beneficiaries fit The Narrative, but a lot of them don’t, and whenever the spotlight turns to them, lefties have post-traumatic stress flashbacks to Reagan successfully campaigning against “welfare queens” – a campaign that was (a) true and honest, but (b) devastating to the Left, and therefore thoughtcrime. (I can’t remember where I saw it, but a liberal writer felt moved to produce an article recently, reminding his colleagues on the Left that the marquee “welfare queens” of the Eighties were very real, and they did exactly what Republican critics said they were doing.) In the modern context, no liberal wants to think about Food Stamp Surf Dude, because then they would feel compelled to express disapproval, and that would mean taking a long look at the system that allows him to exist.
They don’t want to take that look, and it’s not just because liberals secretly cherish the thought of a growing pure-dependency class they can harvest for political power. They also find emotional sustenance in the idea that Food Stamp Nation validates their fundamental critique of American capitalism: it “leaves too many people behind.” A high-employment, prosperous economy in which only the truly destitute required temporary food assistance is what they claim to want, but it’s actually their worst nightmare, because it would be a triumph of capitalism. We’ve had five grueling years of proof that left-wing neo-Keynesian “economic policy” sure as hell can’t accomplish that.
And for the hardcore ideological leftist, the growth of Food Stamp Nation means the tentacles of dependency will reach further into the Sainted Middle Class, which is their ultimate goal. The Left’s endgame has never been a stable socialist basket-case of 70% Takers and 30% Makers, because such systems are not stable; they collapse into ruin, or else the fear of impending collapse leads the Makers to rebel before they have been completely subdued. There’s no way for a country this size to sustain a paradigm in which 100 million of us toil to support 200 million Food Stamp Surfer Dudes.
No, the endgame involves Takers who are also Makers: middle-class dependency. ObamaCare is a strong step in that direction, with subsidies for people who earn very substantial salaries. You can control people by making 5 or 10 percent of their livelihood depend on subsidies, with a more sustainable economy to boot. A good way to accelerate that process is to be very loose about throwing around the welfare cash, making the programs too big to tame, and sinking hooks into people who really shouldn’t qualify for the government assistance they will fight to protect. It is therefore crucial that the American people continue to accept absurdly large and easily-gamed welfare programs, until those programs grow large enough to crush anyone who would reform them.