Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We are being plundered

I have given this a lot of thought.  I have held my peace.  I have made excuses.   There is a part of me that wants to believe that it is our job to help people out long enough for them to get back on their feet, but then, I am slapped in the face with the realities of life.  My family is being plundered.

My husband goes to work every morning, rain or shine, tired or invigorated, injured or ill.  It is what he does.  His job is how he provides for his family.  Providing for his family is his moral obligation before God.  Not only does he provide for us, he also helps provide for the infrastructure to support the system that, as Americans, we are all a part of.   Through his job, he supports the elderly on Medicare, disabled folks on Social Security and indigent people on Medicaid.  His taxes pay for WIC, Food Stamps and the huge debt created by unemployment benefits.  And still he works.

I have heard more people that I can count tell me that they "deserve" to be on unemployment because they paid that money into unemployment insurance.  Of course, if they were to stop and add up the benefits they have received and contrast that with the money "they" (usually their employer) paid into the system, they would realize that they have won the lottery.  The "investment" they made into unemployment has paid off ten fold and then some.  Somebody has to be paying that bill.  It is my husband.  It is our family.

When people receive food stamps, were do they think that money comes from?  How do they justify eating frozen pizza and tater tots while our family eats beans and rice?  And don't even get me started on Medicaid.  How is it that my family is punished for being responsible and buying health insurance?  We have to pay twice!  Not only do we pay for insurance (no, my husband's employer does not foot the entire bill), but we are also responsible for the bills that our insurance company does not pay.  When we have a $12,000 hospital bill ($4,000 of which our insurance company covers) we are still on the hook for the other $8,000.  When you have Medicaid, the state pays $1,800 and the patient $0.  Who pays the rest?  My husband.  My family.  Your husband.  Your family.

Do I begrudge people help when they need it?  Absolutely not!  Do I begrudge entitlements with no accountability.  Absolutely!

We have failed.  We punish responsibility and reward slothfulness.  We are like lazy parents refusing to deal with disobedient, wayward children.  Rather than holding them accountable, disciplining them and making respectable citizens out of them, we throw money at them hoping they keep quite so we can get on with other things.  We are throwing our countrymen to the wolves.  

What got me frothing at the mouth?  Just this article on SurvivalBlog.  I have posted a chart here, but to really understand the chart, you have to read the whole article.  This is a chart showing how someone on minimum wage has more disposable income than someone making $60,000 a year.  It is very enlightening.


  1. I think an excellent start would be that all recipients of medical services, food stamps, WIC, unemployment, etc. have to take and pass a drug test to get benefits. We are still helping those who need it, but not paying for those who do not work and do drugs. Many people are drug tested at work in order to work and pay taxes. Why not test for those who receive benefits? I am one who gets some help (health care for children & food assistance) yet I wouldn't mind doing that. I'm grateful for the help & hope to be off it as soon as I can.

  2. This country is 14.2 trillion in the hole, 42 million on food stamps, dollar losing its value thanks to "quantitive easing" (money printing) I can't figure it out. Im a smart guy and I just can't figure it out????
    WWGWD (What would George Washington do) He would sell California to the Chinease for 14.2 trillion dollars.

  3. Enola, you are so absolutely correct.

    These "entitlements" are unconstitutional and unfair. There is no justification for demanding half of the population pay for benefits for the other half of the population, including many millions of illegal aliens. We should be providing services to the truly needy through donations and volunteerism, not through threat of imprisonment or fine or both. This country is becoming far too much like a fascist state.

    You don't have TV, but if you did and you watched Glenn Beck on Tuesday (1/18/11) you would have seen a view of our future. You would have seen how the Chinese live and work and how they are treated like robots, working for the State and not for themselves. It's our future, and it's not a pretty one.

    NoCal Gal


  4. I am a landlord and see everyday the waste of welfare and food stamps. Over the years, I have seen boxes and boxes of food pantry, welfare and Wic food tossed in the garbage. While they collect the food, it is not of their likeing. When they move, its tossed. Too much effort to move it when you can just go get new. One even filled a large dumpster tote 3/4 full of canned food/rice/beans etc.
    I had a lady that couldn't pay the rent. When I asked for the rent, she went into a "We don't have any food, all we have to eat is peanut butter sandwiches." My question to her was do you go to the food pantry? Her reply was yes, but everytime I go I have to throw the food away because its expired.
    Her family is also one of those that runs to the emergency room (at least 2-3 times a month) for the flu!!!
    Of course they have moved, owing me thousands
    And on and on I could go with the stories.
    This is the reason why I will never donate to any charities that feed/house or support dead beat people! They already get enough thru tax dollars. Its time for them to take on their own responsibility!
    God Helps those that Help Them Selves

  5. I am right there with you Enola! When I was growing up, my dad got laid off from his railroad job. He ended up doing odd jobs and fixing cars for a couple of years until he got his job back at the railroad. During those two years, there were times when we wondered if we'd have food for the week but somehow we managed without relying on the government at all. We cut off the phone and unplugged everything electrical except for the refrigerator. We grew a few vegetables in the back yard and my dad went fishing, frog gigging and hunted squirrel and rabbit. We got by good enough.

    Fast forward to 2001. The same thing happened to me. My job closed down. I immediately started taking on freelance jobs to support myself and I did exactly what my dad way back when ... cut off the phone and went "unplugged" expect for the fridge and my computer which I needed for my job. I never once applied for unemployment insurance simply because I didn't feel like I needed it. My friends of course thought I was NUTS, but I was single then and I figured I could make it and I did.

    I know people can live without government handouts, there are some that can't, but I feel like the majority of the people need to get off their duffs and make their own way and stop sponging off everyone else.

  6. I think the above would be an excellent idea. I, too, needed help for a little while - I could pay for everything except child care, and I did - I would happily have submitted to drug screens for the benefit.

    I think the masses are too lazy to think for themselves and so are content to let the politicians think for them. I mean, REALLY think, not just theorize. But of course, it has been that sect that cries the loudest, until the tea party movement, for the "civil" rights that are leading us into slavery.


  7. That chart reveals a sad, sad state of affairs.

  8. Along these lines, on the local news (Oregon) last night, it was announced that people on unemployment insurance are now going to have to take and pass a drug test (I think it said weekly) to receive benefits. I was very excited to hear this, until it was pointed out the law only applies to unemployment and not welfare, food stamps or any other entitlement program.

  9. I live in California and would truly appreciate it if people would stop offering to sell me and my state to the Chinese communists. Not all Californians are socialists or spendthrifts - some millions of us are very conservative and Christian and are doing all that we can to change the state we love. I don't think it's funny that somebody would joke about tearing about this country and giving part of it to another country. Please think before writing such nonsense. The state you are so willing to give away may actually be the state that someday saves this country. We've done it before.

  10. Enola,

    Everything you said is true and has been for a long time. It's enough to make you absolutely ill. I realize there are times when people need help. We tithe and give offerings above that when we can. What I can't stand is the lazy mentality that comes from so many of those sucking off the entitlements. When Katrina hit, several of the "refugees" were sent to Texas and a large group of them were housed at a Salvation Army camp near our home. Several of us from our church brought donations like clothing and toiletries and I volunteered to work out there. I carried their dirty laundry from their cabins over to the building where the washers and dryers were. I then washed, dried, folded and carried their laundry back and delivered it to their cabins. Would you like to know what they were doing the whole time I was working? Laying around outside on the picnic tables under the shade trees smoking one cigarette after the other, laughing and speaking with filthy language. Not one bloomin "thank you"! Give me a break! If I were displaced like that, I would be so darn grateful to have laundry facilities to use and so very embarrassed to sit around on my butt while some woman did my dirty clothes! Needless to say, I did NOT return to volunteer again.

  11. If you were a little older you would know that Medicare is not an entitlement program. We pay for it, and we are being short-changed regularly. What we need to do is get back to communities taking care of their own. At the local level we know who is lazy and who genuinely needs help. We should take care of our own neighbors.

  12. Read a report last night that said a couple in Houston who have been, on their own, cooking and feeding the homeless in their area have now been told to cease and desist by local health agencies. No health complaints, but the possibility there MIGHT be becasue the homeless are in a "weakened state" healthwise. I am ashamed of my state - because now the state will have to take up the expense of feeding these people!! Total insanity! Even when people DO try to help, the state steps in and won't let them!

  13. I love your blog and read it all the time. I normally agree with you. Not this time. My husband is a hard working man,and always has been. We've been married a long time, 21 years. He has always worked, always. I'm a stay at home mom and take care of his mom who has dementia in addition to an elderly 86 year old relative. My husband just recently got laid of from a job he has had for 16 years.We collect unemployment. And while I'm not proud of it,I'm certainly not ashamed of it or him. And while I'm grateful for it, at less than one fourth his pay, I don't feel like we have won the lottery.But aside from this I think you and yours are great.

  14. LizBeth;

    I do realize that Medicare is not an entitlement program - exactly. However, the majority of folks on Medicare (not that they have a choice) never paid in to that particular system. I do understand that it is quite different than Medicaid, and I also understand that people have no choice. That should not be. I was really just lumping all of the taxpayer supported programs together.

    My hat is off to you! I truly don't want you to get the impression that I resent or everybody that is on unemployment! In reality, it could be Sir Knight at any time. It is the abuse of the system that has me hot under the collar. It is not the person that really needs help. It is the millions of people that milk the system for all its worth. It's the ones that get a job long enough to be eligible for unemployment benefits again. It's the ones that will only work enough hours so that their food stamp benefits aren't cut. It's the people that can make more money on unemployment than they could working at a minimum wage job, so they just keep collecting checks - year after year!

    You should not be ashamed of your husband. Obviously, your family is a family that serves, not that expects to be served. I will pray that your husband finds work soon.


  15. To Anonymous Jan. 20, 6:17 AM

    I don't think any of us are referring to families like yours. You have been assisting your own family members and have just been a victim of bad times. Sounds like your husband will be working as soon as he is able. Yours is exactly the type of family I wish to help. However, I have seen people who loose their jobs and don't even attempt to look for work until a month before their unemployment is to run out. They have treated unemployment as a paid vacation. And then they cried the loudest when they did not find a job to their liking right away.

    A tile man who attended our church cried weekly that he didn't have enough work and he was going to loose his house if he didn't get more work soon. We had a ton of work that needed to be done on our property because my husband had been traveling to make our own ends meet. We offered to pay him $20 per hour and told him he could do it whenever it was convenient so he could fit it between any tile jobs that he did find. He told me that wasn't the type of work he was looking for, but he would ask his 14 year old son if he was interested. Apparently his son did not want to work either, because we never heard from them. I took a few days off from homeschooling and did the work myself.

    I don't mind helping people who truly need help due to circumstances beyond their control. I do mind being forced to help people who are just too lazy to get off their duff or who feel they are too good to take paying jobs that they deem to be beneath them.


  16. Just have to say Amen to all the posts here so far.

  17. I finally calmed down to post a comment. Glad I did, cuz I read most of the comments....I am not the only one. God sees and He is still in control...Now, when it comes time for the judgment, a boatload and then some will be quite surprised at what happens....
    The Bible says that those who don't work shouldn't eat....The pilgrims believed that and everyone worked and ate....Fast forward to now: people don't have to work or be accountable for anything and we have to pay for it and be punished besides because we aren't doing more to provide....
    By the way, I love your posts and I love your pictures of your land for sale....Wish I was young enough and in better health and loved the cold, I would be there in a heartbeat...

  18. Hello. I just found your wonderful blog through Rural Revolution, and I'm enjoying it very much. I'm glad you find and take the time to do this.
    Best wishes,
    Jenny in Alaska

  19. Along the same lines as your blog post is this from Mark Steyn with a warning for America:


    Audioconsultant (who was once unemployed 10 months followed by 10 months in a temporary position on the other side of the USA - with a wife and 4 kids at home)

  20. Thank you Enola for personally answering my comment. In these hard times, I guess one wants someone just to hear them and understand. And thanks to Tanya too.I visit so often, you all feel like family and yet yall didn't know. So let me indroduce myself as The Georgia Cracker

  21. What is the difference between people exploiting welfare, and bankers exploiting a lack of regulation in their industry? Scale. I would submit that far more has been looted and leeched from this country by bankers than anyone taking advantage of entitlement programs. The "welfare queens" are around us every day and thus in plain sight. The bankers and their actions are unseen by us, and I'm sure we're only hearing about the tip of the iceberg with their shenanigans.

    Which group of people is damaging the country more in their efforts to game the system?

  22. Anon 1/20/11 6:24pm,
    Is a burglar better than a thief? Is a drunk driver better than a meth-addicted driver? NO, of course not. The way they cause damage is different, but the results are the same. Results are what we're discussing here.

    A crooked and greedy group of bankers doesn't excuse tens of millions of Americans and illegals who abuse the system and wring money from the taxpayers. One group is not better or more deserving than the other. Two groups, but both reach the same results - the plunder of our personal resources. Both groups, in fact all groups, that shaft the taxpayers need to be cut off from the cash cow.

    To try to justify or to mollify the one group by bringing up the corruption and abuse by the other group is false reasoning. Neither group deserves a "pass" or should be excused for its part in the plunder. Abuse is abuse, regardless of the perpetrators.

    NoCal Gal

  23. NoCal Gal,

    Nowhere have I advocated giving anyone a pass or that one group is justified more than another. It is a breach of intellectual integrity to read in and assign motives where they do not exist.

    My point is that people keep regurgitating the "entitlement programs" exploitation because the results are obvious and right in front of us every day. As with anything else, there are people who will try to game the system - whatever system that may be. The butcher putting his thumb on the scale is guilty of exploiting a system, just like any welfare queen or banker exploits the systems with which they interact. When speaking about the plunder of the country, my point was that the bankers' exploitation and unchecked activity have plundered more from the country by far than exploitation of entitlement programs. Yet, the entitlement programs seem to draw the most ire.

    If one were to decide where to clamp down on an abuse, where would you get the most return on your investment of effort? Having a welfare recipient pass a urine test, or making illegal all the credit default swaps and other devices bankers use to enrich themselves without providing any value to the economy?

    It's easy to rail against what is obvious and a convenient target, but I propose that the banker's unchecked activities have had a far more disastrous effect on this country's economy than people receiving undeserved benefits from the public purse. In my opinion, we're tilting at the wrong windmill with the entitlement exploitation issue. Yes, that is a drain and is personally intolerable to me as well, but there are bigger fish to fry.

    Formerly Anon at 6:24pm

  24. JTC, LOL nice put-down, do you feel better now?

    You can tilt at any windmill you choose. I choose to fight entitlement abuse (for many reasons, which I need not enumerater here). Do as you will, that's the great thing about America.

    I do question your, what? Assertion? Statement? I don't want to use the wrong term and offend you again. I do question your "statement" that bankers have ripped off the taxpayers more than entitlement abusers have. As far as any of us know, unless you happen to have some inside information, the entitlement programs that started in the FDR administration have been going on for generations and millions upon millions of Americans and illegals have been abusing those programs. How long have the bankers been getting bailouts? Not nearly as long. And there are literally hundreds of entitlement programs that individuals can abuse, and have been abusing.

    Why split hairs? As I said in my other post, abuse is abuse and it needs to stop everywhere it's found. The trouble with individual abuse is it means votes for the politicians who institute the entitlement programs, thus aiding in the continuation of the abuses. It becomes a vicious circle.

    But, hey, have a great day.

    NoCal Gal

  25. I think the government should not have bailed out the banks, personally.

    However, bankers taking advantage? They are doing so because, as I mentioned previously, the masses are unwilling to think for themselves. They will accept some stranger's assessment of their personal finances instead of analyzing what they can truly afford - or even, gasp, saving to pay for things with CASH! Why? Because apparently for many having new clothing, new cars, a gorgeous but empty house, and 1.5 jobs per parent is more important to their self-esteem than staying close to their children, cutting back and learning to be content with life.

    And because these people refuse to analyze their own situations, they will continue to not think about holding welfare abusers accountable for their actions. It's simply too hard, and thinking about these kind of issues is something they will have politicians do for them, and the rest of us will continue to pay for it.

    I say, make sure we can defend our country from attack, and then let the bricks fall where they may. I can educate my child much better than the public schools, I pay for his medical care out of pocket (and believe me, we don't go to the doctor unless we need to), I am self-employed and pay all my own bills. *And, since I have to defend myself here, I provide a home daycare service for people who need it. And it is a very good one.* However, if I wasn't self-employed, I would find a J-O-B to pay the bills. I also have cut back my expenses, no longer buy disposable, chemically preserved foods, and cook at home - thereby saving tons of money which goes into savings for emergencies or goals I am saving for.

    I do not believe we should excuse people who have allowed "bankers" to take advantage of them because they were greedy. They could have driven older cars, bought less expensive houses, were more conscious of where their dollars were going, instead of carelessly throwing them away. It was not the bankers who caused this to happen, however if the politicians ACTUALLY held people RESPONSIBLE for their actions instead of blaming the BANKERS, imagine how pissed off the general public would be. Our country is producing mindless drones.

    And while I won't deny there was some abuse by the bankers, I will hold my position that the GREED and unwillingness of the masses to THINK ultimately caused the situation we are in today.
    Americans could have chosen to be conservative with their money, but they chose greed instead.

    It is not an excuse, and it ticks me off that anyone would use it as such.


  26. Beth;

    Amen and amen! Welfare and the "banker" problems are a complete lack of personal responsibility! And, by the way - my hat is off to you! I know that you have felt the need to defend yourself, but you are one of those people that have turned lemons into lemonade, and I respect that immensely.


  27. People eschewing personal responsibility in signing home loans was only a symptom of the larger "problem". That's in quotes because it is only a problem from OUR perspective. From other perspectives it was and still is a raging success. I agree 100% that greed and lack of responsibility were huge issues in the housing crash. However, this was true to a larger extent on the bankers' side than the people who received the loans.

    The issue here was the paradigm shift in the banking industry brought about by the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act, which had disallowed commercial banks from taking part in investment bank activities. Normally, a bank would make a loan and their income was derived from interest payments on the loan. Removal of the GSA fundamentally changed how banks looked at loans.

    The repeal of Glass-Stegall had unintended consequences, the most relevant here was the ability for banks to offload risks by bundling mortgage paper into securities instruments, which were then sold as investment vehicles. These Collateralized Debt Obligations effectively removed the need for banks to vet their customers' ability to repay the loan. Since the bank would shovel off the debt to investors, they did not need to worry about whether the loan would be repaid. The bank collected fees by the sale of the CDO's rather than by loan interest payments, so that revenue stream was maximized by lowering the threshold for mortgage qualification. If you could fog a mirror, you were approved.

    The problem enhancing all this is that the rating agencies gave the CDO's their highest rating rather than reflecting the true value of something based on mortgages given to people without the ability to repay. As all of this paper shuffling was going on, the bankers collected fees with every transaction. As you may be aware, the typical CDO had been resold at least several times (resulting in a homeowner not really knowing who actually holds the note for their mortgage). This fed the transactional fees collected by the banks, which far outstripped what they would have gathered in interest payments on a traditional loan (without the risk to the bank of the loan defaulting). Add in other financial constructs designed to enrich bankers without providing value to the economy, such as Credit Default Swaps, and we're talking trillions of dollars here, for years, a scale which makes welfare abuses pale by comparison. Yes, the people who accepted impossible to repay home loans are in part at fault for the current mess. However, they were "only" responding to conditions put in place by bankers after removal of Glass-Stegall.

    All of this ties into a kind of gross symbiotic relationship between providers and consumers. One side devises ways to suck money out of a system by exploiting rules and conditions on the consumer end. The other side devises ways to suck money *into* a system which they have helped develop and manipulate for their benefit on the supply side. All driven by greed and lack of responsibility or accountability.

    continue to part 2

  28. part 2

    Our biggest problem as concerned citizens is that fighting against ANY kind of abuse means that we're trying to take food out of someone's mouth. Reinstate Glass-Stegall? There goes the investment manager's revenue stream. Curb welfare abuses? How many welfare agency clerks and supervisors would lose their jobs with the reduced workload? Fight political corruption? There goes the dough for the new yacht that's slid across the desk in a fat envelope. Try taking away someone's cookie jar, and you can expect them to resist the loss. These systems exist the way they are because a lot of people are making money hand over fist, and if they could find another way to milk even more out of it, they would in a New York minute.

    What is problematic in "fixing" these broken systems is organization. The employees' unions, bankers' social circles, welfare recipients' collective voice - they are all more organized and have deeper industry ties than the concerned citizen voters who would like to fix it. In the blogosphere you keep hearing "If only people would say enough is enough" or "If we could only vote da bums out" or "If only people would wake up to...". The concerned citizen is acting almost alone in their efforts despite the camaraderie of the blogosphere. The Tea Party is the biggest counter-culture movement to organize beyond limited local efforts, and the best they can do is a checkered success while dealing with their own scandals and human folly.

    Perhaps the solution to this lack of organization is the exploitation of the Generally Dumb Public's lack of thought and responsibility we are railing against. It's almost like we're fighting to fix it backwards, trying to appeal to people's common sense where none exists. The key to marketing is to make people want it. "If you build it, they will come". Use just as much guile to create your movement that was used to suck people into the consumer society in the first place. Exploit people's tendency towards jealousy and their desire to keep up with the Joneses. But, rather than making them want a flat screen TV, sell them on the idea that they are not currently a part of something leading to wealth and success, just by being part of it. Don't tell them their ideas are wrong, for you will only hit a wall and turn them away. Make them want to discard their old way of thinking just like they discarded their two year old car for a shiny new one. Part of the background machinations woven into this plan are some incrementally higher standards, quietly implemented with an eye on the long-term health of the country. You're starting near the bottom of the barrel, so don't expect rocket scientists overnight.

    All of the current political change is attempted by pounding against someone else's ideas. You may notice not much is actually changing, because everyone's ideas are entrenched, then reinforced when those ideas are threatened. Take a step back and look at the systems that ARE working - not by your standards but by THEIRS - learn from that analysis, then figure out how to generalize those processes and apply them to your cause.


  29. Beth,

    Yes, people have placed responsibility in others' hands and have chosen not to think, but I propose that it goes far deeper than discrete events like signing a home loan or buying a new car. Those people are operating in an environment where they have been conditioned to *avoid* thought and analysis, rather than deselecting it as an option. That conditioning was embraced and accepted by the masses in a "pulled towards them" sense, rather than the "eyes taped open and forced to watch propaganda" pushed-to-them sense. This took place over decades, so that its insidious effects were like a cancer and the patient has only realized it after the cancer has metastasized.

    How did we go from a self-reliant people for whom Plan A was to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, to our highly litigious entitlement society? Convenience. Each and every device and service which has offered a choice between our thought or hard work and conveniently letting someone or something else do it has acted to erode that self-reliance into a nearly complete reversal to other-reliance.

    We could debate the extent of the gray area here, as to whether electric washing machines or GPS were part of this slippery slope. Perhaps the measure is whether or not the user preferentially yielded some aspect of thought, responsibility, or judgment to the device or service. When a consumer economy is erected in which the main purpose (besides money) is to make every aspect of life as convenient as possible, the stage has been set to condition the formerly self-reliant into a consumer that grows accustomed to routinely giving up the responsibility of thought, and with it, an analysis of their actions.

    I'm not sure that all the people signing up for crazy home loans made the conscious decision to forgo thought. I'd say they were acting in the manner to which they had become accustomed - that of a perfect consumer presented with a great deal. "Small print? Nothing to worry about. Just a formality - for the regulations, you know." Oh, well, the banker must know their business. I'll trust them just the way I've learned to trust everyone else presenting themselves as a subject matter expert. Besides, the realtor said real estate prices always go up, so what could go wrong?

    Train a populace to embrace convenience, to give up little bits of responsibility to "experts", and you have the makings for a perfect storm to be exploited by the relaxing of banking rules. Yes, it is ultimately up to the consumer to run the numbers and do a reality check. But then, why let facts get in the way of what we want? A study found that 62% of people will actively continue to hold onto a belief even after they have been presented with incontrovertible proof that the belief in question is false. Given that, how many would still have signed the home loan even if someone showed them the numbers?


  30. Thank you, Enola, that cheers me greatly! :)