I have a conservative friend who regularly sends me “information” gleaned from viral rightwing emails. (Is there such a creature as a “viral liberal email”? I have never received seen heard of one.) These bits of info are almost always extraordinary—as in “unbelievable” extraordinary—and it usually take me less than a few minutes to track down the actual facts.
Of course, my friend NEVER wastes his time by actually following the links to reliable websites that I include in my rebuttals. He just sends me more opinion pieces—from FoxNews or some ultra-conservative columnist, think-tank, or website—“proving” the original fabrications to be so. Here is the latest such “information” that I just received from him.
“America has always prided itself on its work ethic. American capitalism is supposed to reward you for working hard with a higher quality of life, while socialism makes sure that everyone’s life is average. A new study shows that America has taken another step closer to socialism.
The Cato Institute released a study showing that welfare benefits pay more than a minimum wage job in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Even worse, welfare pays more than $15 per hour in 13 states.
According to the study, welfare benefits have increased faster than minimum wage. It’s now more profitable to sit at home than it is to earn an honest day’s pay. Hawaii is the biggest offender, where welfare recipients earn $29.13 per hour, or a $60,590 yearly salary, all for doing nothing.”
The letter lists 27 states where welfare recipients receive more that $25,000 per year—eight are in excess of $40,000! The state of Washington, where I reside and which may be the Homeless Capitol of the United States, is claimed to bestow an annual dole of $28,840 per indigent.
My home state, Pennsylvania—long one of the most glaring hardship states above the Mason-Dixon line—is equally generous, allowing their impoverished non-workers a hand-out of $28,670!
Of course, “common sense” would tell anyone possessing it that this just ain’t so. That these figures—this very argument—fly in the face of any reasonable awareness of the state of the union seems to have escaped the Cato “fellows” and their followers. In fact, those followers seem never to have heard of skepticism, a dash of which would go a long way for these people.
Resorting to some mild (and ineffectual) sarcasm, I asked him when the governor of Hawaii had called out the National Guard to protect his shores from the influx of unwanted and unemployed immigrants. I certainly hadn’t heard anything about in the DLM (damn librull media).
Forbes magazine, a bloody bastion of American capitalism and corporatism, addressed the Cato study with an article titled “The Conservative Case For Welfare Reform Suffers Massive Blow Via Cato Institute Study.” Author Rick Ungar says that the Cato findings are based on a “shocking bogus methodology” and that their report to be “complete unadulterated nonsense.”
If this topic is of interest, please click on over to Forbes and read Mr. Ungar’s column, especially where he asks the question, “So, how did the Cato produce this particular masterpiece of disinformation?” You need to read the answer: it’s typical conservative manipulation of facts so that the truth ends up a lie.
Finally, if you have the courage to read what living on welfare in these United States is really like, I recommend Barbara Ehrenreich’s first-person account of trying that lifestyle in her amazing book Nickel And Dimed. It is NOT a pretty picture. Oh, and she is the first REAL person to investigate the rumored existence of that exotic creature that is as hard to find as Nessie or a Yeti: the “Welfare Queen.”
As expected, my friend sent me an article from the New York Post reporting on the Cato study as “proof” that it’s so. My response was that the Post reporting the Cato findings does NOT verify those findings. It’s an echo piece, NOT a research piece. This could go on forever without him EVER reading a single word that disproves his beliefs!
I know, I know: no more responses from me!
Finally, my favorite “definition” of common sense comes from the late, great Tony Randall (and I am paraphrasing from memory): “Common sense is that which every one is supposed to have but nobody seems to.”