Discussion of welfare is difficult and uncomfortable for me. It immediately arouses strong emotions and can make enemies of people who would otherwise be friends. It is a complex subject which is a statement and a question of who we are as a people and a nation. An opinion piece is hardly adequate to even touch on it, for welfare as a subject goes far beyond who is receiving benefits and whether they should. There are many aspects in society concerning the causes of poverty and also the fraud that is often associated with Social Services subsidization. I'm not demonizing anyone in this letter nor am I singling anyone out, there are the genuine deserving poor.
Subsidization of business large and small and dispensation of social services are entirely different discussions, apples and oranges.
50 years of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program hasn't diminished poverty, and it doesn't help that there is a cynical political advantage in perpetuating poverty and promoting government dependency while posing as a benevolent, office holding champion of the poor in order to induce patronage style voting at the ballot box.
For the majority of my life I've known people who receive benefits, there are genuinely poor people and people who are on welfare, some are both. I've known single mothers who worked more than full time on multiple minimum wage jobs, I've known many more people who don't work and can somehow afford to drink in bars the first two weeks of the month while smelling like weed.
In the early 2000's (before the recession), I asked a supervisor at the Ramsey and Fourth Street (Banning, Ca.) Social Services office what drives welfare enrollment. The answer was simple and direct: “Drugs and alcohol”. A friend who manages subsidized housing tells me that welfare fraud is rampant, much of it revolves around “druggies” and people with suspect identity documentation. She says that most tenants of subsidized housing have better furniture, electronics, and cars than she can afford as a salaried manager. I personally know of one working poor co-payment of subsidized housing that is about 5% of the fair market rental value, some years ago I heard of a resident co-payment of only $8.00 a month from the above manager. A couple of years ago a Social Services employee told me that there are people who live in Arizona yet collect California welfare benefits in eastern Riverside County. On several occasions I've been solicited to purchase food stamps and EBT purchased groceries at half value for cash.
The following is hardly scientific, and there could be many reasons why the assumption may be wrong. However, a couple of years ago I drove through the Social Services parking lot in Banning. The large lot was packed full of vehicles, only two resembled the cars owned by genuinely poor people forty years ago. It's clear that the majority of those vehicles were not owned by Social Services employees. I then cruised the parking lots at Rio Ranch and Food 4 Less – the rate of older and worn vehicles was around 50%.
The above is not and does not pretend be a full and complete discussion of poverty and welfare administration and does not propose to throw everyone off the welfare rolls and fire everyone at the Social Services Department. However, it is a call for a full and honest discussion of: the disintegration of the American family; the role of men as fathers and grandfathers; the schools as babysitters and surrogate parents; societal changes since the 1960's; how we regard and treat the elderly and genuinely disabled; substance abuse; governmental policy and political agenda that perpetuates poverty and promotes dependence upon social services while throttling business and obstructing full employment; and much more. Furthermore, whether we love foreigners or not, one cannot be an open borders advocate and also agitate for a living wage - the first undermines the latter goal.
The above opinion piece was printed in the Record Gazette in February 2015
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary