Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Class Warfare Really Looks Like

As Hillary rushes to embrace Elizabeth Warren - and not in an Alice B. Toklas sort of way - the GOP will inevitably raise cries of "class warfare" as Clinton talks about middle and working class incomes and wealth vs the 1%.  Clinton is smart to do so, and even GOP hopefuls have given lip service to wealth inequality.

But once you get beyond the rhetoric of people like Mitt Freaking Romney (of all people) you can see that the GOP really has no intention of doing anything but making the problem worse.

Kansas has just engaged in a round of poor shaming, designed not to prevent fraud but to associate government aid with things that it shouldn't be used for.  By suggesting that people are using their aid to buy lingerie (Does underwear count?  Let's check!), they are creating the image in people's minds that this is what aid is spent on.  It's a classic repeat of the "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" trope from the Reagan era.  Forms of drug testing is another act of poor shaming.

The operational assumption behind these programs are that being poor in America is too easy.  You just cash those huge aid checks and go buy your t-bone steaks, your tattoos and your malt liquor.  Who needs a job?

This of course fails to look at how little people on aid actually get and how hard it is to find work if your name is Shanique or Da'Quan.  While there might be some people who prefer the dole to a paycheck, that often has to do with how meager the paycheck is.  If you're working 30 hours a week at minimum wage, how do you afford day care?

If you really wanted people off welfare and into work, make it easier to find work.  It's already pretty hard to be poor.

No comments: