Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welfare Reform

President Roosevelt signing the
Social Security Act, August 14, 1935

Rachel Maddow

Rick Santorum

Mrs Kravitz from "Bewitched"


It began during President Roosevelt's first term with him signing the Social Security Act at approximately 12:30PM my time, which is the only time that matters, on August 14, 1935. The world was in the midst of The Great Depression at the time, and until this act came into effect (despite numerous attempts by the Supreme Court to declare it and many other initiatives Roosevelt wanted, unconstitutional) there was no social safety net for America's citizens. One worked, if they could find work, until they grew old and died. That is what Americans had to look forward to throughout their lives, and that was the way it was pretty much throughout history up until that time. President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal government assistance for the elderly. The entire Act was meant to be a hedge against widespread poverty, unemployment, and to assist widows and fatherless families. Accordingly the Act contained different provisions for unemployment insurance (Title I), Maternal and Child Welfare (Title V), public health services (Title VI), the blind (Title X), and something called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Title IV).
Opponents to the Act attacked it as they do to this day. They claimed it was a job killer. That it was socialist. If implemented Martians would attack the Earth in tripod machines, God would send his angels down from Heaven to wreck havoc among the populace, on and on. They said the same thing about the G.I. Bill which provided low interest home loans to thousands of servicemen and their families after World War II, and $20 a week for a year while they searched for work, and provided college (or high school or vocational education) benefits that thousands took advantage of, and which improved the common good of the entire nation buy helping to supply well educated and motivated individuals into the workforce. The G.I. Bill was considered welfare. Everything that helps the middle class and poor is considered welfare by Republican opponents. And they've successfully made the very word "welfare," pejorative... a bad thing. Something that needs to be stopped and avoided at all costs.
Welfare programs for the rich in the form of tax breaks, cuts, and loopholes are perfectly fine because after all those are for the "job creators," the "job creators," who never create jobs, and need to be constantly sucked up to.
Opponents to our national welfare system, mostly Republicans, say the same thing about our current welfare system. But the country is still intact with social security in effect, with federal funding of student loans, and with unemployment benefits, all of which provides desperately needed help for the poor, the elderly, the young, and the disabled. God doesn't seem to mind our social safety net, only Republicans, Tea Baggers, and their corporate masters.
These people just don't like giving assistance, cash or otherwise, to people who are not wealthy. That's it, pure and simple. Why? Because they are sociopaths and money going to the poor and middle classes is money that's not going to the rich. The thing is the Republicans are real good at propaganda and making a large amount of the American population belive their lies, that it is some kind of crime to be poor in this country, or that the poor are undeserving and lazy, even when it was the policies of the previous Republican administration, and past Republican administrations (Reagan) that have caused the huge income disparity in this nation which favors the rich, and which increases the very poverty they complain about. It's truly unbelievable. Oh yes, all of these people claim to be soooo Christian, and Christian values are the guiding factor in their lives. Yet you have Republican presidential candidates who would gut social security, end unemployment insurance and welfare, which would basically have the poor and jobless fending for themselves. I don't know what version of the Bible they've been reading (or smoking more likely), but it's always been my belief that Jesus Christ favored the poor against all others. In the case of Republicans, Tea Baggers, and the audiences at Republican debates, it's okay to pick and choose which Christian tenets are convenient to adhere to, at different convenient times. In other words they're hypocrites.
I just watched a commercial on MSNBC featuring the lovely Rachel Maddow. I've seen it many times, and she's right every single time it comes on. She was speaking of the dire financial crisis we currently find ourselves in, how so many Americans have suffered, entered poverty and homelessness due to uncontrolled corporate greed and the politicians that let them get away with ruining the economy. And she mentioned that one segment of our society is doing pretty well through all of this. "Older Americans. Older Americans are faring well, and that's because of social security. Social security works. It is not a Ponzi scheme. It is not bankrupting us. It is not an outrage. It works."
And the Republicans, if given half a chance, would turn it over to Wall Street in the form of private accounts and set Americans back to the way it was before 1935.
And I just watched a clip of presidential candidate Rick Santorum tell a group he was speaking to that President Obama wanted more people on food stamps. He wanted more people on social security benefits. He wants the majority of Americans dependent on the government. Santorum stated he wants people to make their own money, not for the government to give it to them. He says he doesn't want to help "black people," by giving them money.
Well there's so many things that are wrong with that statement I hardly know where to start. Besides it being inherently racist, it's premise is just untrue, or here's another way to put it... it's a freaking lie! What evidence does he advance to support his claim that the President wants more people on SSI or in the food stamp program? Well none of course because it's simply not true. It's a blatant lie told to his base who will believe it, so he doesn't mind saying it. How principled! As a matter of fact all of the evidence, which has been plainly documented and can be reviewed at anytime by anybody, is that it's the Republicans who wish to increase poverty in this country, and thereby the need for government assistance, which they then bitch about. No job program has been advanced in the Republican controlled House. They wholeheartedly rejected Obama's job program. Virtually nothing has passed in the House that would help the overall economy because that would make the President look good, and as Senate Minority Leader Mitch "Turtle Boy" McConnell has plainly stated, the Republicans foremost goal is to unseat President Obama. Let me repeat that: Their number one goal is to defeat the President. Not to improve the lot of the average citizen. Not to help the country prosper and grow... but to win an election.
That says it all about the current Republican party. All you need to know really.
But I digress.
There were a lot of problems with the initial Social Security Act. It didn't cover women directly for instance, or minorities, and certain job categories. However these discrepancies would eventually be amended to cover all of the countries citizens.
And these programs worked! They actually helped people who were out of work subside until they got jobs and back on their feet. They helped those who could not work because they were old, or disabled, or too sick to work. They helped children and families escape the vicious cycle of poverty. Social Security did not add a nickel to the national debt because it was completely paid for through payroll taxes. Social security is probably the most successful government program that has ever existed.
So of course the Republicans hated it, and from day one have been attempting to subvert it, or steal its funds.
We'll continue to discuss this in the second part of this post.

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