The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soul Crushing

Nicholas Kristof is a liberal NYT columnist who is unreservedly pro-Obama and proudly big government. It is, therefore, shocking to read his recent column written on a trip into Appalachia:
THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.

Most wrenching of all are the parents who think it’s best if a child stays illiterate, because then the family may be able to claim a disability check each month.
This moment of lucidity is actually encouraging. If an uber-liberal like Kristof can, even for just a moment, see the "sole-crushing" results of big government programs that do little more than encourage those in poverty to stay in poverty, maybe there's a sliver of hope.

Nah. Not a chance!

Those on the Left live in a world of best intentions. As long as their intentions are good, results really don't matter.

Leftists argue that ever-expanding government programs, breathtaking redistribution of wealth via tax increases, anti-corporate policies, and ever-expanding dependency class will somehow lead to economic growth that will benefit the "weakest among us." The economic wreckage of the past four years and the President's abject failure to revive the economy is blamed on the evil Bush and dismissed. After all, how is it possible that an ill-advised $800+ billion "stimulus" didn't do the trick? In the fantasy world of Obama supporters, it just wasn't enough, that's all.

Leftists suggest that "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor" (or seniors, or the middle class) is morally reprehensible, but shrug their shoulders when they are told that our budget is overwhelmingly weighted to service the dependency class (through social programs and entitlements) and any meaningful cuts must come from those budget items. They demagogue every responsible proposal to reduce spending and debt, cloaking themselves in moral outrage over the "lack of balance." The President they and the dependency class elected understands the power of class warfare and uses it to suggest (dishonestly) that higher taxes will somehow solve our budgetary problems. They dismiss $1 trillion annual deficits with a wave of the hand.

To those of us who believe that the President and his party have a responsibility to put the economic health of this country ahead of petty partisan advantage, it's really quite distressing. In fact, it's soul crushing.


And this depressing tidbit from Tyler Durdin:
And we thought last month's delayed foodstamp data was bad. The just reported foodstamp number for September was a doozy, with 607,544 new Americans becoming eligible for foodstamps, as a record 47.7 million Americans are now living in poverty at least according to the USDA. The monthly increase was the highest since May 2011, and with August's 421K new impoverished America, over 1 million Americans made the EBT card their new best friend. It is unclear just which atmospheric phenomenon will get the blame for this unprecedented surge in poverty, which comes at a time when the pre-election economic data euphoria was adamant that the US economy was on an escape velocity to utopia. Instead what we do know is that in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients were add to the economy as jobs (324,000). We also know that with the imminent impact of Sandy, which will send foodstamp recipients soaring, it is now looking quite possible that the US may end 2012 with just over a mindboggling 50 million Americans living in absolute poverty and collecting the $134.29 average monthly benefit per person, instead of working. Welcome to the recovery indeed.
Remember, all of this is occurring at unprecedented levels of debt-financed government spending, but no matter. We need to spend even more, right? Just ask the President and his supporters.