Ask Uncle Ed 2

Dear Uncle Ed*

I’m a white working class guy. I voted for Trump because I don’t think that government should help undeserving people. Especially women who pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies so they can get welfare every month and their housing and food paid for. They are living large, while people like me are struggling to put food on the table. My neighbors who are less responsible than me are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. They can go to the emergency room for a headache.

This has nothing to do with race. So, why do all the liberals just assume I am a racist? I just want to be treated fairly and have my hard work acknowledged.

Signed, Unhappy in Iowa**.

Dear Unhappy in Iowa

For starters, when you talk about women popping out babies with different baby daddies, it sounds like you mean African-Americans, just like Ronald Reagan did with his fables about strapping young bucks buying T-Bones with food stamps. This kind of talk makes it hard for Uncle Ed to completely ignore the possibility that maybe there is just a bit of racism here.

But since you don’t think it’s about race, you could use different words. Just think of the people in your extended family and your neighbors who benefit from those programs. Use language that is based on them instead. After all, the majority of people getting food stamps, welfare and Medicaid, and even Obamaphones, are white.

We probably agree that there are plenty of people who need the welfare system to work for them, like this woman whose body is broken after years of grinding labor.

Resident Christa Cossey found work at age 20 as a long-haul truck driver, a well-paid job for someone without a college degree. Now 51, she’s been on disability since 2008 because of ailments related to her years of driving: obesity, asthma, atypical chest pain, diabetes, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and arthritis in her neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers. She also suffers from degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, and bulging discs in her lower back.

We also agree that too many people abuse the system. And you know as well as Uncle Ed does that every system can be and is abused. But let’s be honest. Some of the people abusing the system are your kin and your white neighbors. It isn’t just Black and Brown people.

Uncle Ed has another suggestion. Next time you go by the food court, look at the people cleaning up the tables and emptying the trash cans. Next time you see a garbage truck, look at the guys picking up that nasty stuff and muscling it into the truck. Next time you visit your grandmother in the nursing home, look at the aides who wash and dress her, who turn her over, and who hold her hand when she’s crying and you can’t be there. See how many of them are Black and Brown.

Ask yourself this question. Do you think these hard-working people aren’t just as angry as you are about the people in their own communities abusing the system? Do you think they don’t have family and friends who are on disability thanks to a cheating doctor? Don’t you think it makes them furious when they see white people cheating the system?

It’s true they probably don’t like the same TV shows you do, or the same music or the same movies or go to the same churches, bars and restaurants you do, and they don’t support the same politicians you do. Of course, they probably root for the same teams you do. But when it comes to money, they work hard and they care just as much as you do how the government spends their taxes. If it weren’t for that color thing that keeps you apart, they’d be your natural allies. Trump frequently asked them to vote for him on that basis, and a lot of them did, so you know that’s true.

The stuff you are complaining about isn’t about race. It’s about who works and who doesn’t. Don’t make it about race or you’ll lose your natural allies.

Uncle Ed suggests you look at the big picture: the overall economic system that’s beating you and your allies into the dirt, and that hasn’t given you or any other working guy a decent raise in decades. At root the things that got you to vote for Trump aren’t about race, they’re about an unfair economic system that forces millions of people to struggle to make any kind of living and abandons them when they get sick or get laid off when the plant moves to Thailand. It’s a system that serves you and your neighbors and your kin badly, and wallops Black and Brown people even harder. You need all the allies you can get.

You say that the current safety net gives undeserving people something you don’t get. For example, you have to pay for a lousy health policy while they get free Medicaid that’s probably better. When the Republicans repeal Obamacare, do you really think the replacement will be better for you? You know it won’t: you aren’t rich. Maybe secretly you hope the Republicans will set up a plan that gives you something other people don’t get?

Well, here’s the thing. There are never ever going to be any government programs or regulations or loopholes that give you something while denying it to groups you don’t like. That is unconstitutional. Even Trump can’t make that happen. I can promise you that the Coastal Elites will crush any attempt to do that in the courts, no matter how many Justices Trump appoints.

You have two choices. You can let the Republicans destroy the safety net that protects you and the people you think are deserving.

Or, you can figure out a way to do politics in your own interest without regard to who else might benefit, and at the same time limit the cheating.

For example, suppose everyone got Medicare at fair and reasonable premiums, maybe related to income, and you could buy private insurance to cover whatever Medicare didn’t. Our income taxes might go up to cover the cost, but the rich would pay more and that that would be fair. We’d probably have to do something more for really poor people. Whatever plan we come up with, everyone, regardless of merit, is going to be covered. That would get rid of most of the cheating.

One thing is for sure, you’ll find lots of allies among the African-Americans and Hispanics who want the same thing. With them and the liberals, you are a huge majority of voters. And that’s how you get what you need from both political parties.
=============
* This is part of a series in which I try to take Trump voters at their word and work out ways of responding. After I wrote the first draft, I ran across this essay in the Washington Spectator by Matt Hartman that clarified my thinking, and the current draft tries to reflect the ideas in that article.

** Closely follows this Washington Post article by Catherine Rampell, and this one by Sarah Kliff at Vox.

Notre Dame undergrad (math); JD, Indiana University at Bloomington; 1st Lieutenant, US Army.; private practice in corporate and securities law; Assistant AG in Tennessee for consumer protection and securities; Blue Sky Securities Commissioner, Tennessee; private practice, bankruptcy and corporate law.

I have had a lifelong interest in economics. For most of my career, that interest was practical, focused on the problems in front of me. Lately I have been more interested in economics as a theory, especially its impact on the lives of people like those I met in my bankruptcy practice, and on the politics of money in the US. I also enjoy reading philosophers, starting in college and steadily expanding my reading ever since. I wrote at FireDogLake for a number of years.

Generally, I think the problem facing the US is the dominance of neoliberal discourse. I think it clouds the vision, and limits the kinds of problems that can be identified and solved. For example, the existence and danger of climate change can easily be identified in a scientific discussion. However, the problem does not fit the neoliberal discourse because science insists that the pursuit of individual and corporate self-interest will lead to devastation. In neoliberal discourse, the pursuit of self-interest always leads to Eden.

The neoliberal project has two prongs. One is the police function of crushing dissent and alternative views. The police function is provided by government agencies and private and institutional actors. The counterpart is the economic system , which is operated by government and by private and institutional actors. Some of these actors operate in both spheres. I focus on the second prong.

16 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “What am I? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the underserving poor, that’s what I am. Now, think what that means to a man. It means he’s up against middle-class morality for all the time. If there’s anything going, and I puts in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: you’re undeserving, so you can’t have it. But, my needs is as great as the most deserving widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. Heh, I don’t need LESS than a deserving man, I need MORE. I don’t eat less hearty than he does, and I drink… oh, a lot more. I’m playing straight with you. I ain’t pretending to be deserving… no… I’m undeserving, and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it, and that’s the truth. But, will you take advantage of a man’s nature to do him out of the price of his own daughter, what he’s brought up, fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow till she’s growed big enough to be… interesting to you two gentlemen? Well, is five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you… and I leave it to you.”

    — Alfred P. Doolittle, My Fair Lady

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thanks, Ed.  Good topic, the “undeserving poor”, which is everybody not like me.

    It’s a distraction designed to get one disadvantaged group to fight another so that neither group will notice the antics of the undeserving rich.  It is the undeserving rich who receive massive undeserved handouts from the government they dominate.  The local real estate magnate who finally gets the legislature to build a freeway exit abutting the land he’s spent years acquiring, multiplying its value.  The major real estate magnate who gets zoning adjustments, tax breaks, subsidized loans, roadway changes to ease access to his development.  The big box stores that extort from local communities tax benefits that exceed the cost of a new store.  The wealthy who avoid income and estate taxes.  The corporations that endless shift employment, income and profits offshore, then lobby for tax holidays to bring their profits, “home”.  And banks executives, who pop up like Pez out of a dispenser, and their criminally mismanaged banks, who receive billions in public payouts for engaging in systemically risky behavior, nearly toppling the global financial system.

    But what’s five pounds to the Donald, or Steve Mnuchin, or Betsy DeVos?  I put it to you…and I leave it to you.

    • lefty665 says:

      Thx. The dawning realization of wages stagnant for the better part of 40 years for those still with jobs while the fat cats get fatter finally came home to roost in the election. Not that folks are likely to get much relief from Trump, but he at least addressed the issues and the people the Dems have abandoned. The next swing could be even wilder if we can’t keep the have nots at each others throats.

  3. John Casper says:

    Thanks Uncle Ed.

    I think yours is correct, but I took a less charitable interpretation of Unhappy in Iowa’s p̶l̶a̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶d̶ situation.

    Unhappy Hawkeye can’t afford insurance for his baby Mama. Every time he steals a Viagra, she has a headache.

    OT,

    “Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America”

    “The teenage birthrate in Oklahoma was 47.3 per 1,000; in Muskogee, it’s 59.2, almost twice the national rate, which is 29.7.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/06/opinion/sex-drugs-and-poverty-in-red-and-blue-america.html?_r=0

  4. Evangelista says:

    Damned if it does not look like you are “astro-turfing”, Mr. Ed; making up your own ‘letters from enquirers’ so that you can write political “infomercials” you want to write but haven’t any natural excuses or reasons to write.

    May I as, if you don’t mind, exactly what is wrong with abusing the system? The banks have been doing it, getting handouts, each bank, and interest-at-zero benefits and inflation-gradings to reduce their balances in relative dollars terms, and on and on that each, for each bank and financial institution are as much, if not more that the total paid in sustenance payments to welfare recipients. And the pentagon has been abusing the system, and foreclosure-specialists and arms merchants (with the government giving ‘allies’ money to make purchases) and on and on. Even ‘asylum immigrants’ are given money to settle in communities in the United States, where the communities, the ones in the know, who often have been in dire straits for their industries being moved to China or Mexico, find themselves able to “re-ignite” their moribund community (but not individual residents’) economies by switching to a government hand-out and give-away program abusing “immigrant Services” providing economies.

    The ones being left out in the cold are the ex-workers of the United States, whose jobs have been shipped to China or Mexico for cheaper labor, who are denied right to receive welfare, by the politicians they elected, who are giving hand-outs to everyone else, who enact denials of aid benefits, and even food-stamps, to them to “get tough on welfare cheats” and “cut costs” by “forcing them to get out and get jobs”, which jobs they, the politicians (we can’t call them central planners, because they are too stupid to plan beyond their next sound-bites) have helped to make ‘treaties’ to facilitate sending overseas, or to Mexico, to help the industries who give politicians ‘campaign’ money in exchange for corporate welfare “favors” make more profits in exchange for their contributions to the politicians.

    But you don’t understand enough about real economics to recognize the situations that put those people in those positions, or to recognize the economic problems the doing of that to those creates, or to prognose where where the doing of these manipulations and provisions of welfare to the top must inevitably lead.

    So, instead of doing anything relevant to the real situation, you make up “astro-turf” pseudo-Trumpean characters and have them ‘query’ tired cliché ‘questions’ that you imagine such cliché-characters would ask, if they thought like you assign them to. And need them to to facilitate you in writing other-deprecating fairy-tales .

    • John Casper says:

      Evangelista,

      You wrote, ”

      “May I as(sic), if you don’t mind, exactly what is wrong with abusing the system?”

      It’s wrong.

      There’s a reason they’re not called the TEN SUGGESTIONS.

      • martin says:

        Tonight’s final question on Jeopardy

        There’s a reason they’re not called the TEN SUGGESTIONS.
        What is “they’re”?

        ???  I missed that class. Can I look at your homework? Thnx bmaz. I’ll be in the library.

        • bmaz says:

          For the record:

          Before some twatwaddle accuses me of “censorship”, yes, I edited the intentional screwing with our comment stream that Martin attempted.

          And, no “Martin” that kind of cheap chicanery is not accepted here, nor will it be tolerated.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Have you ever actually read anything I’ve written? Cause you sure sound like a crank who fastens on a couple of words and starts into a rant.

  5. Alex says:

    I’ve never met a racist that believes they are a racist.

    Maybe Iowa can explain how GOP lawmakers take advantage of union-negotiated insurance plans where they pay $20/mth:
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2017/02/11/editorial-legislators-should-repay-state-cheap-health-care/97600474/

    Or the big boondoggle where the IA Guv privatized Medicaid and it ended up losing mucho money (uh, sorry IA, translated that’s lots of money):
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/07/16/editorial-providers-medicaid-nightmare-becomes-reality/87023948/

    Maybe he should also ponder his place in life because he is so gullible and stupid.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I remember the film by Cecil B. DeMille, The Ten Suggestions, starring Charlton Heston. The politically ambitious, fundamentalist Roy Moore was removed as Alabama state supreme court justice for violating a federal court order to remove a massive rendering of the Ten Suggestions from his courtroom. Their presence violated the establishment clause, but Mr. Moore claimed to be obeying a higher law.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT, but I see that GM is again putting Opel on the block.  The Guardian reports that it is in talks to sell its principal international subsidiary to PSA, owners of Citroen and Peugeot.  GM reportedly can’t seem to make Opel profitable, which really means it can’t make its international subsidiaries outside of China sufficiently profitable.  The French might inquire into why.  They might look, for example, into GM’s transfer pricing regime, by which its international management, engineering and IP costs are allocated.  Perhaps GM doesn’t need an international presence outside of China, the world’s number one market.  It’s also possible that GM has never been comfortable with the German management/supervisory board structure, which puts a premium on wider networking with German banks and businesses.  Nor has GM ever been comfortable with German unions and work rules, or with EU competition, environmental and labor laws.  Or maybe GM just needs the money.  The French would do well to do their due diligence, and to negotiate a substantial break-up fee.  The last time it put Opel on the block, GM changed its mind at the lat minute and decided to keep it.

  8. Evangelista says:

    Interestingly, it is not Mr. Ed’s sock-puppet who brings racism to this emptywheel.net post, it is Mr. Ed who does, using his imaginary Trumpeteer for a starting block tolaunch his jump.

    Mr. Ed has his Trumpeteer complain of “…women who pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” and suggest they do so “so they can get welfare every month and their housing and food paid for”. Mr. Ed suggests this activity by women, for the stated reason to “mean African-Americans”.

    Mr. Ed overlooks that the practice is not a blacks only one, but a blacks and whites one (“browns”, “reds” and “yellows”, to use these as differentiative groupings, tend to be under-represented in the “popping out babies by differeent daddies for financial security” rackets. Black women do practice the method more for at least direct receipt government-paid subsidy, but study of black history indicates this to be for adaptation, not racial proclivity: Before the social structure made the method utile as a survival option, when unemployment of black males was low, the practice was not favored by blacks, study of listed reasons for slave runaway indicate. Then the most common reason for runaway was to maintain family “nuclearity”, and what little disparity between black and white cohesions in families was documentable appears to have been precipitated by greed, financial embarrassment, bankruptcy, etc. rather than personal or racial proclivities. With high black unemployment the practice of the woman obtaining subsidy increased, with the interesting correlation that often the black women supported their men with the received subsidies, evidencing the practice an adaptation to the high unemployment condition. Until, at least, politicians sought to slay imaginary social dragons with imaginary coercive solutions, making rules to prohibit males living with their families when they were unemployed, when there was no employment, making employment being more difficult than making rules. That forced males to move between households to provide proof of not living with their wives and children, to not jeopardize those dependents’ welfares. This adaptation caused male-female pairings to be temporary and caused women’s successive children to be serially fathered by serial partner fathers.

    The social benefit of this coercion of adaptation was to instigate equality in black and white family life, providing black women the opportunities that the white culture’s women’s serial polyandry provides to them. In serial polyandry white women pop out babies like pez dispensers by popping through marriages and divorces, each marriage producing babies with differing fathers, each divorce providing“welfare every month and their housing and food paid for” to the woman and child of each father. the means being an Obama-Care like “child-support” system, the welfare etc. of each serial marriage produced child being provided by government/law coerced subsidization payments the employed white fathers of each child are ordered to pay. you can see that the only significant difference between the black and the white practices is the black, for black fathers’ difficulties maintaining employments, being “single-payer”, while the white, for white fathers having better employment prospects, being “free-market” coercion of the individuals. As noted, and as you can see, like Obama-Care.

    The inequality has been in the method of the financing. This inequality between the races, as we are seeing today, is being erased by the socially responsible corporate practice of off-shoring the jobs and industries that made milking white fathers for the costs of keeping their ex-wives and ex-children feasible. Today, with those jobs gone growing numbers of white women and their pez-popped children are finding their ways to single-payer government welfare subsidization, equal with black women and their children. White fathers are still behind their black counterparts in floating from woman to woman for feeding and sheltering adaptation, but those appears to be primarily for those falling behind in the “free-market” being given housing in jails, in sixty-day stints, for child-support payment defaultings.

    The wheels of social engineering are slow, but being powered by political stupidity, an extremely powerful force, they are sure, and, until they destroy themselves by destroying their societies, are unstoppable, so the social evolutions they force are sure, continuous and predictable…

    • John Casper says:

      Evangelista,

      You wrote, “White fathers are still behind their black counterparts in floating from woman to woman for feeding and sheltering adaptation, but those appears to be primarily for those falling behind in the “free-market” being given housing in jails, in sixty-day stints, for child-support payment defaultings(sic).”

      How many children have you sired?

      By how many women?

      How many child-support payments have you missed?

      How much time have you spent in jail?

    • Ed Walker says:

      Check out the links in the footnote **. That’s taken from from a WpPo article by an excellent reporter.

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