A coworker of mine (who, thankfully, I don't actually have to interact with) seems to be quite conservative in his political views. His cubicle is next to mine, so I am able to eavesdrop when he has political conversations. Yesterday (which, by the time I actually got around to publishing this post, was three weeks ago) was one of those days. My attention was grabbed when he said something about how "people are going to have to accept reality." That was ironic, since he has said things in the past to suggest he is an Anthropogenic Global Warming denier.
The irony didn't stop there, to no surprise. At this point, I must pause to say that I am getting posts out of order. I've been meaning to respond to Mitt Romney's 47% comments (and now his "gifts" comment), but have not done so. Some of the things I am about to say should have links to reference my sources. I'm linking things in that other post, so watch for that later. (Update: Ehh...so I'm getting quite lazy about this whole blogging thing. That post is bound to never show up.) As you can figure out, my cubicle neighbor was spouting off similar comments.
At the time, I found it frustrating. Honestly, I felt that way for a few hours. Then I considered how immoral it all was. Those thoughts helped turn that frown upside down! I think there are a lot of people, such as myself, who see the hideousness of the conservative propaganda when we realize that the means conservatives propose don't match the claimed goal. Eventually, we can conclude that the conservatives may not be sincere with what they claim those goals to be.
There are many problems with this. One being that a lot of that safety net money goes to states that tend to vote Republican. It should be the other way around. (Sure, Republicans could claim that it must be all the people who vote Democratic in their state that receive that money, but I don't buy it. This is in part because Social Security and Medicare make up a lot of that "moocher" money, which goes to senior citizens who tend to vote Republican. And it fails to explain why the states with larger numbers of liberal voters aren't bigger on the "moocher" money.) The biggest problem is that this is simply a lie. Now, I grant that there are indeed people who do live off the "government dole," as he put it. I have met such people***. But they seem to be a small minority. There are a number of people who do work, but don't earn enough to make a living.
Take some time to grab a calculator if you need, and let's do some math! Currently, federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Let's say you work 40 hours per week at that wage. In a year's time, you will make $7.25/hour * 40 hours/week * 52 weeks/year which amounts to a whopping $15,080/year. Apparently, this is near the 2012 poverty guideline for a household of two, but... Damn. That's not a lot of money****. And what if you were a single parent making that wage? You'd be living in poverty and you would qualify for that dole money. Similarly, if we talk about people who are getting by on unemployment, I have heard the average unemployment benefits are just under $300 per week. At a full year, that again is only about $15,000. Who's going to be chilling on a hammock making that?
So the conservative propaganda begins by painting a picture that does not match reality. This in itself could be forgiven if the conservative were willing to be educated on what life really is like for those supposedly mooching on the dole. But it gets worse. I sometimes hear conservatives demand that people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (as Steven Colbert often says to satirize conservative ideology), but they then take away a person's bootstraps! I wrote above about the minimum wage. You could be trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, but if the best job you can get (if you can get one at all) only pays that minimum wage, that is going to be extra difficult. Wouldn't it help if the minimum wage were higher? Yet, conservatives tend to be against increasing the minimum wage or sometimes even having a minimum wage. (Admittedly, I do not know the views of my coworker on this issue.) I could perhaps forgive this, too, if the argument were that people need to demand better wages for themselves instead of having the government set wages for them. Well, one of the best ways to do this is to form unions. But guess what? Conservatives tend to be against unions, too!
This is the hideousness of conservatism. If a poor person receives any government assistance, they are considered a moocher and are told to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. But then conservatives turn around and make that task more difficult! It's as though they don't really want these people to pick themselves up at all. That, my reader, is the immorality of conservatism. I think there are a lot of people out there that have picked up on this. Unfortunately, it may be because so many have been impacted directly by this immorality.
* This should have been the first clue that their ideology is immoral. Calling poor people lazy is their way of justifying their ideology. They realize that it is immoral not to help people, so they have to paint the picture that these poor people don't actually want help to explain why they won't help.
** When originally telling my wife this story, I claimed he said it was a cot. My memory is thus not completely reliable. But I find it safe to conclude that he must have either said or intended to say hammock.
*** And I wouldn't necessarily call what they do "living." For those who truly are living on the dole, it's not the cozy lifestyle of relaxing in a hammock that he implies.
**** It is important to consider, too, that this guy is a senior engineer...been with the company for years. I don't know exactly which level he is at, but it looks like he could be making anywhere from $63,800 to $142,100. I expect his earnings would be more in the middle of that. So here is this guy perhaps making $100,000 a year (plus he has health care!) calling the people who make $15,000 a year (who may not have health care) moochers. Fuck that shit.