Kudos to Nona Willis Aronowitz and the sharp folks at GOOD Magazine for shedding light on a study that half of Americans who get government aid swear they don’t. You read that right folks — the very same people who receive Medicare and even welfare benefits, for crying out loud, deny that they benefit from government aid and keep right on repeating those anti-government conservative talking points. As if we needed any more evidence that we have entered a Twilight Zone-esque universe of anti-logic.
Here’s the chart from the Cornell study:
Half of people getting federal student loans don’t think they’ve ever used a government social program. Forty percent of Medicare recipients have no idea their health insurance is funded by the state. And 25 percent of the people receiving that emblem of All That Is Bad About Big Government, welfare, don’t connect that paycheck to the “enemy.” Given the fact that one in six Americans use anti-poverty programs alone, there’s a hell of a lot of people who are deluded about how much the government helps them out.
Aronowitz rightly argues the point isn’t (just) that these folks are hypocrites (though they are) but the larger cultural and political implications of a mindset that government help is about them not us. Part of the conservative attack on public spending and entitlement programs is to race bait the debate and suggest that only poor black people get help from government, when in fact government is overwhelmingly controlled by and manipulated for the benefit of wealthy white CEOs and big business. But even old grandmas and new entrepreneurs benefit from government.
In fact, I’d challenge anyone to come up with an example of supposedly individual success in America that didn’t benefit in some way from collective, government infrastructure. Go ahead, try me.
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