That line in the title, the one lifted from Mel Brookes’s “History of the World Pt I” sums up so much of the political-economic narrative in the United States. We worship at the altar of acquisition and those that fail to show their faith by having more wealth, more income and more status are heathens to be reviled. If you are poor in this country it is a moral failure on your part, and if you are wealthy it is because you are pure, hard working and have “character.” Any one who challenges that narrative is engaging in class warfare. Never mind that we are already in class warfare, and only one side is suffering casualties.
Nothing in public policy debate drives this, and the upper class’s almost magical power to turn the lower classes on each other, home like the debate about drug testing welfare recipients. “I have to get drug tested for work” the logic goes “so why shouldn’t they get tested for the money they get.” Leaving aside the obvious answer (your boss has you drug tested so he knows you won’t frig up your work, it’s kind of hard to frig up public assistance) how about because their lives are already pretty crappy?
There is a persistent myth bandied about that folks on welfare sit back and enjoy all manner of luxuries. There is also a sick, sad mindset that not being forced to live in a closet, having a refrigerator (seriously) and not having to eat gruel every night is a luxury. Oh, and let us not forget that ever present meme that those on welfare would rather not work so of course they deserve whatever lousy life they have.
Let’s get back to the drug testing question though. I can think of one really good reason to test welfare recipients: to make sure they get treatment. Substance abuse is a disease. You wouldn’t tell someone with terminal cancer that can’t work that you are cutting of their welfare and medicaid would you? Well, some of you would, and you really have to take a good hard look in the mirror if that is the case. Some of you wouldn’t call addiction a disease. I have unfortunately known people like this. It would be comical if they did not want their “seasonal affective disorder”, their “obsessive compulsive disorder” and their “attention deficit disorder” recognized by their employers. Don’t get me wrong, those are all valid psychological problems recognized by the APA and, in the extreme cases where it affects your ability to work, Social Services. Mind you, addiction is also recognized by the APA, but I guess that doesn’t fit in with folks’ internal dialogue supporting their superiority to addicts.
Ultimately though I think it is pointless to argue why addicts should be allowed to stay on welfare, despite the many good reasons (get them treatment, keep them from crime, keep them from being a public health hazard, plain-old-fashioned compassion) because ultimately that is not the point. The point is that you have to stop being such tools! I am sorry, but harsh medicine is needed.
You have to stop jumping every time the main stream media, bought and paid for by the moneyed interests in this country, say “frog.” You drool like Pavlov’s dog whenever they say “food stamps”, “welfare”, “drugs”, “terrorists”, or “class warfare.” You have to do this because if you don’t stop, if you keep letting them set us at each other, there is going to be real trouble in this country. I know not all the wealthy are bad, but there is, at the very least, a small and very motivated bunch that get us to act against our best interest, which includes victimizing the most vulnerable in our society. Their peers that don’t share their views do little to nothing because they have no concept of what it is like to be poor, to know what it is like to choose between a doctors bill, a mortgage or groceries. We all do, however, and the only power we have is each other. The puppeteers know that, and will do everything they can to keep us from realizing that and the best tool they have for that is us. Don’t be a tool.