So we’ve all read the entire New York Times 1619 Project on the history of U.S. capitalism, right?
Well, maybe once the kids are back in school. In the meantime, a couple of shorter pieces guide us to one simple truth …
A safety net and smart government spending help hard-working people.
Start with the myths about the U.S. safety net. We’ve heard it for decades. The dog whistle-heavy takes on “welfare queens,” full of implicit racism that has given rise to more explicit racism. The idea that the rich people put their money to better use than poor people.
And the idea that “billions and billions and trillions” (Orrin Hatch apparently channeling Carl Sagan) are spent solely on people who would rather rely on the federal government than work.
The first of these myths is reprehensible. The second is simply comical, especially given the prevalence of corporate welfare.
The last myth is a convenient untruth. As the safety net myths piece (by law professor and low-income issue research Michele Gilman) points out:
At least one adult in more than half of SNAP-recipient households are working. …
As for Medicaid, nearly 80 percent of adults receiving Medicaid live in families where someone works, and more than half are working themselves. …
Welfare — officially called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — has required work as a condition of eligibility since then-President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law in 1996. …
Why? Because lower-income workers are busy spending money on things like “houses” and “food.”
Also because, while CEO pay has grown 940% since 1978, worker compensation has grown only 12% (source: Economic Policy Institute), even as the cost of housing skyrockets.
One of the communities being hit hardest by all these myths and misunderstandings is one that is considered the backbone of “red states” …
Who are losing money on their farms. They have to have “off-farm” jobs to make ends meet.
Yes, we’ve essentially turned farmers into volunteers.
We specialize in good news here, so here it is: The solutions are finally gaining traction, among everyone from think tanks to Democratic candidates.
So if you think safety nets and government programs are going only to “welfare queens,” think again. We already subsidize a lot of farmers. Now it’s time to do it more intelligently, for the benefit of farmers as well as everyone who benefits from smart maintenance of the world’s resources.
In other words, everyone who eats.