Maybe Dependency Doesn't Empower Dems?

Do Americans hate being forced into dependency, and vote their disgust?

Buried deep in a disheartening article from a far-left newsletter to which we dutifully subscribe so you don't have to, we tripped over the most stunning, optimistic, heart-gladdening bit of news we've encountered in - well, we can't remember how long.  Brace yourself for a most unusual Scragged article, presenting a sign pointing firmly towards a return to American values and independence in a way that may be difficult to imagine.

The Logical Thesis of Dependency

For decades, conservatives have fretted over increasing government dependency.  Most government welfare programs were claimed to provide only minimum assistance to people who truly could not help themselves - the aged, the disabled, and single mothers in the days when mothers didn't customarily work outside the home.  Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security and relief programs may have had ulterior political motives, but they were claimed to be humane attempts to make the world a less harsh and unforgiving place.

In a way they worked, though it's hard to properly assign credit.  It's a fact that nobody starves to death in the United States no matter how old or disabled.  Despite lefty complaints, almost nobody dies from untreated medical conditions.  Yes, it's possible though rare to die from a combination of ill health, refusal to seek assistance, and incompetence at filling out forms, but it is illegal for hospitals to chuck out the dying indigent, and mostly they don't try.

However, these programs seem to have created a problem not foreseen by FDR or his contemporaries.  Rather than being a temporary safety net until people could get back on their feet, government programs have become a way of life for countless millions of Americas, even multiple generations.  There are inner-city children today who don't know anyone who works for a living, have no relatives who ever had, no friends with working relatives - basically, no connection to the world of productive labor and no clue how to enter it.  That's why Newt Gingrich's suggestion that welfare kids be paid to clean their schools, while harsh-sounding, has a practical and rational basis.

It seems obvious that people aren't going to vote to get rid of programs that they themselves benefit from.  What welfare mother would ever vote to end the welfare check she receives?  So of course the welfare rolls vote unanimously Democrat; and it follows, therefore, that as welfare rolls increase so will the Democratic vote total.

Thus our despondency over news that nearly half of American households get a check from Uncle Sugar; shove that number up by just a couple of percentage points and conservatism is doomed.  Turkeys don't vote for Thanksgiving, welfare moms don't vote for welfare cuts, and a nation that all gets welfare will never give it up no matter what as we see in Greece.

Unless... Just possibly, there really is something to all that outdated talk of American exceptionalism that's so out-of-style in this Obama era.

When Logic Contradicts Reality, Reality Wins... We Hope

Thus the seminal importance of this New York Times article "Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It," proudly promulgated by far-left online propaganda aggregator Truthout.  The socialist editors of this site must have gleefully read the first few paragraphs of the article, overjoyed to hear of working small-business Americans who can't make it without government assistance and thus presumably are a rich vein of Democratic big-government votes.

They must not have gotten past the first page.  If they had, they'd have discovered a shocking reason to bury this article in the deepest, darkest hole they could find - facts which, in contrast, should make us stand up and cheer.  Quoth none other than the New York Times - and you should be sitting down when you read this:

Dean P. Lacy, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College, has identified a twist on that theme in American politics over the last generation. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates.

Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. And Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues.  [emphasis added]

Read that over again carefully.  What Prof. Lacy is saying is the exact opposite of what logic and political argument would have you believe and which we ourselves believed without question until just now.  Sure, there are those who happily take a government check and couldn't care less about its source or consequences, but overall, widespread government dependence breeds resentment of big government.

We're written on this point before, arguing that it's unhealthy for our middle class to be so attached to tax credits that are simply inefficient refunds of their own forcibly-extracted tax dollars.  Of course, that doesn't stop your humble correspondent from claiming the mortgage interest deduction or anything else; we've never heard of anyone refusing tax credits on general principle and can't imagine doing so ourselves.

That doesn't matter, according to Prof. Lacy.  Individual Americans may accept whatever government benefits they can get their mitts on, but when the time comes to vote, they vote their disgust and unhappiness with being forced to suck the government teat.

What's more, as the article says, "Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues."  Black, white, male, female, married, single; collectively, this pattern is clear and overwhelming.  Americans, once they get trapped into government dependency, loathe it and despise the party that promised them the seductive addiction.

And, of course, the more dependency Democrats create, the fewer states there will be which pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.  So by Prof. Lacy's analysis, the fewer blue states there will be - just in time for what really might be the most important election in our lifetimes.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

I see where Petrarch makes reference to inner city children. When someone does that the image that I have is a very negative image that pops up in my mind. That the large cities of America are in trouble comes as no surprise when you consider all of the government interference. There is rent control which keeps the landlords from raising the rents which causes the buildings to limp along with just minimal repairs. The tenants are getting something for nothing. These tenants can't make enough to pay their way out of the run down areas of the big cities. It is a vicious cycle. If they would only give the free market a chance everyone would benefit except of course those who are so totally ruined by the nanny system that they can't be saved. What I think needs to happen is to do away with rent control, the teachers unions, and all taxes that are collected in the city area. The needed revenue would come from the sales tax on goods and services. Most of the people in the run down areas would find it necessary to move out of town. That's ok because what is going to happen to all of the jobs that they had to leave behind? The law of supply and demand will kick in and the people will have to commute back to the city and be paid more money than before. I doubt that prices would change very much one way or the other, all that is going on in my scenario is the free market doing what it does best, that is to properly assign a value to a product or a job. The people that had to move out of the city would make more money, they could take better care of their kids and live in a better home. I think that crime would also go down considerably with the blighted neighborhoods eradicated. I'm not saying that there would be no crime but to a lesser degree. I have nothing to back this statement up by any study but it seems to be common sense to me. The big cities have cesspools inside them and the cesspools seem to be getting larger and there is nothing no one wants to do about it. Politicians, being the gutless wonders that they are, would run over their own mother for someone's vote. If we could turn around our 10 largest cities the rest of the country would follow their example. The solution once again, no taxes, no rent control, no teachers unions. Problem solved, glad I could help. Bassboat

February 15, 2012 2:54 PM

Looks like Krugman read the article and is desperately trying to explain away its findings.

February 17, 2012 11:11 AM
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