Teaching English is a pretty cool job. But it’s probably not the job most people think it is. In a perfect world, every day of teaching English would be about giving inspirational speeches while making students jump up on top of their desks. Really though my fondest dream as an English Teacher is to make sure none of my students posts any stupid arguments to Facebook. Yes… I really do tell them this on the first day of class. That’s my goal. That’s what I’m looking for.
It may not seem like much, but honestly, when I take a look at my own Facebook newsfeed, it honestly feels impossible.
The latest ridiculous thing that I’ve seen making the rounds is this article people have been forwarding written by some guy named “John Tabb” (which may or may not be his real name) which talks about “The Key to Success for Those Who Are Inheriting America in 13 Easy Steps!” The article argues that social welfare programs under Obama have created a loophole wherein a couple can game the system and make $75,000 a year off the tax payers and live on easy street on a nice steady diet of government cheese. Except they never really use the term government cheese, because that’s a 1980s insult, and in the 21st century, the going line is that those who are gaming the welfare system are living off a steady diet of steak and seafood. I actually first saw this article when my mother posted it a few days ago just to complain about how stupid it was. You know, I can’t count how many times back when I was growing up on welfare and living in our Section 8 duplex we had people over for ribeye and lobster. Oh yeah, the good old days. So yeah, I mostly ignored it at first because “how the hell could anyone be so stupid as to believe this shit?”
Sadly, apparently I know people who are so stupid as to believe this shit. I’ve now seen the article posted to my newsfeed (unironically) three times. Apparently, it’s making the rounds in the conservative blog sites (and even some actual papers — ones that don’t bother to proofread or fact check) — the same people who think that it’s a great idea to drug-test welfare recipients (hint, it’s not, drug testing is expensive and the states that have done it have spent more money than they saved).
Look, here’s the deal… I’m ridiculously liberal. That’s no secret. I’m not a democrat; I find them too right-wing. Depending on how crazy I feel when I wake up on a given day, I’m a socialist, anarchist or nihilist. I get that not everyone is like me. For the rest of the world, I don’t care whether you’re liberal or conservative. I don’t really care where my students fall politically either. All I care about is that you aren’t stupid. My number one requirement when I teach is very simple. THINK about what you are saying!
So let’s take a look at Tabb’s “13 steps”:
First, a guy (presumably the new American way of life is only open to men because the new American way is a lot like the old one) gets a girlfriend, then gets her pregnant, twice.
1. Don’t marry her.
2. Use your mom’s address to receive your mail.
3. The guy buys a house.
4. Guy rents out house to his girl girlfriend who has 2 of his kids.
5. Section 8 will pay $900 a month for a 3 bedroom home.
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so guy doesn’t have to pay for family insurance.
7. Being a single mother, Girlfriend gets to go to college for free!
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps
9. Girlfriend gets free cell phone from US Government
10. Girlfriend get free utilities.
11. Guy moves into home but still uses mom’s house to receive mail.
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and guy claims one kid on taxes. Now you both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit.
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being “crazy” or having a “bad back” at $1,800 a month and never has to work again.This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people.
A married couple with a stay at home mom yields $0 dollars. An unmarried couple with stay at home mom nets $21,600 disability + $10,800 free housing + $6,000 free Obamacare + $6,000 free food + $4,800 free utilities + $6,000 Pell Grant money to spend + $12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell Grant + $8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother = $75,000 a year in benefits.
And then he goes on to blame our $18 trillion-dollar debt on the half of the population that is on total government assistance while the responsible taxpayers foot the bill and calls for electing people who will fix this problem.
Ok, let’s break this down. First and foremost, I’d like to point out that there are at least fourteen steps, and not thirteen. And more like sixteen. But apparently the steps of getting a girlfriend and knocking her up, twice are “setup” and not “steps.” But whatever, we’re America. We’re not big on math.
Anyway, basically the first five steps and step 11 are an attempt to game Section 8. You know, totally legally, like millions of people are doing. You know, all the millions of people on Section 8 whose homes are actually owned by their boyfriends? I mean, sure, there are only 1,275,000 Section 8 slots in America. But again… you know… math… Obviously all of them own the houses they are renting… There ought to be a law to keep them from “perfectly legally executing this system.” Which there is… It’s fraud. That’s why step 11 is there in the first place. Tabb even knows it’s illegal. Also, Section 8 doesn’t actually pay for your entire rent and utilities (step 10). You have to contribute (on average, it’s like 30%) Sure, the boyfriend could just pretend his girlfriend is paying her share and not collect… but again… fraud, which it turns out the government is not so big on. You also can’t just sign up for Section 8. Like I said, there are only a 1.275M slots, and they’re all taken. There’s a huge waiting list… and then there’s actually a waiting list to get on the waiting list. Right now, it actually takes years. So good luck paying for that mortgage for the house that you’re not living in while you wait for the government to send money to your girlfriend and kids. So don’t count on the $10,800 in housing money anytime soon. If you’re lucky you might be able to collect a few times before the kids graduate.
Six is a strike against Obamacare… WHICH DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. You don’t just get free healthcare. You never have. It’s POSSIBLE to get it for free, if you’re really poor or really sick, but that’s actually really hard and takes a long time. Ask my mother, who is diabetic and permanently disabled by Multiple Sclerosis how easy it is actually get free healthcare… or even get the government to approve disability. Good luck getting someone to give you SSI for claiming a bad back. Having diagnosed MS from a doctor takes YEARS to get approved. You may die in the meantime. So hold off on that $21,600 in disability for now too (step 13). Also, you can’t really count the healthcare as “income” even if you somehow qualify, because you never get it. It goes right to the insurance company, just like when your job pays for your insurance. So that’s out too.
I’m not sure why he thinks that single mothers get to go to college for free. I think he’s confusing how Pell grants work. They’re actually available to anyone who qualifies. Of course, the tuition isn’t really income because you don’t get that money either; the school does. And it’s not automatically the maximum; it’s based on how much the school costs. If you have other financial aid, you do get a refund that you can use to spend, but the laws governing Pell grants say that you’re only allowed to spend that money on education related expenses, and you have to be enrolled in a full-time degree program to get the max. So, if you can find a college that is around $12,000 a year (the maximum grant is actually $11,460 … but math is hard), and win some other scholarship to cover part of that, then if you really want to enroll in 12 hours of college, plus however much studying you have to do to maintain the scholarship that allows you your refund all to avoid a 40/hr work week in order to make a few hundred dollars a year that you’re only allowed to spend on books… go for it. There is no extra $6000 in spending money from Pell grants. He just made that up. It’s not even in his steps.
The government does NOT give away free cellphones (step 9). There’s a law that says cell phone companies have to offer some sort of discount plan to poor people, but it doesn’t come from tax money and it doesn’t say how much. It just turns out all the major cell phone companies happen to have free plans. They’re really shitty plans on shitty phones, but they’re there. But Tabb forgot to count that in his tabulation anyway (because math is hard) so no harm no foul.
You can decide with your girlfriend to split which person claims which kid on their taxes. Only in doing so and then having your girlfriend claim both kids for section 8 and food stamp purposes, you’ve now committed tax fraud as well, so the IRS is going to love that. But I’m sure that’s totally worth it for an $1,800 tax credit. Except Tabb’s not smart enough to know how tax credits work. It’s not a check the government sends you, it’s an add on to your deduction. Which means you never actually get the money, it just lowers your income bracket for calculating your taxes. Which are zero anyway, because not officially having an income is the whole point of this exercise. So, I guess if you want to commit tax fraud for the hell of it…. go for it.
The good news is, the food stamp thing is totally real! That’s money in your pocket! Well, your girlfriend’s pocket… but women don’t count because this is America, remember? It’s a little less than you thought, because food stamps are based on a scale that is determined on case by case basis, but the maximum for a family of three would be $486/month, not $600… but you know how we feel about math, right? And of course, you’re only allowed to spend it on food, and there’s no real way around that since it only works at supermarkets… well except laundering them, but that’s illegal too, and would be at a loss.
So that’s not a bad deal! $5,832 in food stamps per year to feed your family of four, while you commit constant fraud in hopes of one day getting a sweet kickback of section 8 money that you’re committing more fraud in order to obtain. And in the meantime, all you have to do is find someway to pay for the mortgage that you’re using for this elaborate scam! It’s no wonder 160million of the 320million people in America are doing this (somehow with the 1.275 million Section 8 slots).
He’s right, we should totally end the Section 8 program. It would save the tax payers $13.77billion a year! .39% of the budget! Just think, if we sink all of that into the $18trillion national debt, we’ll pay the whole thing off in only 1,307 years! I’m sold!
Of course, I mean, I’m a genius. I can’t expect Tabb to know all of that. I mean, it took me almost five whole minutes of googling to get all of that information. Far more research than I can expect a hard-working man like him to do when publishing an article. Apparently, it’s also more than I can expect out of random people in my Facebook timeline. Hopefully, it’s not more than I can expect of my students.