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On Stupid Arguments, Welfare Reform and the Myth of Ghetto Faboulous

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”:

(if that is in fact his real name)

“New American Way of Life” by John Tabb

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.

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87 comments for “On Stupid Arguments, Welfare Reform and the Myth of Ghetto Faboulous

  1. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Kristin Oltman, so my friend Chris wrote this post so I don’t have to.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:06 am

      You take my FB too seriously 🙂 Besides the Bernie Sanders stuff. I’m very serious about that !

  2. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I love this plan. She has to be willing to go through childbirth twice before you can even start. Heaven knows nothing will happen to break the happy couple up during that time. I’m not going to take 5 minutes to google this (lazy me), but I imagine we’re looking at a minimum of 18-19 months to decide to begin the pre-plan steps, during which this big payoff isn’t happening yet.

    No pressure. The stress-free, blissful life in the “given” part will make you two closer and patient.

  3. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 3:24 am

    Thank you for responding to this article so well. How did you do it without having a stroke from the sheer anger in your heart? I nearly died when I read it.

  4. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Thank you! I’ve been inundated with this Idiocrasy. I have a rare, incurable, progressive autoimmune disease. I was fortunate to have worked for 24 years before I was unable to continue. Therefore I qualified for SSD (which I paid into for 24 years). But, I was denied, had to hire an attorney & am lucky enough to get less than 1/2 of my previous salary. Yeah, it’s a sweet deal.

  5. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 4:12 am

    That, sir, was brilliant.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 4:54 am

      No it wasn’t. But I do love how people on the left love to kiss one another’s asses. THAT is truly amusing.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:05 am

      No, he’s right. I’m brilliant.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:05 am

      Not so much LOL

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:05 am

      But it’s ok to think that. I am sure it puts a smile on your face.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:06 am

      Uh…sure.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:09 am

      You seemed happy at your cleverness when you finished the post, so I am basing my assumption of glee on that.

      I am not interested in another tiresome debate today, but I don’t like to bitch without some context.

      I found there to be many flaws in both the source material and your analysis. So, no, I do not find either to be “brilliant”. Amusing maybe, but as usual not very insightful.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:11 am

      well, it really doesn’t help your case to argue “you’re wrong, but I don’t feel like saying why…. But trust me you’re wrong”

      So the rest of us are just going to go with I’m brilliant.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:38 am

      Good plan.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:51 am

      That’s quite alright, Vic. I wasn’t really talking to you, so your opinion on my assessment is irrelevant. However, in the interest of being civil, I find the article to be personable, well reasoned, and persuasive without being overly antagonistic or divisive. It exists as a counter-argument to the original post and nothing else, with obvious stylistic flourishes. Agreement with the perspective it presents is unnecessary to enjoying it on its own terms.
      I’m assuming you don’t agree that their aren’t people gaming the welfare system. There are. They are not the majority. Perhaps you’re thinking “just because you don’t think people act that way, but that doesn’t mean they don’t” (or not…i don’t really care what you actually think…) and that’s true, but Mav’s sharing of his and his mother’s experiences- which I can verify, since we grew up together and all – presents definitive proof that the average person is not trying to game the system.
      Perhaps you just don’t like the tone of his argument OR that he doesn’t cite his sources for his point by point rebuttal. The latter…ok, yeah, good call there…but the former sounds like a personal problem. I don’t have the slightest bit of interest in your personal problems. In fact, I’m only reponding to this because it lets me procrastinate from doing what I have to do today which you don’t care about.

      So, to conclude, a little leftist, liberal cultural advice: don’t step in the middle of grown people’s conversations. Its, at best, rude.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:02 am

      As with most of Mav’s “arguments”, not that I really frame this as an argument, the issue is not with the opinion, but rather the presumed righteousness of that opinion.

      As is the case with what you just posted. But I don’t take advice from leftist liberals on matters of culture, so your opinion on my assessment is irrelevant as well. See how easy it is to be dismissive?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:03 am

      George: I actually did link to some of the sources throughout the article on the blog, (you’re reading on Facebook, so they don’t carry over)… but admittedly, I did stop about halfway through, because I got bored with it, and because, as I said, they’re pretty easy to just google.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:06 am

      Vic: that’s the real issue I have with you. You just said it “I don’t take advice from leftist liberals on matters of culture.”

      Your objection isn’t to my sources or even my argument, but the assumption that I must be wrong because I’m leftist. But as I said, I’m not even leftist… That’s not accurate. I’m not even on the chart, dude. And I admitted that in the post.

      BUT, I’m not actually making a leftist argument. At no point do I in the entire post. That was intentional. My argument here is based purely on being able to do multiplication based on actual numbers which it took me 5 minutes to get from the Pell Grant and Section 8 websites.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:15 am

      It’s interesting to see Vic admit that he cares more about what group a speaker is in than what that speaker has to say.

      Listen to an argument? Evaluate the merits? Not when it’s a LIBERAL talking, gosh darn it.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:16 am

      Yes, I do, Vic. Which is why I fail to see why you bothered to reply to my initial comment in the first place…

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:16 am

      And you left out just enough context to support your position, which happens quite a bit. I did not dispute your math, nor your assessment of the flaws in the original post.

      You pointed out the obvious and used personal experience to validate your findings. So all I stated was that to me, this was not very insightful. No where did I dispute your ability to form an opinion, or your reasons for doing so.

      I don’t value opinion based on ideology. Left/Right/Otherwise. I find the far left and the far right to be equally obtuse when trying to present a position from some sort of middle ground. Both sides will resort to being dismissive without actually addressing any counterpoints.

      In this instance. I did not make any response to the numbers. I know, from research on the subject that both the original article and your response aren’t quite telling the whole story, which was my only real comment on this post.

      You aren’t “wrong” because you are leftist. You aren’t “wrong” at all, To me you were being disingenuous, as was the original post. Nothing more.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:18 am

      What did he leave out, Vic?

      Seven replies in you can’t really hide behind “not interested in another tiresome debate” anymore, so it’s time to put up or shut up.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:31 am

      I left out no context. I actually added more than was necessary, I identified my political leanings and the background of my socioeconomic upbringing. Neither of which are actually relevant to the math based argument, but were provided purely to lend ethos (and humor) to the article.

      There are no opinions here. That was intentional… that argument would have been an entirely different article and not what I was going for. This is an article about MATH. Pure and simple. At no point do I ever says whether or not subsidized housing is even a good idea.

      That said, since you brought it up… let me make something clear. I don’t based my “opinions” on culture on ideology. My political leanings don’t figure into it. It’s actually they exact opposite. The reason I am as “liberal” as I am is because I’ve spent so much time actually studying culture. Knowing how things work has made me as crazy as I am…. well, that and being crazy.

      You don’t have to like it, but I am an expert on culture. I just am. I have two giant sheets of paper that literally says so hanging in my living room. I’m working on getting a third giant sheet of paper that says so. You may not respect what those entail… and in fact I may not always be right… I’m probably wrong a lot…. but I am an expert.

      That said, I have no problem with arguing with the experts, no matter who you are. After I tell my students on the first day that my goal is to make them never write a shitty Facebook post ever again, I encourage them to question everything people say, including myself. To make themselves a part of the conversation.

      One of my best students ever was extremely politically conservative. She said so herself on the introductory letter I make them write on the first day of class. The reason she was a good student is that she learned how to make GOOD arguments for her beliefs based on good evidence and proper use of rhetoric in her writing. I disagreed with a lot of her opinions, but she got an A because that’s what i teach… how to make arguments well. She was a 17 year old girl (she’s probably 19 or 20 now) and she would have NEVER, even on the first day turned in something as problematic as what Tabb wrote here.

      Key point, for instance: Tabb never actually addresses the welfare system. That’s actually a much stronger argument that he could have gotten much better numbers for. But he left them out. So I did too… Addressing the Section 8 numbers alone, with a couple of token and factually incorrect points about ACA, Pell Grants and the way the IRS works was just bad arguing. There isn’t enough there to prove his points. Especially when the actual data is readily available.

      So what he wrote is the kind of argument that would have gotten a poor grade in my class, not because of the context of what he wrote, but the way in which he wrote it. My freshman would have done a much better job.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:44 am

      That’s all well and good, Vic. But your critique of the writing isn’t the actual issue. Its not like your first comment isn’t still at the top of this.

      Your problem was asskissing leftists, right? That kind of makes your assertion that you don’t evaluate opinions based on ideology an outright falsehood, particularly when you’ve nothing to base that assumption on. My claim of being left-leaning came afterwards remember?

      If you’re going to troll, commit to it.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I stand by that comment as well. The fact that I am constantly amazed by the level of self aggrandizing by ideologues of all political/social persuasions has little to do with my overall assessment of the post. Everyone is a fucking genius when it comes to posting opinion. Oh, wait excuse me, EDUCATED opinions…

      No, I did not find Chris’s assessment of an “article” written for some ridiculously obscure partisan website to be all that insightful. I don’t think that because I view liberalism as the domain of fucktards. I think hard core conservatives are scraping the bottom of the barrel as well.

      I think that because, in an attempt to say something clever, which is presented in a way that hints at satire(but is actually rooted in a deeply flawed ideology), he failed to point out some key points in regards to the subject at hand. Things that would not have altered his overall take on the piece, yet would have added a bit more to the discussion than “him stoopid, me smart…”

      What both the original author and Chris seemed to have missed is the sad truth of how the entitlement system ACTUALLY works. At all income levels.

      The fact, not opinion, that someone receiving assistance is faced with a VERY difficult choice between career advancement and keeping food on the table. You see, there is a gap that occurs when someone starts to make more money than they are allowed to qualify. A certain level of income that precludes them from the help they need to keep climbing. Money that has people who want higher pay, asking for less hours, so that they can maximize their income. So more pay for less work to keep benefits that raise their standard of living.

      A system that punishes working hard and rewards people for staying right the fuck where they are. THAT is how the math works out.

      People can make more from various assistance programs than they can from working a full time job. And for those people who foolishly CHOSE to have multiple children without a means to support them, it is quite often the ONLY way they will ever be able to keep food on the table. That is a big problem, not caused by some fake article generalizing the potential abuse. No that problem is far worse than the people who would game the system, that problem is centered around those who have no CHOICE but to exist within the system.

      But hey, you people like anecdotes right? Well how about someone who worked for 10 years building a career. Gets a slight raise that adds maybe 100 dollars extra into their pay. Gets hit with a nearly 3k tax bill the next year for having the audacity to move into the next higher tax bracket.

      Now, granted, that is just a matter of making some deduction adjustments. Be smart about spending, etc, next year, you only owe 1k. But again, that isn’t the problem.

      No the problem is being told by an accountant, and realizing it to be true, that your family would be better off if you or your wife(whoever makes more money) quit their job, and you had some kids to offset the system. Work less, have children you can’t afford on your own, increase your reliance on the system.

      That’s reality. Not opinion. That is the truth. And that is what the original article, though flawed, is actually saying. The SYSTEM is broken. Forget those who are in need. Forget those who are cheating. Neither of them is responsible for a system that, at it’s core keeps people from rising above. A system with no buffer zone. No reward for people who would LOVE to move on up to that deluxe apartment.

      So I can assure you, that when I say that there was nothing insightful about Chris’s post. I damn well mean it.

      People love to justify social programs. Equality initiatives, and any number of other ideas that gloss over the core problems facing society as a means of validating their own over inflated sense of morality. Chris could have 10 fucking degrees in “culture” and he would still be mired in ideological fallacy when discussing these types of issues. He wants to point the finger at the system, yet not actually do anything ABOUT the system. Like most hard leaners, you would rather keep people divided that work towards bringing them together. Consider this post, where the overall message was more akin to ending the sisyphean task of getting from point A to point C(or D). An income level where people have escaped the cycle and are capable of not only fending for themselves but thriving.

      But I get it. That isn’t what you were saying right? Not the point you were making. Your point was about how exaggerated the original posts numbers were. There isn’t a problem because, well, numbers, right? It’s the people questioning the system that are the problem. They got it all wrong… Yeah. you sure showed them there . Those dummies don’t have a clue.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:37 am

      “But hey, you people like anecdotes right? Well how about someone who worked for 10 years building a career. Gets a slight raise that adds maybe 100 dollars extra into their pay. Gets hit with a nearly 3k tax bill the next year for having the audacity to move into the next higher tax bracket.”

      That’s not how the tax system works, Vic.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Funny, you should have told that to my accountant years ago, could have saved me some money.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Tax brackets apply to the amount of money earned *over* that threshold. They do not mean that all of your income is suddenly taxed at a higher rate.

      If that’s what your accountant told you, then you are as inept at picking accountants as you are at arguing politics.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Also. This thing where everybody else is a blinded ideologue and only the speaker is truly impartial and able to see things how they are is so, so tired. Get over yourself, man.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

      When you are married, you get taxed at a certain rate. When you pass a threshold, the money above that threshold is taxed at a greater rate. Like 10% greater. So there is an amount of joint income that pushes you into a sort of limbo, where you would, in fact be better off as a single income family, especially if you have kids. If I had made less, or my wife had made more, it would not have been an issue. But just like the people trapped at the bottom of the system. In MY case, it was harder to thrive at the level we were at and the only way to avoid this would have either been the scenario mentioned above OR a big jump from point C to say point E.

      So while I do enjoy you talking out of your ass in most instances, today I think I will pass on your nonsense.

      And please enlighten me, what is my ideology? Advocating for a more efficient system as opposed to blindly attacking a particular side? Thinking rationally as opposed to emotionally? By all means, do tell…

      Liberals want an expanded system. I think the system is fucked based on how it works today? What ideology do you think I am pushing? Fuck the poor?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Oh hey, the example changed when you were called on it. Faaaaaaascinating.

      It started off as getting a small raise and then being taxed more than the raise for “having the audacity to move into the next higher tax bracket”.

      Now there’s the difference between single and married filing. That’s a totally different situation, but I guess it wouldn’t have made such a good anecdote.

      You’re blatantly misrepresenting things here and somehow I’m the one “talking out of your ass in most instances”?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

      As for your ideology, I don’t know what it is. Unlike you, I’m not interested in putting words in the mouths of people I’m arguing with or labeling them into little boxes so I don’t have to listen to what they say.

      I do know that you seem to have a very high opinion of your own rationality and impartiality that the facts on the ground do not support. No particular part of the political spectrum has a monopoly on that kind of self-aggrandisement, though.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

      You wanted clarification, and I gave it to you. My “example” is a retelling of what actually happened, take that as you will. And I mentioned my wife as part of the equation, the fact that you ignored that aspect is irrelevant.

      What I have a high opinion of is real world application and analysis of the problems that face society. Statistics often say what people want them to say. The numbers add up differently depending on who is looking at them.

      What doesn’t change? The actual situation that people find themselves in. Someone working a retail job would have to make a lot more money to offset what they could potentially get from assistance. Thus, they find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Go to school? Work more jobs? Less time at home?

      But $5 an hour more is going to fix everything? Free education in any subject you choose? More subsidies for the needy children of people who could not afford them to begin with? That isn’t opinion. Those factors are not up for debate. How do you get someone at point A to point C?

      There is no amount of money from the system/state that will instantly take a person out of poverty. And there is little incentive to do so when the middle ground(point B) means that you are struggling to get to another place with nothing but more struggle in your future.

      But yeah, this is all about my ego. I know everything about everything. That is exactly what pointing out the flaws in what people like you advocate, LIKE YOU, not necessarily you. I think I am king shit. Fucking nonsense.

      I think no such thing. I am perfectly capable of seeing what is in front of me. Nothing more.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      No one cares.

      The points you’re trying to make are ill served by you being the one making them. Not people like you. You specifically. There’s a number of things you’ve said that I probably would agree on, but you’re an asshole and I don’t waste my time listening to assholes.

      Maybe next time come out the gate with your rebuttals, not your political disaffection and presumptions.

      Also, stop being a wuss and address the person or persons who offended you. Alternately, embrace the conservativism “no one has the right to be offended”, and apply it inwardly. Or *gasp!* start your own blog so you can talk about whatever you want to talk about and generate an audience which agrees with you.

      Really tho, your predictability is boring the crap out of me now, so I’m going to go. Feel free to have your last word.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      And thus you prove the point. Presentation is more important than substance. Something I find to be a big problem these days.

      I could have been more judicious, but really, what would have been the point? Platitudes from people like you? Um, no thanks.

      I responded to YOUR comment based on my mood at the time as well as my opinion of the post. I felt that my feelings on the matter where quite clear.

      I have a blog. And about 30 unfinished drafts. Because I don’t have my voice just yet. I don’t want to address people who agree, I want debate with those who don’t.

      I despise liberal ideology, even more so than I do religious dogma. But to incite true discussion, one must temper the words, and that is not where I am at, my mindset is too aggressive. Of that I am fully aware.

      You seem to presume a level of giving a fuck on my end that simply does not exist. As appears to be the case with you. So yay! We have something in common.

      Bottom line. I shudder when I see posts like this. Not because I begrudge him for his opinion. No, my disdain comes purely at the thought of this type of mindset being taught to the youth. Maybe Chris is more even handed in his lessons. Maybe not. But here in a public forum, I see no issue with challenging anything and everything people choose to present.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      so I’ve been away for a few hours. I’m going to catch up before I reply to anything.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Ok, caught up. Looks like this is mostly George and Nat vs. Vic. No surprise. I’lll hit the issues out of order.

      For fun, I’ll even use a rhetorical analysis, the assignment that I gave my students today using terms of first year/freshman composition and rhetoric textbook that I teach out of, mostly because Vic called into question how I treat my students. Since George likes citations, my works cited here will primarily be from this source:

      Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. _Everything’s an Argument: With Readings_. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. Print.

      —–

      First the tax bracket issue: This is a text book straw man fallacy(86). This is a deflection tactic. ASSUMING Vic was right about how income tax brackets work, the struggles of someone who’s tax bracket was raised has nothing to do with the issue of Section 8 abuse. It’s simply an argument that Vic feels more comfortable attacking, so he equates it to the main argument to take it down. But since neither I, nor any of the people in the thread were arguing that, it’s a wasted effort.

      That said, Vic is actually wrong about how tax brackets work, pretty much as Nat pointed out. Turns out I’m not a tax accountant though, so I actually don’t have the credibility to speak authoritatively here. Neither do Nat or Vic. So, since I happened to be discussing tax law in relation to the actual post with one just a few hours ago, I’ll just tag Liz Winslow Schartman here and if she’s nice enough, she’ll come over and explain why getting a $100 raise alone doesn’t get you a $3000 tax penalty.

      Ok, now there’s the question of why the tax story matters. The anecdote was an attempt to create pathos (33-36), which is actually a very good idea when making an argument over ideology. So here I actually disagree with George. It failed because Vic’s story was contextually unrelated and because his example was factually wrong, but the idea was solid.

      Where Vic misses the boat is on blaming my initial argument on me and the original author, Tabb, “missing the sad truth about how the system actually works.” I didn’t miss it. I don’t think he did either. We’re just not talking about it because that’s not the topic at hand. This is the fallacy of the Red Herring (87). The conversation at hand was not about the makeup and efficiency of the system or it’s morality. It was about the numbers and whether or not they amounted to a burden on the national budget and whether or not they were viable as a means of abuse in the manner that Tabb described. He says they are, I say they aren’t. Clearly he and I are ideologically opposed but what neither Tabb nor I did was use our own ideologies in our analysis. Instead, we both resorted to the use of logos, specifically the analysis of facts and figures as evidence (62). He presented his and I refuted them with mine. Vic is actually correct. Obviously, our respective ideologies influenced our writing the posts in the first place, but neither of us made an ideological argument. He attempted to step beyond his and “factually” prove his point, so I decided to do so with mine in the same arena. What Vic is doing here is the equivalent of Tabb arguing that LaBron James is clearly better than Michael Jordan because he won a championship more recently, me coming back and saying no, Jordan is better because he won more championships, and Vic coming in and saying “the real issue is the discrepancy between the shot clocks in the NCAA and the NBA.” It’s not even like he’s arguing “hey, what about Kobe and Bird?” he’s literally taking a completely orthogonal argument and trying to tie it in.

      I framed my argument with a narrative about my students specifically to backhandedly identify myself as an academic and add a slight bit of credibility or ethos (50) to the argument without making it *about* my academic background. I am signally to the audience that I am aware of the ideological arguments that I could make but choosing to ignore them. Moreover, I identified my political leanings so as to make no mistake which side, ideologically, I fell on, for the context of the this argument, even though I didn’t make the argument ideologically thus building further ethos (52). In doing so, this allowed me to utilize the subtle bits of pathos I did use (for instance the mention of my mother’s health problems) as though they were logos even though they weren’t. Here, i actually intentionally utilized a an overly sentimental appeal fallacy (77) myself in order to short circuit further analysis of the healthcare system that I frankly just didn’t feel like putting effort into at 5am this morning. Again, I did it on purpose… and it didn’t substantively change my argument, because the premise of the argument was about the section 8, not disability and Obamacare. I knew I’d get away with it, because no one would really care, and because if I wanted to, I could replace it with facts and for the most part I did because that’s not something people are directly commenting on.

      The majority of the rest of Vic’s argument comes down to dogmatism and ideology, primarily because Vic doesn’t actually know what ideology means or how it works. That’s not intended to be an insult. It’s just that ideology is a complicated concept that just gets thrown around as a buzz word. I’m not going to go too far into it, because it’s not actually covered in the freshman textbook, but suffice it to say, culturally Vic is actually “sort of” right in claiming that I didn’t step outside of my ideology. At least according to some theorists, I CAN’T, and neither can he. No one can. Other theorists claim that you can when you’re careful, as I was. But to be fair, I addressed that with my admission of affiliation in my ethos granting statement. That’s actually why i did it.

      The bigger issue is Vic’s dogmatic fallacy (80) which he consistently mixes with appeals to false authority (79). Here, Vic is illustrating what we call “egocentric” thinking. in his own words, he says that he’s rejecting any statements that come from what he calls “ideologues” because they must be wrong. I disagree with George Bush’s ideology in just about every way, but if he says “I used to be president, my daughter’s name is Jenna and the sky is blue” I won’t say “I reject that… you’re only saying those things you are a right-wing nut job.” Those things happen to all be true. Vic’s dogmatism causes him to believe that any statement he doesn’t agree with from someone who’s ideology he doesn’t agree with must be due to the difference in ideology and therefore it can’t be true. Here he falls into his final logical fallacy, faulty casualty (83).

      Again, this is actually a symptom of his egocentrism and to a lesser extent his sociocentrism. His dogmatism prevents him from having a clear critical opinion and from seeing where his opinions fail to be so. He is unable to decouple his beliefs and the arguments that he is engaging in, and through doing so assumes that everyone else is coupling them in the same way, because that’s only way his opinions can be reconciled. For instance, since he doesn’t understand cultural studies, he assumes that it must all be opinion and therefore anything I say is up for refute. It’s not, generally when I make a claim about cultural theory, I make it clear when I’m talking about my beliefs or when I’m talking about a proven theory. Most people seem to understand the difference. Egocentrism and dogmatism makes Vic say that I am doing what he actually is. It’s like when a creationist tries to argue that a scientist is wrong about the big bang because it’s “only a theory.” This is why both Nat and George found the statement that “But I don’t take advice from leftist liberals on matters of culture, so your opinion on my assessment is irrelevant as well.” to be so funny.

      —–
      to be continued…

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      … continued from previous

      The reason I went through all of this in this order is because of Vic’s final assertion:

      “Bottom line. I shudder when I see posts like this. Not because I begrudge him for his opinion. No, my disdain comes purely at the thought of this type of mindset being taught to the youth. Maybe Chris is more even handed in his lessons. Maybe not. But here in a public forum, I see no issue with challenging anything and everything people choose to present.”

      See, that’s just the thing…

      actually, before I say anything else, let me remind you(Vic)… whether you respect it or not, remember, I have a bachelors degree in creative writing and in literary and cultural studies. I have a masters degree in literary and cultural studies. Both from Carnegie Mellon. I am apparently impressive enough at doing this, that a CONSERVATIVE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY (Duquesne) accepted me into a PhD program and hired me to teach their students to write and argue better even though I make no pretense of where my personal ideologies lie. I mean, that is literally my job. And I get glowing reviews from my employers. So please, take this as an actual professional statement and not the insult that it will be easy to construe it as.

      Effective teaching of writing argument is literally teaching people to not make arguments the way Vic is (or the way Tabb is). The reasons I cited the instances from the book is that currently, 2 week into the semester, my freshman are tasked with writing rhetorical analyses. Literally they are writing papers, where they look at other people’s arguments, and pick them apart to find out what works and doesn’t work EXACTLY the way I did up there. This isn’t something *I* think, this is basic composition theory at most colleges in this country. Andrea Lunsford (who wrote the textbook we use) is one of the most renowned scholars on composition in the world, All of those citations I gave are from her INTRODUCTORY book on writing.

      Today in my class while you all were commenting I literally had my students doing this exercise I just did on a couple pieces or writing, directed at each other, by a conservative author (Keith Ablow) and a liberal author (David Badash) on gender identity among children. I actually disagree with Ablow in just about every possible way. He’s a kook. I actually agree with Badash’s point. BUT, Ablow’s argument is much stronger and stands up much better to rhetorical analysis than Badash’s does. Given the decade they grew up in, I knew the majority of my students would be more liberal leaning on their stance on transgender identity, so for that reason alone, I had them analyze arguments that leaned the other way. Because I am training them to recognize what makes for good critical arguments in prose and bad ones. THAT’S MY JOB!

      So I will close with addressing Vic directly as opposed to in the abstract: When you say:

      “I have a blog. And about 30 unfinished drafts. Because I don’t have my voice just yet. I don’t want to address people who agree, I want debate with those who don’t.”

      I agree with that. And that’s why I have never and would never block you, even though many people have asked me why on earth I don’t. I appreciate that you’re not crazy. You literally and truly do have a diametrically opposed point of view to mine. And that’s fine. In fact it’s great. in fact, because of that and the fact that you consistently are unafraid to express those views, despite being in a virtual lions den.

      In a way, it may make you the most valuable regular reader I have.

      BUT, when you say you haven’t found your voice, that’s sort of accurate (sort of, because Voice isn’t actually the right word, that refers to something else). In reality, it’s more that you fail at basic tenants of rhetorical analysis that make for better writing. I wasn’t lying before, one of the best students I’ve ever had introduced herself with an essay that said “Hi my name is ______ and the most important thing in my life is fighting for the pro-life movement because all of the unborn babies deserve a voice!” And yeah, I ideologically think that is crazy, BUT she was devoted to actually making good arguments and becoming a better writer and she did, even though she kept that viewpoint BECAUSE she learned to interpret the rhetorical truths in other people’s writing and avoid fallacies in her own. She learned that in order to write a paper she needed to write arguments that resonated and made sense and she couldn’t resort to “you disagree with me, so you’re stupid and nothing you say matters” which is pretty much where most of your arguments end up going.

  6. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 4:49 am

    Definitely have to share this…thanks for writing it, most of us were too incensed to bother debunking it ourselves.

  7. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 4:55 am

    fyi re the food stamp math: the article semi corrects itself in that it declares one gets $600/month in food stamps which comes out to $6000/year. bad math but the yearly answer is pretty close to $486 times 12

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 5:42 am

      yeah, I almost addressed that. If it it were $600/month, it would be $7200, not $6000 (math is hard) which is at least closer to $5832.

      But I don’t think they made that correction on purpose given the rest of the article, I think they just got lucky with the mistake.

      Anyway, that’s an optimum case anyway…. because that would be the maximum allotment. Most people don’t get that.

  8. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 6:16 am

    The ‘free phone’ meme kills me. Even if Obama WAS personally giving out free phones to all the poor people in the country, so what? Poor people don’t get to have phones? We want them to be able to get callbacks for job interviews and such, right?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:34 am

      If they’re too poor to get a phone they should be applying for jobs with smoke signals, the way god intended.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:35 am

      “Hey look, I got the job! Wait… no… forest fire. Fuck!”

  9. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 6:30 am

    Step 7 is the most confusing to me. Why would you go to college, even for free, if you’re not intending to do your work, get a degree, and go out and get a good job?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:33 am

      because it meant being able to toss in another bunch of free money that the government moochers are grabbing.

      The funny thing is, I’m actually pretty big on the idea of “Free Education”, and the idea of “Education for education’s sake” even if it’s not to get a financial return. But that wasn’t part of Tabb’s argument so i didn’t deal with it.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Education for education’s sake is still work!

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:34 am

      yep

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Same reason you’d think “Man, how should I make easy money? PARENTING!”, I guess.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:02 am

      If you think that having multiple children as a single parent is a way of getting easy money, you truly may count yourself among history’s greatest idiots.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Yep. The combination of single-parent-going-to-college in this scheme is especially glorious. Truly the life of luxury right there.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:05 am

      and all totally legal if you forget about the fraud part!

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Everything’s legal if you don’t get caught, man.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Then there’s the bit about childcare costs while mom is taking the required full-time course load since it’ll be 6 years minimum after the first one is born before both kids are in free school (that assumes the 2 kids are born one right after another), and by then mom would’ve graduated, even if she gets grants for a master’s degree too. Unless dad is going to parent the kids rather than work, but then if he doesn’t have a job how did he get a mortgage?

  10. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 8:03 am

    As my friend JC points out, where the hell is the money for the house supposed to come from?

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Well, I’ll reply to you and JC Dinyes at once (since I assume that’s who you meant)

      realistically, obviously, it doesn’t come from anywhere, because no one is doing this. I think the assumption though is that “everyone is just milking the system” so clearly people just have money saved up… everyone knows poor people are secretly sitting on top of fortunes.

      I have no better explanation for it than that.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Oh absolutely – was just poking additional holes in the ridiculous plan. I agree, fraud happens, people game the system sometimes sure – but then there are people like that in jobs too, the ones who manage to avoid doing much of the work, etc. Just as that usually catches up to them via getting fired, those committing welfare/disability fraud usually get caught in the end and face substantial consequences.

  11. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Huh. How did you get that photo. I cut it out of the post when I was editing.

  12. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    It just showed up. I didn’t even choose it.

  13. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    That’s really the only reason I clicked on it, so keep the photo.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      heh…. that picture is on my website anyway…. originally I was going to make a different point, but i ended up dropping that part of the article. But yeah, if you’re looking for a mixture of rants and pics of hot girls, my website is probably a good way to go.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      So much for getting work done today…

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Kyle Glowacki you may want to use your non work computer for that.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      iPhone 6 for the win! Thanks for the free phone Obama!

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Probably want to drop my phone off the guest WIFI network too. 😉

  14. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Oddly enough I made a lot of the same arguments in some FB post a day or two ago when they linked in that same “newspaper clipping” image. Good on you.

  15. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Any argument of “the lazy poor are scamming welfare in mass numbers” that involves, as one of its steps, “the poor man buys a house” does not understand a lot of things about how poor folks actually live.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      I thought it was more of a (bogus) how-to for privileged young men to take advantage of gov’t programs so that he can be lazy and collect his handout check and eat lobster every day.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      Ah. That would make slightly more sense, although that’s still not how mortgages really work.

  16. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    What’s funny is when I made a few of the same arguments on the parts I knew about I even commented it would be hard to research the rest…but now I don’t have to, thanks Chris!

  17. avatar
    September 3, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Good rebuttal. I’ll have it at the ready in case anyone posts this to my feed. But I do want to point out an inaccuracy. Tax credits -are- actually money which get deducted from your tax bill and can in fact result in getting a check mailed to you if your tax credits exceed your tax obligations. His mistake is in saying that claiming dependents get you tax credits. It doesn’t. It only gets you deductions. So your net assessment of what happens when you have kids on your taxes (you only get to deduct money from your income) is correct, but you’re incorrectly identifying where he went wrong.

    • avatar
      September 3, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Yeah. I know. I overly simplified because it was 5am. I actually had that discussion with an accountant later in the day.

      You’re exactly right though. I explained what I meant correctly but used the wrong term.

  18. avatar
    pghbekka
    September 3, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Good rebuttal. On a tangentially related note: I always found government cheese to be yummier than American, since it contained actual cheese. And I’ve never met anyone making big money off their Section 8 housing, but I do know several people on waiting lists. Sometimes it’s taken as little as three years! Then, when not all of their monthly income is eaten by rent, they totes “game” the system by being able to buy those little luxuries that food stamps don’t provide for: like toilet paper, diapers and soap. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-kerr/10-things-you-cant-buy-with-food-stamps_b_5079780.html

  19. avatar
    September 4, 2015 at 1:36 am

    pghbekka commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    Good rebuttal. On a tangentially related note: I always found government cheese to be yummier than American, since it contained actual cheese. And I’ve never met anyone making big money off their Section 8 housing, but I do know several people on waiting lists. Sometimes it’s taken as little as three years! Then, when not all of their monthly income is eaten by rent, they totes “game” the system by being able to buy those little luxuries that food stamps don’t provide for: like toilet paper, diapers and soap. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-kerr/10-things-you-cant-buy-with-food-stamps_b_5079780.html

  20. avatar
    September 4, 2015 at 2:28 am

    I hate those forwards – nice to see someone eviscerate the logic AND the bad math. Because, math.

  21. avatar
    September 4, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Here I am 🙂 I’m actually not a tax accountant, but a financial accountant… but before I bore you to sleep, no, a $100 raise will never vault you into a “new tax bracket” resulting in terrible payments due. Taxation works progressively on marginal amounts of income. The extra $100 might put that extra $100 into a new tax bracket, but not the whole amount of income before it.

  22. avatar
    September 4, 2015 at 4:10 am

    @Vic – I have opinions, but in terms of this thread, I don’t really have a dog in this fight other than being anal about tax math. I’m really, really curious how *precisely* you got hit with a $3k bill on $100 more income. Did you lose deductions? Did you lose credits? Was there non-wage income that year? It is really hard to follow your argument.

  23. avatar
    January 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Self Sufficient commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    Okay, coming from somebody who’s watched an incredible amount of fraud on the system, and because I have a job that only affords to keep me in low-income neighborhoods (without any government assistance).

    I see the article by Tabb and the one written by yourself both equally as ignorant.

    Allow me to elaborate. Personally I believe the article by Tabb is an extreme representation of the fraud that’s out there most people are only collecting one portion of the 13 steps but definitely illegally. And I don’t think that the fraud is a devised plan most people who are doing it aren’t that smart.

    Now for your article. Again and extreme representation of how nobody could possibly fraudulently scam the American government system. Your best comparison was your mother possibly in the 1980s or 90s? Nobody is giving government cheese anymore or powdered milk or grits or spam. You see I grew up on these things also. Now our government gives people cash cards for which they will gladly take you to the grocery store to spend if you give them half the amount in cash.

    Since you are a teacher, I give you this social experiment to practice. Just an idea if you’d like to try it:

    Pass out an anonymous sheet for people to fill out. Ask them how many people they know that remain unmarried in order to collect more benefits specifically “only” to collect the benefits. Ask them how many people they know are collecting food stamps and selling them for cash. I’m really curious without much income and selling their food stamps how these people are eating (Facetiously intended interest!). I’m sure you can come up with several other questions of your own.

    On a side note speaking towards the drug testing for benefits. The best way to implement this is to have the person applying for benefits pay for their own test a one time fee that would cover the applicant receiving benefits for the term applied. If this person can’t pony up up front. The cost of the test can be deducted as a monthly stipend from the total term of their benefits. Would you apply if you knew you weren’t going to pass if you had to pay for it yourself? This could save money and all sorts of areas I’ll leave those to your imagination.

    However I do appreciate the conversation that both of your articles inspire and I love love love that you’re teaching children not to be stupid!

    An opinion from a truly unbiased person of the 70’s.

  24. avatar
    January 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Hi there, thanks for writing.

    I at no point said that there was NO ONE gaming the welfare system. On the contrary, I’m sure there is someone doing it somewhere. The point is more that it is not most people. It can’t be. Not because I don’t want it to be. It’s more that it’s just not economical to do so. It really isn’t. Simple math points that out, which is what I did.

    More importantly, It actually doesn’t matter if they do game the system. It just isn’t that much money. The complaints people have about welfare killing the country are wrong. The amount of money all public assistance programs added together (not just welfare and food stamps… but ALL of them, like unemployment, medicare, etc.) amount to about 6% of tax dollars collected. Since your average american pays about a 25% taxes, that means you pay 6 cents to welfare for every $4 you make… or a penny and a half on the dollar. For the part that’s under dispute, the “welfare” part, it’s even smaller. Literally, there is no reason for most of us to care EVER. That’s the real thing I was getting at.

    As for the specifics. Yes, it is certainly possible to launder EBT cards. It’s possible to launder foodstamps too. It is no where near as common as people like to complain about it being. There’s a very simple reason. It’s just not economical. Under your theory, I could take my $5832 in yearly food stamp allowance and sell it for $2900 cash. First off, WHY? Why would I do that? $5800 in food over the course of 12 months is really not the much food for a family of three. Assuming I did that, what have I gained? Nothing! I’m better off using the money just for food and collecting $2900 by recycling cans or something, because at the end of the day I STILL HAVE TO EAT. Furthermore, say I do it anyway. Why do you care? What have I cost the tax payers? Nothing! Because the amount of money available is fixed. The real reason to launder food stamps is because there are necessities that can’t be paid for with them. It’s dumb to sell your entire allotment. BUT if you need diapers, or gas in the car, or clothes, or hell… god forbid you want to do something fun like buy a pack of cigarettes or go to see the new Star Wars movie, then maybe it makes sense to trade $20 worth of EBT for $10 worth of cash. To anyone who has a problem with that? Fuck off! Remember, it’s cost the tax payers NOTHING additional.

    Your experiment for the class is invalid for what you’re using it for. It doesn’t measure anything about the actual welfare system. It measures perceptions of others about those on the welfare system. We don’t even need a classroom for that. We can just look at the internet. And in fact, news organizations do this exact poll all the time. Even assuming they know a statistically representational amount of welfare recipients, the respondents can’t speak authoritatively to WHY other people don’t get married. Maybe the people just are willing to get married. I’ve had sex with a lot of people. I married exactly one of them, and that took YEARS. I was lucky enough for none of that sex to result in a child being born, but that would not have made me want to marry any of my previous girlfriends either. How much money I have (or had at the time) has nothing to do with that.

    The drug issue is a separate thing and part of a different. But what does your solution solve? BEST case scenario, you catch the 1% of welfare recipients that the states who paid for it caught. And in doing so, you’ve now moved the onus of catching them off of the general population to the poorest people in the population, thus making it even more difficult to get out of poverty and perpetuating the need for a welfare program.

    • avatar
      January 10, 2016 at 2:13 am

      Just to let you know, this part here: “The amount of money all public assistance programs added together (not just welfare and food stamps… but ALL of them, like unemployment, medicare, etc.) amount to about 6% of tax dollars collected.” Yeah, that’s not accurate at all. You’re likely confusing discretionary federal spending with total federal spending. For example, in fiscal year 2013 (the most recent for which we have complete numbers), DHHS which includes Medicare and Medicaid was 6.4% of federal discretionary spending, but it was 33.9% of federal mandatory spending and 24.7% of total federal spending. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_United_States_federal_budget

    • avatar
      January 10, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      It’s not a question of how much of the budget goes to welfare. That’s different. The question is what percent of the individuals’s pay goes to welfare.

    • avatar
      January 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      That said, I just rechecked an it’s about 11% these days… so a little higher than I said. But what ever, it’s only barely relevant to “Self-Sufficient’s” point which is almost entirely irrelevant to mine….

      But for the sake of making the numbers work, FINE, I’ll put two pennies in the weed fund for every $100 I make instead of one.

    • avatar
      January 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      You didn’t say that number was what percentage of an individual’s pay, you said what percentage of “all tax dollars collected”. I’m not arguing against your overall point that it doesn’t matter. If I were doing that I would make a much more general argument. You seem to often jump into an assumption that anyone who points out mistakes must disagree with your overall point. All I’m doing is pointing out that you made a factual error there that you might want to avoid in the future, assuming that your goal in writing these comments is to convince people of things.

    • avatar
      January 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      And I agree that I wasn’t as clear about that as I should have been. But I don’t think I was super vague either because I wasn’t bringing that up as a retort to a specific point. It wasn’t in the original argument at all. It was a specific retort to his point, so I’m pretty sure he took it to be what I meant it to be (or he should have since he was the one who brought it up).

      That said, I do acknowledge that my number was off and that it was more vague than it could have been. I will readily acknowledge that I spend less time one comment replies than I do on the original essays. Particular 6 months after the fact.

  25. avatar
    January 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Self Sufficient commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    The intent of my statement was to show that you are both equally taking the issue to an opposite extreme. You are both equally right and equally wrong.

    The intent of the fictitious social experiment is to see how many people experience this in their daily life I think you would be surprised.

    Depending on which social class people live in they will experience and view this quite differently.

    And back to the drug testing for welfare benefits. I was under the assumption that you could view this more broadly. Example if less people apply less people are needed to process claims. And the people who truly need the benefits, people who are living clean and struggling to find steady work, would be able to obtain those benefits more easily. There are many other ways this could clean up the system. I’m not trying to make America more financially sound with this opinion. Just smarter! No reason we should carry the lazy….my personal belief they should be weeded out and forced to fend for themselves if their own family won’t help them why should the taxpayers.

    If you’re concerned about all the drug addicts out there not being able to get food or housing then maybe we can add a clause in, if they fail a drug test then the benefits they will receive will be for in house drug treatment. Paid back of course not financially but by volunteer work that they would do under supervision like Habitat for Humanity or other projects that would help pay back rather than just feeding them and allowing them to continue down their personal destructive path. We like to talk a lot about not being enablers but our government is the biggest offender.

  26. avatar
    January 9, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    I love it when people who can’t read good start commenting on old posts

  27. avatar
    January 9, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Except, I didn’t take an extreme viewpoint. I didn’t take a view on whether or not people are gaming the system or should be able to or whether or not we should even have welfare. I did, through my tone, make it pretty clear that I think the welfare system is a good idea, but even I think it needs to be overhauled. For the record, you likely wouldn’t like the overhaul that I would do because it could easily end up costing you more money, but that’s not relevant to my post either.

    The only thing I’m arguing HERE is that the original poster, “John Tabb” can’t do math and used fictitious data. Both of which are true. Therefore, if you’re basing your opinions on what said, you are perpetuating a fallacy. MY math on the other hand is solid, and my data is real. I did make a mistake in how I explained the tax code when I wrote it initially and when it was pointed out in the comments I admitted that.

    Your other points are immaterial to the discussion. First of all, it doesn’t actually matter how many people experience this in their daily lives. That’s not what I am arguing. Secondly, as I just said, your experiment doesn’t show that anyway. What your experiment shows is how many people believe they are observing this behavior in others. I don’t need to do that in a class room. I have the internet for that. In fact, this post is and of itself, a much better designed experiment to figure out what you’re asking. In order to tell, through observational data, what you think you’re proving (how many people are not getting married specifically to get better welfare benefits) I’d have to poll students with children on welfare and ask them why they choose not to get married. I’m not going to do that, because it violates about a million FERPA and IRB policies…. you know, therefore making it illegal… kinda like what Tabb (and you) are claiming the welfare recipients are doing. And more importantly, IT’S IRRELEVANT TO THE DISCUSSION.

    The only reason you care is because auspiciously you want less people on welfare. So your argument is basically “we should force those slackers to get married” which is frankly pretty reprehensible and also irrelevant because part of the reason the welfare system needs to be restructured (in MY view) is that it is dumb to penalize someone for being married. IF you are right (and my data… not my random observations, but MY ACTUAL SUPPORTABLE DATA FROM GOVERNMENT RECORDS shows you are not) then people would be avoiding marriage to the people that they love, and avoiding the stability that would bring to their families because doing so would adversely affect them financially. If this is actually as big an epidemic as you seem to believe it is, then logically welfare isn’t paying married families enough and we should INCREASE the welfare allowance because keeping it where it is would be destroying the family based fabric of our society.

    Similarly, the drug issue is a completely separate case that has nothing to do with what I said. But you’re wrong anyway. It turns out that welfare recipients test positive for illegal drug use FAR lower than the general populace. Only 1% of recipients test positive. National average is 9.4%. Every state that has done this has found that welfare recipients test lower. The HIGHEST was Oklahoma at 8%. All the others were well under 1%. Like 0.002%. This is why the states that have tried to implement it lose money. The testing is way too expensive give the amount of people you catch (which is negligible). So not matter what you lose money on it. The only question becomes who should pay that money? The tax payer or the recipient? The recipient HAS NO MONEY. That’s why they’re on welfare. So no matter what, ultimately the tax payers save no money (since the welfare recipients money comes from us anyway) and likely lose money since your idea won’t work and we’d just have to pay for testing that catches 1 out of 100 people AT BEST.

    BUT, that shouldn’t matter anyway. Because altruistically, what do you do with that data? You shut the offender off of welfare? Thus causing them to be even poorer? Which 1) raises the incidence of crime and 2) hurts the children in their family who right now are only barely scraping by on welfare. So now, in your theoretical example where you used to have two children, from a broken home, more or less starving because their druggie parents sold most of their foodstamps for 50 cents on the dollar so they could afford to buy drugs, but at least there were always some munchies in the house for them to scrounge up once the deadbeat parents passed out…. now you have those two children not even having that so they either die or turn to a life of crime! Wheee! But at least we saved the tax payers money, right? Except we didn’t because as I pointed out at best we catch 1 out 100 people and the tests are more expensive than that. So now we’ve all paid more just to make a few children from bad homes starve to death faster! Yay!!!!

    As for your final point. I’m NOT concerned about the drug addicts. Not at all. Not even a little bit. You’re the one who brought it up, not me. I only mentioned it in the original post to point out that it was immaterial to this idea. The related articles on the post even link to news stories which show why it’s a bad idea. The vast majority of the drugs that are discover are marijuana, which is likely going to be legal most places anyway. And seriously, if you’re a tax payer in this country that is worried that 1 out of 100 people who benefit from the 1 cent on the dollar that you pay in welfare taxes might be smoking a joint from time to time then you have WAY too much time on your hands.

    Me, I’ll happily donate 1 penny out of every $100 I make (because that’s what it is) to the nationwide ghetto drug fund. If someone sets up a collection, I’ll donate to it. Because if I have $100 I don’t care about a fucking penny!!!!

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