I am Dependent on the Government…

… for road and park maintenance; schools for my children; police, fire, and military protection; licensing of motor vehicle operators and other public safety measures; enforcement of contracts and the peaceful equality mediated by our court system, etc.  And so is Mitt Romney. So is the Republican base…

Unlike Mitt Romney, however, I depend on the government for health insurance, and my family also recently enrolled in WIC, one of several food stamp programs offered by the government.  WIC allows us to receive certain especially nutritious foods like lentil beans and infant formula for free from area supermarkets, and this keeps us in the black when it comes to monthly expenses. There is a stigma associated with being enrolled in programs like MassHealth and WIC, even if there is not a stigma associated with using I-95, having a driver’s license, or enjoying the benefits of police protection.

Unlike Mitt Romney, my current income from three jobs – freelance Japanese to English translation, a Teaching Fellowship in General Chemistry, and weekends spent working as a waiter – plus one volunteer position at a local hospital – is just not enough to support my family in the situation in which we’ve found ourselves. The fact that I’m taking classes on top of this means that even if there were more lucrative employment opportunities available to me, I’ve hit a ceiling in terms of how much time I can spend collecting riches. Government support right now is the only thing that’s letting my family and I continue upward mobility; government support right now is the only thing that’s allowing me to continue taking the classes that will eventually allow me to become a doctor. After extensive training, I’ll be in a position to give back.

Mitt Romney’s business background is impressive. I’m sure he understands economics and can work well with American business interests.

But for all Mitt Romney’s finance background, he fails to understand the welfare state as an investment.

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103 thoughts on “I am Dependent on the Government…

  1. There is a stigma associated with being enrolled in programs like MassHealth and WIC, even if there is not a stigma associated with using I-95, having a driver’s license, or enjoying the benefits of police protection.

    I think this is what Jason was talking about when he said, “The current level of stigma is probably too high”.

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    • No, it’s not.

      The government provides public goods — like roads — because by definition, public goods are those from which non-payers can’t easily be excluded. Most roads fall into this category. If you want public goods to exist in a society, you will need either to rely on voluntary contributions by well-intentioned philanthropists — or, in the case of most things, like roads and national defense, you’ll need to rely on taxes.

      I TAKE NO SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE WITH THIS PROCESS.

      I mean, it would be nice if we could fund all that good stuff voluntarily, or if we found some new form of social technology that helped collect payments only from those who were capable of paying and had no good excuse not to. But that’s not the world we live in, so it’s ultimately just wishful thinking, along with a caution that we should keep an eye out for opportunities to economize or to privatize in some equitable manner. For the most part, though, public goods stay where they are.

      Income support is not a public good. It doesn’t meet the definition, because it’s actually rather easy to exclude nonpayers from it. We may supply other justifications for this service being performed by the government, but public goods will not do.

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        • But between funding roads with a gas tax and toll roads what is the operational difference before the electric car? One could move to a mileage tax and it would be the same difference. Of course the powers that be have a bad case of best is the enemy of good enough here. They want wizbangs to charge different rates at different times, but I say that you state your mileage when you renew the car license and pay the fee needed. Then its the same as a toll road.

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        • Because no one’s answered this very easy question, I’ll step in. Those people pay gas taxes for the roads. Good enough by me.

          Also, the point of financing public goods isn’t to squeeze as much money out of as many people as possible. It’s to have public goods. If some people are still free riders on those public goods, it’s often not a terrible loss.

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          • Jason, I think I would find your view on social stigma (which I largely agree with) even more compelling if you applied it to free riders of any kind. To me it seems obvious that Mitt Romney taking advantage of our strong currency, contract laws, business protection, etc. and then shuttling his earnings into off-shore accounts could (depending on the specifics) be stigmatized much more-so than Chris Carr taking advantage of WIC so that he can eventually become a doctor. Is this what you meant when you wrote “The moral obligations of said rich people being, ultimately, aimed at helping others to help themselves.” ? Because here you seem to be excluding public goods from the social stigma.

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      • I don’t think there’s such a black and whit distinction between what is a public good and what is not. Let’s take five theoretical goods: the military, a highway system, health care, Fulbright Fellowships, and corn subsidies.

        I think we’d all agree, whether or not we support military engagement or not, that the military is just about the ideal example of a public good, provided its engagement are exclusively abroad. The military exists to protect the borders of the nation and to advance the nation’s interests abroad. As such, the military advantages everybody equally. In this sense it is a public good. Fulbright Fellowship and corn subsidies on the other hand are designed with specific targets – young scholars and agribusiness – that comprise a very very small percentage of the public. Goods like health care and roads probably fall between these two extremes in terms of theoretical public goods.

        However, the reality is a lot different. Military spending gives advantages to special interests: Lockhead Martin for instance, whereas Fulbright Fellowships have fairly unquantifiable positive externalities that equally benefit all Americans by, for instance, increasing our soft power abroad or broadening our understanding of the world at home by osmosis.

        It’s not as cut and dried as you propose here, and what I propose is that, if we start thinking about welfare as an investment with potential positive externalities for society, we can have a more intelligent conversation about the welfare state than that currently occurring within the Republican Party.

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  2. I recall years in grad school making next to nothing. I’m an engineer and had more access to assistanceships and better-paying intern positions, so while things were tight, they were never quite that bad (of course, I didn’t have kids at the time – I can’t image how you manage financially or timewise). However, after years of being one of the ‘moochers’ who didn’t make enough to pay Federal income tax, I’m now paying a lot more than I would have otherwise, so your point is well taken.

    The one thing I’d disagree with is the idea that Romney’s business background is impressive or that he understands economics. He made a lot of money. That much is true, but it was made in what essentially boils down to a legal version of a con game – finding some ‘marks’ to sweet talk into handing you money and another set to swindle so you can show the first set a profit. Maybe that’s essentially Wall Street anymore, bit it isn’t sound or sustainable business.

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      • A lot of people who understand finance think they understand economics.

        Gawd that’s so true.

        Thing is, a lot of regular folks (who vote) don’t have a sophisticated grasp of either. And frankly, a whole lot of folks who thought they understood finance and the rules of investment ended up flat on their arses in ’08 with nothing left but a WTF? look on their faces to show for it.

        Me, I know a little about finance. Enough to know that as I’ve ever come to learn more … I felt like I knew less. And far too little for comfort. (Maybe that’s just part of the whole “getting older” thing.) For sure, the more I read up on economics, post ’08, the more I’m sure that I know next to nothing about economics.

        I have no problem living with that truth.
        My education, my talents, my expertise, and most importantly my joys lie elsewhere. In this regard, I bet I’m a good example of most of the voting public. I mean, we can’t all be an Andrew Gelman or a Paul Krugman. Or even a Pat Cahalan.

        My [albeit painfully stretched] point: most voters rely less upon the nuts and bolts of economic policy, but what direction seems to make the most sense in terms of said policy. All things being equal, what makes “sense” to me doesn’t necessarily make sense to my neighbor.

        That said, I readily concede that the libertarian ideal of economic policy is, comparatively, much more simple. I understand the lure of it. Much like I understand the lure of religion.

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        • I’m hardly an awesome economist. I’m a systems guy. That means I understand economics in a way that most economists don’t. This is a drawback *at least* as often as it is an advantage.

          It does make it relatively easy for me to spot people who understand microeconomics but not macroeconomics, though. Finance guys usually are pretty good microeconomics guys who think this gives them an insight into macroeconomics, but most of them probably didn’t do well in macro in college.

          “Oh, I don’t need to know that stuff anyway, there’s no real world application!”

          (10 years pass)

          “My 10 years as a market insider gives me uniquely valuable insight into monetary policy!”

          (Dude, didn’t you tell me one night while we were both loaded in college that you nearly failed macroeconomics?)

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          • I’m hardly an awesome economist. I’m a systems guy. That means I understand economics in a way that most economists don’t.

            That was, more or less, the point that I stumbled to make. Not the first time I’ve ever been accused of being too subtle. :)

            For personal reasons not all that pertinent to dwell upon much less outline here, I am guilty of placing way too much faith –yes, faith is an appropriate term– in the authority of UChicago economics. I’m hardly the only sucker, and I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to make me feel better about our current economic straights.

            My head was already churning, but if there was ever a specific turning point for me, it was Greenspan’s mea culpa.

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  3. This is a really interesting take, Chris. I think there is a tendency to see government support as a one way street… the government gives it out but receives nothing in return. Even staunch advocates tend to frame the benefits to the government solely in terms of fewer bodies in the street.

    But a lot of people, people like yourself, use these supports as a type of investment. The government is investing in you, helping you so that you can continue to be a productive member of society, so that you can improve yourself, so that you can one day free yourself of the need of many of those supports and instead position yourself as someone able to offer support. This is not the reality for all recipients, but likely more than we realize. Thank you for this.

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  4. … for road and park maintenance; schools for my children; police, fire, and military protection; licensing of motor vehicle operators and other public safety measures; enforcement of contracts and the peaceful equality mediated by our court system, etc.

    Yes, because the government has crowded out private industry for most of these.

    How much further do you think your income would go if so much money was not being taken from you through numerous taxes? Maybe you would not need to rely on the state to provide your beans and formula.

    Maybe if you had more ability to select your health insurance, you could afford to purchase one the fits your needs instead of the sort of one-size-fits-all plan offered through most employers. Are plans in your state required to cover things like acupuncture or homeopathy? Are low-cost, high deductible plans available to you?

    Would you prefer to keep the money spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or are you happy to have given up the money you could have used to feed your family to support these actions?

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    • 15% of our medical costs in this country are WASTE, mostly due to having to employ people to manage the intricacies of all the medical plans. And you think MORE PLANS will help?

      Acupuncture is a well-tested medical phenomenon, as tested by western medical practices (including stabbing people in places that aren’t acupuncture loci to test placebo effects). Please do not denigrate something that WORKS because it looks a little like things that don’t.

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      • I was dealing with his reliance on the government for insurance. I was not trying to propose an ideal health care system. I do believe that the ability to choose what is covered, and not pay for procedures that an individual does not believe they would use, would reduce the cost of insurance.

        I made no claim as to the effectiveness of acupuncture, I just threw it out because I think I have read it as required coverage, and it was one I assumed the writer was unlikely to use.

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        • Bitching about not using sham acupuncture noted and approved of by yours truly.
          Doesn’t fix the fact that you have a decent number of real studies being done with sham acupuncture that are finding results above placebos.
          (my quick google just pulled one on migraines from Canada).

          It’s alright to be skeptical, but you’re overstating your skepticism, which does you little good, as it undermines your bonafides.

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          • Kimmi, you motivated me to go look up that Canadian study, and it perfectly illustrates what I was talking about. It does have sham controls, plus a large sample and good statistical analysis, and it fails to show any effect of acupuncture on the primary outcome. They did find some weak differences in the secondary outcomes, but because the study was not fully blinded, those could easily be due to placebo effects. Also, they confounded their results by using a second treatment (electrical stimulation) simultaneous with the acupuncture.
            I’m not an expert on the acupuncture literature, which is why I referred you to a more authoritative source, but this study fits the typical pattern for the papers I have seen–poorly designed studies sometimes show weak effects that are best explained as placebo, while more rigorously designed studies show no effects. I’m reflecting the scientific/medical consensus here, this isn’t just my personal opinion. Not trying to show off any skepticism bona fides, I’m just an experienced working biologist who has seen a lot of poorly done science in my time and who hates to see people waste their money on quackery.

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            • Everybody ought to do a costbenefit analysis. I’d say we could make a pretty good ethical argument that a quack-cure (placebo) that works is probably better than morphine (highly addictive, possibility of overdose).

              Appreciate your analysis, but the source you’re quoting does not seem to be medical consensus.

              This seems a good deal more reliable: http://images.dieutridau.com/thongtin/detai/acupuncture-does-it.pdf

              Yes for neck pain, no for a couple other things. And raising a good deal of “what the fuck”. Which is fair.

              Remember the whole thing about snake oil (aka seasnake oil actually effective, rattlesnake oil definitely not), and I think we can maybe recognize that some things may work despite whatever reasoning their practitioners give.

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              • Actually, the Ernst paper IS part of what I was referring to, and is included in the evaluations I linked to, i.e. it is part of the consensus. Remember that if you look at enough studies, you expect to get an occasional false positive result, even if all the studies were very well done. The review indicates that there is some evidence that certain kinds of acupuncture MIGHT help certain kinds of neck pain or might not, and that it pretty clearly doesn’t help with anything else that has been tested. Also, the choice for neck pain isn’t usually acupuncture vs. morphine, it’s acupuncture vs. a range of other treatments that are at least as safe as acupuncture and that are better supported as effective. A cost-benefit analysis would indicate that we should stay away from acupuncture because 1) for most of the relevant conditions, there are effective treatments that are reasonably safe, 2) acupuncture can occasionally cause serious complications or death, and 3) acupuncture costs a lot more than some other placebos. Wearing your lucky T shirt is just as effective, and much, much cheaper!

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    • Maybe the government “crowded out” the private sector because the private sector was not providing the citizens with the results they wanted?

      Can you give us some examples of :
      “road and park maintenance; schools for my children; police, fire, and military protection; licensing of motor vehicle operators and other public safety measures; enforcement of contracts and the peaceful equality mediated by our court system, etc.”
      where a well-functioning private sector delivery was “crowded out” by government effort?

      In my reading of history, all these things used to be done privately, but were poorly done, or only available to a tiny segment of society.

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        • I can never tell if I’m supposed to be a libertarian because people are basically evil and we shouldn’t trust them to positions of power in government, or that people are basically reallyreally good and would always engage in mutually beneficial transactions, even purely altruistic ones, if not for government getting in the way.

          {{{I know, that’s a cheap shot. But still…}}}

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      • Or only available in ‘company towns’ where you got them as long as you didn’t mind being essentially an indentured servant (if not a virtual slave) owned by the private sector interest providing them.

        I’m just fine with the public sector crowding that out..

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      • That’s a pretty tall order, when what the people want is government services subsidized by someone else. The government will always be better at delivering what the average citizen wants at a price he wants, because it doesn’t have to worry about pesky little things like convincing people to give them money voluntarily.

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        • Let’s not forget that EVERYONE pays some form of taxes. This conversation often seems to drift to moochers getting something for nothing. Property tax (including that passed on through rent), sales tax, gas tax, state, county, and town taxes, corporate taxes passed down to the consumer, etc. All taxes. So, yes, some folks will get some services for less than what it ought to cost, but let’s not act as if they contribute nothing.

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  5. “CRS report: number of able-bodied adults on food stamps doubled after Obama suspended work requirement”

    No offense, Christopher. As a matter of fact, by working 20+ hours a week [we assume], none of this applies to you.

    Congressional Research Service report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106346145/CRS-Memo-ABAWD

    News story: http://washingtonexaminer.com/crs-report-number-of-able-bodied-adults-on-food-stamps-doubled-after-obama-suspended-work-requirement/article/2508430#.UFn-IrJlSpq

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  6. Maybe if you had more ability to select your health insurance, you could afford to purchase one the fits your needs instead of the sort of one-size-fits-all plan offered through most employers.

    Given that Christopher appears to live in MA, thanks to RomneyCare, yes he can select from a variety of plans available through the Commonwealth Health Connector. However, it sounds like he is eligible for (and participates in) MassHealth, Massachusetts’ combined Medicaid and SCHIP program.

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  7. For every Christpher Carr working their ass off to get ahead and using Uncle Sam as a shoulder to lean on, how many people are gaming the system and collecting money to do nothing (or remain voluntarily under-employed)? For me thet core disagreement between Left and Right is this: Assuming the ratio is 1:2 between temporary assistance and longterm moochers, is this acceptable? Does the latter group represent the cost of helping the former and if so, is it worth it? If we support two moochers but we get a Dr.Carr out of the deal, was that money well-spent?

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    • Why are you assuming the ratio is so high? Based on your statement it seems to me the difference between the left and the right is that the left believes that most people are good and the right believes most people are evil.

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    • MD-

      First, I think that is a bit of a false dilemma.

      Second, I think it assumes that there is a singular way to contribute to society.

      Bearing in mind both these contentions… suppose a mother of four opts to remain a stay-at-home mom and collects government assistance because her partner’s salary is not enough to meet there needs. As a stay-at-home mom, she can ensure her kids get breakfast in the morning, sees them off to school, is home when they return, can supervise homework, and otherwise perform the many parental duties that she would A) be unable to provide if she was working and B) which have a tangible impact on her kids’ long term outcome. Her choice greatly increases the likelihood that they stay in school, go to college, avoid criminal or gang activity, and themselves avoid needing government assistance as adults. She remains on government assistance for the 24 years between the birth of her first child and the high school graduation of her fourth. Is she a moocher? How do we factor in the impact she had on her children? While we can’t say with any certainty that her kids WOULD have been on assistance without her home or will never be on assistance because she was, we can at least give her partial credit, right?

      All that being said, I don’t know that I’d consider a 1:2 acceptable. I’d really need to know a lot more about the programs. In the abstract, I am on board with having certain conditions tied to government assistance. Lifetime caps, temporal limits, work requirements, etc. would all be reasonable mechanisms to limit the problems offered here, if implemented reasonably.

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      • hmm… I have somewhat less sympathy for the scenario you posit when it’s stated in terms of ‘doing what’s best for her children’. The majority of mothers working outside the home, who pay into the system she’s using, don’t have that option.

        Otoh, with 4 children, the cost of childcare is likely to make it impossible for her to find a job that would make working a net gain in terms of income. However, it would make sense for her to stay home until the kids were in grade school and then get at least a part time job with hours corresponding to when they are in school (My family was never on public assistance, but this is what my mother did so there would be extra income to put away for college).

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        • What of families, like the ones near me, that are called on by their faith to procreate regularly and for women to stay home with the children? My county has the largest percentage of folks on welfare and largest percentage living below the poverty line. This is largely because of a Orthodox Jewish sect that fits that profile. Are these observent women, mothers of (on average) seven to eight kids, who have zero intention to work, and observent men, fathers of (on average) seven to eight kids, who generally take low-wage jobs working for the Temple or community itself through arms of the Temple… Are they mooches?

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          • Technically they are moochers, even in Israel. By definition they will bankrupt societies once they reach the requisite critical mass. There is no escaping this math. The “Right” worries about this outcome far more than the “Left” does. When the Right brings it up the Left screams, “You’re killing the poor and helpless”. Meanwhile the train is heading for the same cliff as before but both non-conductors of said train can feel good that they “did something” about it. The Galts of the world want to get off that train. They are vilified for it.

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            • I use these families as an example not because I find their use of government assistance any more or less objectionable, but because the use of the term “mooches” is sucha value laden term. It assigns intentions that are largely unknowable. My hunch is these families would practice their faith regardless of the availability of government assistance. They’d likely have a different standard of living (not that their current one is particularly high), but they’d still probably take the same course of action. That they take advantage of GA to provide a better standard of living for their family while following their religion hardly seems like “mooching” to me.

              My point is not that we should give religious folks a free pass, but that we should avoid tossing around terms such as “moocher” when we know little of an individual’s circumstances or intention.

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          • A nice counterexample to this is the Amish. Like Orthodox Jews, the Amish procreate quite freely, but choose to remain outside of any government system, including the welfare state.

            That said, it seems as though the term moocher is thrown around pretty freely in regard to people who just want to eat. Does anyone really believe that the welfare system is that laden with people whose lifelong goal is to remain idle and produce children?

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          • If they are using the system to make people who don’t share their faith subsidize their practice, then I think ‘mooches’ might not be the worst term. (Really. Not the worst. You should hear what the Jewish, but decidedly non-Orthodox, side of my family thinks of them). My biggest problem with them is that they seem to think everyone should be happy that we’re supporting them because they’re so terribly righteous. Erg.

            That said, any mother of 7-8 kids works. Just not for money. I also feel bad for the kids (esp. the girls). You can’t help what family you’re born into and they shouldn’t be stuck in the opening scene to ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’ just because of their parents’ religious views.

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    • How about the opposite scenario? What if the ratio is 2:1, or (more likely) 100:1?

      I say 100:1 is more likely simply because of the types of people I know who have had to turn to WIC, food stamps, etc. They tend to be either students or military (we don’t pay enlisted very much and a lot of military families wind up using WIC just like Mr. Carr).

      Also, I think someone should ask Mr. Romney your question but phrase it: If we support two moochers but we get a _George Romney_ out of the deal, was that money well-spent?

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    • My question is, by what criteria are we to separate out the legitimate users of the safety net (e.g., the hardworking future Dr. Carr and his family) from the moochers?

      Nearly everyone I talk to objects to people abusing the social safety net. This includes liberals, although they are reluctant to point to specific individuals and identify them as “cheaters” in most cases.

      Nearly everyone I talk to likes the idea of a social safety net being there for people who use it for the purposes for which it was intended. Conservatives too and even some self-identified libertarians (they’re a little more grudging, but they will say that given that social welfare programs exist at all, “legitimate” users offend them less than cheaters).

      So in principle, there is very broad consensus that a social welfare system should be there for people who need it, but not for people who abuse it. What is “abuse?” How do we, on the outside, look into particular cases and see that the person receiving social welfare benefits is doing so in good faith or not?

      I think that coming up with objective rules to determine this in advance of an examination of any particular case is a dauntingly difficult, if not impossible, task.

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      • I think that coming up with objective rules to determine this in advance of an examination of any particular case is a dauntingly difficult, if not impossible, task.

        Agreed. Let’s suppose that it is impossible, and refining a methodology for determining what constitutes a “good faith” request for aid is hopeless. That means we’re accepting that the system will quite likely contain some graft.

        Is there a level of graft (say, in percentage of illegitimate claims) beyond which the libertarian/conservative/liberal would agree to scrap the whole program because it’s too costly?

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        • Conservative/libertarian: They’re all moochers. Forget about what ratio would be legitimate, it will always be 100% moochers, so close the whole program.

          Liberal: No matter how many moochers there are, if even one person benefits we need to keep the program going.

          There, the strawmen are out of the way. Nobody else needs to use them.

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          • But it’s a difficult question to answer, no? I tried. 30% graft? 50% graft? What about that little old lady who will freeze to death, alone, in the dead of winter, without those subsidies…?

            I don’t like any answer, actually. And that’s pretty much your point. My view actually might be the strawman view.

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            • Oh, I wasn’t mocking you, Stillwater. I agree it’s a difficult question to answer, which is why I wanted to mock the strawmen up front, so we could dispense with the chickenshit avoidance tactic of criticizing a simplistic answer the other side wouldn’t actually give, and get to a focus on the difficulty of a serious answer–for any side.

              And then you have to go and blow it by accepting the strawman. Thanks a lot. Seriously, though, I think you feel a temptation to the strawman that you wouldn’t actually put into practice. At some point you’d say, “this program obviously isn’t working; let’s shut it down and try something different.” Or at least, “let’s drastically revamp it.”

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    • Okay.
      We have moochers:
      1) Mr. Mooch runs a small time farm. He’s not terribly good at it, and makes a decent profit one year in five. The rest, he’s on food stamps so his kids have a decent source of meat most of the year…
      2) Your Standard Variety Welfare Mom. Her husband works, she supervises their five kids (religious obligation fulfilled in SPADES). adn they glare at me for walking down the road in shorts.
      3) Off-again on again monogamous Mom: has a life-partner, he’s in and out of jail (never pays taxes, never on anyone’s books whatever he’s doing). She works, some, when her kids aren’t sick. Sometimes loses jobs because they’re sick. but a mooch. she’s not terribly good for her kids, and they sometimes get neglected because she’s depressed a lot.

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    • For every Chrisotpher Carr working their ass off to get ahead and using Uncle Sam as a shoulder to lean on, how many people are gaming the system and collecting money to do nothing (or remain voluntarily under-employed)?

      Mike,

      I imagine it’s a combination of people who work very, very hard, people who work very hard, people who work hard, people who work not so hard, and people who don’t work at all. I imagine that sometimes it shifts and sometimes the hard worker loses his or her job and sometimes the very very hard waged worker might decide, along with Kazyy’s example, to spend more time in non-waged work. Perhaps even people who work as hard as Christopher could conceivably get a fourth job by quitting school. And perhaps some people are just figuring out what to do with their life while on the taxpayer’s dole while others have given up from the learned helplessness the system has led them to. And others are just cynically lazy, laughing at the taxpayers.

      My point is, it’s probably not a ratio or 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, or 50:1. It’s probably something more like a spectrum. Manifold individual circumstances are caught up in in a handful of government support programs that have to draw lines somewhere and end up defining some people as deserving or undeserving, or qualified or unqualified.

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  8. you obviously know more about your financial situation than i do, but i think loans while in medical school could cover quite a bit of your situation without need for direct gov’tal assistance.

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      • Of course you did. Both of my kids had to get co-signers for their non-gov subsidized loans, which they still needed even after scholarships and grants and a college trust left to them by their paternal grandmother.

        Which meant me. What would my kids have done if I hadn’t been an “acceptable” co-signor?

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    • Well sure thing, but I’m not in medical school yet. I have to apply and get in, and, once I’m in, I plan on joining the military as a medical officer in training. I don’t know if there are any student loans for part-time postbacc students. Personally I know a lot of people who have dropped the program for financial reasons, and I don’t want to become one of those people. Given the choice to drop the program or to temporarily accept government assistance that is designed for people like me, I choose to accept assistance from the government.

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  9. i have noticed-in fact took out a substantial amount of loans for graduate school myself recently. while as a student, i would’ve probly been eligible for government assistance of some sort, the shame referenced by Mr. Kuznicki kept me from getting them.

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    • If it were just me, shame would probably keep me from applying for government assistance. I’d probably greatly simplify my life, spend less on food, forego any sort of weekend outings or travel, and just work all the time, but I do have a family now, and I don’t think that they should have to share my shame. I’m mostly taking government assistance because I don’t want my family to be affected by our circumstances. I’m not ashamed of this.

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    • It’s a reasonable avenue to explore. Of my four children, three of them antedate our present circumstances and one was conceived shortly thereafter when we were of a more optimistic mindset. Even so, I don’t think people on welfare should feel any sort of pressure to not have children. All children in public schools receive special assistance from the government.

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  10. I have felt this way, too. I receive Medicaid on a Katie Beckett income Waiver for my kid with disabilities. This means no matter what insurance I get, my kid can get stuff like medical equipment, ramps, babysitters, etc. This frees us up to be entrepreneurial. If philosophy doesn’t work out, which is very likely, opening a business is a serious consideration. We cannot open a business without the Medicaid waiver or the ACA guarantee about coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    IIRC, Jason specified able-bodied. We are able-bodied, but accept government help for our non able-bodied kid. Not sure he meant us. But I have felt how in our case taking a government handout would be a spur to work, not a discouragement.

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