Letter to the Thistle

Meet Mr. Gingrich, Welfare Pimp

Mr Myrie,
	I decided to accept your invitation to comment on the article
you authored in the last issue of the Thistle ("Visions of Queens in
Cadillacs"). While I agreed with much of what you said, I was
disappointed to see that you accept the same framework for discussion
that Democrats and Republicans subscribe to when they discuss "welfare
reform." In particular, I'm disturbed by your uncritical acceptance of
the Orwellian usage of the terms "entitlement" and "welfare" which
refers only to the pennies given to poor people while excluding
massive entitlements and welfare to the rich. You state that "welfare
is an amalgamation of programs used to secure the members of a society
from the ravages of poverty." Maybe, but its primary function is to
ensure that rich white people living in Newt Gingrich suburbs can
continue feeding happily at the public trough, while lecturing the
rest of us about family values and the work ethic.
	For example, households that make under $10,000 a year receive
60% of the "welfare" provided to those with incomes over $100,000,
when we consider direct benefits and tax breaks together (as we
should-an extra hundred bucks in your pay check isn't any different
than a hundred off your rent). In fact, according to the New York
Times, total payments to the poor "add up to less than the three
largest tax breaks that benefit the middle class and the wealthy:
deductions for retirement plans, home mortgage interest and the
exemption of health-insurance premiums that companies pay for their
employees." And this excludes public subsidies to US corporations in
the name of "defense," "jobs," or any other familiar Orwellism for
fattening the rich. Even excluding the $280 billion Pentagon budget,
the numbers are (or should be) outrageous; for example, the cattle,
fossil fuel, timber and real estate industries alone will get $110
billion in tax subsidies over the next 5 years. Exxon will get $35
billion to explore offshore natural gas fields. So who's really the
welfare queen?
	Next time they come around to cut that ninety dollar monthly
AFDC child support payment, tell them that you appreciate the concern
that taxpayers are getting ripped off by welfare recipients, and point
them to Exxon, Lockheed, Sunkist, MIT, and Cobb County, Georgia. As
long as we let these hypocrites define the debate, we'll be laboring
on their plantation for a long time to come.

Kaissa Adé

Editor's note: Part 2 of Sheldon Myrie's series on "welfare reform"
will appear in the next regular issue of the Thistle.  

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