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Making Takers Out of Producers

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now, let me move on to this New York Times piece. This from February 11th. This is about the takers. I had a call in the last hour. The guy agreed with me. Obama is campaigning on the notion there are more takers than there are producers, that there are more people dependent on government than there are not, and that they will vote for whoever they think is going to keep that gravy train flowing. It doesn't matter, any other issue. It doesn't matter a whit what's happening in any other realm of American life, American politics.

And that's what they're banking on. The regime, the Democrats are clearly now thinking that we've reached a point where all they have to do is wage a campaign aimed at the takers, the dependents, in this country -- that they vastly outnumber us, the producers -- and they win. So the New York Times has a piece, February 11th by Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff: "Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It." Now, I mentioned to Snerdley after that call during the break at the top of the hour: "I'll tell you what worries me," and part of it was having read this piece. I've actually had it in the Stack here for a couple of days. "I think that there are a lot of middle-class people who now believe that the deck is so stacked against them, that all the hard work in the world will not get them anywhere and that some of what we call 'the takers' are those people."

They want to believe. They want to do the hard work. They want to play by the age-old rules that led to the American dream. But they just don't think that they can get there anymore, and therefore it's just easier to sit there and let Obama wipe out your student loan. It's easier to let Obama take care of your mortgage. It's easier to let Obama give you a food stamp. It's easier! They may not like it, but it's easier. So here's the New York Times piece. It starts this way: "Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

"He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor ... who ousted this region's long-serving Democratic congressman." This story comes out of Lindstrom, Minnesota. "Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice. There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland.

"But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year." So we're left to believe here that this guy hates it, but he needs it. He's in the middle class; he wants out of the middle class. But he can't get by without the aid the government gives him. He's in the social safety yet, but he doesn't like it. And what he instinctively knows is the social safety net... Let's be honest with each other. The social safety net, if you acknowledge the good intentions of the people that started this... And that's a stretch, but just for the sake of this discussion let's say that the original good intentions were that the social safety net was for the poor; that that's who the social safety net was intended to catch. But as time has gone on, more and more middle-class people -- and we know this is true. This is inarguable. More and more middle-class people are in the social safety net.

And the point of the New York Times story, this headline:  "Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It."  The point of this story, and it's a long story, and it has examples of a number of people.  It basically posits here that a whole lot of people in the middle class are in the social safety net and don't like it but can't do anything about it.  Listen to this.  This will make it a little bit clearer.  "The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty --" See, I happen to disagree with that.  I think the original intent was to do exactly what's happened.  I think the original intent of the social safety net was to make as many people dependent as possible. 

They sold it on the basis that it would help the poor. They sold it on the basis that we are good people, that we're a compassionate country and that we'll take care of anybody who really can't.  We're good people.  I think that's how they sold it, but I think the FDRs and the LBJs and the architects of this intended from the get-go to ensnare as many Americans as possible.  I think they intended for the social safety net to be like glue for the middle class, because that's where votes were.  The more people -- you know this -- the more people that you can make dependent on the federal government, and if you run the federal government then the more dependent on you they are and that equals power and that equals reelection.  So I don't accept this notion that the original purpose of the safety net was just for the poor.  It was sold that way, but that was never their intention.  But let me continue with the Times piece. 

"The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement," that has become the purpose of the safety net.  Stop and think about that now.  A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement.  What that means is entrapping people there and keeping them there.  The American dream has always been to get out of the middle class. The American dream has always been to have upward mobility and eventually get out of it. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but because that was what America was, economic advancement, improving one's lifestyles, standard of living.  What's happened now is that the poor are not the primary members of the social safety net. The middle class are. 

"The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007."  That's a CBO figure.  "And as more middle-class families like the Gulbransons land in the safety net in Chisago and similar communities, anger at the government has increased alongside. Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age."
But they can't get out of it. 

If you read the whole story, what you learn is -- I mean this is kind of perverted -- the middle class taxes are going to support the middle class in the safety net.  And this story is about people in the safety net who resent being there, to whom it is a stigma, they don't like it, but, at the same time, they look at the amount of work necessary to get out of it and to equal all the benefits they're getting, and they don't think it's possible.  And so it just becomes easier to hang in the safety net, take whatever you get, and be mad about it, but it's still easier.  Now, this is what the Democrats have wrought, and this is what they're counting on. 

So when the guy calls about the takers, he's talking, whether he knows it or not, about this element of the takers as well, takers who are taking but profess to resent the heck out of it, not like it, but experience all kinds of frustration that they just can't work hard enough to get out of it.  The deck is stacked or whatever.  The media creates this impression, by the way, the rules are stacked against them, only the rich are getting richer, the income gap, whatever the reason, they think it's pointless to work as hard as would be necessary to improve their lot in life or to even improve themselves in such a way that they stay even with the benefits when they no longer have them, when they're providing for them themselves. 

"The expansion of government benefits has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Rick Santorum ... has warned of 'the narcotic of government dependency.' Newt Gingrich has compared the safety net to a spider web." I've called it a hammock. "Mitt Romney has said the nation must choose between an 'entitlement society' and an 'opportunity society.' All the candidates, including Ron Paul, have promised to cut spending and further reduce taxes. The problem by now is familiar to most. Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenues." It's a very fascinating story from the New York Times, but it does make me wonder if indeed it's true that a lot of people stuck in the safety net simply think it's pointless to work hard to get out of it because they don't think they can.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  We had a report last week, if you recall, from the Heritage Foundation, which said this.  The average individual who relies on Washington could receive benefits valued at $32,748, more than the nation's average disposable personal income at $32,400.  So it's already marginally more profitable to live on government benefits than to have a job where you earn the nation's average disposable personal income.  And it dovetails nicely with the New York Times story: "Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It."

Folks, Newsweek did a cover story not long ago, "We're all socialists now."  And that's just what the New York Times story is, we're all socialists now.  Even some of us who don't like it are all socialists.  It's just easier.  That's what the Times story is about. It's just easier to stay in the safety net than to try work out of it.  It's just easier. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Last night, by the way, at a campaign event, Boise, Idaho, Santorum spoke. It's about a minute here of his remarks.

SANTORUM:  The reason we have to reduce the size and scale of government is to protect your freedom.  That's what this is about.  This election ultimately is about freedom, and the bigger the government is, the smaller you become.  It is a zero-sum game, folks, and we have a president who is spending us into oblivion.  This is right out of the FDR playbook.  Continue to grow government, to get more and more people on government programs, more and more dependency.  We have almost half the people in this country don't pay taxes and almost half now receive some sort of government benefit.  We're reaching a tipping point, folks.  When those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority, freedom in the election process is not something people will care about.  They'll care about whether they get their piece.  This is what it's all designed to do, gradually, slowly erode your freedom and increase your dependency on government.

RUSH:  That's right.

SANTORUM:  That's why --

RUSH:  That's right.

SANTORUM:  -- this election is the most important election of your lifetime.  This is a chance for Americans to stand up and say, "We will be free."

RUSH:  Entitlement growth is designed to make you care less about your freedom.  And I call your attention to this New York Times piece, right there, February 11th, got it right here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, "Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It."  Middle class ensnared by the safety net, not the poor.  They don't like it, but they're stuck.  They think they can't work hard enough to get out of it.  It's just not possible anymore.  That's what they think.  So they resent having to depend on it, they don't like it, and they're really ticked off about the fact that hard work, in their minds, will no longer elevate them out of the middle class.

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