Listen Up, Mr. Me Myself and I….

Okay–it’s cold and snowy and I’m old and cranky and in a bad mood. But this is the sort of attitude that just sends me over the edge!

A commenter responding to yesterday’s post about drug testing TANF recipients said, and I quote: “Government has no business in supplying food stamps, or any other of my earnings to those who did not earn it. Period.”

This is a standard meme employed by self-styled libertarians, the folks who like to equate taxation with theft and scorn recipients of social welfare programs as “takers” and “losers.”

I think the rest of us should make a deal with people like Mr. Clueless. Here’s my proposal:

You don’t want your hard-earned money going to the “takers”? Fine. You can keep every penny you earn. But you can’t drive on the streets that we suckers (er..taxpayers) paved. You can’t attend the public schools or universities we support. When trash collection day comes around, we’re going to skip your house, and if a real thief comes for your possessions, the police we support with our tax dollars aren’t going to respond.

If your house catches fire, tough. Hope you have a hose–and a private water supply. When you go to the grocery, you can’t buy any meats and vegetables that have been inspected by  government agencies that our taxes support. If you get sick, don’t expect to be treated by a doctor we educated in a hospital we built.

Go buy all of those services–and the others that we supply and you take as your due–in the private marketplace. If you can.

And if the unthinkable (at least unthinkable to you) happens, and you fall on hard times, you’d better hope for charity, because we’re going to respond with the same human compassion and understanding of social obligation that you’ve displayed.

You see, the real “takers” are the people who unthinkingly accept all the benefits of a social infrastructure, but who whine when they’re asked to pay their fair share.


  1. Right on, Sheila, right on! I have tried to explain these FACTS to family and friends alike who have no understanding of the taxation system. Of course; it is far from perfect, and too much money goes into unnecessary areas that do not benefit the majority, too much goes into elected officials salaries and perks. I could go on but; the fact remains that the primary and basic use of our tax dollars benefits the public in so many ways they do not consider anything other than what is their due. I was raised in a staunch Republican family in a staunch Republican neighborhood on the west side of Indianapolis. A great place to grow up for many reasons but…not until I was in my teens and outside the narrow confines of my family and neighborhood was I aware of reality. That reality was the city in general and all it encompassed; all provided for the public by taxes.

    No one likes to pay taxes; but picture our lives without the results of tax dollars providing the ways and means to live cleaner, safer lives and with access in all directions to travel to and from whatever is our destination. I have two cousins who brag that they have followed in their staundh Republican father’s footsteps; he so hated property taxes that he waited till the last minute to send his payments. What have they accomplished? The only people who know of their silly attitude and action are those they “brag to” about their personal rebellion; the Treasurer’s Office doesn’t know or care when they mail that check – just so they mail it to pay for the benefits they enjoy without consideration as to who, how or why those benefits are outside their doors.

    Does our taxation and representation system need some overhauling? Of course it does, but there is no one perfect solution to any problem. Will Rogers said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”? Change that word “fool” to “please” and you have a clear picture of our tax system and those who benefit by it’s imperfections and whine about paying their fair share.

  2. Thanks Prof. Our President made similar points last night about how people who work hard and play by the rules need the help when their job evaporates. Or when an IED Blows them into permanent disability. The Repubs keep trying to take money away from hard working folks and even the vets. I have never seen such a stupid mean spirited group of people.

  3. Hold on there a minute PatMcC. Get your facts straight. The Dems are the ones cutting pay and benfits for military not the GOP. This is the type of brain washing that goes on in Dem households. The Dems cut military pensions and benes then block a bill that would restore it, all the while trying to give out tax dollars to illegals. Where is your moral sense of love of country do you justify these measures. Oh thats right, giving money to illegals and trying to get them citizenship add to the voting base for the democratic party.

  4. Jrs; get YOUR facts straight;

    Dec. 19, 2013 by Richard Sisk

    “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pledged Thursday to continue efforts to cut the growth rate of military pay and benefits despite deals in Congress that eased the Pentagon’s budget crunch.

    “We can no longer put off military compensation reform,” Hagel said. “We all know we need to slow the cost of growth. Tough decisions will have to be made on compensation,” he said at a Pentagon briefing with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

    Also in this same report from December 2013; “Senator Patty Murray, Dem, Wash., who worked out a budget deal with Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Wisc., said the proposed pention cut will allow 2 years before this change is implemented so that Democrats and Republicans can keep working together to improve this pension or find smarter savings elsewhere.”

    The proposal is to “slow the growth”, and it is a proposal; no action has been taken yet. Due to his past history of working against anything President Obama or Democrats have proposed, we need to wait to see what Ryan – Republican – attempts to do or if he does nothing, as usual.

  5. Beautifully said! And let’s not forget the billions of dollars funneled to the private sector in the name of “economic development”. Those are tax dollars out of my pocket to those who didn’t earn it. Nor do ED funds come with time limits or mandatory plans to transition off public assistance. Or drug tests.

  6. C’mon Sheila: as an extraordinarily bright and knowledgable person, you are well aware of the difference between a shared investment for the common good and a wealth transfer. The idea is that an investment is worth much more than the cost to all involved, while the wealth transfer directly benefits one slightly less than another is directly hurt (after the govt. takes it’s cut for making the transfer.

    If you want to make the fair argument that the poster can afford to lose the money, that’s fine. But let’s not pretend that to be against wealth transfers, you have to be against basically all government spending.

  7. To the point about food stamps, my family had to rely on food subsidies when I was growing up in the mid 50’s. My dad had been laid off and did not find regular employment for almost 3 years. My mother worked but was paid so poorly that we had to have help. I was a CHILD with 5 siblings. So the poster thinks that because I did “not earn it”, that I should have gone hungry? Who does he think benefits from food stamps?

  8. Top military brass are compensated far in excess of their value and they always push for increases. That is the nature of the beast. Notice how none of them applauded when POTUS spoke on end of wars? Why does an O-10 make well over $175,000.00?
    And we have hundreds of them. When I was at SAC Hdqrs, a B/Gen sent a Lt/Col for coffee when we talked about the Indy 500. The people are uninformed. And they vote.

  9. When people are in dire need, they should be able to rely on government, national and local for policies and procedures that will maintain a roof over their heads, put food on the table and ensure that they (with their children) are not turned out to live on the streets. People gripe about what the Rep’s and Dem’s are doing/not doing, I don’t think that either party goes far enough and it’s amazing the amount of corruption the ensues when its time to distribute funds after a national disaster has been encountered. Sandy Hook, The Gulf, New Orleans etc. The magnitude of finances, spent in the military budgets over the last 20 years would more than solve the socio-economic problems of the United States.

    I do however; have one food stamp experience to share. Standing in line at the “Marsh” checkout (perhaps in the early 1990’s) the person in front of me was purchasing party trays with food stamps (Ok, yes food is food. Party Trays?)

  10. The disastrous redistribution of wealth began in 1981 when money began to shift into the pockets of the few from the paychecks of the many. “trickle-down economics” was a farce then and still is a farce. The worst “welfare” our government extends is in the form of tax breaks and incentives to large corporations. Amongst the most inexcusable are the benefits that go to oil corporations. I would have said “large oil corporations,” but that would have been redundant. I thought the tax rates of the Eisenhower years—progressive rates during a time when our country built its interstate system, enhanced higher education and other beneficial things—were a “given.” I like Ike.

  11. Sheila . . . when will we realize that “social programs” are an investment in the future (aka children . . . families) of our country. I often think we may not be investing wisely or that we are not following up appropriately in some of these investments, but they are so necessary for the growth of all of us. A healthy, educated populace is our first line for a good future for America. That may be the problem . . . the structure of our government, practical and balanced as it was designed to be, doesn’t encourage long-range thinking.

  12. Several layers here of this issue IMHO. First, I would think most people on Food Stamps or other assistance would rather not have to accept it. I suspect most people would like to have a Living Wage Job. We have Outsourced so much of our manufacturing and production, those jobs are not only gone, but the expertise has been lost too. If you cannot outsource it, bring the Third World Workers here to drive down wages.

    I read all the time in our papers here about some company receiving tax abatements, direct or indirect subsidies. These companies of course demand a first class infrastructure (streets, roads and bridges, etc.), first class schools, police and fire protection, the legal protection of our courts and the list goes on. Yet, they do not want to pay for it.

    Then we have the Corporate Welfare and Crony-Capitalism that collects millions in taxes each year to pay for stadiums for the Colts, Pacers, cricket fields and now maybe a soccer stadium.
    So I can understand why people are angry about taxes, but they are angry at the results of our twisted economic priorities (poor people).

    I would propose that our State Legislators take the same drug tests they want to impose on those on TANF Recipients. We cannot be too careful, we may find out some of our Legislators are drunks or smoking weed.

  13. Louie, AMEN. The governor and his minions, along with the legislators should be lined up with the TANF applicants. And the more they earn (i.e., “take from the state”), the more frequently they should be tested. After all, the governor and that crowd have to make decisions that affect a lot of people, and based on the decisions I’ve seen in the last year, someone’s smoking something!

  14. When my father died of heart failure in ’75, my two teenage brothers and me received Social Security survivor benefits along with my Mother’s SS survivor check. Both of my parents worked in factories and after Dad died, our household income went down to one income, hers. The 5k in life insurance paid for the funeral. Social Security saved our lives and we never needed food stamps or housing assistance but social security kept us at home, in school and kept my Mother from desperation after being widowed at age 42. She managed to get her GED and was able to change to 1st shift so that she was home soon after we got home from school. She never went out, worked in a smelly factory all day and we were all thankful to be together. All of us finished high school and started training in community colleges or universities for employment. All three of us had part-time jobs once we were old enough to work.

    The fact is that these government services were set up for exactly how we needed them; to keep our family together, make sure we were fed and had a roof over our heads. And my Mother was frugal and careful not to get in financial trouble. I’m very grateful and I’d do anything to pay it forward to the next family that needs it. That’s how civilized societies function.

    I agree with the comments above with their excellent examples.
    America is not broke. Lose the corporate subsides and corporate welfare that pay slave wages and remove the tax breaks for companies that refuse to pay their fair share or allow unions to represent citizens. Don’t even get me started on the money that goes to the Military.

  15. @Stuart There is a bill introduced by Representative Heath VanNatter that would require drug testing of legislators called HB1302. It picked up a couple of co-authors in Representatives Heaton and Ubelhor, but has not moved passed first reading, the very first step. I would be very surprised if it moves past the very first step.

    I am personally not for mandatory drug testing in general, but if it is going to be required by legislators, then that is where it should start.

    I wonder what the reaction would be to ask support for HB1302.

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