Saturday, October 6, 2012


I had several conversations with different folks about the Wednesday Night debate. All of them were interesting, but one point came up that I think needs more thought and exposition.

Romney's 47% comment.

The remark did not come up at the debate in actuality, but it was the reason, I think, behind Romney's comments on the poor. And that is what started me to thinking.

Who, or what, ARE The Poor?

We each will probably have a different definition and a different set of criteria to determine who is Poor, and even those definitions have change over the years.

Take for instance this woman. At what point was she poor? The article mentions no children, and she apparently was well off enough, prior to her lottery win, to enjoy both a drug habit and purchasing lottery tickets.

And yet the state of Michigan was paying her food and medical benefits; both prior to and after her win, approximately $550 dollars a month or so.

This is not to say that every person collecting government benefits is doing so fraudulently, but stories like this are not uncommon enough.

So; what is poor and at what level of poverty should you be entitled to some of my tax money?

The proverbial Welfare Queen; multiple children from multiple partners, second or third generation on the government dole? That's and easy one.

What about the young mother of 4 whose husband was recently killed in a car accident? That too is an easy one.

But from a statutory viewpoint, these two women are identical; single mother of preschool children. And that is where the problem starts. We can't ask how they became single mothers with children; that would involve 'value judgments'. We are not allowed to pass judgment on someone else's life style.

Yet poor is a lifestyle. Anyone who is collecting a government check is a non-producer, and it is that non-production that has created their poverty status. Although there are obvious exceptions, the people collecting those checks prefer that non-production status. The exceptions are those folks forced into non-production by age, medical reasons, or other circumstances beyond their control. They are also the ones working toward leaving that non-productive status; not creating another dependent generation.

So; what determines being poor? Is it lack of money? There are plenty of folks who lack money, but still work for a living. Maybe its a lack of assets? Lots of folks who are collecting government money own cars, game systems and flat screen TVs.

I have known folks who were collecting a small amount of money from a government check, but that amount was enough to support the lifestyle they wanted; a room with a TV, snacks and enough left over for illegal intoxicants. Working was not an option, as it would not have provided anything additional to their lifestyle, and actually would have cut into the amount of time they had to enjoy their TV and snacks.

That's not to say they wouldn't have enjoyed a bigger TV or better snacks; they just weren't willing to work for them.

The problem becomes how do we end Welfare for the never married mother of four, without ending it for the young widow with four children?  How do we make someone who has never sought to be a producer want to become a producer?

I don't think we have anyone in this country who doesn't want to do their part to support folks who need it. But how many of us are willing to support people who are just unwilling to become producers on their own?

Those people who want to be a part of the 47%, and not the 53%.

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