Volatility

February 12, 2015

“Welfare”

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(Someone asked me whether or not there was something philosophically bad about so-called “welfare”, using food stamps as his example. This was my reply.)
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1. Since all the wealth of government and corporations is stolen from the people who actually do the work in the first place, or is extracted at the socioeconomic and spiritual expense of those who are artificially rendered “unemployed” by a system which separates humanity from its ability to work, anything the people can get back from this system is automatically justified.
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2. For every penny of “welfare” there’s probably a thousand dollars of corporate welfare, so that right there renders “welfare” for human beings a non-issue anyway, from any practical or moral point of view. Like with so many other problems and issues, we’d have to abolish corporatism first and THEN see if there’s any problems left over with anything that actually benefits human beings.
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3. The money for this or any other government program doesn’t come from taxes paid by the working class, it comes from money the Fed prints. Taxes are not in fact necessary for a government to pay for things, but are rather a form of social control. (The way things are going now, with the Fed printing trillions to be directly handed over to Wall Street and other corporate sectors, is unproductive, destructive, and unsustainable, but that’s a different issue.)
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4. The food stamp system is intentionally set up to make it easy to procure junk food and difficult to obtain good food like fresh produce. I’ve worked at a farmers’ market and can attest to how hard it is to set up to accept food stamps. Different states do more or less to help with this. And then of course many food stamp recipients live in food deserts artificially created by the system, where fresh produce is hard to come by. So if some recipients use food stamps to buy junk food, that isn’t just some kind of individual turpitude. The far greater cause is the structural trap they’re in.
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5. But that outcome is intentional, since food stamps aren’t really meant to feed those who couldn’t otherwise afford to eat. Their main purpose is to be laundered corporate welfare for food manufacturers, just as farmer subsidies are laundered corporate welfare for the input manufacturers and commodifiers. That’s why food stamps are part of the same Farm Bill that enshrines Big Ag subsidies. That food stamps do help people eat is just a side effect from the government’s point of view.
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6. So although lots of people want to moralize about “welfare”, it’s actually meaningless and amoral to talk about it at all unless it’s placed in its political and socioeconomic context, where we see that it’s (A) utterly trivial compared to the magnitude and malignity of corporate welfare, (B) in many cases actually is laundered corporate welfare, (C) is helping people who have been rendered economically superfluous and unemployable (because the jobs no longer exist) by those same corporations, who control all government policy.
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I’ll go a step further and say it’s immoral and depraved to have no objection, and especially no moral/emotional objection, to trillions in corporate welfare which helps no one and is purely destructive, but to feel outraged over the few pennies the government still spends which actually can help actual human beings who have been impoverished and economically exiled by the policies of that same government.
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All my outrage is directed at corporate rule.

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16 Comments

  1. Excellent points. Our society is completely deformed by corporate rule, and yet all anyone can seem to talk about is whether or not giving food stamps to poor people is good practice! Thank you for once again cutting through the clutter.

    Comment by tdk356 — February 12, 2015 @ 9:08 am

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for the good words.

      Comment by Russ — February 12, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  2. Thanks for this reminder.

    Comment by William Wilson — February 12, 2015 @ 11:50 am

  3. There is something “philosophically bad” about welfare, but that’s the fault of the underlying philosophy that gave rise to our economic system, not the fault of the welfare recipient. Laissez-faire capitalism was supposed to give rise to an Invisible Hand that promotes the Common Good, but instead,we got an Invisible Hand in all our pockets that takes the fruit of our labor and gives it to a increasingly small percentage of the populace. The welfare system and the propaganda against it constitute nothing more and nothing less than an admission that laissez-faire capitalism is a failure. Without the welfare system and the stigma associated with it, the masses would rebel as they have historically when the social contract is breached.

    Comment by taojonesing — February 13, 2015 @ 12:02 am

    • Hi Tao,

      For sure, welfare as a meager anodyne is part of the pathology and becomes meaningful only in the context of destroyed human economies, just like there’s no such thing as a natural egoism/altruism dichotomy, but this split and these terms become meaningful only in the context of systematic economic predation.

      This is an example of my definition of decadence (one of its aspects) – to destroy what works, enshrine what doesn’t, and then look for anodyne substitutes for what was lost.

      As you say, it’s also the “bread” in bread and circuses, though it seems like the system’s pretty confident they can dispense with the bread, and so they’re steadily cutting back the ration and baking it with sawdust.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2015 @ 12:16 am

      • “though it seems like the system’s pretty confident they can dispense with the bread, and so they’re steadily cutting back the ration and baking it with sawdust”

        This is where their hubris misguides them. Even if automation technology allowing the elites to dispense with the serfs entirely were to exist today, the serfs would not go gently into that good night.

        Comment by taojonesing — February 13, 2015 @ 8:37 pm

      • So far the dispossessed peoples have mostly gone quietly to their shantytown incarceration camps. It seems like the elites expect them to just rot and wither there. While I don’t think in terms of a strong version of the theory that one of the purposes of industrial ag and corporate domination of food is to intentionally trigger mass famines, no rational person can dispute that the elites are inertially attaining a position where such policy becomes possible.

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/were-all-lumpenproles-now-gmo-death-camps/

        Starving people don’t revolt, as the British could be confident during the mass famines they intentionally triggered in India in the 19th century and in 1943. The ardent enthusiasm of the British government today to transform African agriculture along GMO-dominated corporate lines has to be seen in that context.

        Of course the elites have to be fully conscious by now that the terminal slums are not just potential starvation camps but are incubators of epidemics.

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/gmos-more-ebola-and-the-faster-spread-of-ebola/

        Sick people also don’t revolt. As for how the elites expect that these pandemics won’t reach them, well, no one who’s been paying attention thinks the elites are sane.

        Meanwhile the Western middle classes are, so far, interested only in trying to slow down the rate of their liquidation, not in stopping and reversing the process. So far it looks like they too will eventually go quietly into the camps.

        Comment by Russ — February 14, 2015 @ 5:19 am

  4. How my views have changed, for the better, since I began reading this blog! I used to fall into the trap of blaming “those lazy welfare recipients, taking money out of the earner’s pocket”. Ha, back then I didn’t know who was REALLY taking the money. Truth is a beautiful, but disturbing thing.

    Comment by DualPersonality — February 13, 2015 @ 4:37 am

    • Yup, the takeaway is that even if the money goes through the hands of someone else first, the real intended welfare recipient is the corporation.

      (I guess racists and other cretins would prefer the government give the money directly to Kraft, Unilever, Cargill, Monsanto, than that any human beings get some meager benefit from it along the way.)

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2015 @ 5:08 am

    • Same thing happened to me. Russ has an amazing mind, and Tao, and Russ’ responses to Tao, adds to the thought process.

      Comment by bloodgroove — February 13, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

      • Thanks Johnny, and glad you’re still reading!

        Comment by Russ — February 13, 2015 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Add me to the list. I have been trying to come up with a simple, easy-to-understand way to frame the ‘welfare’ debate to the idiots who still think it’s the poor people that are holding the world back (this post is helpful). Stockholm Syndrome is a difficult high hurdle. What is difficult to grasp for these people is how the corporations “steal from the people” in the first place, thereby making their grievances non-starters with an entirely false set of pretexts.

    The corporations represent some kind of an Ayn Rand, self-made capitalist idol that the world would just be lost without, so clearly we need to bow before them. And if they parrot that food stamps are a moral abomination creating “lazy welfare queens” enough times, then by god we had better all get on board. It is amazing to me how easily misdirection works on the average person.

    Comment by Pete — February 14, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

    • I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that some slacker Fox News dug up that cheats the food stamp system is somehow worse than the “wealth creators” in charge of corporations. It’s like complaining about a fly that landed on your dinner plate when your house is being torn apart by termites.

      Comment by tdk356 — February 14, 2015 @ 7:20 pm

      • I’m stealing that analogy. Thanks for the gift.

        Comment by Pete — February 14, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

      • It’s hard to understand how anyone can see a big corporation which is completely or almost completely dependent on corporate welfare and government propaganda and thuggery (i.e., all big corporations) as being “self-made” or “entrepreneurial”. If one wants to exalt entrepreneurialism, well, nothing’s more anti-entrepreneurial than the corporate oligopoly sectors. Corporations collectively impose massive taxes and a massive economic cramping and bottleneck. Anyone who really wants to unleash real innovation has no choice but to want to abolish corporations.

        Nor does it make any sense conceptually to separate the corporations from the government. They were created by the government, are aggrandized by the government, and control the government. They’re nothing more or less than the extra-constitutional fourth branch of government. Neoliberalism is the process of completely coordinating some aspects of the three “constitutional” branches and gutting the rest, while transferring all controlling power to the fourth branch. It’s understandable why the likes of the CEI lie about this – that’s what they’re paid to do. But why anyone from the 99% would remain willfully ignorant about this and buy into the scam separation of “public” and “private”, “government” and “corporation”, is harder to figure out.

        Comment by Russ — February 15, 2015 @ 4:42 am

  6. […] extend my point from the other day’s post on “welfare” for people and corporate welfare, we can say the same about so-called “foreign aid”, for example as laundered through […]

    Pingback by “Foreign Aid” is Corporate Welfare | Volatility — February 15, 2015 @ 1:35 pm


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