Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Economics of Bigotry

Why is the GOP so concerned with welfare fraud and not with tax fraud? Welfare fraud occurs in about 2% of cases and costs our country around $9 billion per year. Tax fraud occurs in 15% of cases (more than seven times the rate of welfare fraud) and costs our country about $337 billion, or more than thirty-seven times as much as welfare fraud. How often do you see nasty postings about "If you can afford a tattoo, nice car, cigarettes, or an iPhone, you shouldn't be cheating on your taxes"???

I recently engaged in a 'lovely' conversation with the wife of a friend concerning welfare fraud. She said that when she took her husband to the ER recently she saw a woman, with several kids from different fathers, a Blackberry, freshly manicured nails, and designer sneakers waiting to see a physician. She was outraged that this woman was on Medicaid. How dare she spend our tax dollars on such frivolous items?! When I asked her if she told this woman that she had private health insurance or that her own nice jacket was courtesey of a generous mother-in-law, the response was a startled, "No, of course not! I didn't even talk to her, why would I?" I then asked if this other woman knew so little about her life, how did she know so much about her? She seemed to know that these kids were her own and that she was not babysitting. She knew that the designer sneakers were bought new and not for $8 at the local thrift store. She had a sense that the manicured nails were done at a high-end salon rather than by her sister who was putting herself through cosmetology school.  Her eyebrows furrowed, she glanced down, and then came a lengthy pause. She stated, "Well, I just know her type!" Her type, in this case, meant a black woman. 

And yet, this same woman would never look at a man with a Rolex, BMW and Gucci loafers and presume to know his tax status. Strike that...make that a white man with a Rolex, BMW and Gucci loafers. This, my friends, is the racism of economics. Better than than, this is just straight up racism.

People feel that they can use the fact that they are conservatives and therefore obviously opposed to our current president as a reason to let their Racism Flag fly proudly. "Oh, no, I am not racist," they say with phony horror, "I just think that President Obama is an anti-American Muslim who has a grand and complex scheme to ruin my country!"


Good gravy, how I hate that phrase. But let's move past that and save it for another blog.

There are comments and graphics floating around the Internet that say, in essence, “If you have a decent car, a cell phone, or a nice pair of shoes, you don’t deserve to be on welfare”? Here is what I have to say to that – We have family members and close friends who have been, for fairly short periods of time, on assistance. We are not talking ‘Welfare Queens’ here…instead, simple hard-working folks who have fallen on hard times. My husband and I are blessed to do pretty well for ourselves and have reached out to these loved ones. We let one live in a 4 bedroom rental that we own. Another, we added to our cell phone plan and got him a Blackberry so that he could look for a job. We have given clothing to most of them and helped a few buy decent cars. Does this mean that they should not be on assistance? No. It means that someone loves them enough to offer them a hand-up.
It also means that you can never judge a book by it's cover. If you want to be a racist, at least be intellectually honest about it and cut the embellishing crap.

1 comment:

  1. That lady might be shocked to learn how little her notions match up to reality. But most who are like her simply close their eyes to anything that threatens to shatter their perceptions.