There is a theme these days in Republican hype, one that seems to be taken at face value by millions of people, and yet has no basis in reality. It is this: Democrats (specifically Obama) want to take everything that you have earned and pass it around to people who do nothing. It’s not a take-from-the-rich-give-to-the-poor mentality, it’s a take-from-you-and-give-to-somebody-else-who-doesn’t-deserve-it idea, where “you” means…everybody. Everybody. Rich people, middle class people, that girl from my high school who doesn’t work and is on unemployment and food stamps, Mitt Romney, students, farmers, everybody. And the people that the government is giving the money to? Nobody that you know or like, of course. Mythical lazy poor greedy assholes, whom you will never actually encounter in real life because they are too busy filling up swimming pools with their welfare checks and practicing their butterfly stroke amongst other people’s money.
Here’s an example:
That one’s been floating around for awhile, but there’s another that has recently come across my feed with the same general idea:
There are all sorts of problems with both of these crapdates, but what I really want to focus on is this wrongheaded belief that the Republican party is trying to sell to…everyone. Isn’t this the age of Nigerian Prince scams and Snopes and a built-in level of skepticism? Aren’t we all supposed to think critically about anything that seems too good to be true? Aren’t we?
Because it is too good to be true. If Democrats take from everybody and give to [insert mythical lazy greedy loser here], nobody would be a Democrat. Right? I mean, even Jesus would think twice before just giving up everything to somebody so ridiculously undeserving. Intervention has taught me that enablers are The Worst. Why then does anybody oppose the Republicans?
Well, in part, because this propaganda is just not true.
“A 2008 poll of 1,400 Americans by the Cornell Survey Research Institute found that when people were asked whether they had ‘ever used a government social program,’ 57 percent said they had not. Respondents were then asked whether they had availed themselves of any of 21 different federal policies, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, the home-mortgage-interest deduction and student loans. It turned out that 94 percent of those who had denied using programs had benefited from at least one; the average respondent had used four.”
It’s not that the government is taking from everyyou and giving to undeservingjerk. It’s that the government is taking from everybody and giving to everybody, and a large recipient of that is you. But if people were to believe that, of course they wouldn’t vote Republican! They need those student loans and that home-mortgage-interest deduction! But we can surely get rid of the “entitlements,” right? Because those go to lazy greedy assholes who are laughing all the way to the bank?
“Using the 2010 federal budget and U.S. Census data , the CBPP finds that 53 percent of all government entitlements are going to people who are over 65 years old. Another 20 percent of the benefits went to disabled people, while 18 percent were going to people in a working household. The data was for the government’s 2010 fiscal year. That means that 9 percent of entitlements went to people who were not elderly, disabled or living in a household in which someone had worked at least 1,000 hours in a year.”
Oh. It’s going to your grandma. Or the woman who escaped a violent marriage and is now working minimum wage to support two kids. Or your friend’s sister who is paraplegic.
Suddenly, those memes about getting to keep every cent of what you earn seem a lot more…selfish. And cruel. And sickening.
But wait! cries a tiny voice from the back, the die-hard Republican. I’ll give some money to those people who have shitty circumstances through no fault of their own (I mean, unless you want to blame Grandma for not figuring out how to freeze time), but why do we have to give so much?
“The overall effective federal tax rate (the ratio of federal taxes to household income) was 20.7 percent in 2006, with the highest quintile of American households paying 25.8 percent of their income in federal taxes.”
“Surprise! Despite endless American complaints about over-taxation, the U.S. has one of the world’s lowest marginal income tax rates, at 27%. Along with what, by comparison with the high rates cited above, seems a relatively low rate, the U.S. has the world’s biggest economy, with a GDP of over $1,400 billion.”
Oh look, here’s a chart!
“The table below shows total taxes, including state and local government taxes, as a share of G.D.P. in 2008, the latest year for which there is complete data. The table makes clear that the United States has very low taxes by international standards.