Conservative hero Ben Carson is worried about American teenagers joining ISIS. But it’s not because of “radical Islam.” It’s because of new high school history standards.
American’s right wing, you see, is terrified of history because it is always sentimentalizing it. Many of its arguments rely on a feeling of nostalgia for “good old days,” that appeals almost exclusively to aging whites. That means that a more accurate history, one that considers groups that are traditionally marginalized — women, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants and the poor — don’t necessarily sit that well. Their stories, the stories of the downtrodden, crush the false narrative that many conservatives like to imagine — that of a idyllic past marred by the New Deal, women’s liberation and civil rights.
In Denver, a school board recently tried to limit the historical curriculum to only events that would, “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” Needless to say, much of American history — the Great Depression, the Trail of Tears and the internment of Japanese-Americans — would, under those parameters, need to obfuscated. The Republic National Committee, meanwhile, has issued a statement calling the new Advanced Placement U.S. History standards “radically revisionist.” But conservatives may want to take the plank out of their own eye before examining the speck in their neighbors. Here are the most important distortions of history the right has promoted recently.
Before Welfare, Everything Was Awesome
Example: Marvin Olasky’s “Tragedy of American Compassion,” which argues, “Americans in urban areas a century ago faced many of the problems we face today, and they came up with truly compassionate solutions.”
The Problem: As with most conservative revisionism, the idea is that before nasty programs like welfare, the poor did just fine, because private charity aided them. Many conservatives will argue that the War on Poverty has done nothing to reduce poverty and instead we should rely on private charity. But the War on Poverty has actually done much to eliminate poverty and private charity could never fill that chasm that would open up if federal poverty programs were eliminated. So how did we get rid of poverty before government? The answer is that there never was a mythical time without government.
As Mike Konczal writes,
“There has always been a mixed welfare state made up of private and public organizations throughout our country’s history. Outdoor relief, or cash assistance outside of institutions, was an early legal responsibility of American towns, counties, and parishes from colonial times through the early nineteenth century.”
Later, Congress established a pension system for civil war veterans that consumed about 25 percent of all government spending. Rather than “welfare queens” being a post New-Deal development, some 40 states had programs to support single mothers in 1920. In fact, far from being an invention of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and liberals, social insurance programs are staple in civil society. Frederik Pedersen finds that back in the 10th through 12th centuries, Iceland had an extensive social welfare program. Rome, too, had a system of public support designed to aid poor children.
Elizabeth Bruenig notes that the purely voluntary Church-based social insurance many Christians adore never existed. Conservatives ignore the fact that the church was often acting in accord with the state, “You couldn’t just not tithe; the Church would get it out of you somehow, and even had specific statutes related to methods of tithing which fit it into the schema of secular taxation.” Islamic public assistance was also a hybrid church-state institution. The idea that there has ever been a successful purely voluntary public assistance program is a conservative myth invented to justify dismantling anti-poverty programs in the name of a utopian fantasy.
Basically everything about slavery
Example: Recently convicted felon and conservative columnist Dinesh D’Souza’s book, “The End of Racism,” provides some great examples of rewriting race. D’Souza says of slavery, “No free workers enjoyed a comparable social security system from birth until death.” Later, he writes, “Masters … encouraged the family unit which basically remained intact.” In a particularly appalling passage, he writes, “slavery appears such a relatively mild business that one begins to wonder why Frederick Douglass and so many other ever tried to escape.” And concludes, “In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”
By Jonathan Rieder
Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963. AFP/Getty Images
What does white America owe black America? To even broach that question 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 seems straight-out wacky. Did not the election of a black president redeem the nation? At a minimum, it’s rude—refusing to avert the eyes from that elephant in the room: “America begins in black plunder and white democracy.” That’s how Ta-Nehisi Coates deemed it recently in his extraordinary “The Case for Reparations.”
Far from fringe lunacy, the idea of a primal debt was obvious to Martin Luther King Jr. Exactly 50 years ago this month in Why We Can’t Wait, his Harper & Row account of the Birmingham, Ala., protests, he made his own impassioned case for compensation. And yet no matter how much he shared Coates’ desire to square accounts, King would settle on a rival solution for the crimes of slavery and all the forms of racism that succeeded it.
Opponents of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion have traditionally argued that it will significantly burden state budgets and provide people with substandard health coverage. A new academic paper suggests what may be the strongest argument yet against the expansion: that it will keep many beneficiaries in poverty because it creates strong disincentives for work.
Researchers Laura Dague, Thomas DeLeire, and Lindsay Leininger argue in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper that Medicaid enrollment will lead to significant and lasting reductions in employment among childless adults. The paper is noteworthy primarily because it focuses its analysis on low-income adults without children — — a group that previously was largely ineligible for Medicaid but will get access because of Obamacare’s expansion of the program. It reinforces a July 2013 paper, which found that the loss of public health insurance stimulated job search activities, employment growth and the acquisition of other health insurance coverage among childless adults.
The Congressional Budget Office also noted in February that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would reduce incentives to work and have a modest effect on the overall supply of labor. While there is a debate in the academic literature about the effects of the Medicaid expansion on labor supply, that debate has tended to focus on parents who enroll in Medicaid, rather than adults without kids.
Of all the sick [sic!] arguments against Obamacare & providing health insurance for the poor and unemployed, this has to be the most WTF thing that I have ever seen.
It starts with the old chestnut HURR HURR!!!! POORS LOVE BEING ON TEH WELFARES IT BETTER THAN TEH WORK!!!! and takes it to the eleventieth level. Nobody in the entire history of “welfare” ever said “I will never look for a job because I have this awesome Medicaid!”
What could possibly go wrong with forcing a bunch of poor, sick people to go to their jobs (usually in fast food service) and handle other people’s food?
At a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, KY, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”’ He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.”
The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain number of children is actually current policy in many states. While most programs through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) give families more money if they have more children, 16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.
These policies were initially adopted in an attempt to dissuade low-income women from having more children out of wedlock. But the results haven’t panned out. A 2001 Government Accountability Office report on whether or not they change birth rates couldn’t conclude whether there was any impact. In California, for example, where the state has been considering a repeal of its family cap policy, most women who receive welfare from the state have a similar number of children as those who don’t. What the policies do end up doing, however, is pushing people further into poverty. That can have serious health risks, with one study finding that some limits on benefits lead to a higher death rate.
The caps also get assumptions wrong about the people who rely on public programs. Overall, those who use public assistance have the same average family size as those who don’t. There’s little evidence that low-income women on welfare are having far more children than those who aren’t enrolled.
BUT NO BIRTH CONTROLS OR ABORTIONS FOR TEH SLUTZ!!11!!! HURR HURR SMALL GOVERNMENT!!!!1!!!
So, I’ve been rereading George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier for the first time since college and the following (admittedly long) passage seems to speak to some views held by many in this country today as regards people in poverty and the working poor (the “takers”, lazy slackers, welfare queens, etc.).
ETA: Specific emphases added in bold.
To get rid of class-distinctions you have got to start by understanding how one class appears when seen through the eyes of another. It is useless to say that the middle classes are ‘snobbish’ and leave it at that. You get no further if you do not realize that snobbishness is bound up with a species of idealism. It derives from the early training in which a middle-class child is taught almost simultaneously to wash his neck, to be ready to die for his country, and to despise the ‘lower classes’.
Here I shall be accused of being behind the times, for I was a child before and during the war and it may be claimed that children nowadays are brought up with more enlightened notions. It is probably true that class-feeling is for the moment a very little less bitter than it was. The working class are submissive where they used to be openly hostile, and the post-war manufacture of cheap clothes and the general softening of manners have toned down the surface differences between class and class. But undoubtedly the essential feeling is still there. Every middle-class person has a dormant class-prejudice which needs only a small thing to arouse it; and if he is over forty he probably has a firm conviction that his own class has been sacrificed to the class below. Suggest to the average unthinking person of gentle birth who is struggling to keep up appearances on four or five hundred a year that he is a member of an exploiting parasite class, and he will think you are mad. In perfect sincerity he will point out to you a dozen ways in which he is worse-off than a working man. In his eyes the workers are not a submerged race of slaves, they are a sinister flood creeping upwards to engulf himself and his friends and his family and to sweep all culture and all decency out of existence. Hence that queer watchful anxiety lest the working class shall grow too prosperous. In a number of _Punch_ soon after the war, when coal was still fetching high prices, there is a picture of four or five miners with grim, sinister faces riding in a cheap motor-car. A friend they are passing calls out and asks them where they have borrowed it. They answer, ‘We’ve bought the thing!’ This, you see, is ‘good enough for _Punch_’; for miners to buy a motor-car, even one car between four or five of them, is a monstrosity, a sort of crime against nature. That was the attitude of a dozen years ago, and I see no evidence of any fundamental change. The notion that the working class have been absurdly pampered, hopelessly demoralized by doles, old age pensions, free education, etc., is still widely held; it has merely been a little shaken, perhaps, by the recent recognition that unemployment does exist. For quantities of middle-class people, probably for a large majority of those over fifty, the typical working man still rides to the Labour Exchange on a motor-bike and keeps coal in his bath-tub: ‘And, if you’ll believe it, my dear, they actually _get married_ on the dole!’
The reason why class-hatred seems to be diminishing is that nowadays it tends not to get into print, partly owing to the mealy-mouthed habits of our time, partly because newspapers and even books now have to appeal to a working-class public. As a rule you can best study it in private conversations. But if you want some printed examples, it is worth having a look at the _obiter dicta_ of the late Professor Saintsbury. Saintsbury was a very learned man and along certain lines a judicious literary critic, but when he talked of political or economic matters he only differed from the rest of his class by the fact that he was too thick-skinned and had been born too early to see any reason for pretending to common decency. According to Saintsbury, unemployment insurance was simply ‘contributing to the support of lazy ne’er-do-weels’, and the whole trade union movement was no more than a kind of organized mendicancy:
‘Pauper’ is almost actionable now, is it not, when used as a word? though to be paupers, in the sense of being wholly or partly supported at the expense of other people, is the ardent, and to a considerable extent achieved, aspiration of a large proportion of our population, and of an entire political party.
(_Second Scrap Book_)
It is to be noticed, however, that Saintsbury recognizes that unemployment is bound to exist, and, in fact, thinks that it ought to-.exist, so long as the unemployed are made to suffer as much as possible:
Is not ‘casual’ labour the very secret and safety-valve of a safe and sound labour-system generally?
…In a complicated industrial and commercial state constant employment at regular wages is impossible; while dole-supported unemployment, at anything like the wages of employment, is demoralizing to begin with and ruinous at its more or less quickly arriving end.
(_Last Scrap Book_)
What exactly is to happen to the ‘casual labourers’ when no casual labour happens to be available is not made clear. Presumably (Saintsbury speaks approvingly of ‘good Poor Laws’) they are to go into the work-house or sleep in the streets. As to the notion that every human being ought as a matter of course to have the chance of earning at least a tolerable livelihood, Saintsbury dismisses it with contempt:
Even the ‘right to live’…extends no further than the right to protection against murder. Charity certainly will, morality possibly may, and public utility perhaps ought to add to this protection supererogatory provision for continuance of life; but it is questionable whether strict justice demands it.
As for the insane doctrine that being born in a country gives some right to the possession of the soil of that country, it hardly requires notice.
(_Last Scrap Book_)
It is worth reflecting for a moment upon the beautiful implications of this last passage. The interest of passages like these (and they are scattered all through Saintsbury’s work) lies in their having been printed at all. Most people are a little shy of putting that kind of thing on paper. But what Saintsbury is saying here is what any little worm with a fairly safe five hundred a year _thinks_, and therefore in a way one must admire him for saying it. It takes a lot of guts to be _openly_ such a skunk as that.
Along with Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, I think Orwell’s talking about some aspect of human nature — or at least, Western culture — that seems to be with us still, has been with us for a long time, and will probably be with us into the future.
What do you think?
Rush Limbaugh begins this clip by describing a recent episode of Hawaii 5-0 he watched, in which a couple had kidnapped young girls, and kept them in shackles, which enabled them to collect increased welfare benefits, and when the girls turned 18, they would be killed.
This reminded him of the recent escape of three women in Cleveland who had been held captive for ten years, and in his own unique and twisted way, he found a way to connect this to President Obama.
Fox Guest Katie Pavlich: ‘Everyone on Welfare Should Be Public Information Because We’re Paying for It’
If that information was publicly available, what purpose would be accomplished?
Pulling Ann Coulter’s teeth.
When I first had this letter from Ann Coulter brought to my attention I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. I knew I wanted to make a comment about it but felt sure most people who pay any attention to her already know she’s a bigot if not an outright racist and that she feeds people with similar mindsets some very tainted information.
What may be less well known, and what makes her so effective with both her ardent sycophantic followers and ignorant fence sitters is statistical misdirection. As with most of her media savvy friends - those ‘race realists’ firmly camped out within the right wing big tent - she denies the very existence of systemic racism but embraces the concept of reverse racism. If we fall for this obvious DARVO it makes it virtually impossible for us to say anything about her racism unless it can be shown her claims are obviously false.
Most people, while likely fairly literate, are less likely to be knowledgeable about how statistics are used and abused, so will accept official sounding numbers as being accurate and informative. It becomes a simple matter for someone intending to obfuscate the real information to mix and match samples with different focuses or by using unrelated samples that sound related.
“Even under Rubio’s scheme, all the children born to the 11 million newly legalized illegals will be instant citizens, able to collect welfare for their whole families and vote as soon as they are old enough.
Which won’t be long: The vast majority of illegal aliens are Hispanic, and Hispanics have a higher teen birthrate than any other ethnic group. In California, a majority of all Hispanic births are illegitimate. That’s a lot of Democratic voters coming.”
Even a quick look at the quote tells us she knows her intended audience quite well. She knows that with a little leading they will link illegal immigrants to unwed and teenage mothers, unwed mothers to disadvantaged unemployable or lazy children, lazy children to the use of welfare and welfare recipients to voting for the Democratic party. To validate the danger of legalizing illegal immigrants, Coulter throws a few statistical tidbits into the mix.
Her first statistic is the number of illegal immigrants currently living in the US, 11 million. That number is scary but accurate:
In summary, an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2011 compared to a revised 2010 estimate of 11.6 million.
She then goes on to tell us that most of those illegals are Hispanic, a vague comment designed to narrow the sample to a specific subset while still keeping it scary. Even if we grant that all the immigrants from specific countries are likely to be Hispanic the actual number is reduced significantly to 8.57 million.
Here comes the reason she wanted to specify Hispanics, their relatively high teenage birth rate of 49.4 per 1000. As Coulter states, it is indeed the highest of all. Of course the birth rate does not give us an idea of actual births without knowing the populations. To get an idea of the population we need to make a few calculations related to Coulter’s comments.
The number of female illegal immigrants less than 19 is around 12% of the total number. You’ll note I didn’t include 19 year old but I did include girls under 15. This is a limitation of the information source I’m using. The number of teenage female illegal immigrants of childbearing age should be around 1,028,400. That needs to be further reduced to just Hispanic females. 8,570,000/11,600,000*100=73.9% so there would be about 760,000 teenage female Hispanic illegal immigrants. At 49.4 per 1000 per year, the number of pregnant teenage Hispanic illegal immigrants would be around 37,544
All of the numbers Coulter uses up til this point are national numbers. She switches to a smaller more specific sample, that of California teenage single mothers, which may or may not reflect that of the larger national sample, in order to set up the welfare connection.
The number of illegal immigrants matching the criteria set by Coulter is tiny in comparison to the scary big number she originally mentioned, yet the way it is presented increases rather than decreases the apocalyptic image Coulter is trying to leave.
The number 37,544 is even less scary when compared to the number of Americans of voting age - 234,564,000. The number of new Hispanic welfare bums voting for the Democrats, even if we assume all children born to unwed teenage mothers end up on welfare and vote Democratic, is less than .016% of the voting public.
The best way to pull Coulter’s teeth is to work the numbers.
Walmart, one of the richest corporations in the world, refuses to pay its employees a livable wage or provide any form of decent healthcare, increasing reliance on government assistance, and the need for a social safety net.
At over $446 billion per year, Walmart is the third highest revenue grossing corporation in the world. Walmart earns over $15 billion per year in pure profit and pays its executives handsomely. In 2011, Walmart CEO Mike Duke – already a millionaire a dozen times over – received an $18.1 million compensation package. The Walton family controlling over 48 percent of the corporation through stock ownership does even better. Together, members of the Walton family are worth in excess of $102 billion – which makes them one of the richest families in the world.
What is shameful is that CEO Mike Duke makes more money in one hour, than his employees earn in an entire year. Yet, Walmart – which employs millions of people in its stores, distribution centers, and warehouses – continues to abuse its employees and refuses to pay them a livable wage. The company has frequently been charged with wage theft claims by workers who point to the most common forms of wage theft: the refusal to pay proper overtime, the refusal to honor the minimum wage, and illegal paycheck deductions.
Meanwhile, Walmart routinely blocks any attempt by workers to organize, using anti-union propaganda and scare tactics, firing employees without just cause, failing to provide any form of decent healthcare coverage or a livable wage.
To make matters worse, these abusive Walmart policies have increased employee reliance on government assistance and the need for a government funded social safety net. In fact, Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with “as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps.”