The $12-Trillion Welfare Ripoff

It is a primary item of faith among conservatives that the reason we must not have a social system that helps the poor is that poverty is caused by inner-city blacks who refuse to work, belong to gangs, sell and use drugs, are unwed mothers, and so on. All they want to do is live in luxury on the welfare checks we pay for. This is presumed to be because they are naturally inferior and lazy, an argument that is older than slavery. (Every single one of these beliefs is provably false, of course.)

One thing never seems to be discussed: The entire cost to support poor people comes to about $58 billion, most of which would go away if it were possible for the poor to earn a living wage.

This is what the twelve trillion
corporate welfare looks like:

It seems unreasonable that anyone should receive undeserved money from the government, and the righteous right has been ranting about it since the dawn of time. All this ranting, however, doesn’t prevent the red states from using more federal aid than they contribute, which sounds like undeserved welfare to me.

Plus, for unknown reasons, the right doesn’t rant about the $12 trillion in corporate welfare that the 100 wealthiest companies and their very wealthy officers have received recently. It was handed to rich corporations gratis over the past twelve years, a trillion a year. The $58 billion social welfare cost they object to is 0.06% of one year’s worth of corporate welfare. That’s six hundredths of one percent, an amount that’s less than a typical rounding error.

Billions of dollars are siphoned off by the oil industry every year, the purpose of which was to encourage the fledgling industry in the early 20th century, just as earlier industries were helped in the 19th century. The difference is that we never stopped giving Big Oil all this money. The oil industry has needed no such boosting for at least 85 years.

Welfare for the rich makes
the entire social welfare budget
of 0.o6% of corporate welfare
look like a rounding error.

Nicholas Kristof burns the welfare takers, informing us that there are government subsidies for private planes, yachts, hedge funds, and the biggest banks, as well as the takers I have mentioned. But not so much for poor people for life’s essentials.

Every year huge awards are made to the so-called defense industry, most of which goes for offense, and which has been infamous for overcharges and outright fraud during our entire history. Remember the $500 hammers, and $4,000 toilets? Ever hear of the Truman Committee, chaired by vice president Harry Truman, who ferreted out dozens of schemes to scam the government during WWII? Ever fly into an airport where there’s a military presence? There you will find a dozen or so of those enormous dark green transport planes, never used. That’s an unwanted gift from Congress, which decided the military should have hundreds of these planes, when the DoD itself only asked for a half dozen. Hmmm. Wonder how that happened.

Corporate welfare doesn’t even count
the trillions of bailout money.

Virtually all of our bigger corporations have received government gifts worth billions. GE, GM, and lots of other familiar names. Heavily touted by their own politicians exploiting backscratching arrangements with other politicians. The big banks also feed at the trough to the tune of billions.

And that doesn’t even count the trillions we gave them in bailout money.

The biggest of these giant corporations pay no taxes at all. The few that do pay at a very low rate. The same is true of the very wealthy, who have managed to wrangle the legal system via thousands of highly paid lobbyists to give them a regressive tax in which they don’t pay tax on their primary sources of income or their invested wealth, much of which they hide in offshore tax havens that know how to keep a secret.

Tax is taken mostly on earned income, which is the smallest part of the increase of wealth among the very rich. Further, there are thousands of ways the rich can avoid paying income taxes that are not available to most of us, in addition to secret offshore accounts. Gore Vidal once taught us about one of them: Buy a good piece of art for $100K every year and hang it at home. In ten years, value it at $1M and donate it to a museum. Take a $900K deduction on your taxes.

Where does this money come from, these enormous gifts to giant corporations? At base, it comes from us, disproportionately the poor and middle class.

What has become of our beloved democracy and the equality that we based it on?

[Note: It has come to my attention that the real figure may be $1.2-trillion. If so, just move the decimal point over one column to the left in the appropriate figures. Either way, a trillion dollars is an amount that is almost beyond comprehension. JP]

[Here’s an interesting way of thinking about it.]



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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.


  2. Please excuse my comment in case there may be a tid-bit of ignorance in what I think that I need to say.

    I am, obviously, based on my pic, a woman of color…

    A ‘woman of color’ you ask? Well, simply, I am not of full ‘black’ or African-American origin even though I may be presumed to be. Frankly, I do not believe that there are many American families’ that are of just one bloodline or are what others like to call ‘pure breds’.

    My families’ descendents were not only African-Americans but Indians, as well, and there is a great possibility that there may have been a dabbling of Caucasian blood, as well, amongst other things. When I can provide my family tree, I will have no problem in just laying it out there.

    It is very stereo-typical when someone says that , “the reason we must not have a social system that helps the poor is that poverty is caused by inner-city blacks who refuse to work, belong to gangs, sell and use drugs, are unwed mothers, and so on. All they want to do is live in luxury on the welfare checks we pay for. This is presumed to be because they are naturally inferior…”

    I do understand that there was no harm in this comment (you were just giving an example of how ignorance can override common-sense) but I would like to be the first to provide the facts. This is not entirely true about all ‘black people’.

    Firstly, if the assumption is that ‘black folks’ are to be the majority of welfare recipients, then they are direly wrong. It is not just ‘black people’ whom are suffering. In this day and age, everyone of every race has monetary issues and many cultures are sharing in the same.

    Honesty, I have never felt the need to be a ‘welfare recipient’ if I I had the ability to work in order to support my family. Sometimes I worked alone (within reason) if no one else, including family, could help me. I have had many struggles; but it has never once crossed my mind that I should depend on the government for my and my families’ needs in regards to welfare.

    Yes, I am guilty (somewhat) of when I could not find employment, and my family needed to eat. I am guilty because I did not reach out to grasp a lending hand from the government when times were hard because, guess what, we as American’s worked and provided that money that these Bilderbergers’ etc. try so hard to hold on to. I have received food stamps in between jobs, sure. I have even received Medicaid. But I have never received welfare, for what it is worth. I never qualified.

    How is it that these controlling powers can take the money from our checks to supply the budgets that are funding the livelihood of others and making them rich in the process, yet, they complain about our taking advantage of the money that we, as current and prior working people have worked to provide for ourselves?


    I deserve unemployment if I am not at fault for their discriminatory terminations and practices.

    I deserve food stamps if I have worked almost my entire life and paid my taxes because I have a family to feed.
    How is it my fault that I cannot find a job if I am trying? (It seems to be a set-up for failure. They know you are qualified but they still will not allow someone to hire you? Talk about ‘wool’!)

    I deserve disability if I am injured based on patriotism or because of circumstances that were not voluntary but forced that resulted in ailments that were not within my control.

    Why do I deserve you ask? Because I and millions of others, including yourself, are the ones who are paying for it.

    Frankly, by opinion, our governments’ owe us more than we owe them. They would never have had their riches if it weren’t for the dedication of working people. Think of it this way… If we were to expect a deposit of every tax, every fee, every interest, or every dollar that we have ever put into orbit within our government; then there would be a huge possibility that no one would be considered ‘welfare recipients’.
    In other words, if you don’t like my money, then give it back!

    What if our government gave all of the money back that we have ever spent in the attempt. You know… the money we pay out in order to be law-abiding citizens? I am speaking of, those whom are now nothing more than the ‘welfare recipients’? I hope that our Elitist have a back-up plan as to how they will remain rich because it was the poor and middle-class that prospered the system. If we do not die as they want us to (in depopulation due to gang stalking) and we actually continue to live without working then; where would their money continue to stream from? Will it come from their own people. If so, how long will that last?
    To me, that circumstance would be nothing more than a recycle bin with no gains. If we are broke, then, certainly, they are too.

    Seriously, it is hard for me to believe that they could just continue to print money without near to no collateral. The American dollar has already been weakened and I do not think that oil will be sufficient enough to hold up the economy. Especially if the working and non-working classes can no longer afford it.

    By the way, I have never been on welfare; and I have struggled quite a bit. Yet, it never was a consideration to become a welfare recipient based on the fact that I was willing to work and that is just what I did until that beautiful day of gang stalking where I was blacklisted from working, as well. Now, how is that my fault? I am not a criminal.


    • Wow. There’s a lot to think about here, but I hope you haven’t taken my rage against those who stereotype the non-rich, the non-white, the ordinary worker, or the (usually temporarily) unemployed, as my own attitude. I frequently rely on heavy sarcasm to make a point. The fact is that literally none of what the intolerant believe about welfare is correct. Perhaps I should not have relied so heavily on sarcasm. I have myself, in fact, benefited from government assistance on two occasions: when my father died while I was in high school, and much later when I was out of a job and needed to change careers.

      Until recent years I was under the illusion that we were making some sort of progress in race relations. After all, there are far more African-Americans in positions of responsibility now. But Obama’s election seemed to rouse all the somnolent racists, whose ignorant pronouncements are in our face almost daily. What I have realized is that the racial attitudes, particularly but not exclusively of whites, are still too much like those I considered hopelessly old fashioned in the 1950s.

      I don’t think your comment about money is correct. The government doesn’t so readily “print money” (what they actually do is to issue debt). It is the banks who in 2008 made the notoriously bad investments with virtually no cash reserve that caused all the trouble.

      Thanks for writing.


  3. By the way, I never grew up in the inner city, and how is it that a welfare check is luxury to anyone? Who can buy a beach house with a welfare check? They must be joking…

    I worked for a living and still could not live the lifestyle that I would have liked to have lived.

    Luxury, in my opinion, costs more than a five-star hotel. So, even if a hotel stay is what you meant then you are telling me that a welfare check could possibly pay an estimated $5,000 a night hotel stay in Tahiti? Where is the hook-up, for real…

    As to the gangs, well, you can blame part of that on the ‘white supremacist’ (KKK) whom have, I have read, initiated black people within their governance because who better to control black people but other black people…

    Also, if you really want to go there with the drug situation, then I will just have to say that if drugs weren’t presented then drugs would never have been present… And it does not matter who started it.


    • To reiterate, all the things you mention are the stereotypical responses of right-wing bigots. On occasion, some of them are forced to get by on what welfare provides. That usually shuts them up.


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