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Sanity Zone 8-26-2012 Welfare: Truth and Political Truth

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Posted 08-22-2012 at 05:55 PM by xan

This is not going to be a boring entry on how Medicare works by law and in practice. It's not going to be about how one side or the other blatantly lies about the program. This entry is about how we decide what is "truth" and who we believe using Welfare as the whipping horse.

Our political process is based on core beliefs about the electorate. Politicians and policy creators aim to craft policies and law to achieve a certain economic outcome. In order to gain support for those programs, marketing is more important than the program itself, because without public support, the program will never be passed, and its effects never measured.

If one believes that the electorate is lazy, ill-informed, highly impressionable and prone to "homerism" (i.e., cheering for their "team" regardless of the policy stance), then politicians and policy makers use certain tactics to instill a position and reinforce coincidental (but not necessary causal) relationships to that policy to help either enact or defeat that program.

If one believes that the electorate is engaged, willing to learn, not immediately impressionable, and resistant of labels, then politicians have contrasting tactics that promote and reinforce causal relationships based on tested fact and reproducible pathology.

Welfare is a lightning rod program precisely because it plays into both of these beliefs about the electorate. Watching the current debate between the two candidates and parties sums up much of the outlook of each on what the role of government is and how one should govern. All one needs to know about each's world-view is playing out in not too subtle terms.

As an independent thinker, I am insulted by both, though not equally. I am also saddened because we as a nation have gotten to a point where the only accountable people, the only real bearers of political furies are the most vulnerable and least powerful of us.

I don't know how to "fix" Welfare and programs like it because I don't know how to eliminate misfortune from the world. I don't know how to keep families together. I don't know how to prevent disabilities. I don't know how to stop growing old. I also don't know how to stop people from having no clue as to what Welfare is and how it actually works, despite walking those same people through the law and the process.

It is sad that we are using the most desperately needy, who make up both a tiny fraction of the nation, and the funding for the program, which is a rounding error (for those who aren't familiar with this term, it means insignificant) on the nations' budget, as the proxy for the ills of our society and the foundation for the ethics of governance.

Only in our great country can we be so small and be profoundly proud of it. It is our political truth.
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  1. Old Comment
    Wow. Nice post.
    Posted 08-31-2012 at 09:22 AM by jcp026 jcp026 is offline

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