Clarence Page wonders on this apparent contradiction: States who number among those receiving the highest amounts of government benefits have populaces who tend to be most vocally opposed to government benefits.
He suggests that it is a question of framing: To wit, my hard-earned asset is your undeserved entitlement.
Here’s a bit. Click to read the rest.
I was informed of this in a gigabyte of emails that I received last summer after writing about a study by Cornell’s Suzanne Mettler. She found that substantial percentages of people receiving benefits from such programs as Social Security (44 percent), unemployment insurance (43 percent) and Medicare (40 percent) told researchers that they have not received a “government benefit.”
Irritated readers responded with personal arguments that basically went like this:
“How dare you refer to (Social Security/Medicare/unemployment/home mortgage income tax deduction/etc., etc.) as a ‘benefit.’ I worked hard for (fill in the blank) years to earn my (Social Security/Medicare/unemployment/home mortgage income tax deduction/ etc., etc.), you (fill in the invective.)”
Believe me, I get it. The dispute here is between what I mean when I say “benefit” and what some people hear. In the years since Ronald Reagan won blue-collar votes by denouncing “welfare queens” and the like, many voters have come to associate the word “benefits” with handouts to “deadbeats” and “losers” and “cheats.”