From Pine View Farm

Contraindications 2

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.”



  1. George

    February 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Trivial anecdote: Murray, the propagator of the old far right meme now repackaged as pseudo-social science, that the upper class have values that the lower classes need to emulate, lives near Frederick, Maryland. Frederick is upscale, mostly because it’s the bedroom community for Fort Detrick, so everyone benefits from an economy guaranteed by US guvmint dollars, unaffected by economic calamity in the private sector. Frederick is very much an upper class and upper middle class entitlement spending community although the people in it would never view it that way. Frederick also gave us Bruce ivins, the anthraxer, someone everyone thought was an upper middle class paragon of value until his psychopathic secret life was revealed by the FBI.

  2. Frank

    February 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I used to live in DC.  I am familiar with Frederick, but didn’t know those details.

    I think Camp David is also in the area.

    I used to work with a guy who told a story of being driven to Fort Detrick when he was in the service.  An officer was driving him up a road and came to a pylon.  

    The officer stopped the jeep, and, to quote my co-worker, “A marine stepped out of a tree!”