The taps have recently been turned off for twelve thousand residents of Detroit who failed to pay their water bills. The city’s Water and Sewage Department says that it simply cannot continue to provide water to people who give nothing in return.
The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization has appealed to the United Nations to do something about the cutoff, claiming that Detroit is depriving its citizens of a universal human. The organization’s chairwoman, Maureen Taylor, found a venue at MSNBC to vent her outrage. Reporter Hank Winchester was on hand to comment on the story, which he’d been covering for WDIV, Detroit’s NBC affiliate station. Things got lively when Winchester said that some people “simply don’t want to pay the water bill.”
In a saner world, this would not be a controversial statement. Winchester’s remark did not however, sit well with Ms. Taylor. “Before I answer that let me say, shame on Hank, shame on him,” Taylor said, “for putting that lie and that mis [sic] and that disinformation out on the air. To suggest that people don’t want to pay for a water bill is scandalous.”
Mr. Winchester claimed to have spoken to people who prioritized their cable bills before their water bills because they thought the water department was bluffing. He did not say that such freeloaders represent every single one of the twelve thousand. “No he hasn’t talked to anybody like that,” said Taylor of Winchester.
Those people simply don’t exist. Never have, never will.
Winchester’s heresy was to say that some people—not all people—are taking advantage of the system, which is something that proponents of a generous welfare state will never admit. They consider it to be “poor-bashing,” which is really quite gauche. Decent people don’t speak that way about the poor. If welfare proponents were to admit that some people are free-loading, the obvious follow-on questions would be exactly how many and what are we doing about it? That’s a can of worms they don’t want to open.
President Obama seems to agree that no one bilks the system. As he once said: “I meet a lot of people as president of the United States, and as a candidate for president of the United States, and as a U.S. Senator, and as a state senator, and I can’t name a time when I’ve met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job. The long term unemployed are not lazy…They are coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.”
Yes, I know that there are people out there who are really struggling to find work in this crappy Obama economy because I was one of them. But for him to say that he’s never met a single American who would rather have taxpayers take care of him than work is a blatant lie. Is he trying to tell me that when he was beating the streets of Chicago as a community organizer that he never met anyone who liked getting government goodies at the expense of others? Baloney.
Has Obama ever met his own aunt? Aunt Zeituni lived on welfare every moment of her life from about 2002 until she died this spring. She claims to have fallen ill just as her visa was about to expire and ended up too broke to return to Kenya. If I didn’t know better I’d say she didn’t go home because she wanted to ride that taxpayer-funded gravy train for a while. She was eventually assigned to a Boston public housing project and received disability compensation. She stayed here as an illegal alien for eight years while collecting welfare before she was granted asylum. “I didn’t take any advantage of the system,” she said in 2010. “The system took advantage of me.” Well, that took gall. She added that “I didn’t ask for it; they gave it to me. Ask your system. I didn’t create it or vote for it. Go and ask your system.”
To say that no one would prefer having an unemployment check to a job is to say that no one would like a two year paid vacation on the government’s dime. I assure you, plenty of people would like just that. I’ve met them. They are the reason that people magically find jobs right when their benefits are about to run out.
A 2010 study from Denmark found that many of its citizens take the maximum time allowed to find employment. At the time of the study, Denmark allowed four years of unemployment benefits to its citizens, which seems to be the exact amount of time it takes Danes to find work. When that clock is ticking they get motivated but if the deadline is as far away as the next World Cup they can’t be bothered.
The enforced fear of being perceived as a poor-basher has a way of stymying conversation, which is exactly what they want. Just hand over the free crap. No discussion.
If welfare abuse weren’t a taboo subject someone might point out that the poor people we’re supporting aren’t exactly starving Somalis. In my state, which has very generous welfare programs, the poor never seem to have problems finding money for cigarettes or scratch tickets. The lower class is actually the primary market for those two products. Nor do they want for luxury items such as gold jewelry and satellite dishes.
The defenders of generous welfare benefits would dismiss those as mere anecdotes, as if there were any comprehensive studies concerning the kind of jewelry that people on welfare have. We do know, however, that nearly two thirds of impoverished households in the US have either cable or a satellite dish. In Massachusetts, I’d say it’s closer to one hundred percent; just drive through the slummy neighborhoods and count the satellite dishes affixed to the homes.
Then tell me that they can’t afford water.