Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people posting those “If you’re on welfare, you shouldn’t be doing drugs or drinking” pictures on their Facebook walls. And honestly, I hate that. I’ve talked about this here before when the topic of drug testing for welfare recipients came up, but now I just want to do a general comment on the topic.
The first thing I want to say is this. Who the hell do you think you are? “But Jim,” you will surely opine, “it isn’t fair that these people are abusing the system! It isn’t fair that I have to pay for millions of people to stay home and do nothing! It isn’t fair that I’m paying for their drug habit!” And I get that. You’re absolutely right, it isn’t fair, which is of course in stark contrast to how the rest of the world is. On the Serengeti, lions and zebras meet bi-weekly to discuss the most fair course of action to ensure that both pride and zeal (the internet tells me that is the name for a group of zebras) are able to best make their way in the world. Fair is universal! Karma proves it!
Sorry, kids, but life ain’t fair. You aren’t paying for millions of people to stay home and do nothing because you don’t make that much money. If one person on welfare gets (and I have no idea what’s fair, so I’m just going to shit out a number) a grand a month, and there are (using these potentially inaccurate 2005 stats from that fact-source one can never dispute, Wiki Answers) 1,679,800 on welfare in Canada, in a single year you would have had to have paid $20,157,600,000 just in taxes that went totally and completely to welfare. Something tells me that you didn’t pay that much in taxes.
No, the reality is that only a very tiny portion of your paycheck goes to fund welfare programs. I don’t know what that number is, but it’s small. I tried to quickly research the answer and didn’t find anything direct, which comes as no big shock given the complexity of social spending, transfers, and all the rest of the factors that make up this number, but it sure as sugar isn’t like welfare takes that big a chunk out of the total taxation pie.
As for them abusing the system, I would hazard a guess that welfare fraud is a fairly small portion of overall welfare recipients. I base this on the fact that we’ve tightened that belt about as tight as it’ll go (although I’m sure our Conservative government will prove me wrong yet again) and that has presumably dealt with the lion’s share of fraudulent welfare claims. Still, I’m absolutely certain it happens. But so what? The truth is that some people are going to screw any system you put in front of them, but do you let that dissuade you from helping those who need?
So that, at least as far as I’m concerned, addresses the fiscal aspect of you bitching. But that’s not all there is.
Are you seriously telling me you are jealous of people on welfare? What, like they’re making fat stacks of mad cash just sitting around all day doing coke off hot woman boobies? Have you ever been on welfare? For fuck’s sake, they are a band aid on a gushing head wound. Those who try to live the welfare life aren’t living high on the hog, they’re poor and miserable. And if someone living a poor and miserable life wants to drink or do drugs, why is that anyone’s business but theirs? Most people turn to drugs and alcohol when they are faced with difficulties in life, so why can’t these people?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither advocating for drugs nor am I saying that poverty makes it okay to piss away your money on bad choices. What I’m saying is that we all deal with the lemons life hands us in different ways, and why does one person get told they can’t deal with it the same way someone else would simply because of the source of their money?
Now, me, I’ve been on welfare. It was for a total of a month and a week. It was bloody awful. I felt so totally chewed up and spat out. It was back when I hadn’t gone to college yet, was just graduated from high school and had absolutely no prospects. I lost my job and, despite looking like mad, found nothing. I had rent to pay and nobody to bail me out, so I did what I had to, and I got the hell off as fast as I could. I didn’t get a massive check which I turned into an ad for High Times, I got enough money to pay for my rent and bills and that was about it.
Welfare is a system. We created it because we felt it important to look after those of us who are down. Some of the people who get it are going to screw around. Others will be on and off of it like me. Still others will have to live that life for a very long time. Like any system, it isn’t perfect, and like any Conservative government, I’m sure they’ll continue to strangle whatever pennies they can from it. But your image that welfare people are just sitting around doing drugs all day… Where does the money come from? Are these people all serial muggers?
I’m not saying leave welfare people alone to do as they please. What I’m saying is that maybe you should have a little compassion for them. Asshole.