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Sun Jul 26, 2015, 12:52 PM

Cuts and GOP Schadenfreude Tactics

When the GOP cuts social welfare or means-tested programs, the astroturf troll war against these programs always has the tenor that somewhere someone lazy is getting money for at the hard-working taxpayer's expense. Recently I noticed how this tactic is being moved around the social scale.

I live in an area that still retains rent control, but recently, thanks to repeated incoming waves of crazy tech money such as the Facebook IPO, the rent control stock has been undermined by property speculation and Silicon Valley's libertarian crowd has found a wedge to make a strong attack on the remaining units. Since there is also a crisis in affordable housing, and due to a unique circumstance, a lack of Section 8 housing, a lot of genuinely elderly, poor, and disabled people are clinging to those rent-controlled units. And the rent control does not mean "cheap" here: the initial rent was set to market value, and rents have always been high here so no landlord is getting ripped off. Rent control means the landlord can't suddenly raise the rents to match speculation prices.

Anyway, during a recent forum debate on rent control a woman representing a young family (probably a young male libertarian pretending to be such) replied to my post on the comment of the plight of people on fixed incomes with barely contained outrage. I could almost feel "her" eyes narrowing as she complained about how much her "family" had to pay while people on rent control "got away with" paying so much less. This was a step up from complaining that taxpayers were subsidizing the affordable housing of the poor. This was pure green-eyed envy, and, considering the untenable scale of recent rents in the area, I could imagine where it was coming from. If "good middle class people" couldn't pay their rent and started losing their housing, the leadership of this sort of comment would direct their anger not toward the policymakers who had created the speculation bubble, but toward the poor people on fixed incomes, who were still "enjoying" rent controlled housing.

That post has been on my mind a lot. Though it's been the only one where I've felt such a distinct chill of schadenfreude - I have to keep wondering if people might quietly vote against rent control because they WANTED to see those "lucky" elderly and disabled people thrown out on the street. Their is a grand American tradition - shown in the outbreak of Donald Trumpism - of resisting political education and defending the worst of their biases as the "truth". And the GOP knows exactly how to play that for the benefit of the Billionaire class.

The reason I'm writing this OP is I just came across this tactic again as an attempt to turn the schadenfreude against a "narrow group" of the "upper middle class": http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/the_upper_middle_class_is_ruining_all_that_is_great_about_america.html

I apologize for this article being a few months old, but I just read it. This is a very clever article in that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to agree with. Obama should have stuck to his guns about tax reform. Doctors and lawyers do use their professional organizations and education systems to charge too much. The lower class and the lower middle class does look at those things with schadenfreude when they are pointed out to them. There's a reason there are so many lawyer jokes, and there's a reason the GOP can sell hatred of Obamacare to people who desperately need healthcare.

Here is the most shady schadenfreude of this article. Notice what happens when the author starts talking about Uber. He resents that the upper middle class enjoys the comfortable lifestyle offered by their protections while they endorse policy that forces the lower classes to compete. Uber has to stay in business because it transports the elderly, but the poor elderly suddenly disappear when it comes to questioning whether the AMA is in the larger interests of society. Well, that's a super valid point! However...

What kind of schadenfreude is it to want the upper middle class to scramble around in the gig economy, too, just because this is the havoc that's being wrought on the low middle class? Shouldn't the goal be to expand a comfortable "protected" lifestyle with amenities to more people? Shouldn't the goal be to persuade this "narrow" group of people that they aren't particularly special or deserving within the context of a democratic society, and they should be advocating for policy that extends that kind of social structure to everyone?

Be aware that when the GOP make cuts and force people to live lives of extreme scarcity, this is the context they are trying to create: they want groups to point fingers at each other and say "why should THEY have this and that when I'm being forced to struggle so hard!" However, the alternative answer is always to demand that progressive taxation, tax on windfall wealth, and tax on billionaires be used to fund public infrastructure, social "floor" programs, civic institutions, and social amenities for all. Do we want to have a great nation for all citizens or do we want to scratch each other's eyeballs out while all the money flows up to the billionaire class? As long as this is a democracy, it's our choice.

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Reply Cuts and GOP Schadenfreude Tactics (Original post)
daredtowork Jul 2015 OP
PatrickforO Jul 2015 #1
daredtowork Jul 2015 #3
spirald Jul 2015 #2
daredtowork Jul 2015 #4
daredtowork Jul 2015 #5

Response to daredtowork (Original post)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 01:02 PM

1. Class warfare at its best. Because we all know the REAL lazy people who are sucking up

tax dollars work for the military-prison-industrial complex. They are the ones on welfare, only it's in the billions.

Seriously, when I calculate how much people receiving welfare or SNAP get, it is MINISCULE - just enough to stay alive in grinding poverty.

And, since the right doesn't want to subsidize childcare or have single payer healthcare, the people on welfare are afraid to go to work because their health benefits will go by the wayside and they will be paying most of their check for day care.

This is BULLSHIT. That's why I'm supporting Sanders, because he's the only one talking about this crap.

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Response to PatrickforO (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 02:00 PM

3. Click on my sig

People on welfare can't take casual labor and legally report it because hellfire of punishment will rain down on them if they do. On the one hand, this is due to bureaucratic momentum and the poverty industry making a living, and on the other hand this is probably due to GOP interference to try to set things up so they "don't work". But the one thing everyone has to understand is that since the 1980s welfare doesn't mean direct cash - it means food stamps, money that is paid to shelters or landlords, money that's paid for childcare or health programs...it means programs, programs, programs. And in the end it keeps destitute people living in poverty and overwhelmed by appointments and requirements and practically whipped toward homelessness since they are in a situation that is so impossible to get out of. The worse thing is facing your job developer and/or your therapist and confessing you didn't meet your quota of applying for X jobs this week because you were running around doing all those other things and then trying to recover from the stress of all those things the other half of the time...until you are finally so stressed and burnt out and sick that you actually qualify for disability. And since that's the only government program that *does* pay cash, ironically, that's the only one that will save you from homelessness: though you will probably have to go through a spate of homelessness first since it literally takes years to get and it's very hard to prove you need, especially for mental illness. Depression doesn't count unless it's "clinical".

The women being afraid to work because of childcare issues is something that very much affects lower class and lower middle class working families as well.

Another thing that should be taken into consideration before people start heaping schadenfreude on people who receive government support is that they often work as well. Even people on SSI are able to work and strongly encouraged to do so. They receive government support because they can't work enough to support themselves and their incomes are too low to survive. Many of the working poor receive food stamps/SNAP for the same reason. So cutting programs to "encourage" people to work makes no sense. Many of people relying on those programs to survive probably exhaust themselves working harder than you do. Even people on welfare may be working very hard - they just can't report what they are doing: when you can't receive direct cash you have to be doing something: which is why these programs infuriate me as the State pushing people into prostitution and crime, and pushing single women into shacking up with men when they wanted to remain independent. Welfare provides no "floor" for people to stand on, and those casting schadenfreude forced that situation.

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Response to daredtowork (Original post)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 01:46 PM

2. The infantile construct of selfish entitlement

IMHO, the reason that certain political factions are always screaming about "entitlement reform" is that they are projecting their own sense of selfish entitlement.

This is the kind of selfish entitlement that a young child has when they feel bitter that they didn't get the other kids toy even when they got one of their own.

The sentiment that creates umbrage when someone less fortunate gets something for less than I would pay for it needs to be called out and shamed at every opportunity- the parents of individuals who feel this way have failed to teach their kids this basic morality that is required for us to have a society that functions for all of us.

Rich people who complain about starving people getting free food when they do not, or people of modest means getting cheap rent when they do not should be shamed and disqualified from having their opinion taken seriously in the public sphere. This rampant selfishness is positively revolting and will eventually result in the instability of our system.

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Response to spirald (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 02:06 PM

4. Yes, it's the same people who cheat on their taxes because "everyone does it"

And who try to find government programs that will give them "free stuff".

And who join "freeper" web sites and try to exploit every nook and cranny of the system to show what they can get away with. And then they complain about how Obamacare lets big insurance companies cash in, etc. When they get caught at their shenanigans - especially when they get caught starting fake nonprofits - they go batsh*t crazy. Remember that guy who flew an airplane into a building (emulating 9/11) because the IRS wasn't letting him get away with not paying his taxes anymore? Or how the Lafayette shooter hung the swastika sign outside his bar because he got caught serving drinks to minors one too many times? That's the "everyone else gets away with it" mentality.

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Response to daredtowork (Original post)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 08:49 PM

5. bump just in case anyone else is interested. nt

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