A record 46.5 million Americans rely on food stamps, and in 2010 the federal government paid out more money in the form of benefits than it collected in federal income taxes. But perhaps the most striking measure of the success of the entitlement state has been the way it’s eroded the stigma of being on the dole, while spreading dependency as a virtue as widely as possible. In other words: Everybody should buy everybody’s free lunch. And free breakfast too. (Did I mention free dinner also would be nice?)Remember this woman who thought that electing Obama in 2008 would mean that "Obama would pay for my gas and mortgage." I wonder if she's disappointed now.
The cultural shift has become so pronounced today that even some progressives are showing signs of unease. Were it not for her impeccable ideological pedigree, Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, might have irreparably damaged her standing with her mother’s friends when she produced a brief video for HBO about her recent encounters outside a New York welfare office. In the Pelosi video, a man waiting in line is drinking beer and smoking cigarettes as he admits that he’s fathered five children by four different mothers. “I’m here to get a check … whatever they’ve got to offer,” he explains. “It’s not like they’ve got a checklist … I’m just here to get what I can get.”
Of course he was.
In the video, Alexandra Pelosi quizzes one man: “Why should I help you? Why should my tax dollars be going to you?” He replies, “Because my ancestors came here to help build this place – my ancestors, the slaves.” The last time the man worked, he says, was “half a decade” ago.
Around the country, there is a lot of “taking” going on. There was some mild bureaucratic embarrassment in Michigan recently when a 24-year-old woman who won $1 million in the state lottery was found to be collecting food assistance. “I feel it’s okay because, I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,” explained the woman, Amanda Clayton. “I have two houses.” She was utterly without embarrassment of any kind.
It reminds me of that line from The Wild One when Marlon Brando's character is asked what he's rebelling against and his reply is "Whadda you got?"
Today the question is "What are entitled to?" and the answer is "Whadda you got?"