Sunday, January 31, 2010

When you take the king's shilling...

From the web's premier source of kittens'n'butterflies, SurvivalBlog, I was led to a chart showing the percentage of personal income in the U.S. derived from transfer payments, which is where the government takes money from somebody who actually did something, and transfers it to someone else for doing nothing. Look at the chart: Nearly one dollar in every five in every mattress in America came from Uncle Sam in the form of dole.

Now, this could be excused as good and charitable; a helping hand for the unfortunate. The problem is that in a democracy (which is what we've certainly become for better or worse), said unfortunates can go to the polls. Thus, this is also known as "Buying Votes". Back in 1608, Captain John Smith told the settlers of Jamestown, "He who does not work, will not eat," and he was almost certainly the last American politician to do so, since passing out the chow is a simpler way of guaranteeing loyalty at the ballot box.


Anonymous said...

Actually,l Tam, it's worse: There is co-option via things like the farm subsidies. Allocations and Parity and on and on.

Indiana Sens'n'Reps buy farm votes by promising more goodies to farmers.

While Reegan was looking at the USSR, Tip O'Neill and Dan Rostenkowski jacked up farm subsidies from some $4 billion a year to over $40 billion a year. That buys lots of votes. Never turn yo0ur back on a Democrat.


Jim said...

Anonymous speaks truly. I have lived and worked in such welfare corruptions as Chicago, Washington, New York. But only here in my corn-field origins does welfare reach staggering proportions.

Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars each year going to support a "family farmer." Never mind many of the families have an "Inc." behind their names and enough assets and cash flow to be stock exchange eligible.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be a nit-picking pedant, but I am and that was Miles Standish.

og said...

We need to change "Passing out the chow" into a one-way ticket to a new rope.

Tam said...

Anon 11:14,

Don't tell me, tell Jamestown.

I got yer pedant, right here. ;)

Brad K. said...


It was my understanding, back in the "War On Poverty" (mid-1960's, Lyndon B. Johnson was President) era, that a million dollars spent on NASA would feed four or five more families than than a million dollars spent on welfare.

The portion of money collected, that actually gets spent of welfare, makes the "Support your local Sheriff Association" returns look positively charitable. I know, I exaggerate. The Sheriffs Assoc. scam sends some 3%-9% to some Sheriff, and the government only consumes about 60% of each welfare dollar.

Welfare - it isn't about taking care of people. It is about bureaucrat empire building. Cut welfare, and you put thousands and thousands of federal workers on part time (they are union, it costs too much to fire them).

Anonymous said...

I hate to see veteran's benefits lumped into welfare/charity ...
I damn sure earned mine.

Just sayin'

A Fan

Jenny said...

Does this include Social Security? Looks like it... and an aging population would account for the steep spike.

... not that I'm saying SS isn't a vote-buying scheme or suicide economics. But it's at least one I'm hoping will be easier to ameliorate once (A.) the bad numbers actually start creating real budgetary pain, and (B.) the generation that grew up expecting it to be tapped out long before we got to the trough start filling up the power seats in another 10-20 years.

Now, the SENS people could (and probably would) let us kill it dead. But I rather doubt they'll be anywhere close before SS collapses, so it's prolly a moot point.

Tam said...

I don't think the chart includes farm subsidies, veteran's benefits, the CDC, or the salary of the guy fetching coffee in the E-ring.

I'll say this, though: U.S. military officers used to refrain from voting for the same reason that the pauper's oath existed. Conflict of interest is conflict of interest.

Davidwhitewolf said...

Heinlein somewhere had a marker for when that charted percentage got too high. Can't remember what it was, though.

Anonymous said...

Some old Greek (Aristotle) wrote "Republics decline into democracies, and democracies degenerate into tyrannies".

We pretty well declined into a democracy when that fiend Woodrow Wilson was president. Under the current crew, i would not be at all surprised to see torchlight parades and monster rallies.

And Social Security has always been a shell game to prop up governemnts with hidden taxation.

cap'n chumbucket

Tirno said...

Tam said: I'll say this, though: U.S. military officers used to refrain from voting for the same reason that the pauper's oath existed. Conflict of interest is conflict of interest.

While I was on active duty, I did not vote, voluntarily, as I thought an officer shouldn't. I was thus officially an uninvolved bystander in the whole Bush v Gore incident, and no matter who came out on top, I could take my orders and execute them in accordance with my oath to the Constitution.

By the time Bush v Kerry came along, I was a reservist, and I got a bit personally invested in the situation. Thinking back on it, I think I would have had some problems taking orders from a President *spit* Kerry. Good order and discipline, that is not.

I'd be OK with requiring that anyone (person or corporation) that received un-earned money from state, local or federal levels of government not being allowed to vote for positions at that level of government for twelve months from their last day of dole, nor contribute to campaigns or make use of the press for political purposes. It's a fair enough trade: you get something to tide you over during your rough patch, and the collective We don't have you trying to convince Us that you deserve more.

Joanna said...

Actually, I said it first. *cough*Paul of Tarsus*cough*

/will not be out-trivia'd.

Tam said...

Well, yes, Capt. Smith did acknowledge the scriptural origin himself.

Sigivald said...

Is a problem, but those charts don't perfctly express what you said.

After all, they include unemployment insurance ... and everywhere I've looked, you basically get out what you paid in while you were working, so that's not a pure transfer (even if there's some).

And it includes veteran's benefits, which are more comparable to deferred salary for service than a payment "for doing nothing".

markm said...

Sigivald: Veterans benefits, unemployment, and social security are all paid mainly from current taxes rather than money put away when the obligation was incurred, and they can all be changed or dropped entirely at the will of the legislature. And have been. You might have earned them long ago, but whether you get them, and how much you get depends on what politicians think will buy the most votes *now*.

GunGeek said...

Not that you can't find Mormons taking government handouts, but there have been a number of their church leaders that have used the expression "the evil of a public dole".

Self sufficiency and true charity when that fails are the only right ways.