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Jennifer Ronna
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edit: Der Spiegel and its readership could do well to get their opinions about America FROM SOME OTHER SOURCES than east/west coast champagne liberals and their own little echo chambers. Don't even get me started on the "gun nut" quip -- I'll remember that while I'm up in the deer stand this month.
Gringo -- Yes! That is one of the most smug, intolerant, condescending statements made. Illegal immigration is a huge slap in the face to legal immigrants, and that is one of the problems most Americans have with it -- the unfairness of it all. Plus, while I (and I believe most Americans) would be lenient with those one in a million illegals who actually come here in hopes of assimilating and becoming full citizens, the reality is most illegals are not here to assimilate, or support themselves, and many are involved in some very nasty criminal activities (including the support of terrorists). Why on earth should any American desire to have them here, much less welcome them in with open arms? And why on earth should any American put up with being lectured to by self-righteous people who are completely ignorant of the facts on the ground and insinuate that failure to accept these illegals with open arms is tantamount to racism? [Which is even more annoying because, well, not all of us are rich, white, Anglo Saxon, Protestants -- some of us are pretty far removed from that (shocking, I know). I think Der Spiegel and its readership would do well to get their opinions about America from east/west coast champagne liberals and their own little echo chambers.]
How odd. I could have sworn he was failing because his economic policies are driving the American workforce and the small businesses that hire a large portion of them into the ground (usually something that garners you a fair amount of unpopularity with the electorate), or maybe it's his nonchalant attitude towards the war and foreign policy (which I realize it's hard for a lot of people to believe, but flyover America actually does pay attention to that, at least from the standpoint of how it may affect them...since they, and southerners, on average send more of their children off to fight this country's wars than any other area of the country, which brings up his rather troubling, blase attitude towards domestic security -- that's not very confidence inspiring for most), or maybe it's just all of the whinging he's been doing lately (not a positive trait in a president, at least from the redneck, hillbilly, hick point of view), or the rampant corruption coming from his Democratic majority (which rarely gets reported on, even from radical, right wing Fox News...and which contrary to what some might think, the yokels are canny enough to catch a whiff of and not like it much), or perhaps the blatant disregard for the laws of the country by the same (which they don't even have the good manners to be subtle about anymore -- that's usually a good way to tick off the electorate). Clearly I was mistaken...and should heed the explanations laid forth in a German magazine as to what is causing my countrymen to think and act the way they do...or I'm just a hateful, gun loving cowboy and demagogue worshipper (although I'm not a registered Republican, so maybe that consigns me to merely the eigth circle).
"But in reality, liberty requires taking away the government bureaucracy and making the welfare reliable." Well, wouldn't one way to go about doing that be getting rid of state subsidized welfare and putting it back into the hands of individuals or individual groups? Get the government out of the "social justice" (as the term has come to be defined)business altogether. In fact, as an American (an American who has been extremely socially/economicaly "mobile") I have a hard time taking the term "social justice" very seriously. Maybe because risks have always worked out for me in the long run; outside of the soup kitchen at the local Catholic Worker's house, I really don't want my government shackling me down (which the government welfare business is wont to do, and don't really see that changing anytime soon for a variety of reasons), and I really don't want to be paying out excessively (and more importantly, with no choice to do otherwise) for people who won't take a risk or two (or just get their butt off the sofa) when I am doing well for myself -- a hand up is one thing, but it isn't really just to make people carry around a bunch of lazy bones who won't work either (and this does play into the concept of equality -- equal treatment by the law, but not equality of outcome -- where's the incentive for a person if that's the end result? that's "justice"?). There are a lot of very average people like me who think much the same -- at least in my part of the country.
How could calling the entitlements programs "welfare plantations" be cynical if that's what the people really think they are? I'm not trying to argue the foolish notion that anyone is ever completely and truly free (that's never been the case, and only a child or fool would ever think otherwise). What I am trying to explain is the notion of some small semblance of individual freedom (having a job does give you money, which gives you some choice in things you can purchase for yourself -- home, food, clothes, health care, transportation) that doesn't leave you totally at the mercy of some government bureaucracy -emphasis on "totally". This results in feeling obliged to vote for those who would continue the entitlement programs, so you aren't homeless and destitute (if you are a recipient). Most Americans -- even the ones on the programs -- are aware of this, and no, they do not care for it; they resent it actually. If you were to ask, there are many who would, in candor, admit to you that they see no "justice" in it whatsoever, quite the reverse. As for "what they really need" -- I don't quite know how to address that, but that's just...I don't know...everybody knows that you never get everything you think you need in life, or to get the things you need you need to work for them...right? I mean...the government can give you things you need, but then it really isn't yours, it's the government's (which means they can take it away from you a lot more easily than if you owned it in the first place). Clear as mud?
You are perhaps misunderstanding me: I did not mean to imply that people don't take handouts (or even expect them); merely, from my own experience with my countrymen, most Americans, even those on welfare to a great degree, do not trust the governmental oversight that comes with it, and they resent the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through while on it. Many, if not most, would prefer not to be in a position to need the dole. There are of course, some (and sadly, that number is growing) who see it as a birthright, but most do not see the welfare state as "social justice" -- certainly not the taxpayers and suprisingly many of the recipients. It does not fit into the, perhaps American, concept of "justice". I see what you are saying about "alms taken with humility", and that is true, but at the bottom of it all, most of the average, workaday Americans that I live amoung would actually prefer they didn't have to resort to alms from the government in the first place; in fact, if given their druthers if asked they would tell you the ideal situation would be government out of the picture for the most part and they allowed to be self reliant (lack of jobs and/or lack of jobs that keep up with the standard of living is the most common complaint I hear from many people on the dole, believe it or not -- many curse the government for the circumstances that make their situation; "welfare plantation" is not an uncommon term here). But perhaps this is a condition only germaine to my area of America -- I don't know what other parts of the country are like, on a personal level, only what I see and hear where I am at.
Hi all. Interesting topic, so I will weigh in. Americans, by and large, do believe that they have a good life. Average Americans for the most part think they live in a great country where you can have a pretty good life for yourself and your family. The emphasis being on you doing for yourself. Also, there is still a mindset for most of the American public that deeply resents any government incursion into their lives -- this includes many who are on welfare: they do not like nor trust it; they know that with the dole comes hoops a person has to jump through in the form of nosey social workers, et al. They see it (perhaps quite correctly) as a loss of personal freedom. Most would still prefer to give charitably by themselves as individuals or through mutual aid societies -- through their houses of worship or through their communities/social groups. Many (not all!) would rather rely on the same in times of trouble and only give in to state welfare at the last resort (there is a growing class of habitual welfare recipients however, and this is turning into a societal problem -- it does not mesh well with this society). I think that has a lot to do with how they view the level of "social justice" in the country as a whole. Many average Americans do not see government as a path to "social justice" (in fact, I'd wager that most would find that term silly and something to be suspicious of if it came from some legislative/governmental decree; they would see it as setting the conditions for the exact opposite of justice). This is perhaps an aspect of American patriotism/nationalism -- but it is nonetheless very much there in many. At least as far as my experience of my country has shown me. Unfortunately, in my opinion at least, these aspects of American social thought are the most under attack at present.
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Jul 5, 2010