Man, do I wish growing up on welfare was really as awesome as everyone makes it out to be. That would have been amazing - a free ride, no concerns, never having to worry about being take care of - sounds so fantastic it's like a dream.
It is also a skewed, over-emotional, and unrealistic portrayal of welfare. The hard reality is that maintaining the basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter) when your margin of error is about 100 bucks a month means that you are constantly scrambling to make ends meet, always under threat of eviction and starvation, and never have enough surplus to even begin thinking about the future, must less saving for it, and making plans to improve. If your entire life has been spent trying to survive from week to week, the long term is not only inconceivable, it's also a big fucking tragic joke. It's the thing that politicians argue over, while the poor don't give a fuck, because they cannot even imagine it.
Yes, there are endemic problems with a welfare system. But eliminate it completely and you would not suddenly find the poor subclass scrambling to get jobs, you would instead have the poor subclass homeless and visible to you everyday, where you get to step over their shit in the street.
Welfare hides away the poor. It provides just barely enough not to be homeless.
Let me be clear: I am not saying welfare is good or bad, I am saying that how it is discussed almost always completely misses the mark of its reality.
You've highlighted quite clearly why it is I hate offhanded diatribes like the one Venator made.
It's really, really easy to sit up on a high horse and start issuing these decrees when you really have no scope of what happens in the real world. And the majority of people making these blanket statements, I often assume, have no real idea what is really going on in the lower echelons in society. They just assume that the only people receiving any kind of help are drug abusing scumbags.
I have been on the bottom before, seen others on the bottom, and sometimes it is their fault (and sometimes it has been my own) but often times a bad streak of luck can lead to the worst of situations. The dynamics of a broken family unit are pretty difficult to discern as well from just a cursory glance; my wife, who is one of the hardest working people I have ever met, was systematically beaten down for years by an abusive, emotionally disturbed mother, who pulled the entire family into a slum, both literally and figuratively. It would have been a real shame to see her, powerless to do anything at such a young age, simply be whisked away like a "rat" due to the mistakes of her parents.
I stand by the fact that, the only people bitching about the system are the people who are getting the raw end of it. Anyone who is truly successful doesn't have to worry about this kind of low level social business anyways, and the ones who pretend they have some idea of how it works and are unsympathetic usually have no idea what the fuck they are talking about. It's akin to people in the head office of a business who were hired from other venues rather than within the company systematically tearing the structure of their new business down because they fail to understand how things work at its lowest level due to a lack of any kind of tangible, hands on experience.
This whole discussion seems thoroughly retarded to me apart from the few always insightful posters who - not coincidentally - also happen to be members of the hierarchy. Funny how stratification also sheds light on perspective.
I also think anyone looking for MORE government intrusion on privacy and on our personal lives are really missing the full ramifications of what such a rigid system can lead too - and that, despite how fantastic and wonderful and intelligent and useful they think they are, are blinded to the risks that they might actually end up on the BOTTOM of such a system, and as a result, would be a victim of the type of oppressive bullshit it would allow for!
It's hard for me to take a solid position on anything political anymore because it all seems so fundamentally flawed in one way or another. I blame people for that, as usual. They suck.