Paul Ryan is rethinking that whole "makers and takers" rhetoric, so I hear. He has had an insight. People who are "accepting government benefits" don't actually "want to be dependent". [We won't argue about whether it is accurate to characterize a social safety net as a "benefit". I think of "benefits" as things like "free chocolate at lunch!" or "my job provides me a leased automobile!" or "zillions of dollars worth of stock options even though I ran the company into the ground!" Not, you know "here's $300 worth of food stamps, go feed your kids for a month!" But I digress.] However:
It should be noted that there are two separate ingredients that make up “makers and takers” doctrine. The first is the idea that those who are relying on government want to be dependent on it, because it’s an easier life. The second is the idea that those who are relying on government are stuck in a plight, perhaps against their will, that is counter-productive for them, in that it increases dependence and saps individual initiative.
While Paul Ryan has had the amazing insight that people do not want to be dependent, he is less sure that they are not somehow stuck against their will. Not in a safety net - in a hammock! A hammock that has lulled them into dependency! Against their will!
I thought it would be of use to Mr. Ryan if I were to give him just a tiny glimpse of life here rocking sweetly in the hammock of SSDI, lulled to dependency on the government largess.
Last night Mr. Z and I began the ever-so-fun process of preparing our 2015 taxes. TurboTax was happy to let me know that my SSDI income for 2015 is GREATER THAN that of 2014 - by a total of $408! COLA raises are the breeze that make the hammock swing! TurboTax also cheerfully informed us that, although last year we had received a modest refund of about $200, this year we owed a payment in an amount just under...$400.
The extra $10 or so of the difference between my SSDI COLA and the federal tax owed is, of course, a lavish extravagance that has lulled me into remaining disabled by chronic migraines and dependent on SSDI, against my true will. Which, of course, is to remain disabled by chronic migraines and NOT "accept government benefits".
One "government benefit" that you may see people who are homeowners "accepting" around tax time is the federal deduction for mortgage interest paid. Unlike the rhetoric around the social safety net, this is a true benefit. It is a pure bonus of buying a house, that the federal government says "good news for you! You can deduct all that interest if you itemize your taxes! Aren't you glad you're a homeowner?" No one ever calls a homeowner a "taker" for accepting this clear, outright government benefit. Homeowners have done nothing special to deserve it. They will not go hungry, or unclothed, or unhoused, or fail to receive needed medical treatment, if this tax break is not extended to them. It. Is. A. Benefit.
Many homeowners even put up actual hammocks in their backyards, rocking contentedly in them after taking their tax break, knowing that the federal government - and Paul Ryan - is somewhere smiling beneficently upon them.
I am the farthest thing from a Trumpist you could find in this U.S. of A., but Paul Ryan's half-way non-pology for "makers and takers" rhetoric is the best the GOP can muster, no wonder The Orange Man is a hit among the disaffected middle class Republicans.