T-Bones and Cadillacs

I have a neighbor, let’s call him “Fred”, who is a mid-level corporate manager who just switched back to managing part-timers on a night shift. It’s probably the worst job his (mostly unionized) company offers, and it attracts workers who aren’t that well-educated, most of whom are working poor.

Fred and I were having one of our every-so-often conversations about the world and its problems, and he was bringing up some of the problems his workers and their friends have. One of them is the loss of benefits after crossing an income threshold. If you’re one of Fred’s employees who is a high-school graduate with a couple of kids, and you’re on Medicaid, there’s a point where making a few dollars more means the loss of those programs, which is a huge hit. You’d have to make $1,000 a month more to afford private insurance, if you could get it, to replace Medicaid.

So, what tends to happen is some of these employees will reject extra hours, or they’ll have a second go-nowhere job that pays them cash under the table. Fred identifies this as a problem with “welfare”, and he’s roughly right. There are structural incentives to stay on Medicaid, because the distance from making enough money to be Medicaid-ineligible, to making enough to afford private insurance, is pretty big.

This is old ground and Fred has covered it before, but what was interesting about our conversation was that he said, out of the blue, “Maybe Obamacare will fix that”. And maybe it will–if the transition from Medicaid to premium support for a policy that has decent coverage doesn’t mean going off a $500-a-month cliff.

Fred is fairly conservative: people need to work harder, too many handouts, taxes are killing him, etc. He’s also a bit of a bigot, and a self-described asshole, but he’s not blind. He knows, from experience, what it means to be working poor. He sees the hard life and disincentives to making the jump to the middle class. He’s certainly not the poster child for empathy, since most of the pain he feels is when he has to scramble to fill a spot because an employees can’t work extra hours. But he’s not buying the welfare-mothers-in-Cadillacs fantasy about poverty that people with his political attitudes might otherwise spout. And because of that, he knows that Obamacare, if implemented correctly, will actually get people “off welfare”, meaning into the middle class.

If, instead of a trip to the salad bar at Applebees, David Brooks worked on a loading dock at 3 AM in the middle of the winter, let’s say for a week, he might have a bit of the insight that Fred has, even though Fred has never read Hayek or Burke, or attended the Aspen Institute.

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80 replies
  1. 1
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Bobo risk scuffing up his manicure by doing actual work? April Fool’s was yesterday.

  2. 2
    Bulworth says:

    Well, if Fred hasn’t read Burke or Oakshottian then he’ll never understand his, and our, Betters.

  3. 3
    Breezeblock says:

    I recommend the movie “Hidden in America”.

    USA!USA!USA!

  4. 4
    Morzer says:

    David Brooks – work?

    But that would not harmonize with his Burkean modesty!

  5. 5
    Tokyokie says:

    I pretty much think that everybody who spouts crap about lazy, entitled lower-class workers needs to spend a couple of weeks working (and living on the income from) one of those crappy jobs they take for granted. Especially if it involves working illegal, uncompensated OT in order to hold onto it.

  6. 6
    debbie says:

    Fred’s no different than Rob Portman — it takes personal exposure to get past the ridiculous and obscene stereotypes to the truth. Unfortunately, this is a very slow process, but it seems to be the only path to true change.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    It’s not the same but it reminds me of the PTSD diagnosis. Guys fight for years to get the VA profile but, once you get it, there is no incentive to get better.

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Last week on EvenTheLiberalMSNBC, some Politcobot was dismissing the sequester cuts as no big deal. To his credit, Sam Stein tried to push back, but the upper middle class people around the table mostly weren’t interested. I don’t know how much people like this make, but I’m guessing they’re all in the top 10% of earners, if not the top 5. I think it’s hard to underestimate the way class bias colors our political discourse.

  9. 9
    jon says:

    The problem with all welfare programs, and Obamacare is included, is that so much of it is all-or-nothing: you’re THIS poor, you get THIS; you’re THAT poor, tough shit. And, depending on schedules, the weather, work availability, even the flu, that can all change from month-to-month.

    My girlfriend is worried that her grad school requirement for an internship may require her to lose her family’s health insurance. Yes, she’d love to help at the VA doing work to help veterans with PTSD of various sorts, and do other things to become a licensed social worker. But her children need medical coverage, too. Since it’s Arizona, she’s already lost some of her food stamp money because she doesn’t need to feed herself now that her youngest is twelve. But now she has to worry that her paid internship to help veterans might cost her more than the pay.

    God Bless America, Fuck Yeah!

    If she gets a licensed job at the VA after graduation in a year, she’d start at $80,000. If her child gets pneumonia, he might die. She’s doing everything right to get out of poverty and off welfare, but she needs to have more struggles. For character and stuff, I guess.

    There are other (unpaid) internships available, but she wants what’s best for her future. She got accepted by the best one and wants it. But she also needs to look at next month’s bills.

  10. 10
    Lee says:

    I think you are muddling the phrase ‘middle class’ and ‘working class’.

    Unless you have a really broad definition of middle class.

  11. 11
    bcinaz says:

    If more of those who believe in their own rightness would participate in a Poverty Simulation, there might be more empathy and understanding for the 3am workers, however, a more promising outcome might be that real innovations and ideas to relieve poverty might emerge from the people who think so differently about money and wealth. At least if they participated honestly, and not cheated or gamed the outcome.

  12. 12
    jibeaux says:

    I don’t think David Brooks understands ANY income levels. He puts people into the weirdest categories, like one time he wrote about “you know, that group of upwardly mobile people, maybe a doctor-lawyer couple, that has their own plane”. He wasn’t talking about hobby planes, he was talking about having their own private jet and pilot for travel. Sheesh, I know someone extremely wealthy and extremely high up in corporate America who has what you could basically call a timeshare in a private plane, but what the hell is Brooks talking about? Where does he GET these economic categories he keeps making up, some sort of random internet generator?

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    Being David Brooks means you never have to say you’re sorry.

    Or work a day in your fucking life.

  14. 14
    mistermix says:

    @Lee: I meant to describe the jump from working poor – i.e., eligible for “welfare” — to lower middle-class, which I take to mean you’re getting by without any federal assistance that would usually be considered “welfare”.

    As politics, it’s better to frame the “middle class” as widely as possible, rather than separating out the “working class”, because no politician wants to be caught doing harm to the middle class (even though they’re shat on all the time). You don’t want to be “poor” or even “working poor”, who are, politically, regarded as nothing but a nuisance.

  15. 15
    Tone in DC says:

    Fred has had his fair and balanced worldview run smack into the actual world.

    Reality, what a concept.

  16. 16
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I wonder what Fred thinks of making the minimum wage $12/hr. That plus Obamacare would get a number of the people off of programs like Medicaid.

  17. 17
    legion says:

    If “Fred” is as sharp as you imply, he should be able to grasp this: his company is not willing to pay its workers a living wage. The only way his company can get away with paying its workers as little as it does is because those salaries are _subsidized_ by the government. _His company_ needs to work harder, not the people he manages.

  18. 18
    Cassidy says:

    @jon: Has she considered contacting an AMEDD Recruiter? I know it’s not the favorite option, but the military has programs to pay for school and get commissioned. It may be that last little bit to get her to decent financial status.

  19. 19
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Tone in DC:

    Reality, what a concept.

    Kudos to the Robin Williams reference. I have another from the same album when referring to Repups:

    “ASSHOLES DO VEX MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

    It’s nice that Fred is forced to see the light but will he ever have the epiphany that Cole did?

  20. 20
    the Conster says:

    Health care that’s attached to you and not an employer will unlock more economic potential than any other single factor, which is why the GOPukes have tried to repeal Obamacare 36 times. Fucking treasonous bastards, but they’re beginning to understand that they have already lost, and more and more people are like Fred in the making, as the truly rich people disappear into the far ahead distance, and the rest of us middle class’ers realize how close the poors are behind us.

  21. 21
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I think he prefers to be called Derf now.

  22. 22
    WereBear says:

    While no area of Republicans seem immune to the lack of empathy gene, well off white guys are the absolute WORST. So much privilege, and yet so oblivious to it.

  23. 23
    J. says:

    Great post. Much more enlightening than anything I’ve read in the NYT on this topic. (Also, I would love to see David Brooks do a Mike Rowe or similar for a few days — or nights. Though working the loading dock at 3 a.m. might kill him.)

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jibeaux: Ahhh. But you miss the point of that particular piece of writing. The point was her heaving breasts after getting a whiff of his powerhouse pheromones. The repressed Brooks needed to sublimate very badly and his imagination ran a bit wild. If you smelled his pheromones while you tried to write, the same thing would happen to you.

  25. 25
    Liberty60 says:

    Whenever I hear somoene bitching about poor people who reject extra hours because it will cut off their benefits, I wonder-
    Why is it acceptable to arrange ones affairs- reducing your taxable income- to avoid being penalized by taxes, but somehow an outrage to arrange ones affairs to avoid being penalized by a benefits cut?

  26. 26
    the Conster says:

    Of course, us libtards haven’t considered that once gay marriage is available to everyone, Fred’s workers will pretend to gay marry someone for the benefits and insurance.

    /Georgia wingnut

  27. 27
    jrg says:

    he might have a bit of the insight that Fred has

    Sorry, but this doesn’t seem very insightful to me. People generally act in their best interest (with notable ‘behavioral economic’ exceptions).

    The decision not to exchange work hours in order to lose money should not be surprising to anyone who can subtract.

  28. 28
    the Conster says:

    @Liberty60:

    Because shut up, that’s why.

  29. 29
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Liberty60:

    Because the Poors do the latter while our Galtian Overlords do the former. We can’t have the Poors emulating our Betters.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @J.:

    Though working the loading dock at 3 a.m. might kill him.

    You make that sound like such a bad thing…

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    The head of the D party in South Carolina is named Dick Harpootlian.
    Not sure what else to say about that.

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I don’t know how much people like this make, but I’m guessing they’re all in the top 10% of earners, if not the top 5.

    The chart says anything over $200K a year is in the top 3% or smaller. My guess is all of them blow that away.

  33. 33
    El Caganer says:

    Sounds like Fred could use a course in humility. I hear that Yale is offering one.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m not sure the name I’d give to what Fred has, but I don’t think insight fits the bill.

  35. 35
    Chassuer says:

    @Liberty60: its not an outrage to do so. but remember that dbags whining about limiting hours to optimize their tax strategies aren’t operating on hand to mouth subsistence basis.

  36. 36
    cmorenc says:

    @legion:

    If “Fred” is as sharp as you imply, he should be able to grasp this: his company is not willing to pay its workers a living wage. The only way his company can get away with paying its workers as little as it does is because those salaries are _subsidized_ by the government.

    The classic example of which is Wal-Mart, but that example is much broader than an exploitative corporate employer who indirectly depends on the availability of government welfare for its workers to maintain a viable workforce at the wages the company pays. Its customer base is also a critical part of the equation; what key characteristic does its customer base have that is perfectly complementary to Wal-Mart’s welfare-exploitative employment practices? ANSWER: their customers can find more goods more available more hours of the day in a comfortably safe environment, and most of them are not much inclined to question how Wal-Mart is able to offer these things to them. The do have the obvious insight that huge-scale volume purchasing is somehow involved, but not much at all that huge-scale exploitation of floor employees and the government welfare system is involved.

    However, the economics of Wal-Mart’s floor employees are mostly invisible, unless a friend or family member works there to make a living, rather than just as a part-time job to get extra spending money. Most middle and upper-middle class people simply don’t connect how their own purchasing habits interact with the costs and extent of various forms of government welfare sustenance to individuals and corporations, most especially corporations like Wal-Mart where they shop themselves (rather than some boondoggle for a defense contractor).

  37. 37
    Roger Moore says:

    @Liberty60:

    Why is it acceptable to arrange ones affairs- reducing your taxable income- to avoid being penalized by taxes, but somehow an outrage to arrange ones affairs to avoid being penalized by a benefits cut?

    Because they believe government is evil. Getting government benefits is wrong, so it’s wrong to manipulate your situation to get them. Paying taxes is wrong, so manipulating your situation to avoid paying them is good. See, very simple.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @WereBear:

    My anecdotal experience is that middle to upper middle class white guys (of which I am one) make the worst kind of conservatives. They have all the elitism, prejudice, conceit and lack of awareness of the very rich, but they add a huge dose of bitterness due to the fact that they themselves aren’t the very rich, the belief that they deserve to be, and the relentless search for other people to blame for their current condition.

  39. 39
    muddy says:

    @Roger Moore: But but but the 50s! Everything was perfect! Don’t mention the tax rates tho, that ruins the entire thought process.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    @muddy:

    But but but the 50s! Everything was perfect! Don’t mention the tax rates tho, that ruins the entire thought process.

    Or women or minorities, not that the people who idolize the 1950s would ever want to talk about how badly things sucked for Those People. Mentioning the 1950s as a perfect time that we should hearken back to is a pretty good measure of white male privilege.

  41. 41
    Joel (Macho Man Randy Savage) says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Top 1, most likely.

  42. 42
    gene108 says:

    There are structural incentives to stay on Medicaid, because the distance from making enough money to be Medicaid-ineligible, to making enough to afford private insurance, is pretty big.

    This is something very few middle-class people realize. I didn’t till I had a friend on SSI, who wasn’t taking up jobs, when she was getting better and could work because she’d lose her Medicaid benefits and without Medicaid (i.e. medical care), she’d go back to being sick.

    The problem is people don’t want to pay more money in taxes to have a system that actually works well and does more than serve as a band-aid over a wound that’s gushing blood.

  43. 43
    jon says:

    @Cassidy: If they’ll take a 46-yr-old woman with MS, poor eyesight and balance, and… no. She hasn’t considered that. It sounds like a great program, but there’s a reason some people remain civilians for the entirety of their lives.

    The military has often been a great government program for getting out of poverty, but today’s economy doesn’t reward hard work and clean living as much as it used to.

  44. 44
    weaselone says:

    It’s seems like it would be a relatively trivial matter to design a welfare system without benefits cliffs, where each additional dollar earned resulted in a decrease in benefits of less than a dollar. I can see where it would be politically difficult to implement such as systems as there would be both winners and losers if it were implemented in a cost neutral manner, but ticking off poor people has never proven an intractable barrier to politicians before.

    It almost makes me suspect that the cynical views the two parties have of each other’s politicians are true. That Democrats structure policies to keep the poor dependent and Republicans structure policies to foster resentment of the poor by he middle class.

  45. 45
    Morzer says:

    @weaselone:

    If true, the GOP is approaching totally fucked junction at high speed, because, like the future, the middle class ain’t what it used to be.

  46. 46
    muddy says:

    @Roger Moore: Or middle class white woman privilege. My mother used to constantly say how her generation had the very best America, and those good sweet times were perfection!

    I asked what if you were black? What if you were a woman who did not want a big catholic pack of kids, or to be a housewife? What if you wanted to be a housewife, but your husband was beating and raping you whenever he felt like it?

    Good times, Mom. Jeezum.

  47. 47
    Roger Moore says:

    @gene108:

    The problem is people don’t want to pay more money in taxes to have a system that actually works well and does more than serve as a band-aid over a wound that’s gushing blood.

    So they wind up paying more for lots and lots of band-aids. That’s the truly crazy thing. It would probably be cheaper to have a system that actually worked than the mishmash we have today. But we can’t have a working system because ZOMG! poors sucking on the public teat. It’s more about making Those People suffer than it is about trying to get good value for our tax dollars.

  48. 48
    Cassidy says:

    @jon: That’s cool. I was just asking because a lot of people aren’t aware of the various commissioning programs in the military medical community. It doesn’t work for everyone. That being said, I do know that the Bureau of Prisons and Bureau of Indian affairs is constantly hiring medical providers, as is the VA that you already know about. Good luck.

  49. 49
    AndrewH says:

    Krugman did a post on this last summer. Basically, effective marginal tax rates (counting taxes + loss of benefits) for families with kids approach 100% between $25K and $30K, and are in excess of 80% between $15K and $40K.

    Whose incentives?

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’m also convinced that some people think that if you cut welfare rolls, the people currently on the rolls just vanish into thin air. Like when our former Guvernator decided to cut home health care out of the Medi-Cal budget, only to discover that the people getting home health care continued to exist and would need to be put into the more expensive nursing home system if they couldn’t be cared for at home. And he seemed genuinely astounded that people whose care had been cut off would continue to need care and all of those MS patients and quadriplegics weren’t just faking their symptoms to mooch off the system.

  51. 51
    muddy says:

    @muddy: sorry to shout, the bold was supposed to start after “perfection”. FYWP perfection, that is.

  52. 52
    Wally Ballou says:

    @mistermix: Not to mention that a great many working-class Americans, rightly or wrongly, think of themselves as “middle-class”.

  53. 53
    WereBear says:

    @Chris: yes. In a lovely small nutshell.

  54. 54
    Maude says:

    In NJ, working people got Medicaid. Gov. Christie changed that by lowering the income eligibility to a ridiculous level.
    Medicaid income levels are set by states.
    The federal poverty guidelines are way too low and that is the baseline for federal benefits. Earn a penny over the amount and there’s no benefit.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    You don’t even have to be a woman or a minority to view it with skepticism. The fifties, after all, began with the Red Scare, the main result of which was the purging of the populist hard left (a Big Fucking Deal in the accomplishments of the previous half century) from all political institutions, a blow we still haven’t recovered from. And the climate of the Red Scare pervaded the entire decade even after the scare per se was over. Then you’ve got the religious right revival and the attack on secular government, embodied in the new national motto and Pledge of Allegiance.

    It wasn’t the Gilded Age or the Reagan era, but damn if there wasn’t plenty of bad.

  56. 56
    muddy says:

    @Chris: Also the Red Scare was very helpful in demonizing unions too, such a commie hotbed. It always comes down to shitting on the workers somehow.

  57. 57
    Tone in DC says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    No, I doubt most G00pers will have such an epiphany.

    And, yes, they DO VEX ME.

    As an aside, I think Yakov Smirnoff sole the reality line, too.

  58. 58
    Chris says:

    @weaselone:

    No, that’s just not true – the Democrat part. The New Deal lifted millions out of poverty and marginalization and into middle class security. The civil rights movement went a damn long way towards attacking segregation in fact as well as name (hence the laws against discrimination in the private as well as public sector). We have a pretty good record of working hard to deliver for our constituencies even though we know that solving their problems will give them an incentive not to vote for us anymore (which is what happened with white people in the second half of the last century).

    Granted not all of the party felt that way – the old Tammany Hall type political machines especially depended on keeping people dependent on them, which is why many of them viewed FDR’s reforms with suspicion (they were taking welfare, jobs and other things the machines had previously been able to give and take away on a whim and use as a means of control, and turn them into universal rights that everyone could take for granted). But those people, like the Dixiecrats, were ultimately overruled and we got the Progressive Era, New Deal and Great Society. The idea that Democrats are “keeping their people on the plantation” is a Republican canard and, I think, pretty well disproven by the party’s actions and evolution in the last hundred years.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @muddy:

    Agreed – that’s part of the “populist hard left” I was talking about. Still, unions survived and mattered for the next thirty years, but did it by turning into respectable, status quo institutions (as long as the status quo agreed to include them at the table of power). It came through I’m spades when the Vietnam era came and they mostly supported the establishment’s pro war stance.

  60. 60
    Tone in DC says:

    Stole, not sole. Proofing is a good thing.

  61. 61
    bourbaki says:

    This is the reason “means testing” is such a pernicious idea. Notice how all the popular social programs (unemployment insurance, worker’s comp, SS and Medicare) avoid it?

  62. 62
    Maude says:

    @bourbaki:
    The Wall Streeters want means testing for Social Security. They say for the rich. Of course, means testing would allow Congress to get rid of Social Security completely.
    This has been going on since FDR.

  63. 63
    Sad_Dem says:

    And that is why the Freds of the world are so much less harmful and aggravating than the Bobos. Fred you can talk to, and listen to. Bobo may as well be on a different planet, except that he isn’t.

  64. 64
    muddy says:

    @Maude: My dad used to say that he would be happy to voluntarily not pick up his Social Security check because he did not financially need it. But he said that as long as the rich Republicans were still picking up theirs, he would be sure to get his share and donate it all to Democrats instead.

  65. 65
    Maude says:

    @muddy:
    The Repubs are quieter on Social Security right now.

  66. 66
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:
    And the 1950s were the age of conformity, so anyone who had the slightest tendency to be an independent thinker was in for a lot of unpleasantness. My parents have told me something about what it was like to go to school in the 1950s, and it sounds unpleasant as hell for people who wanted to do their own thing.

  67. 67
    Matt McIrvin says:

    The funny thing is that conservatives are constantly complaining about tax brackets in an innumerate fashion as if they worked this way (which they don’t). People are just going to avoid making $250,000 so they don’t get hit by the extra taxes! Etc., etc.

    When, in fact, most of the perverse incentives associated with crossing thresholds hit poor people, and are about loss of means-tested benefits, not getting into a higher tax bracket. Means-tested aid programs need to be designed so that they roll off in a way that prevents this.

  68. 68
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …Of course, the conservative-libertarian response will be that these benefit programs just need to be eliminated entirely.

  69. 69
    Joey Maloney says:

    I’m fairly certain that if David Brooks were ever forced to do hard physical labor (I can’t imagine him doing it voluntarily) he’d be crying like a colicky baby within 4 hours and shitting himself like one not long after.

    I’m thinking pay-per-view.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet, but one of the ways Obamacare can help employees like this is that it expands Medicaid to people making 125% of the poverty level, so they can earn more and still keep those benefits before transitioning to the subsidized exchanges.

    That’s assuming that Fred’s state is not one of the ones that turned down the Medicaid expansion, of course, leaving those people in a no-man’s-land where they make too much to be on Medicaid and too little to qualify for a federal subsidy.

  71. 71
    weaselone says:

    @Chris:

    I’m not saying that the Democrats are necessarily acting to keep oppressed groups dependent on them. What these hard benefit cutoffs do is offer Republicans support for several potent avenues of attack against both Democrats and welfare policies.

    Also, history is no way to judge where a political party today. The New Deal and Great Society Democrats are as much in the past as the 13th Amendment Republicans.

  72. 72
    greg says:

    The economy would explode with activity if employers were freed from the burden of supplying health care benefits to their employees. I understand the reactionary wingnuts can’t get over that hump, but it amazes me that no rational businesspeople apparently see it.

  73. 73
    cr jones says:

    I am not a clinical psychologist, so I can’t say for sure some individuals have a disorder that inhibits easy identification of race and ethnicity.

    I am, however, a social psychologist. People see race. People’s responses to Black and White faces differ, for example, even if exposure is at a subliminal level. Perception of race and ethnicity is a fundamental element of social perception and it happens very rapidly (some evidence suggests even faster than gender) and unintentionally.

  74. 74
    Chris says:

    @weaselone:

    Apologies for misunderstanding. But I would still disagree with your last point. Health care reform and the gay rights victories under Obama are definitely following the legacies laid by the New Deal and civil rights. And both of those have been Democratic issues, even more so than their twentieth century equivalents which could count on support from now-extinct liberal Republicans.

  75. 75
    BruceJ says:

    @muddy: Or the union membership rate, or Jim Crow, or…or…or.

  76. 76
    WereBear says:

    @greg: It’s because “rational businesspeople” is now an oxymoron in an age of short-term thinking, products that barely survive past the warranty, and blatant deregulation.

  77. 77
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @cr jones: Did you mean to post this to Betty Cracker’s thread?

  78. 78
    JoyfulA says:

    Good for Fred! As long as we all keep learning, no matter how slow and hard it is.

  79. 79
    fuckwit says:

    It’s a huge problem, and the problem is MEANS TESTING. It’s demeaning and dehumanizing financial standards, enforced by Rethugs and DLC “welfare reformers”.

    The goal of this means testing is STAY POOR DAMMIT! If you are poor, they will not let you climb your way out. As soon as you start to make money, you get slammed hard with a baseball bad: STAY DOWN! You lose your benefits, your access to medical care, housing subsidies, food stamps, everything. But you aren’t making enough to replace them. So, you either try not to make enough to lose the benefits, or you make enough and lose them, and are now poorer than you were before. Either way you stay poor. Forever. For generations.

    Permanent underclass, is what they’ve accomplished.

    The only way out of it, is, of course, cheating. Stay off the books with your income. Move your bank accounts to friends/family so it doesn’t show up in your financial reports. Truly horrible: if you take this route, now you’re a criminal, committing fraud, in order to survive.

  80. 80
    good2go says:

    I once had an old, upper-class friend (I was neither at the time, and still not the latter) who complained about the blahs buying beef with their food stamps. Yet when his wife’s stolen–and VERY expensive–NYC custom-made jewelry was recovered, he never informed the insurance company and kept the rather extensive insurance payout. I’ve never forgotten that. Fred sounds like my now deceased friend.

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