JULY 9, 2012 8:31AM

Poor People Are Leeches and Parasites!

Rate: 16 Flag

Unfortunately, this is what too many people believe, as illustrated by this comment made by 'AggieLady02' on this KBTX.com piece about a homeowner who held a burglar at gunpoint (the entire comment thread has since been removed because of this  remark; it should be pointed out that AggieLady02 is not the only one who writes such vitriol in the comment section): 

"I applaud the homeowner for doing what he is still ALLOWED to do, that is until the libs try again to take away our guns and our ability to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and our property from the parasite and moocher class of people such as this.  From talking to others, I can tell that people are really getting tired of this class of people who think they are "entitled" to live off of the hard-working taxpayers and if that isn't enough, they will just take whatever they want, whether they are high, drunk, or not.  And, libs, before you call me a racist; the moocher, parasite class comes in all skin colors and will continue to grow into bigger moochers and parasites as long as our government continues to hand out my HARD-EARNED tax dollars to this bunch of leeches!!!!!  Think about it libs.  They aren't poor, they have everything they want, courtesy of our government.  They have never been EXPECTED to take personal responsibility for ANYTHING in their lives so why work?  The government will take care of ALL of their needs.  I remember the woman who said if Obama was elected, she would get a new car.  Then there was the woman who asked him for a new kitchen........LEECHES AND PARASITES!!!!"  

Aside from yet more proof that Texas A&M might be a bit lenient when it comes to writing requirements, what's even more disturbing is that this comment was "liked" by several other readers. All of whom apparently also believe that 'people belonging to this class'* are vermin and only aim at stealing from 'hard-working' people such as themselves. 

Lovely, eh?

I'm sure everyone agrees that there really are some people out there who cheat the system and try to get a free ride on the back of well-intentioned taxpayers (see links below). But in reality, most individuals who fall into poverty would join or rejoin the workforce in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. And, I can only hope that everyone (except perhaps AggieLady02 and a few others who comment on KBTX) agrees that certainly not all people living in poverty are criminals. (Unfortunately, there is also no dispute that studies have established relationships between poverty and crime rates, as I've linked to below).

Before writing such a hateful and sophomoric comment, AggieLady02 should perhaps have familiarized herself with the literature on this subject (and maybe a book on grammar as well). But maybe that's too much to ask. After all, everyone knows that her class of people can't do research.

Here's a short sample:

The Causes and Solutions to Poverty in America (by Christina Lee, Yahoo! Contributor Network, April 30, 2010)

"The primary cause of poverty in the United States stems from societal structuring, social or racial grouping and stereotyping, isolation from social interactions and opportunities, lack of knowledge, employment skills, education and resources.

Myths surrounding the cause of poverty in the U.S. are held by a large portion of Americans, including a small number of scholars. There are those who believe that mental illness or chemical addictions are a cause of poverty. In some cases this is true, but often, these problems are a direct result of chronic poverty, rather than the cause."

Causes of Poverty: Findings from Recent Research (by Amy Rynell, The Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty, October 2008)

"What contributes to these events happening?

Forces largely seen as outside of the control of individuals have dramatic impacts on income, earnings, and poverty. Recessions, high unemployment, the decline in the manufacturing sector and growth in the service sector, and declining unionization depress earnings and increase poverty, particularly for disadvantaged workers. A healthy economy alone, while integral to preventing poverty, does not prevent all entries into poverty."

"Research shows that poverty can negatively affect economic growth by affecting the accumulation of human capital and rates of crime and social unrest. Economic theory has long suggested that human capital-that is, the education, work experience, training, and health of the workforce-is considered one of the fundamental drivers of economic growth. The conditions associated with poverty can work against this human capital development by limiting individuals' ability to remain healthy and develop skills, in turn decreasing the potential to contribute talents, ideas, and even labor to the economy. An educated labor force, for example, is better at learning, creating and implementing new technologies. Economic theory suggests that when poverty affects a significant portion of the population, these effects can extend to the society at large and produce slower rates of growth. Although historically research has focused mainly on the extent to which economic growth alleviates poverty, some recent empirical studies have begun to demonstrate that higher rates of poverty are associated with lower rates of growth in the economy as a whole. For example, areas with higher poverty rates experience, on average, slower per capita income growth rates than low-poverty areas."

How Bad Is Welfare Fraud in the USA? (by spritzophrenia on January 4, 2011)

"Less than 2% of all people on welfare in the USA commit fraud.
"The myth of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen who defrauds the system lingers even though there's no proof of it", said Erin O'Brien, a poverty expert at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
In fact, welfare fraud among Philadelphia's 95,456 recipients is "minute," according to Peter Berson, assistant chief of the government fraud unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office...

...The facts tell me that 98 out of 100 people on welfare are not defrauding the system. Ninety-eight out of one hundred welfare recipients you meet are honest people who are struggling. Isn't it time we dropped the stigma?"

"The US Department of Labor reported that 1.9% total UI payments for 2001 was attributable to fraud or abuse within the UI program."

The Relationship between Poverty and Crime: A Cross Section Analysis of the World (by Luke Fleming, Bryant Economic Research Paper Vol. 4. No. 7, Spring 2011)

"This paper compares the crime rates, poverty rates, and other economic statistics to determine if there is a relationship amongst the variables. The highest crime rates per capita in the world exist in developing countries; these countries also have very high rates of poverty. Is it a coincidence, or is there actually some substance to these facts? Crime is a complicated issue, and other variables like education, healthcare, and housing have to be taken into consideration. The results indicate that there is a relationship between certain types of crime and poverty, and that income inequality is significant to all types of crime."
*How Class Works (an interactive graphic prepared by the New York Times) (This website explains how to define a person's class based on education, occupation, income, and wealth.)
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Disability fraud is more common, although it would be more efficient to help those people back into the labor market, as DI is a de facto long run welfare replacement, which actually might keep the social peace too. See the recent NBER report on that, which also curiously calls for provision of healthcare as part of why people go on DI in the first place.
Don: Thanks for your comment. I'll look for the report. It makes sense tht people would use DI as a substitute for health care.
...that people...
I never though of ρoor ρeoρle as lazy ones, or fraud ones. I thought of them as ones having a misfortune that could haρρen to all of us. You said in your work, all I could think and say, and thank you for raising an issue, so strong and needed in these times of economic crisis.
To be precise, the incentive to go on DI is Medicare, which you get after 24 months on DI.
Stathi Stathi: Thank you. I know a few people who fell into poverty. In one case, both spouses were laid off around the same time. They are hardworking people. So far, they haven't been able to get jobs that had the same pay scale as the ones they had before the layoffs. Hence, they still live under the poverty line. Very upsetting to see this happening to people close to you.
Don: Very interesting abstract. It looks like there has been a significant increase in DI claims over the last 20 years or so. I would be curious to see whether this increase can partially be linked to the lack of adequate access to medical services (because it's too expensive). Perhaps this is discussed in the report.
There will always be those who cheat on one system or another, and we all know it. What most *don't* know is how small the actual percentage is. Thanks for pointing it out.

I also believe that people confuse the "professional" criminal type with those receiving welfare. The two don't necessarily correlate, although I'm sure there's some overlap.

As for Don's comment, I wonder what a camparison of DI fraud in the US and Canada would reveal....
Boanerges1: Very good points. It would indeed be interesting to see a comparison between Canada and the U.S. with regards to DI.
It's not a way to get rich on DI, if the lifetime value of an award is about 250,000 NPV, although that is small compared to average wage discounted the same way over time.
After Welfare Reform, DI has in effect functioned as something of a substitute at the margin, if the employability factor of those on DI is lower than average, hardly surprising given the revealed preference of not working given benefits in and out of the labor market. As to comparisons, if one assumes comparable health, not quite true as to demographic differences and incidence of using the program, but a fair start, our rates of DI type of program remain below OECD average, highest unsurprisingly in Scandanavia, which one could argue there are almost a form of bribing people to lower labor market competition to some extent.
I have no stats on this idea, but I have to wonder if those who have the most disdain for government aren't the ones trying to rip it off, at the least by cheating on their taxes, all the way to applying for benefits to which they aren't entitled. You will notice that the TV lawyers promising to intercede with the IRS for you always have examples of hundreds of thousands saved. Those aren't the middle class or poverty level cheaters, those are the 1-5%. And I have to wonder if AggieLady gets DI, social security or medicare herself. It's called projection, and the angry class does it all the time.
Don: I'm not surprised that the benefits for DI are lower than other industrialized countries. I could probably list of the social programs as well, which are more generous elsewhere.

Ardee: You raised a very interesting point. Among the people I know who live under poverty line, I know one person who espouses the views provided by our AggieLady02; he's a big supporter of Ron Paul. Yet, this is a guy who received numerous bouts of unemployment insurance over the last 10 years and frequently goes to food banks (supported by the government) in order to be able to eat. I still don't get it.
I think the writer of the comment in question is a bit confused. Property crimes are far more likely to be committed by drug addicts than by poor people or people on welfare.

These internet diatribes about poor people and welfare always talk about how the "government provides for all their needs." In fact, most poor people don't qualify for welfare. And those on welfare quickly discover that welfare provides for only a very grim existence.

I know a woman who was on welfare. She and her three children had to go on welfare after she discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their three year old daughter. One day she had a middle-class life, and the next day her husband was arrested, and there was no income. Life on welfare was extremely difficult for her, and there was barely enough money to get by.

Fortunately, she qualified for a program in which she could get some education and get off of welfare. She got a two-year technical degree from the local community college, and was able to get a job that supported her and her kids. She continued to go to school at night, and eventually got a four-year degree. Unfortunately, this program no longer exists.

I do understand some of the resentment against people on welfare. Some people have all of their medical expenses taken care of by Medicaid while others who aren't "poor enough" go without or go bankrupt from medical expenses. This is not the fault of the people on Medicaid, but is yet another example of the unfairness of our fractured and fragmented health care system.
Mish: This is an excellent comment! Yeah, I'm sure people who end up on welfare quickly noticed that it's not as economically viable as they initially thought. I cannot picture how difficult it would be for the people I know (who are not on welfare, but live below the poverty line).

Like you, I think this Lady is quite confused: starting to talk about a burglar and then generalizing this dude’s status and behavior to the rest of people who need government assistance. A few bad apples don’t mean that all poor people are criminals nor want to live off the rest of society. I’m glad that you provided a good example in which the society helped a person get back on her feet. It should be noted that she’s well-known for writing similar statements, many of which are targeting lazy people who were recently laid off. They can be quite disgusting.
This is so heart-breaking to see these attitudes. My family was poor for a very, very long time - they are still lower middle-class. And I can say that my parents worked themselves to the bone trying to provide for the family, although there were times when we did need public assistance.
Circumstances don't make a man ~ they reveal him.

"""The primary cause of poverty in the United States stems from societal structuring, social or racial grouping and stereotyping, isolation from social interactions and opportunities, lack of knowledge, employment skills, education and resources.""

This is crap. This throws the problem right back on the shoulders of the victims. Do you want to know what the primary cause of poverty is? I'll tell you.....

It's a social/economic system that refuses to share the wealth of the nation, to which EVERYONE contributes, in an equitable manner, so that a very greedy few may grab, for themselves, an excessive and unearned portion of that wealth.

The biggest parasites in our society are those who inherit huge fortunes to the earning of which they've made absolutely no contribution of effort. The wealth that they have inherited for free was earned by EVERYONE in the society from which it came.

The blame they put on those without jobs, and that has been accepted by, and propagated by, the "middle class" majority is just totally unwarranted. If you insist on connecting income to jobs, then you at least owe it to all to provide enough jobs. Right now, I'm told, that for every ONE job available, there are TWELVE unemployed people. As long as that is the case, then all the erudite theories advanced by ivory-tower academicians, is so much hogwash.

Do these people also count the cost of off-shoring jobs? Do they count the cost of partial automation? Will they recognize the cost of full automation when it is in place? NO, THEY DO NOT AND WILL NOT. Heck, if they did that, they'd have to acknowledge that the causes of poverty have nothing whatsoever to do with their elitist 'theories'..... theories that put all the onus on the backs of the jobless.

Permit me a slight rewrite of one of you points:

"I'm sure everyone agrees that there really are some people out there who cheat the system and try to get a free ride on the back of well-intentioned taxpayers (see links below). But in reality, most individuals who fall into [that category are rich people like Mitt Romney who hide assets in the Caymans and Swiss banks and otherwise abuse the system to avoid paying their fair share. Indeed, Mitt proudly and defiantly proclaims that he pays the least he's required to (around 14% of his many millions in income) "and not one dollar more."]

And this is the guy millions of Americans think will look out for their interests? Just goes to show, you can't fix stupid.
This kind of terrible prejudice has always been around and probably always will be, as part of the human condition. I recognize that now, and am saddened by it. We are our own worst enemies.
The answer to the problem of moochers and freeloaders is easy. Kill off all of the old people on Social Security and Medicare.
Nah.... the answer is to kill off all those who want to kill off the old people. There seems to be plenty of them! Old people are gonna die soon anyway, so killing them off won't help for long; 'sides we're makin' more of them every day!
Actually we ought to learn from the bible. The Heavy Dude flooded the joint once. Killed of all but a handful of folks. I'm sure you've noticed how that worked out real good...!

I believe it was Reagan that started that ridiculous Welfare Queen myth, and the right has run with it ever since. It makes perfect camouflage for them while they rip off the country by means of tax fraud and tax loopholes created for the benefit of those at the top of the (passive) income ladder. Is there a deprogrammer in the house?
when unemployment is the tool to deal with fluctuations in labor demand, poverty is built in to society. the children of long-term unemployed are the recruiting ground of crime.

demonization of poor and criminals is the release from responsibility. there is endless professional support for these assertions, but nearly no support for the profound changes to american society needed to eliminate poverty and crime.

since you aren't going to act, why talk?
Considering the billions of dollars ripped off the taxpayers by the super rich, the corporations and their legislative bribed cohorts, the financial crooks and schemers and the arms manufacturers who are gorging their incomes off useless silly wars the few people who are perhaps getting a few buck from gaming the welfare system are a pitiful few and no real problem at all.
as a member of the Sand Man's (Jan sand) pitiful welfare
fools, i use it to buck up my free time.
so i can go out and about on the Web
and spread some kinda
that indeed, poverty is
preyed upon in so many ways by the Elite
that it is hard to conceive. As it has always been..
i got a housemate in my rooming house who works full time
yet is being evicted. i lend my narrow legal sensibility to his

salt of the earth is the phrase to remember.
Thanks to everybody who commented and those who added me as favorite. Many provided thought provoking comments. I think we all agree that the views reported by Lady02 are despicable, but most importantly unwarranted.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to respond to all of the comments individually. My new laptop is currently being serviced at the university. I dropped it off this afternoon. I was told the motherboard needed to be changed. The one I’m using now and for the next few days is 8 years old (still working with the XP system!) and it’s so slow that I’m having a hard time writing this comment. :-(
I have an old XP desktop which does great graphics and easy word processing. Works fine. I wonder what the new gadgets have that are so overwhelming.
Jan: I actually prefer XP over Windows 7. The processor for my laptop is getting too old. The new software programs (Word 2007, etc.) no longer work well, which explains why I bought a new laptop.
I would be ashamed to write such drivel, especially without some clever segues from burglar to gun confiscation to welfare moocher. AggieLady just launches into it, but that's just because she has this shtick about welfare moochers. If the crime had been indecent exposure she would have taken it in the same direction. It's like Uncle Chris, any topic, and socialism.

I doubt this is a A&M student, past or present. If some direct connection to A&M, then perhaps a failed experiment in animal husbandry.
Excellent article, Kanuk. In my experience, these attitudes result from very systematic media indoctrination demonizing the poor. You hear a lot of this kind of histrionics on Fox News and talk radio - unfortunately this is the only source of information for most people who listen to a steady diet of stuff. They don't read magazines and newspapers - and certainly not books. I think the percentatage of Americans who read a minimum of one book a year is down around 30%.
Paul: Given what I've seen in her sub-par writing, everything comes down to how the U.S. is fast becoming a socialist state. Hence, you're right in saying that a person exposing himself would be, according to Lady02, caused by Obama's socialist/communist/fascist policies.

Dr. Bramhall: Yep, you're right about this group of people only watching Fox news. The person I described above who has similar only watches Fox news! I know for sure that he doesn't read books or magazines either...

Here's another comment by AggieLady02 I saw this morning:

""Obamadoesnotcare" (I give credit to Herman Cain for coming up with this great name) will destroy our already fragile economy and, despite what Obama says, health care costs will soar. But the worst part of all,"Obamadoesnotcare" boils down to this....it is all about the federal government stepping into our personal freedoms and telling us we HAVE to do something....the federal government has NO right to tell us we have to buy health insurance just like they have no right to tell us we can't drink Big Gulps (happening right now in New York City). So, folks, if you really value the freedoms our nation was founded on, the liberties that the Founders and others thought so dear that they were willing to fight and die for them, then this next election is probably the most important one in a very long time. Before you vote, decide if you want to live in a nation of FREEDOM and LIBERTY or a nation that is already on the road to total GOVERNMENT CONTROL and SOCIALISM. That will tell you how to vote and your choices will be clear!"

Again, everything comes down to socialism not matter the subject...
The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $48,100. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.

- CIA World Fact Book
"But in reality, most individuals who fall into poverty would join or rejoin the workforce in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. "

You didn't have a "chart" for this?
UC: You just need to read the literature on this topic. Some of which can be find in the links above. My next posts will have plenty of charts. You don't have to worry.
I wonder if at least some who write this kind of thing aren't paid to do it in order to advance the political agenda of people who want this to be a pervasive thought. The incidence rate of someone being able to afford a car must be rare and of bragging about it even rarer. So to know a person that does this and want to write about that is a very low probability event. The remark your article quotes doesn't say “I've read that people do this.” It cites personal knowledge. And that sounds suspect.

It would be the ultimate irony if the person writing it had to do this not because they thought these things true, but because it was the only work they could find to keep them from being the person they were writing complaints about. I bet that's a higher probability event than the scenario described by totality of the original quote. Just a hunch though—no data to back it up.
Kent: Excellent comment. On the comment section of this news website, I saw many other people commenting where they are stating seeing "poor people" at local grocery stores wearing expensive gold jewelry and leaving the premise in souped-up cars. It’s all BS of course.
Maybe they do have gold and maybe it comes from writing letters about people getting gold for these other things, so it then substantiates others seeing this. One could imagine a business calculation that a small amount of gold or cars might be cost-effective to bootstrap a mass delusion of this kind. That's the sad thing. Businesses do decide stuff like that, and the GOP likes to fancy politics as a business.