E. Field: Mean-spirited column

Cal Thomas’ column Nov. 9, “Politics of personal destruction,” was a mean and judgmental conservative rant.

Conservatives like to blame poor people for their poverty. As Herman Cain says, "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

He’s forgetting the countless American jobs that have been moved overseas and the jobs that have been eliminated in the quest for larger profits.

According to USA Today, an average of 4.2 unemployed workers are competing for each job opening. Qualified people apply for job after job for endless months. Many who have worked all their lives are unemployed because of the economy. Others can’t get ahead even when working at two or three jobs.

Do conservatives really think that most Americans would rather get a small unemployment check than have a decent job that pays enough to cover rent, food, health care and a car?

Thomas refers to the “15 percent of the country addicted to food stamps.” In reality, people are “addicted” to eating two or three meals a day and need their food stamps to survive.

This is America. We should be helping the needy, not cutting programs.

Ellen Field, New Gloucester

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Jason Theriault's picture

Frank, I have some problems

Frank, I have some problems with your post.

You quote that these people were driving brand new expensive vehicles and only eating the best cuts of meat. How do you know they owned these vehicles? Maybe they borrowed them. Maybe they fell on hard times after buying the car. Put it this way- They don’t take food stamps as collateral at the Ford dealership.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides funding to state welfare programs, requires employment within 2 years of getting on the program. I do believe the support for children doesn’t count though.

Honestly, though, I am far less worried about abuses in welfare. Your picking on the small fish. Without serious reform of the banking and investment industries(like re-enacting Glass Stegall), worrying about welfare fraud is like worrying about a rash on a cancer patient.

Frank Lambert's picture

Go to work!!!!

When I was a manager in a grocery store I saw a lot of fraud from individuals. People that were on well fare were driving brad new expensive vehicles and buying the most expensive meat and groceries in the store. While the hard working individuals were busting there tail ends to make a living. They drove vehicles that barley was street legal and fed their families by growing gardens and harvesting game animals to eat during the winter. People think they are entitled to these benefits which in some cases is true. The benefits should have a cut off of funds after a certain amount of time using them. Welfare was not intended to be the main source of income of the users but people stay on welfare for years. Two years should be enough time to find a job whatever it may be or be retrained to fill another job elsewhere. If we do not stop the abuse of these benefits they should cease to exist; there are jobs out there but people think they are above them and will not work if they think it is degrading suck it up and go to work instead of burdening us with more taxes to pay for these individuals.

 's picture

What's Fraudulent?

What exactly constitutes the fraud in what you saw?

As someone on disability, I drive a nice truck. It's not mine, I get to use it a couple times a week to maintain some small measure of independence thanks to the generosity of my parents. Once every month or two, I use part of my Disability money to treat myself to fresh hot pizza delivery instead of using more of my limited daily energy on cooking. I don't buy the most expensive cuts of meat, but I do go for quality because the cheaper ones the grocery stores sell are too fatty and gristley to eat (not to mention unhealthy for someone who has trouble getting nutrition from his food at the best of time). I also hunt for more expensive packages with a long expiration date because EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to be responsible and save money by getting a "Manager's Special" it has gone bad in under 24 hours or otherwise made me ill.

So what's fraud? Appearances are deceiving, and unless you got a big promotion I don't think you went from grocery store manager to judge, and it's really not your place. Maybe not as prudent with the money as you would like me to be from up on your high horse, but it's not illegal. I explain everything I do to my case worker and all of it is approved. I use my food stamp money for food. I use my disability money for rent, light, heat, medicines, minor entertainments to keep me sane as I sit every day, and very occasionally clothes.

In exchange for all this I jump through hoops with the governments of Maine and the USA to get what I earned when I worked. I suffer humiliations at the kind of questions I have to answer or restrictions I am under. And now after reading your letter, I feel obligated to explain it all to you here, in public because you're a judgmental shlub who can't think broadly enough to understand things aren't always what they seem.

Yeah it's a great life here in Maine living under the social safety net.

RONALD RIML's picture

So Frank

When you saw all this fraud, did you participate in it by keeping your mouth shut and selling "the most expensive meat and groceries in the store" as you state.

Or did you do the right thing and report these incidents to the proper authority??

Sounds like choice #1 to me.......

Steve  Dosh's picture

E. Field: Mean-spirited column

. ...Thanks , Ellen , 11.15.11 5:10 pm hst ?
If you have ever followed Cal's diatribes he's often , uh , c r a n k y , okay ? Many of us scratch our heads wondering why this fine newspaper carries his drivel . Can't they find a suitable columnist from the Christian Science Monitor , N P R , the N Y T , L A Times , or , let's just say , the Ocala FL Sun ?
Mr. Thomas's columns are often mean spirited , ill informed and just plain dumb . Many tend to think Justice Thomas is similar in his opinions , also , and how he got seated on the Supreme Court after all that Anita Hill junk is waaay beyond us . Even a suspicion of guilt . ...
Like you say , " That's America . "
The question one must ask readers , printers , and formulators of cogent arguments is pretty simple , " Are you a Jeffersonian ( i . e ., you think people are basically good ) , or a Hamiltonian ( you think people are basically evil and bad ) ? "
That would help clarify things greatly • h t h /s, Dr. Dosh , HI

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You left out the democratian

You left out the democratian approach to people, Steve. 'All people are needy and need to be taken care of by government from cradle to grave. Just don't forget to vote for us.'

 's picture

Solipism, is a self

Solipism, is a self identification

KRIS KUCERA's picture

No . . .

. . . solipsism is essentially the philosophy that only the self exists. If one is a true solipsist, as Rand said she was, it's a license to screw everyone else, the consequences be damned. Maybe open a dictionary sometime -- or read something besides Rand's Utopian anarchistic garbage.

Ayn's world view: "What is good for me is right." The quote's original utterer was William Hickman, a serial killer and rapist. Yeah, what a role model.

Alan Greenspan, former longstanding Fed chairman? A Randian acolyte. And look where that got our economy -- Turdsville. As he testified in front of a House panel in 2008:

"'Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.' He conceded that he has 'found a flaw' in his [Randian] ideology and said he was 'distressed by that.'"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122476545437862295.html

 's picture

Claire, despite your specific

Claire, despite your specific references to specific groups. (tea party, conservatives) The body of your post can be compared? paralled?, directly to Ayn Rand. As are many of your posts. I can only conclude that.....you haven t read Ayn Rand. Her drug soaked brain focused on changes in the language, and how those changes affected the culture of Russia at the time she was alive. My recommendation is...you should read it. Specifically...."Fransico's Money Speech." Ayn was dumped into america, so different from her home, she wrote about it....in basic, frank, simple terms. Don't go see the movie, read the book. Changes in a culture begins with words, which she depicted, so starkly. I think you will identify with her.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Ayn Rand was a selfish [expletive]

She romanticized and plagiarized a serial killer for cripe's sake. And she died alone, with no friends, worse than the fictional Great Gatsby, who at least threw killer parties.

And the recent movie, Atlas Shrugged, was a total flop. For good reason -- her views are whacked. Killing people over ideology? And to think Paul Ryan makes all his staff read her solipsistic drivel. They should read Orwell's 1984 instead -- Ignorance is Strength.

Mind you, Prescott used to be an Ayn Rand acolyte, till he came to his senses and became an Randian apostate:
http://michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Capitalism

Capitalism like socialism can come in many forms. The brand of Laissez' Faire capitalism touted by the tea party is cherry picked from the "philisophy" of Ayn Rand a drug addicted Russian immigrant, who was not an economist but a part time screen writer for Cecil B DeMille. Her "philosophy", she never claimed it was economics, was in reaction to the totalitarianism she saw in Russia. She wanted no role for Church or government. An atheist, she saw no need for a moral code for anyone. Well, in Hollywood, mice can speak and carpets can be magic and cutting taxes can create jobs and multi-national corporations always do the right thing but no where on this planet has Laissez Faire capitalism been proven to create jobs or anything but income disparity and poverty.

 's picture

Ron and Claire:

Yes, free-market capitalism cooperating with non-intrusive government is an awful, mean, corrupt system. But it's better than any other, especially the various brands of socialism going toes-up all around the planet.

Claire, your touching, leave-it-to-beaver notion of "community" is what I grew up in. Then, starting in the 60s, the government began to dismantle community in favor of a federally mandated and managed "great society". And they have done such a wonderful job that we now have multi-generation "communities" totally dependent on government from cradle to grave.

Ron, you liberals (Is that what you are? I wonder.) grabbed Einstein's definition of insanity and turned it into long-term government policy. You must be proud of your masters' accomplishments.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Community

For some reason conservatives are just uncomfortable with the whole notion of community. They want the benefits:jobs,roads,football games etc. but they don't want the responsibility of creating community which involves sharing resources. They picture themselves as lone survivors on a prairie fighting against nature and enemies when the reality for most of us is that there are 7 billion people on the planet and most of us live in cities piled on top of each other in communities. Take a family as an example of a community. People contribute what they can and share resources. No one expects the 3 year old to fix the roof or go out and get a job. The sick ones are taken care of by others and those who can mow the lawn and go out and earn money and take care of those who can't. That's community. The whole notion that cutting taxes and eliminating regulation will make the rest of the community better is some sort of a conservative mantra that has never been shown to work anywhere in the world. It just makes the rich richer and they keep their resources in gated communities and tell the rest of us to go ahead and die if you don't have money.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What you describe as

What you describe as community also fits the description of Marxism; to each according to his needs, from each according to his means.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The point

Pretty much my point exactly. Conservatives want to belong to communities. They want families, jobs, the amenities of towns and cities, the protections of a national defense but ask them to contribute to that community and they start with Marxism, Communism, socialism and every other ism. There is a difference between community and totalitarianism that they don't get. If they don't want to be in a community they are free to leave. If they want to be in one they should expect to contribute to the welfare of the group unless they are there to mooch.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Conservatives have not

Conservatives have not problem with helping the needy through charitable endeavors. They just don't want it done by government mandated income redistribution.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Charity

That's nice in theory and I know it is very satisfying to toss a few coins to the groveling poor but it has been tried and did not turn out to be true. Read your Charles Dickens, your French Revolution (let them eat cake) , your American Great Depression stories out of the dust bowl, and so on. Ask anyone working for a non-profit today what's its like trying to get donations for the needy. It's a lot easier to blame the poor for their own plight and to look the other way. It's also a lot easier to make up stories about people in Cadillacs collecting a lifetime of welfare checks. I have to believe that in the age of computers this could be verified in a factual, independent analysis and yet when people bother to actually check they can never find it. The only time you see people actually doing anything to help is when they want to shove religion down somebody's throat. The next time somebody tells you that we are a Christian country keep in mind that they are referring to the Jesus who preached that greed is good, torture is OK, and sick and poor people should go out and get a job because you are not your brother's keeper. By the way I am just as much against welfare fraud as you are. I just don't think it is an excuse to withhold support for your community. I simply think it should be found out and eliminated.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well, we agree on one thing,

Well, we agree on one thing, Claire. Your last sentence is absolutely true. There are many things not to like about how are country has become and how it's currently being run. Used to be we were all Americans. Now, we are republicans, democrats, libertarians, leftists, rightists, liberal, conservatives, Christians, Jews, Muslims. The melting pot has become full of chicken droppings. The only time we seem to unify is when we're attacked.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Just give the readers one

Just give the readers one instance where Communism worked, just one!

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

communism

There are many examples of communistic societies which worked just fine. The most glaring example are the monastic orders which thrived for centuries. There are also agricultural communities in Israel and elsewhere and religious communities all over the world. Totalitarianism never works for very long and it can come in communistic, theocratic, socialistic or fascist forms.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Don't confuse communalism

Don't confuse communalism with communism. The former is voluntary typically with people of like mind; they are free to enter or leave the commune. The later is a form of government. Your examples are of communes, not of communism. There is a big difference.

Joe Morin's picture

Futile...

... I see a certain fultility in your arguments. You are obviously altruistic in your nature, which I respect. I also find you assumptive as well as naive towards others. Several things have become apparent through your posts. You are a marxist posting on a newspaper article in central Maine trying to convince red blooded Americans that a communist society is better. Most of us whom have lived through the cold war. The basis for your argument is that the individuals who believe in our current form of government are selfish and evil. The same form of government that has provided the highest standard of living in the world... which apparently isn't nearly high enough... so we should replace it with the systems that other countries currently use that provide a much lower standard of living. Now, the only logic that works for me is that you consider the prospective leaders of this supposed government to be superior people to the others around the world. That these people would not be corrupt. That these people would not manipulate their considerable power to maintain it. That these leaders would not create an even larger disparity between upper & lower class which is a constant in these type of societies. A ruling class ( Politicians, Royalty ) and then the rest of us. Thats the problem with folks like you Claire. You dream up a Eutopian society where evryone is equal and life is peachy. You are Naive and never truly consider the human factor in this pipe dream. Trying to convince Americans that love their country, works their fingers to the bone to EARN their stake in life and have seen your dream society play all over the world many times that we are just better and when we do it, it will work wonderfully is FUTILE. One of my favorite quotes. It reminds me that no matter how hard life gets that I should be grateful and perservere. "Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men."
John F. Kennedy. This man was a wonderful president and bares almost no resemblance to the Democrats I see today.

Glen Lee's picture

3rd world countries

Even our poor here in the states are far richer than those socialist 3rd world countries.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The only living democrat who

The only living democrat who even comes close to JFK is Joe Lieberman. To the average democrat today, ideology is an absolute truth, not realizing that truth to a democrat is a lie undiscovered.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

terminology

I think we are more in disagreement in terminology than in substance. There are people here who scream income redistribution and socialism and communism as soon as you talk about the social safety net. By that standard the military is socialism and so are public schools, libraries and roads. The awful goverment is making us pay for all of them. All civilized societies take care of the disadvantaged in one way or the other. It's all well and good to tell people that you worked hard for your money and they should go out and get a job but it ignores of lot of reality. First of all there are not and have never been enough jobs for everybody since before the Civil War. After WWII, Rosie the riviter was sent home so the soldiers returning would have jobs. Seniors were retired on Social Security to make jobs for younger people and the GI Bill sent returning soldiers into schools and provided money for a lot of inexpensive housing which in turn created a lot of jobs in the construction sector. Most importantly when women stayed home after WWII they formed a huge unpaid work force which provided care for babies, seniors, sick people and that drunken uncle that could never hold a job. Mom was there for all of these guys. Now she is in the work force. That means more workers for fewer jobs and she has been replaced in caring for the disadvantaged by a bloated and expensive government bureaucracy. Secondly there are and have always been people who cannot go out and get a job. Some people are too old, young, sick, crazy, stupid and lazy. They don't just disappear because people don't want them around. Oh and my idea of income redistribution is our banksters stealing 73 trillion dollars of our retirement funds with their bogus investments and their 800 billion taxpayer bailout given to them by their government pals without requirement that they pay it back or say what they did with it and our congress voting themselves the right to insider trading without penalty of jail. I am all for democratic forms of government. I just think conservatives see things in black and white and ignore anything that does not affect them directly.

Joe Morin's picture

That's the assumptive part...

...I've often said that conservatives think liberals are stupid & naive and liberals find conservatives EVIL.
I.E. "I just think conservatives see things in black and white and ignore anything that does not affect them directly." AKA- Only care about themselves... So not true! I donate money & time to my community. My community will not be enhanced by any government plan from Washington.
I;
Work Hard year round...
Pay my property taxes...
Pay my state & federal income taxes...
Donate time & money to charity...
Lend micro loans to real poor people...
Mow my lawn...
buy my girlfriend flowers...
respect my parents...
play with my niece & nephew...
lived in my parents basement to pay my way through college...
Invest into my apartment building...
I have not raised the rent since I bought it even though its below market...
I have operated food drives...
I donate all my old or mis-sized clothes to goodwill...
I recycle...
CLAIRE GAMACHE!!! I AM A CONSERVATIVE!!! As much as this flies in the face of your prevailing wisdom. I was raised lower middle class and am now slightly above that. I grew up and went to school with the culprits in our society. When I rail against D.C. it is not because I want the old & sick to starve. It's because I live in the end of town where I live side by side with the people abusing the system! A lot of them! A lot of them arent even from Maine! I live in the end of town where I've been broken into three times in the past four months. Where I invest in flood lights andf security doors. Up until the moment that Liberals realize that they represent a certain part of our society that is lazy and takes without gratitude, that is willing to live slightly above squalor because it is free, then you will never be creating solutions. Only excuses. If only the people that truly needed assistance used it( Little thing my parents talk about from the good old days called pride) then the sick & elderly could drive mercedes and you know what Claire??? Wouldn't bother me because I don't envy others posessions. I'm not talking in platitudes Claire. I'm not talking about Detroit or Ethiopia. I'm talking about Auburn, ME. If half these people were as concerned about lifting themselves up as you were then you wouldn't need too. Jesus I work hard... Scratch out a modest life and I have Elitest tell me I don't see or don't care!!!! Walk a mile in my shoes Claire...
How about this?? I just think Liberals are lazy and naive. They can't wipe their own butts without a govt. program. Programs designed by someone no smarter than themselves. Do I believe that ? No. But jeez you pissed me off.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great post, Joe..the only

Great post, Joe..the only thing I disagree with is your not believing your last paragraph about liberals. I believe every word of it; it's true. You have accurately described the average liberal to a T. Like some, the Pirate doesn't come here hoping to convert liberals or to show them the way; he comes here to laugh at them.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Since grey isn't really a

Since grey isn't really a color (democrats see everything as grey; right and wrong, good and evil are no longer absolutes) black and white aren't all that bad, since they represent reality, which is where conservatives prefer to dwell.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Most of the mooching seems to

Most of the mooching seems to be taking place on the left side of the aisle.

 's picture

We should be helping the needy who can work ...

... to become not needy, so we can concentrate America's incredible generosity on those who can't work. The best way to become not needy is to work at a good job. The way to make more jobs available is to cut taxes, hack away regulations (especially job-killing ObamaCare), and stop knuckling under to union extortion, the main reason for jobs moving off-shore. Most companies aren't looking for more profit, they're just trying to stay alive. That's really difficult with government and unions (but I repeat myself) on their backs.

RONALD RIML's picture

Sure....

A Definition of Insanity is to repeat doing the same thing - and expect different results.

The U.S. has been continually cutting taxes - and jobs have continually evaporated.

Most companies aren't looking for more profits?? Sure, Mike.... They're sitting on record profits and capital but won't hire as they know demand will be low as consumers aren't/can't spend.

You continually bleat your Masters' Line of Propaganda.......

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