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Feb-17-2012 12:37printcomments

The American Voter

The government “safety net” was originally intended to keep people out of abject poverty, but the safety net is now increasingly focussed on propping up the middle class.

(Calgary, Alberta) - Is the average American voter naïve, clueless, or just stupid? Or some combination of the three?

I started thinking about these possibilities when President Obama was in the process of reforming the health care system. People showed up at rallies to protest; some chanted and other carried signed that said: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”.


This was not an isolated phenomenon and carries on today.

Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University has found confused understanding of what government does. When asked

  • 44 percent of Social Security recipients
  • 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits
  • 40 percent of those on Medicare

said that they “have not used a government program.”


One thing most Americans seem united on is opposition to welfare and government handouts. I think it comes from a visceral fear many people have that someone else might get something for nothing. Not more than their fair share, because people collecting unemployment benefits, SNAP or welfare are already getting a reduced per capita share of the national pie.

In 2010, residents of the ten states Gallup ranked as “most conservative” received 21.2 percent of their income in government transfers, while the number for the ten most liberal states was only 17.1 percent. In 2008, of the 100 counties with the highest dependence on federal aid, John. McCain won two-thirds of them. In other words, people who tend to be conservative Republicans are more likely to get handouts from the government, while they elect people to Congress who are ideologically opposed to government itself.

The government “safety net” was originally intended to keep people out of abject poverty, but the safety net is now increasingly focussed on propping up the middle class. A Congressional Budget Office study last year found that in 1979, 54% of benefits were delivered to the bottom fifth of the population; that share fell to 36% in 2007 so that the middle class is now claiming a larger share of the entitlements.

There is a major disconnect between what people want or expect and what they are willing to pay for. Because so many people are ignorant of where their money comes from, they support Tea Party candidates who want to shrink government and its programs, oblivious to the fact that they will be voting against their own best interests. That’s the American voter.

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.

As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.

Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.

It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.

In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)

Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for since March 2009 and, as of summer 2011, has published more than 160 stories.

View articles written by Daniel Johnson

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Anonymous February 20, 2012 2:40 pm (Pacific time)

Voter's [sic] have bigger fish to fry than concerning themselves with uninformed people.

If an embargo takes place between America and Canada, who does the major scrambling?
Trade with Canada makes up 23% of the United States' exports and 17% of its imports. 73% of Canada's exports go to the United States, and

63% of Canada's imports come from the United States. "The U.S. exported more oil-based fuels than it imported in the first nine months of

2011, making it likely that 2011 will be the first time since 1949 that the nation is a net exporter of such goods, primarily diesel."

You are, perhaps unwittingly, committing the logical error of ignoratio elenchi. I've noticed over the last couple of years that, whenever I write something critical of the U.S. that the standard response is usually to change the subject to something that may or may not be wrong wih Canada. I interpret this to mean that the commenter has no actual factual defense to my argument, so tries to change the subject.

BTW, considering that American voters are, in the vast majority, themselves grossly unformed, I don't expect much from them. Economically, Canada has begun the process of moving away from the U.S.

February 18, 2012 2:04 pm (Pacific time)

last comment: the G8 BANKER meeting in Toronto...God Bless the parliament eh? Told ya, be good little slaves, they might give you some bread.

stephen February 18, 2012 3:56 pm (Pacific time)

to daniel: no need to post on the article. I enjoy sparring with you, lets work to keep it professional, and lets have fun..I also think it is good reading for visitors, which helps ya I think. Nobody likes articles where everyone agrees, I think readers like our debates, so I promise to try and be more professional and respectful..I will do my best.

stephen February 18, 2012 3:52 pm (Pacific time)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch? Now THERE is a trustful resource!! lol..They have only committed fraud like 100 times, and their accuracy rating is zero. Oh, and how about Roubini, who says no housing bubble...He is the same guy who is wrong so much I cant believe people listen to him anymore...He said gold was a bubble at $1200 and would go down to $600...It is now over $1700...And this is just ONE example. Here is an article that is not from a religious website.. Note: 75% of canada's exports go to the U.S. When the U.S. goes down (which it will, and is), you get the picture. Also, cheap loans were given. This was all planned. Like I said, canada is nothing more than a 50+ state. Dont believe me now, just watch it happen.

Stephen February 18, 2012 1:54 pm (Pacific time)

I dont like religious propaganda either, I just found this article, checked his facts, and his facts were true..I did not even know what the website was about, I just verified his info, then sent the link. Call it what ya want, but that article was all FACTS, I checked.

You have to check a little deeper, Stephen. The writer, Robert Morley wrote: "Last month, Merrill Lynch called Canada’s housing market overvalued, oversupplied and driven by speculation." with a link to a December Globe and Mail article (at

The article begins: "Canada’s housing market shows the 'classic signs of over valuation, speculation and over supply,' but Bank of America Merrill Lynch says that’s no reason to think that there will be an epic crash of American proportions." In other words Morley is scaremongering. The article does not say what Morley suggests at all, and even points to some positive signs, as well. There are some potential declines ahead, but it's only opinion. I don't know who Morley is, but he is not doing a service to his readers.

stephen February 18, 2012 1:31 pm (Pacific time)

capitolism works very well if it does not get corrupted. So, the only economic solution would be a monetary system that could not be corrupted. I dont know of one, do you? Maybe a dictatorship with one man making all the rules like Venezuela or whatever? Nah, its not the monetary system per se' it is the corruption of man that will destroy any monetary system and use it to their own benefit. Capitolism would work, if we had leaders that followed the rules and laws, and prosecuted those that did not, instead of giving them bailouts. Any country with a central bank will soon feel the pains of Greece.

Canada has a central bank.

Stephen February 18, 2012 1:24 pm (Pacific time)

I have more info, and I think I need to give Daniel a bit more credit for his article than my previous posts. I "AM" seeing the middle class fall, but its interesting how the middle class takes government subsidies all the time. Sometimes stealth (government subsidizing farmers to keep food cheap), tax write-offs, medicare/medical, etc. while they complain those living in poverty should get nothing? I think the problem lies more with the leaders (who the middle class voted for), that sent all the good jobs to Asia, open borders instead of having a good/quick visa plan bringing a flood of immigrants (you cant mix things too quickly, it needs to be managed..chemistry 101), etc. The main thing about this is, a welfare state eventually runs out of money. Which is what we are facing now. And as they keep printing money that doesnt exist, reducing the value of the dollar, well, you can take any dime or quarter that was minted before 1964, and that dime will get you a gallon of gas. The same dime your dad gave you for lunch money when you were a kid, we spent thousands of them. They had silver in them, they were backed by something. It now takes 40 dimes to buy a gallon of gas. Go figure.

amandablack February 18, 2012 1:10 pm (Pacific time)

I agree, the citizens of this country ARE naive, clueless and stupid. For decades they have succumbed to government propaganda anmd secure the interest and profits of the "Insurance Industries" A Comprehensive National Health Insurance coverage for every citizen, would mean "price control" of healthcare providers - which should have been done ages ago. It does NOT ration coverage for the individual. It took 6 months for me to get an appointment to see an Orthopedic!!! People come to the United Stes for treatment, because they have money to pay for special treatment - Money always counts in America.

Anonymous February 18, 2012 11:38 am (Pacific time)

"The per capita debt for Canadians works out $16,000. In the U.S. it's $49,000 per capita. There are many other countries in line before it ever becomes our turn." We have approximately 10 times your population. It has been reported that our illegal population is between 12 and 20 million, but it may be even higher. The largest percentage, proportionately, on welfare assistance of some kind, are the children born from illegals. An E-verify program that had teeth, e.g. , stiff fines and jail sentences, would quickly make available employment opprotunities. These would be both white and blue collar jobs. Those jobs Americans will not do is over blown in that less than 15% of illegals (usually on work visas) are employed in agriculture, and that percentage is going down as harvesting methods become more mechanized. Produce accounts for approx. 15% of the average grocery bill. With illegals going home because of no work there would be an upward pressure on wages. Of course inflation is about to hit with increasing energy costs, thus an energy development program, not pie in the sky green energy, needs to be implemented. There are plans already available, put politics is hampering their implemenation. We can easily grow out of the downed economy with new leadership similar to Canada's, who actually has been following our capitalist model. Ironic.

Your "capitalist model" is demonstrated not to work, which is even more ironic.

Anonymous February 18, 2012 8:46 am (Pacific time)

"Here in Canada nobody is denied medical care and you don't need a $1,000/mo for medical insurance. Economically and politically, Canada is one of the most stable countries in the world. Probably in the top two or three." Regarding Canada's healthcare system--- What good is having medical insurance if you cannot get medical care? Universal health care” is false advertising for politically-controlled medicine, with government as the “single-payer” monopolistic insurer. But having coverage does not guarantee getting medical care. Since patients prepay through taxes, medical care appears “free.” Hence, they have strong incentive to over-consume and providers need not compete on price. To contain costs, governments restrict your access to life-saving treatment. In countries with such “universal coverage,” patients die waiting for treatment. The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that in one year, 71 Ontario patients died while waiting for coronary bypass surgery and over one hundred more became “medically unfit for surgery.” The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that “109 people had a heart attack or suffered heart failure while on the waiting list. Fifty of those patients died.” "Taking into account Canada’s steady 1.5 birth rate, far below the 2.1 replacement rate, along with the accompanying ageing of the population, the report warns that “a major demographic transition is underway.” The financial result is devastating, says the report. “The Government’s current fiscal structure is not sustainable over the long term,” says the report. In order to compensate for the low birth rate the report says there must be very substantial increases in taxation and major cuts to government services, amounting to 14 to 28 billion dollars." The future portends higher taxes and lowering quality medical services. Very predictable, and is primary reason many economists say Canada will move more towards a private insurance model, especially if Obamacare is fully implemented here and our healthcare capability diminishes like all the other world government programs. Canadians with financial means come here for superior treatment at this time. Elections have consequences. birth-rate-ageing-financial-crisis

Douglas Benson February 18, 2012 8:32 am (Pacific time)

Good article Dan . Stephen you havent taken the long view our crafty pres. took on this issue .#1 the 80% rule will kick in soon ,driving the cost of ins. down . #2 the more poeple that pay in the less ins. will cost [ask Mr Santorum ] #3 people will demand lower costs . #4 states will become groups to bargain for lower costs just like the union I belong to. These things will either force the to take much less in profits or get out of the game. Most likely resulting in a single payer system in the long run. Canada is not next because they havent run up thier credit bill like everyone else thier banking regs are strong and they arent spending trillions on war and the military machine etc. We are allready seeing our economy rise and the big players are building again to meet the demand they see coming . For example I am working on three Target expansions ,they see that the time to expand is now while prices wages etc. are low and incentives are high. Peace

Ralph E. Stone February 18, 2012 7:03 am (Pacific time)

During a recession, the very rich give up their personal yachts, the upper middle class cut back on private fitness classes, the middle class give up vacations and evenings at Chevys. What about the already poor, the estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of the population who struggle to get by in the best of times? This demographic, the working poor, have already been living in an economic depression of their own. The recession of the '80s transformed the working class into the working poor as manufacturing jobs fled to the third world, forcing American workers into the low-paying service and retail sector. The current recession is pushing the working poor down another notch - from low-wage employment and inadequate housing toward erratic employment and no housing at all. They have become the long-term poor. We have long thought that American poverty is much better than the third world variety, but the difference is rapidly narrowing. "The economy" might revive again and the low-paying jobs may again become available, but they are unlikely to provide sufficient wages to live on. See "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich. In good times and bad times, the misery at the bottom just keeps mounting, like a bad debt that will eventually come due.

stephen February 17, 2012 4:16 pm (Pacific time)

Alan Watt, who lives in Canada has a radio show from 5pm pacific time, to 6pm...If you could just take one hour, he gives much pertinent info, especially history, and how it repeats itself.. It will show you how even the debates between you and I are pretty much worthless. :-) Go to the link provided, and click "listen live" at 5pm pacific time.

stephen February 17, 2012 3:55 pm (Pacific time)

Canada economy is doing ok for now, I agree, its just not your turn yet...canada housing beginning to collapse.

Here is why its not your turn yet.. Canada is now the most pro-zionist country in the world.

Canada debt clock:

(kinda wondering how they are going to keep paying for health care)..

Actually Daniel, I did not want to get into a debate about canada, I was just trying to let you know that your article on the middle class did not match what I see with my own eyes, not just in my area but everywhere. I live in a neighborhood that is somewhere between middle class and middle upper class, and 20% of the houses in my neighborhood are up for sale. Including mine. Coming to a country near you my friend. Its just not your turn yet. It will come.

Sorry, Stephen, I checked out theTrumpet and I don't subscribe to religious propoganda.

I also checked out Canada's debt clock. We have a national debt of $581 billion, compared to the American national debt of $15 trillion--25 times greater than Canada's. The per capita debt for Canadians works out $16,000. In the U.S. it's $49,000 per capita. There are many other countries in line before it ever becomes our turn. The difference may lie in the fact that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a republic.

Stephen February 17, 2012 2:05 pm (Pacific time)

Here in Oregon, we have about 70% of the population on the government trough, in one way or the other. Middle class is disappearing all over the country. By the end of this year, we wont have a middle class unless you work for the government, and I am wondering how long they can keep printing money to pay all these high salaries to government employees.

School loans reached the ONE TRILLION mark, beating out credit card use that is close behind. (you CANNOT file bankruptcy for student loans by the way) Oil hit $104 today, and it aint going down this time, watch and see.

Getting rid of the middle class was all planned in United Nations and Rand Corporation writings long ago, so I knew this was coming and got prepared. But I am watching middle class people falling into poverty left and right. Unless you work for the government. But even many of those government(lower class jobs) are getting hit.

Also, here in Oregon, NOBODY is denied medical care. The poor have it made here. They get free medical care. The middle class gets hit tho, because they have property that can be confiscated if bills are not paid in full. The rich, they can afford the best medical care/insurance. So the middle class is totally screwed. Unless you can come up with $1000 a month for good health insurance.

Just thought I would share what I see with my own two eyes.

Here in Canada nobody is denied medical care and you don't need a $1,000/mo for medical insurance. Economically and politically, Canada is one of the most stable countries in the world. Probably in the top two or three.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.