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The American Voterby Daniel Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor
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
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 Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2011, has published more than 160 stories.
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