This graph is going to be making the rounds. Those on the right wing will quote and re-quote the figure. They'll talk about welfare bums, single mothers, and the homeless with renewed disgust, and with the hope that their chosen politicians will slash social welfare programs and stop the freeloading.
Not that it matters to those who such pre-conceived views, but this graph is a blatant example of political propaganda. Read the fine print:
"Figures include anyone residing in a household where at least one person received a program benefit." In other words, if your disabled brother lives with your family of six, and was a recipient of Medicaid (not to be confused with Medicare), all seven of you are listed as having received a welfare benefit.
But wait, there's more to welfare than just medical aid, right? Right. The report goes on to say, "The federal government administers nearly 80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs..."
Eighty programs, excluding Social Security and Medicare? Well, what are they? Certain means-tested veterans programs? Vocational rehabilitation for the injured? Foster care payments? Benefits for disabled children? Programs for the elderly? How much is overhead and how much is actual benefits? We don't know exactly what these 80 programs include because the chart doesn't tell us. The chart and accompanying information doesn't want to tell us, because its creators are certain that there's not that much critical thinking out there. They're relying on those who have the pre-conceived, propagandist-driven notion that Welfare Queens and Homeless Bums -- and what many typically envision "welfare" to be (food stamps, Section 8, cash assistance) -- are really the biggest root of America's disintegrating economy.
Believing that, the call will go out to slash, slash, slash those freeloaders from the government dole. New stories of Welfare Queens buying filet mignon and Homeless Bums having cell phones will fuel the fires. The middle-class will have their anger over taxes and benefits stoked -- perhaps never realizing that they, too, may have made this list.
This chart represents only the tiniest fraction of the propaganda that's going out during this election season. While some may call it "leftist" of me (I'm actually a moderate) to point out that it was created by Republicans, the fact is that right now they're desperate to win and willing, it seems, to do so by creating distortions and spreading misinformation.
It's unfortunate how many people won't read the fine print. It makes me fear for our future, particularly as the true root causes for our failing economy continue to go unaddressed.