Social Question

th3dream3r's avatar

How do you feel about people that abuse government help?

Asked by th3dream3r (85points) April 3rd, 2016

Before I begin, I have nothing against people who are on welfare. There are people who really need it due to unfortunate circumstances. There are also people who work really hard, but still need the help. However there are people who are able to work but choose not to. They will rather have the government provide everything for them. I travel 2— 2.5 hrs everyday to and from work. That is 5 hrs in total. I make $10hr $400 a week. It is not worth it since it has no benefits and does not take taxes of my check. However living in NYC it is hard to find a good job. It becomes more of a who you know. I have my Bachelors degree and thinking of going for my Masters. I come from West Africa. People there work so so hard for little to nothing. When I came here and saw people who can work and not willing to, I was shocked. People work so hard just to have their tax money giving to someone who does not want to work. I see guys on the corner everyday just doing nothing. Then go around robbing people for things they worked for. Sometimes I wish people could visit 3rd world countries and see how easy they have it here. I hear people that live in projects complain about how hard things are. Don’t get me wrong it is difficult to come from these place and make it. However I have seen so many people including myself do it. Many people these days just want quick money. When my dad come from Africa, for about 22 years he worked 2 jobs. He would leave our house at 5–6 in the morning and come back home 1–2 the next day. He would sleep like 3–4 hours a day. Life is not easy and is not suppose to be.

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37 Answers

Mariah's avatar

I feel that they are jerks but are a small minority of people receiving help.

jaytkay's avatar

I disdain people who think they don’t have government help when their lives depend on government roads, schools, airways, ports, food & drug inspection, courts, police, military, water and schools.

I think we should be given the choice to accept those benefits and pay appropriate taxes, or renounce our citizenship and be deported to the libertarian paradise of Somalia.

jerv's avatar

I feel that they are vastly over-represented. They are only a small percentage of people who are on public assistance, yet many see them as representing 52,658,905% of anyone who has ever needed help and thus justify cutting any and all social programs.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I too think that only a small number of people are genuinely abusing government welfare programs. If someone is caught ripping off the system, they should be punished. However, I have greater contempt for large organisations who are content to pay as little tax as they can. I think if we calculated how much tax is not being paid by large conglomerates and compared it to the money being taken from the system by little people, the big guys would owe the most money. I’d much rather see governments coming down hard on businesses that aren’t paying their fair share of tax, than them hammering some little guy.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’m with @Jerv. Welfare programs are in place for a reason. If there are individuals taking advantage of these programs, it seems like the govt. agencies should be changing the rules to eliminate the holes.

Is it right to compare one country’s welfare system to another’s or their lack of one?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@th3dream3r I want to know just how you live in NYC on 400 a week. Really.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

I don’t like it but I wonder why some people make such a big deal about it when many CEOs pay wages that aren’t enough to live on. Where’s your outrage for that?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It doesn’t matter whatever setup you envision. There’s always going to be someone out there dead set on gaming the system. From what I’ve seen, those with legitimate needs and qualifications have one hell of a time trying to drag anything out of the system supposedly in place to aid them. Strapped governments are now pretty much in the business of grabbing at any excuse available to deny eligibility or cut off those qualified for benefits.

In the end, it’s all about perspective. It’s easy to resent those at the bottom who give the appearance of malingering on the government dole. But once past a cursory glance at any individual so described, it quickly becomes apparent that their lives are by no means easy and more often than not are harrowing and downright dangerous.

johnpowell's avatar

You hit a point where policing fraud cost more than the savings of detecting it. Getting the low-hanging fruit is cheap and easy. But as you move up you have to deal with judges and appeals. Easier to just give the person the 100 a month in food stamps. And at least the food stamp money goes right back into the economy.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@th3dream3r I’m proud of your attitude. Depending on where you live abuse is either rampant or rare. There have been many times when I was younger that I would have qualified for assistance and chose to work double duty to get through a rough year. I see a lot of people who qualify and don’t take the assistance because they are in the long game and know their situation is temporary. They are able to work so they do and they end up being successful in the long run because they know how to adapt. I find it hard to have simpathy for those who fail to even try to adapt. That may sound cold but it’s the truth. We still need assistance programs because some people have a genuine need and we should help them. We are a civil, developed society. I feel that even if it costs more we need to police the bad apples though, especially if work is readily available

Darth_Algar's avatar

They bother me less than people who claim to see such abuse everywhere, yet do nothing to try to curb it. Seems like everyone claims to know someone who’s abusing the welfare system, yet no one seems willing to report them.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

Depends on what you consider “abusing government help”. If you mean money and politics buying preferential treatment and tax subsidies for large corporations, then I’m all for stopping it. If you’re talking about the occasional person receiving assistance when they technically shouldn’t qualify, then I don’t give a shit. This is not where are tax money is going, people.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Known and admitted fraud is somewhere around 4% The real number is probably like 10% Not trivial but certainly not a majority. I think there is quite a lot of disability abuse. There are other ways that people “game” the system and it’s not always even their choice. One example is when people get a larger tax refund than the amount that they even paid in. Sure it goes to single moms and dads but our taxes are not supposed to work like that. I know two people in that situation, they need the money and I have no problem with them going on assistance. It’s a little anal of me but the tax thing irks me a little. If they are going to do it that way then why not do all of it that way. It does not irk me near as much as spending a billion dollars a pop on fighters. That shit makes me blue in the fucking face.

jca's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: When tax is calculated, the amount of the refund is automatic, based on deductions. Are you saying if someone has deductions, they shouldn’t take what’s owed to them? Or should they take it and then send it back to the IRS?

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Are you willing to spend a few million dollars to save a few thousand though? (By “a few”, I mean less than 1% of what was spent on enforcement.) A lot of people are, which really makes me not take them seriously on anything dealing with numbers or economics.

And I’m not sure how it’s okay for a megacorporation to get a few billion dollars that way while when a single parent does it it’s considered “bad”. Personally, I think every penny a single parent gets as a tax “refund” is that much less they need to rely on charity to cover the shortfall between what public assistance gives and what living expenses in 2016 America are. Then again, the tax system is kind of screwy in many other ways too.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@jca I’m saying fundamentally you should not get back more in your refund than you paid in your taxes.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@jerv I would be willing to pay on the front end, def not year after year. It’s the broken window theory and I think it is valid and would pay off over the long-term in multiple ways.

I don’t think the megacorporations should pay any taxes

they are not supposed to exist

This is one area I disagree with my more conservative peers on. This country was never supposed to allow corporations and gov’t to get this powerful
I don’t care what kind if innovations the bigger guys can come up with. They simply have too much power and can skirt so many laws. Big gov’t and big business just feed off each other like two black holes in a death spiral of gravity with each other.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me It’s already been proven that drug use rates are lower among those on assistance than among those that have enough disposable income to afford drugs. How many millions of taxpayer dollars would you spend to find out that the best shape for a wheel is a circle? Then again, not testing means that the testing labs don’t get the business to enhance shareholder value or afford kickbacks to lawmakers.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Well, throwing hands up in the air and saying this is probably too expensive is not the answer. What does drug use or finding the shape of a wheel have to do with any of that anyway. The more happy and bored people are the more they want drugs. If you are struggling to make ends meet when do you have the time or money for more than a tallboy and a quick bong hit? Hardcore drug addiction knows no boundary except that the entry fee for that downhill train wreck is a little spare time and money. Sometimes it’s just a legit injury that gets people on that ride too. Drugs are a complicated problem.
Rooting out and stopping the few people gamig the system will likely have a ripple effect with a probable big payoff. Small investment IMO especially when you consider the big picture. Even removing the “gov’t assistance” stigma by policing it better is probably worthwhile in the long run. Think of all of the legal $$ that legislation costs. Again it’s the long game but it is hard to sell to short-term thinkers

jca's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: You still didn’t answer the questions, though, that I posed above. If someone has deductions, should they not take what is coming to them? Or should they take the refund check and mail it back to the IRS?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

if they have deductions and they are legit by all means take them. Can’t blame people on the street for picking up money someone is throwing at them especially if they need it.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me My point there was about spending money on useless shit but I guess some people just can’t get analogies. And I guess you are unaware that the success rates of the drug-testing of welfare recipients has been such a failure that those who proposed it really should be prosecuted, especially those that happened to be shareholders of a company that benefited from their approving that legislation. The “coincidence” that most of the states that do that testing have issues with either corruption or just not realizing that they lost the Civil War and are part of the US now has not escaped my notice either. You’re also overlooking the fact that most of those kicked off the dole (all 43 of them last I counted) are those who do something on-par with alcohol (both in effect and price) that is completely legal in some states and legal-by-prescription in others.

We aren’t talking people with $100/day meth habits here; we’re talking people who may have taken a few hits while chilling at their buddy’s place, or maybe done a little work for “non-cash compensation”. I’ve done computer work for a six-pack of beer before, and I would rather not have the sort of regulation it would require to stop that sort of thing.

Now, if you want to root out people gaming the system, why not start with the ones that are costing us far more? Being penny-wise but pound foolish strikes me as someone who is driven more by ideology than by anything resembling fiscal responsibility. So why not start the cost cutting on things that cost us hundreds of billions before we spend millions to save a few thousand?

Oh, and the “gov’t assistance stigma” doesn’t really exist much due to events since 2007…. except when right-leaners try to shame them. If you want a real ripple effect, you’ll have to start by throwing some white-collar criminals in for 25-life, and I’m not talking some country-club house arrest either. Letting people profit with only the slight risk of a slap on the wrist won’t get anything done, but when CEOs get told, “You got a purdy mouth!” by their roommate with a teardrop tattoo, that might instill enough fear of consequences to actually make for some effective reform. Paying a fine that is too small to even really be considered symbolic won’t deter that sort of crime the way knowing that some of the people who did what you do got shivved in the shower would.

Once you get the major issues taken care of then we can get to the little stuff, but lets not put the cart before the horse.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar


Dude. NOT ONCE have i said they need to drug test welfare recipients. I got your analogy but I’m trying and failing to tell you it ‘s got nothing to do with what I’m saying. Did I not just say that an occasional bong hit or tallboy is not really a drug problem? The glass window applies to white collar crime too but we are not talking about that here that is a topic for another thread. This is specifically about welfare abuse.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me So…. “Rooting out and stopping the few people gamig the system will likely have a ripple effect with a probable big payoff. Small investment IMO especially when you consider the big picture. Even removing the “gov’t assistance” stigma by policing it better is probably worthwhile in the long run. Think of all of the legal $$ that legislation costs. Again it’s the long game but it is hard to sell to short-term thinkers”, had nothing to do with public assistance programs or abuse thereof?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You’re not making sense. What does that have to do with drug testing? Who gives a shit if someone in a wheelchair wants to smoke some pot. I care if they are not really in that wheelchair but are on paper and collecting benefits.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Are you kidding me?

Seriously, have you not followed the news in a few years? It’s not exactly obscure. If you can’t connect the dots, then I wonder what else has happened in recent years (since 2009) that made national headlines without you being aware. I think I’ll bow out of this conversation for a bit and let you catch up on the last 7–8 years of news.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I think Jerv is saying that the government will seize on the fact that the guy is smoking dope to snatch that wheelchair from under him, whether he qualifies for it or not.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@jerv you seem to think that I’m just regurgitating right wing talking points. I’m fully aware of what they say and that’s not really what I’m saying

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly You get what I’m saying.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@jerv for the third time, I don’t think we need to drug test them.

Darth_Algar's avatar


You’re missing the forest for the trees here. By getting hung up on the drug testing bit (which, as @jerv already stated is an analogy) you’re missing his overall point, which is spending large sums of money in order to save a little bit. Are you willing to spend a million in order to save a thousand? That’s what @jerv is getting at.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I have said this a couple of times now but @jerv just wants to argue: Spend more upfront and save over the long haul, that is my point. You don’t keep sinking cash into it if you are not getting results though. Cracking down on the front end should in theory put a stop to long term abuse. There are other positive effects that can happen too. Of course you have to still limit how much you spend, it’s not a bottomless pit. I’m sure it can be calculated what will be saved(if at all) long-term. I’m not saying spend with out bounds and with no plan. I should not even have to explain that part. Understand that spending that million to save a thousand now could end up saving millions on the back end. If you let one window get broken then it sends a message that there are no consequences to break the others. Think past the upfront cost. I completely would spend that million to get back the thousand if it means saving millions over a decade or so.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Not really, but you seem to be saying a lot of things then back-pedalling and saying that you said something different. That means that I couldn’t really argue with you even if I wanted to, which I don’t.

My point is the same as it has been the entire conversation; we tried that and proved it didn’t work on multiple occasions, so why try it again?

Nothing you can say will change my opinion that we’ve already tried that and failed. Nor will you convince me that trying it again with more gusto would work better.

The only question is whether you understand that it’s a waste to do something you already did that failed REPEATEDLY in the past.

If you wanted to pay for it out of your own pocket, fine, but if you want to use my tax dollars for your foolishness, and that is NOT fine. If it would save even 1% of what it cost, I might be able to listen to the proposal without either laughing or getting derisive. History has shown that it doesn’t do that either though, which makes it difficult for me to retain my composure.

No matter how good a theory sounds, after it’s not only unproven but actively DISproven repeatedly, it’s time to give up on that theory. If you disagree on that, then expect more disagreements in the future with those whose minds operate more on scientific methodology than wishful ideology.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

No back pedalling, I have had the same position the whole time. I just assume sometimes that certain things are understood and they don’t often make it in a convenient post size chunk of text.

If we have tried doing this I was not aware of it and you did not directly say that we have tried that specifically or linked any relevant info about it. You went of on a drug testing tangent that was not even really part of the discussion that kind of derailed what we were talking about. If we have tried the glass window approach and it did not work then that’s really the end of it. It only makes sense to do a one shot with that unless the initial approach was flawed then it may warrant another go around. If you have any credible links that show where it has been tried and that it failed I would like to see them. Saying something is known to be the case is best backed up by hard data because you can’t argue with that if it’s from a neutral and impartial source.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You keep throwing around the “broken windows” theory, but I do not think you really understand it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’d like to point out that if you aren’t disabled, over 65 or have kids you don’t qualify for assistance.
I think the amount of assistance the government gives to people who qualify is vastly over estimated. Poverty is no fun, even with assistance, and I don’t know of anyone who would deliberately keep themselves, and their children, down in that way.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting article.

Man, I’d get off work (I subbed full time during this time) and go to the store in my professional clothes and get the dirtiest damn looks from people when I used my food stamps. They assume that since I dressed nicely I was scamming the government. Poor people are supposed to be dirty. Their clothes are supposed to be dirty, and full of holes. Their hair isn’t supposed to be neatly combed. They didn’t know that virtually everything I had on came from Goodwill or a garage sale. Don’t have many other options when you only make $13,000 (gross) a year, working full time. And 4 kids. And no child support.

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