I have off school today so I am able to relax a bit (I really need to), have some coffee with cream, and write about an article that stuck out to me. I am sometimes so drained during the week that it is hard for me to put together my thoughts and churn out a piece. However, when someone explains something to a T, its hard not to
write about it.
I don’t think I have ever been in my car and listened to Rush Limbaugh. You could count me as lucky. However, from time to time I catch glimpses of his screeds on his website. Andrew Sullivan highlighted one particular screed of his that captures Rush’s true essence:
We all know Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, but unemployment compensation? The payment of unemployment benefits is almost as high as Social Security in this country. Folks, we are not going to survive as a nation, not the way we’ve been founded, with this kind of sloth and laziness and feeding at the public trough. It just cannot happen. And to even call this “wages” — I’m actually kinda glad they did because it points out how ludicrous this is and how dangerous it is. “Handouts,” handouts, the redistribution of wealth “makes up one-third of US wages.” Social welfare spending has increased three and a half times since 1960.
We declared war on poverty, and it’s given us this. We declared war on poverty, and what do we have? Thirty-five percent of our people living on the dole! Thirty-five percent of American citizens living on “handouts,” and where are the handouts coming from? Their fellow citizens… I know it’s depressing, folks. I mean some people are so lazy that they will only be unemployed if they’re paid to be unemployed.
After his min-sermon, a listener dialed in to share his real (not abstract) story of battling cancer, being unable to work, and collecting unemployment benefits. Rush’s response:
Do you think I actually think you ought to be denied stuff? Okay. I don’t think that. I’m not talking about people like you, but there are people who fudge this disability business. I had a story not long ago about a bunch of drunks in jail getting disability payments because they were alcoholics. Well, we are a compassionate country. There is not a person in this country that does not want somebody who cannot provide for themselves to go empty. There’s not a person in the world who wants that. You don’t fall under the headline definition freeloader or what have you. And if you’re bothered by it, it’s life.
A lot of things affect a lot of people. But we’re not talking about you. And you are not the majority of that 35% on the dole anyway. You’re a small percentage of it. You’re not the problem we’re talking about.
Sullivan sums up Rush’s general caricature of those unemployed as jailed drunks, lazy sloths, and the like. As Sullivan put it, Rush backs down from his abstract tirade when faced with a real life case.
What does this show us? Maybe we shouldn’t allow bigots such as Rush dictate the conversation every time unemployment benefits come up for renewal in Congress. Maybe we shouldn’t let a multi-millionaire tell us how every person on unemployment acts, behaves, or uses their money. Maybe we should turn off the radio and step into the actual world of someone whose life is decaying because of being without a job.