by Aengus Cargo
You’ve likely, at some point in your life, been in the company of someone who says something akin to, “I don’t give money to panhandlers. They’re just going to spend it on drugs and/or booze.” “They do this for a living. That man probably just bungs it in a savings account at the end of the day.” “They’re bums. They failed at life. They don’t deserve my hard-earned money.”
Or, maybe, this person is you.
I grew up listening to countless versions of the ideology of “Son, we don’t reward failure.”
You have to hold your own. You have to work hard and carry your weight. You have to straighten up and fly right. You have to contribute something to get something back.
You don’t want to live in some welfare state where people get rewarded for being bums.
Well, guess what: We’ve got it.
But the bums aren’t beggars on the street. The bums aren’t addicts living for the next fix, veterans scrounging for shelter rent, teenage runaways (sometimes forcibly ejected from their homes, mind you), solitary women escaping abusive relationships and single moms with nobody to turn to, the sick with no access to medical facilities, once prosperous people who went bankrupt by any number of methods (illness, gambling, substance abuse, traumatic events of all stripes), or anyone in any number of circumstances, largely thanks to the lack of a support system, that can lead to such poverty.
(Go into a homeless shelter, or a country club, or an office building, or a construction site, or a patch of farmland, or a prison, or an airport, or a tenement, or a subway station, or a gated community. Ask a few people what their shoe size is. I guarantee that you’ll find at least one pair, anywhere you go, that your feet would fit into as well.)
Those I’m talking about get your handouts whether you choose to give or not: People who set out to succeed in business by failing in business. People who shit in solid gold toilets and wipe the brown text onto your pink slip.
Who cares how badly you fuck up if you get out rich and you leave some sucker holding the bag, right?
Right. Especially if that sucker is a taxpayer, to whose chest you’ve affixed a smelly pink slip.
We’re their support system. We have rewarded bums. Working people have rewarded failure and propped up fuckups, and with TARP, we made it fashionable to do so outright. We have created the welfare state those plastic chattering wind-up teeth in Congressional offices, and through radio waves, and at $1,000-a-plate luncheons have been bleating on about all these years.
All the while they were crusading to keep that “hard-earned money” out of the hands of the evil, filthy, scheming, sinister poor who go out of their way to avoid joining the workforce by any means necessary just to stick their greedy, slimy hands directly into your pocket and ninja-kick the food out of the mouths of your children–the “Welfare Queens™,” it turns out, were, all along, parasitic sacks of shit some call “business leaders,” with the (tacit and explicit alike) blessing and backing of your government representatives and their backup band of “experts.” The latest wealth redistribution spree on behalf of said Coalition of Overprivileged and Insulated Asshats was thanks to one of their own.
I have found myself repeatedly using lines much like the ones in the first paragraph when grudgingly cutting tax payment checks. Early in my life as a taxpaying citizen, I felt as though it was my duty, regardless. Even if you don’t like what they’re doing with the money, you might as well pay up so you have a shot at changing things with it. If nothing else, being honest on your taxes prevents badness later in the event of an audit. And they take it right out of your paycheck! How sweet is that?
I don’t remember exactly when, during this decade, it first dawned on me, but when I started making quarterly tax payments from money I’d kept laying around, and had to see it directly leaving my checking account and entering the Treasury, I thought:
“Why should I give them this money? They’re just going to spend it on bombs. Why should I support another person’s bad decisions out of my own pocket?”
As I cut the last tax payment for 2008, I thought to myself: “Why should I give this money to those bums? They’re just going to spend it on caviar, private jets, golfing, corporate bonuses and parties. And more bombs.”
Parties, indeed. Think of it this way: Somebody takes out a massive credit line in your name, and he and his friends use it to throw lavish balls at your house while you’re busy at work. They trash every room, fuck on every surface possible, clog your toilet, flood your bathroom, eat everything in your fridge, and leave their empties, roaches and cigarette butts everywhere. Half of your records are scratched and the other half are missing entirely. One of them hires his brother’s cleaning company to straighten the place up, but the crew does so by stuffing whatever will fit under your rugs and couch cushions and setting fire to whatever is left. Your mattress and boxspring are slashed open, your closets and dressers are raided and all available cash is mysteriously gone. Your kitchen is replenished with store brand gruel, canned green beans packed in high fructose corn syrup, and government cheese. There’s a partially shredded banner hanging in your living room that reads:
“MISSION ACCOMPLISHED CONGRADULATIONS ON YOU’RE PARTY FRED”
(For this exercise, your name is Fred. Or Freda.)
You come home from a hard day to the sight of toilet paper-covered shrubberies and the smell of smoke, urine and stale cigarettes wafting through a broken front window. A thick American Excess bill awaits inside your mailbox, from which a pair of lightly soiled and charred panties, still smoking, hangs. The charges include a giant cash advance to reimburse your fellow revelers and cleaning company for the cost of organizing and throwing the gala, and “housesitting.” Another envelope contains a new card with your name on it (don’t worry your pretty little head about it — they’ll authorize the new charges for you). New cards and statements will continue to arrive, and cash advances will be taken out on your behalf to make the minimum payments on those that came previous.
(Or, to put it another way, think of the Dead Milkmen’s “Bitchin’ Camaro,” except you’re the one making the payments and buying the gas.)
Not to worry if you fall behind, which you surely will. On your unceremonious death, the balance will be transferred to an unsuspecting 18-year-old. Just shut up and keep eating — there will always be enough credit for your next meal, they assure you.
A new man knocks on the door. He’s brought a maid with him. “We’ll make this a home again, but it’s going to take a while,” he says. “Ophelia here can’t do it by herself, though, so we’ve brought another mop, bucket and scrub brush so you can help clean up your mess. Yes, relief is on the way!
“Watch for the new card in your mailbox. It’ll include the next payment to your housesitters.”