Why do beneficiaries of government programs vote for pols who would cut those programs?


Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman restates the question in the headline above and offers a three-fold ANSWER:

[W]hy do regions that rely on the safety net elect politicians who want to tear it down? I’ve seen three main explanations.

First, there is Thomas Frank’s thesis in his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”: working-class Americans are induced to vote against their own interests by the G.O.P.’s exploitation of social issues. And it’s true that, for example, Americans who regularly attend church are much more likely to vote Republican, at any given level of income, than those who don’t.

Still, as Columbia University’s Andrew Gelman points out, the really striking red-blue voting divide is among the affluent: High-income residents of red states are overwhelmingly Republican; high-income residents of blue states only mildly more Republican than their poorer neighbors. Like Mr. Frank, Mr. Gelman invokes social issues, but in the opposite direction. Affluent voters in the Northeast tend to be social liberals who would benefit from tax cuts but are repelled by things like the G.O.P.’s war on contraception.

Finally, Cornell University’s Suzanne Mettler points out that many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”



  1. So it would appear that people who vote republican are:
    1. Theocrats
    2. Selfish
    3. Stupid

    Take your pick!

  2. Maybe because the Medicare and Social Security programs were sold to the public by Lyndon B Johnson and FDR as “insurance programs”. Insurance programs people were **forced** to pay into through payroll taxes.

    Most older people who were forced to pay in, now, wish to take the benefits out. Even Ayn Rand recognized it was their right to take back what was forced from their pockets, as long as they were willing to right the wrong by voting it out … given the chance.

    As an X-er and a Libertarian, I agree these are government welfare programs that never should have been. Perphaps Leftists such as yourselves would like to solve the problem by offering an opt-out to your Collectivist Social Programs. For example, I can opt out of the “social programs’ and in return be given a lower tax-rate. You can opt-in, Pat and Jerry, and the money can be taken out of your payroll taxes. Illegal aliens and immigrants would be ineligible for the programs to stop misbehaviour. {The democrats have been using immigrants for voter fraud since Tamanny Hall and to prop up things like State run schools tax-payers would rather not use. Rockford s schools are a good example. Remember, Democrats promised they would close if we stopped using them. Of course Democrats promised such things as 3rd world immigration wouldn’t fundamentally change the country, and they that theywould close the border if Reagan would grant a one time Amnesty to illegals, and that SS..oh well, never mind…Democrats sure don’t keep promises well.}


    A person should only pay for what they use. I don’t mind going dutch on roads and the military. But paying for what I don’t use, Welfare and Social Programs, is like having a pizza I paid for go to the next table.

    What do you think? Wouldn’t an opt out solve those nagging ethical problems?

    {Another idea , you guys could start voluntary socialist co-ops.}

    Oh… a couple more things.
    1}Pat, you left out the middle and working classes where we find the most ‘right-wingers, Libertarians, Republicans, Constitutionalists and the like, who regularly eschew government programs. Also, the regions you mention in Red States in the South have large minority populations, blacks and an ever increasing number of Hispanics, with a higher use of social welfare programs. Blacks and Hispanics , largely Democrats, show up on welfare roles far exceeding their percentage of the US population. This according according to the US Census Bureau.

    2}Name-calling{racist, stupid, selfish} is usually resorted to by those with no logical, factual argument to put forth.

    3} You ,know, agnostic heathen though I am, I do tire of hearing the words “theocrat” and “theocracy” from those of on the Left of political spectrum. Especially since Theocracies are found on the Left side of the spectrum. But if Jerry comes back, perphaps he’ll be able to point me to the Theocracy right wingers created here in our Democratic Constitutional Republic? Also, staistics from actual I.Q tests so he can back up the claim of stupid. And an explanation as to who died and made him the ‘values’ Nazi?

  3. April: There is a lot of what you say with which I could disagree. But for the time being, I’ll challenge just one of your statements:

    You write that “Theocracies are found on the Left side of the spectrum.” Oh, really? And just where might we find those leftist theocracies? In the Islamic world perhaps? Oh, yeah, those mullahs are raging liberals, aren’t they? Take Iran, for example. How leftist is Iran?

    The one theocratic state with which the governments of the Western World don’t take much issue is Vatican City. But that place, too, is hardly leftish.

  4. April,
    My comment is in direct response to Pat’s post.

    I say theocrats because people who attend church are more likely to vote republican. All you have to do is look at the statements of the current crop of republican candidates to see how they are attempting to impose their religious beliefs on the rest, including you, of us.

    Stupid? When 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”, I call them stupid!

  5. You did not answer my question , Pat. When did Right-wingers, or even just center-left Rhinos, make a theocracy of this country? Answer: They never did. Public practice of religious beliefs and imposing ones religious beliefs or religion on others through legislation or centralized government are two different things.
    Often the candidates Jerry complains about are responding to questions asked by left-leaning press members. Such questions are relevant if they are constititutionally relevant questions in regard to candidates religion and personal morality, i.e in regard to how they will legislate. They are irrelevant if a candidate has a track record of obeying the constitution in this regard. Left-leaning press members questions are often highly irrelevant, and hypocritical as they ignore other blunt violations of Constitutional rights by their own ‘politicians’ or with-in their own idealogy.

    Also you don’t seem to understand the political line, Pat, which caused you to err quite seriously. Christianity is not a political idealogy or a political system, and one does is not find oneself on the right or left because one is Christian or even religious. We place systems and idealogies by how much control they exert. We find total and complete freedom on the far-right and complete control on the far left. Mixed sytems tend toward the center. On the right, we find decentralized government and cumulative action. On the left, strong centralized Government and collectivism.
    Modern Liberals are not the same as Classical Liberals, thus the distiction. Unlike Classical Liberals such as Thomas Jefferson, Pat, todays Liberals practice various forms of Collectivism or Statism. In otherwords, you’re very much like the Taliban.

    Most Liberal/Progressive legislation violates key, cornerstone Constitutional rights, or if you like, key natural negative rights.

    There is no difference between a Rhino who legislates what you do with, on or in your own private property {robbing Paul to benefit Peter or certain foreign countries like Africa or Israel, legislation regarding non-aggressive, voluntary action which goes on in your bedroom with a consenting adult,}, and a Liberal who legislates what you do with, on or in your own private property { social spending with robs Paul of the use of his property to benefit Peter or foreign countries, laws which control or interfere with private property rights and ones right to free association such as quota laws and anti-discrimination laws , or ‘hate-speech or anti-discrimination’ laws which interfere with free speech. Particularly where those laws cause unConstitutional reverse discrimination which violates the supposedly anti-discrimination of the law in the most Orwellian fashion. Which is not surprising, since the word Racism is not a natural, organic word but a Communist coined word. Coined by men who suggested using ‘anti-racism’ to ‘destroy white men’ because they are ‘not good radicalized workers’. }

    And the Vatican not “leftish”? Odd. From Hitlers Germany to the radical priests in South American countries to the Sóisialaigh Caitliceacha Cráifeacha in Ireland to Pope John writings to Social Justice, the church has been on the wrong and ‘leftish’ side of the political spectrum through most of its known history.

    Either way, as Republican Evangelistic Christians have a better track record than Statists and Collectivists in the human rights and prosperity category, why would you pick the latter if you care about individual rights and find shoving ones beleifs down other people’s throats offensive? And what possible relevance would Republicans being Christians have in regard to voting out UnConstitional programs? Are you and Krugman suggesting we should keep them because ‘of God n Stuff”.

    {I am not suggesting the NY Times or Krugman article are correct in any of their assertions by my question. They are not.}

    And Jerry said>>>Stupid? When 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”, I call them stupid!>>>>

    Who said these were Republicans? These are people on SS, Unemployment and Medicare. It does not state political affiliation.
    How would you describe someone who has little or no reading comprehension, Jerry? Should such a person baselesly call others stupid?
    Also what buisiness does a supporter of the leftward slide of our mixed economy have to complain of people taking back money forced from their pockets because of the damage done to our economy by the supporters of unconstitutional and unsustainable spending?

    Jerry said>>>>I say theocrats because people who attend church are more likely to vote republican.>>>>

    A theocrat is not defined as “a person who attends church”. From Wester’s Online:

    noun \ˈthē-ə-ˌkrat\
    : one who rules in or lives under a theocratic form of government
    : one who favors a theocratic form of government

    From Gallup, sixty-six percent of Republicans report that religion is very important compared to 57 percent of Democrats. Only 48 percent of Independents agreed.
    According to some polls that I’ve seen 38% to almost half all Christians identify as Progressive or Liberal. According to Gallup, Liberal Democrats are the majority in the Democratic Party, far out numbering Blue Dogs.
    Liberal is not defined as an atheist, nor are a majority of Democrats, either Liberal or Blue Dog, atheists as you can see from the above.
    I note that you yourself seem quite happy to shove your beliefs and values down other throats, as evidenced by your anger at the suggestion that others property not be used as YOU see fit. In other words, you are angry at the suggestion that property rights be protected. I believe we call that ‘hypocrisy’, Jerry.
    From Websters:
    Definition of HYPOCRITE
    : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
    : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

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