Too many Americans don’t realize the extent to which they benefit from government programs

(NOTE: This post from 17 months ago is even more timely today.)

Protest signs like the one in the photo above have become commonplace in recent years as more and more Americans display an astonishing ignorance of the extent to which they personally benefit from government social programs.

Steve Benen — with help from Bruce Bartlett, Matt Taibbi and Suzanne Mettler — tells us HERE about people “who sincerely believe they ‘have not used a government social program.’…It’s not that these folks are lying; it’s just that they don’t understand. ”

POSTSCRIPT: This subject brings to mind a couple of stories I’ve shared here on previous occasions.

To distinguish one from the other, I’ll separate them with a dotted line.

The first, which is of unknown authorship, reads as follows:

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.

After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.

On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

And then I log on to the Internet — which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration — and post on Freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how socialism in medicine is bad because the government can’t do anything right.


The second is a tale former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings used to tell:

This is about a Korean War veteran who went to college on the GI Bill. He bought his house with an FHA loan. His kids were born in a VA hospital. He started a business with an SBA loan. He got water from the TVA and then from a project funded by the EPA.

The man’s children participated in the school lunch program and went to college on government-guaranteed student loans. His parents’ farm got its electricity from the REA and had its soil tested by the USDA. His father’s life was saved by a drug developed by the NIH, and the family was saved from financial ruin by Medicare.

 When the man’s house was damaged by floods, he drove on the interstate to an Amtrak station and took a train to Washington to apply for disaster relief.

 Then one day, he got angry about taxes and federal spending and wrote a letter to his congressman demanding that the government get off his back.


1 Comment

  1. Dan F.

    Let’s condense your argument to a raw proposition and conclusion. All these messy facts and anecdotes just get in the way of your reasoning.

    Government provides some benefits.
    Thus, everything the government does is a benefit for which we should be grateful.

    Yup, some real ironclad logic there, Pat. You should have been a logician.

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