LGBTQ Support

In Defense Of The Lazy Trick-or-Treaters

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Ah! That time of year again, when the “Trick or Treating As A Democrat” memes roll around Facebook.

And you know what? As a liberal (NOT a Democrat…although I typically vote that way for obvious reasons) I am not offended. It’s a joke! Whatevs. I mean, I don’t like mean-spirited political jokes shared in a forum where you KNOW people on the other side are going to see them (Made in the privacy of your own home? Different story.) but whatever, I’m not going to get upset or take it personally. Not a lot anyway.

But as someone who spent a large chunk of her college career making use of various for-the-poor government programs? I’m completely offended.

The perpetual notion that a person on any sort of government aid is lazy is one that makes my blood boil.

Listen. You may think the majority of poor people are lazy. I’m not trying to change that. I don’t think I can. But can you do me a favor, can you recognize that they ALL aren’t lazy? And then acknowledge that when you spread these “jokes” that perpetuate the idea, then you are offending the EXACT PEOPLE the programs are there to help?

Making using of government assistance kept me in college when I became a Mom at 19. I was able to finish school in 5’ish years with two bachelor’s degrees and then become a contributing member of society where I gladly pay taxes into a system that hopefully will continue to help other people like me. Did I represent the majority? Maybe not. Does it matter? Depends on your political position. But here’s the thing…PEOPLE LIKE ME ARE ALL AROUND YOU. And no matter how conservative you are, you have to admit that people like me? Use the system like it was intended. We are not lazy. We are driven to pay back society for the help it gave us. And here’s the trick:

WE LOOK JUST LIKE YOU.

Back when I was poor? I kinda assumed everyone who had house cleaners were rich snobs. I mocked them mercilessly. I worked for people who had their house cleaned and I used to reference that as my proof they were snobby people. “Oh, Well…you know the Smiths…they have a house cleaner so they don’t understand real people.” Seriously. If I found out you PAID someone to mop your floors? I assumed there was NO way you could relate to a hard-working person like me. I scoffed at you and looked down on you as a human.

And then I grew up and realized that even as a middle-class member of society? I’m in the minority of people who don’t have house cleaners. Some of my very best, non-snobby friends have house cleaners.

OOPS! Sorry!

Now? I withhold judgement because, while the majority may still be snobby? I know several dozen who are not and I would never in a million years want to offend them by making such a cruel judgement.

So! Maybe you could do the same? Maybe you can attack politically without hitting hard-working single-Moms struggling to get ahead below the belt. Or at least know that you ARE hitting them below the belt every time you perpetuate the idea that people using government aid are lazy. That aid kept formula in E’s belly and food on my table. It kept me in college and in housing. It kept my utilities on when money was tight. And at one point I was working TWO jobs and in college full-time with a kid in Kindergarten. I am WAY lazier now, for the record.

Anyway. I just wanted to rant. Because every October I see variations of this SAME joke and it just makes me crazy. Not because I often vote Democrat, but because I had a baby on Medicaid and ate food given to me for free but neither of those things made me lazy.

8 thoughts on “In Defense Of The Lazy Trick-or-Treaters”

  1. Amen! I am one of you as well. I grew up on government assistance because my mother was a hard working single mother of two who never received a single penny of child support – ever. We received AFDC, Food Stamps, Medicaid and free government surplus cheese and peanut butter to survive. And our mother was anything but lazy. She worked hard. She has no car and we walked everywhere. We had no TV for many years.

    I received government grants and government guaranteed loans to go to college – loans which I paid in full. I worked while I went to school and supported myself, having been orphaned at 16.l. Over my lifetime I have earned three degrees, have a good job and I gladly pay my taxes so that I can pay it forward and help someone else get a helping hand to better their lives and go on to become a productive member of society.

    I look just like you. Although for a brief period of time I actually employed a house cleaner once every two weeks so I could have time to run to all of my kids activities while working 50 plus hours a week and have the immense joy of seeing my house sparkling clean for at least a few glorious hours. My husband was housework averse. What can I say.

  2. We are BOTH housework averse. Our perk is that we are also completely apathetic about living in filth. If we cared? We would HAVE to find a housekeeper. Lucky for our pizza-budget, we don’t 😉

  3. I’m from the right but can lean left. You did it the way system it suppose to work. Which is better yourself so you could come off of assistance and provide for yourself.

    Questions that come into play is the ones milking the sytem as we see it. Is there a real reason like mental health, physical or something else in play here. We as society need to understand these person will always need assistance. Then who helps take care of them. Government or Not for Profit. What do we do with that we know can do better for themselves. Do we do a monthly check on what they up too, drug test etc.

    To wrap up tis up. I say the system has good bones but we need more checks and balances to improve the system.

  4. Another awesome post, Kim! I wish some people I know would read it and understand what you are saying!

  5. I could not agree more. It isn’t laziness.

    I’m a therapist. I work in community mental health. Food stamps, rent rebates, SSD, etc. are necessary.

    Lots of people think the surfing/hipster poor is the majority. It’s not. The majority of the people receiving services are people you don’t recognize, but mostly people you do not see. If you have a computer, Internet and the luxury of free time to be on the Internet, you’re skewed toward the middle class and up and probably don’t run in similar circles. (Not you, personally, The general you). People want stricter controls. Controls are more expensive than the program. I’d rather a few people skim the system than a few people be deprived of benefits they need.

    What’s galling is the notion that these programs provide luxury. No. They might help keep a roof over some heads, but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe roof in a habitable home. Sure, it can buy some food, but calories are cheap and nutrition is not. Plus, the home that was paid for may not have a stove or microwave or hot plate. And if it does, there might not be utensils or pots and pans. Sure, they should just work and put the kids in subsidized daycare. Except there’s a waiting list.

    Othering is easy. It’s hard to look at the realities of a life that, frankly, scares us. It’s a cop out to say they’re doing it to themselves to escape any notion that we, as a society, are contributing to this problem. People yell about bootstraps and the requisite pulling up, but when? When people aren’t worried about if their kids are going to eat their next meal? When they’re concerned that their not safe? When?

    These programs have tremendous value. They supplement lives and provide some support and stability. They could do more. We need to do more.

    (Please excuse choppiness, writing on the iPhone half asleep)

  6. I wish more people would give each other the benefit of the doubt. I work in an elementary school this year and I have been so startled by how often we assume the absolute worst of each other (IE parents assuming we are out to make their kids lives miserable, etc etc). I think across the board we would all be better off if we quit putting everyone into the worst-case category in our minds.

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