Parasitism in the Land of Plenty

Americans, by most standards, are considered rather well off in comparison to the rest of the world.  The standard of living in the United States is one of the top 20 in the world by the standards economists use as measures of standards of living.  In the Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living, America ranks fourth in the world, behind Norway, Australia, and New Zealand.  Yet for all the benefits that an American life should theoretically bring, there are significant issues with life in America.  America has more poor, more crime and more ghettos than ever; while its middle and working class feel increasingly alienated and rejected by the government.

Imagine  – if you will – the Fosters, an ordinary suburban family in America: Bill is 33, an laid-off office worker who has spent a lifetime studying hard and working to succeed in life. He and his wife spend hours at the office, day after day, and reside in a modest home.  They pay a great deal in taxes and must work to pay off their mortgage and college loans.  They want to start a family, but know that it is not financially feasible with the way the job market is.  They are hoping, in a couple of years, to be able to afford one child, but they know that it will be extremely expensive sending their child to a private school. They feel it wouldn’t be right to send their child to a public school with under-qualified teachers and filled with drugs and crime.

Now imagine Latisha; she’s just moved in a few blocks away from the Fosters, into a three-bedroom townhouse in a gated community, that the Fosters would have loved to live in, could they have afforded it.  Not only that, she receives food stamps, and welfare payments. She knows that her assistance will increase upon the birth of her second baby.  Thanks to her EBT card, she can now eat steak and lobster for dinner on a regular basis.   Her family can recieve free medical care at a government-subsidized clinic, and when her children are ready to attend college – assuming that they graduate high school – they will be eligible for certain scholarships and affirmative action benefits.  She has no incentive to work, knowing that the government will continue to assist her financially no matter what.

Latisha’s case is not an isolated one.  “Official” government statistics place the rate of black welfare recipients at nearly 40%, despite the fact that blacks only comprise 12.6% of the total population.  72% of all black children are born out of wedlock, while the black and Latino birth rate is significantly higher than that of whites; accurate numbers are difficult to arrive at due to the number of out-of-wedlock births.  In what must be painfully obvious to almost any reasonable person, we are quite simply headed for a Malthusian catastrophe: the high birthrate of those receiving welfare outstrips our ability to finance meaningful programs to help the poor.  The effect can only be mirrored by the relationship between a parasite and its host.

Today, many municipalities pay sales taxes in excess of 8%, with sales taxes in California reaching 9.75%.  Federal and state income taxes amount to 30% for middle-class families, while the extremely wealthy are exempt from taxes.  At the same time, people like Latisha are becoming ever more common in major urban areas, despite the fact that state, local, and federal government spending on welfare increases to skyrocket.  In other words, the American middle class is coming under increasingly greater burdens to support those like Latisha.  If Americans knew, I am sure they would be furious that while much of the industrious working and middle classes are eating potatoes, pork and beans, and ramen noodles, their tax dollars are going to fund the extravagant lifestyles of those who refuse to work.  And since Americans are so fed up with the situation, we might ask ourselves in the tradition of Lucius Cassius, cui bono?

In the short run, Latisha wins.  Her food stamps, free rent, and government subsidies give her a relatively unfettered life of luxury,  free from the drudgery of everyday work, which, though many people would be loathe to say, is undeserved.  There is, though, another side to the story, since if the real intent was to help the poor, then there would be no need for such excesses.

The Section 8 housing program  authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 3.1 million low-income households.  The program pays landlords for two years of the rent cost when a tenant begins the lease agreement.  The economic theory of  investments and time value of money dictates this is a favorable advantage as the funds can be invested elsewhere at a higher return.   Many of the real-estate developers also receive tax breaks to build these houses, and a portion of them make significant profits, so they recieve exemptions from paying income tax.

The reality for the people who must live here is not as pleasant, however.  As the housing bubble burst and home prices plummeted, and investors became desperate to make returns, they encouraged low-income to move from urban areas to suburban areas under section 8.  While this was supposed to help the poorer individuals, it had the opposite effect.  Lancaster, California, which retains 10 percent of all Section 8 contracts nationwide, the highest concentration of any city., has seen a spike in crime, while ethnic tensions have flared up.  Similarly, in North Memphis, Tennessee, increasing levels of crime were also linked to a Section 8 resident influx.

At the same time, the presence of government programs for food discourages many of the poor from working or ever attaining self-sufficiency.  It does, however, keep any politician who can promise to keep handing out the government dole out to those who refuse to work in power, which perpetuates a vicious cycle that keeps such politicians in power at the cost of ever-increasing government programs at an ever increasing cost.  Thus the real beneficiaries in the long run are the elites, who wish to keep people like Latisha at bay with bread and circuses.  The greatest victims are the working and middle classes, who have been sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

Rich poor people

It must be painfully obvious to almost everyone who is reasonable by now: the high welfare-receiving birthrate outstrips our ability to finance meaningful programs to help the poor, and as the middle class becomes more and more aware of this, there will undoubtedly be more friction between various factions of American society.  Just as a true parasite which kills its host, the underclass of “lumpenproletariat” who refuse jobs and consume resources shall lead to the destruction of America.  Just as Rome succumbed to its own greatness and eventually imploded under the weight of economic deterioration resulting from excessive taxation, inflation, and government doles, America is just as likely to follow this path.

While an end to unrestricted welfare for parasitic individuals is not the be-all and end-all of solutions regarding the health of Western society, it is still a step in the correct direction.  The famous Finnish ecologist once made the following analogy:

What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides of the boat.

This is an apt analogy; it is time to sever the hands of those who threaten to sink the boat by weighing it down with parasitic behavior.

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