Half of Government Aid Recipients Say They've Never Received Government Aid

Maybe you remember back in 2009, when actor Craig T. Nelson went on Glenn Beck’s Fox show to complain about entitlement programs and government handouts.

“We are a capitalistic society,” Nelson said, winding up for the pitch. “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No.”

The moment might’ve been hilarious if it hadn’t been such a sad indicator of the thinking that pervades so much of this country. Nelson seemed genuinely oblivious to the fact that he had been helped out—and by the big, bad government, no less. Where did he think those food stamps and welfare dollars came from? It boggles the mind.

It’s a fairly well-known fact at this point that red states put in fewer tax dollars than they get back in federal aid. That is, the people who overwhelmingly vote for candidates who oppose safety net programs live in the states that most benefit from those same programs. As Business Insider puts it:

As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that's right. Red States—the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut—are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill.

BoingBoing points to research by Suzanne Mettler, a professor of government at Cornell University. Mettler found that a significant portion of Americans who receive some form of government aid either believe, or pretend to believe, they “have not used a government social program.” See the chart below.


Someone should tell those people that their bootstraps are woven out of government dollars.


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