• Ridding The World Of Freeloaders, One Poor At A Time.

    The whole concept of the "just-world hypothesis" is interesting. It's essentially a coping mechanism that shields people away from the feeling of overall vulnerability, in order to maintain the mystique that you're in control of your own affairs and that you and yours aren't susceptible to the slings and arrows that seem to plague others. Whether it's poverty, discrimination, sexual assault or even death, if you can believe that those are things that happen to other people for some reason that they could control, you won't feel so vulnerable.

    The economy is still circling the shitter, for all intents and purposes, and with the growing number of unemployed and the domino effect unemployment has on people's finances and social lives, it's no wonder the just-world hypothesis is catching on with people who don't want to see what's happening to their fellow Americans happen to them and theirs.

    That could explain the following. Or perhaps it's just a case of Michigan Republicans being assholes, again:

    An undetermined number of Michigan's nearly 2 million food assistance recipients will lose the help under new eligibility requirements the state will begin using in October.

    Michigan has determined food assistance eligibility based only on income for roughly a decade. A new policy will include a review of certain financial assets starting Oct 1. The requirements will affect new applicants right away and existing recipients when their cases come up for review, which typically happens once every six months.

    Those with assets of more than $5,000 in bank accounts or some types of property would no longer be eligible for food assistance. Other assets that would count against the cap include vehicles with market values of more than $15,000 and second homes, depending on how much is owed on the properties.

    Apparently this is Michigan governor Rick Snyder's attempt to get those freeloading Cadillac-driving welfare queens off the public assistance rolls. For those who're already living on the bleeding edge of poverty or somewhere close to it, it's not gonna affect them much. These people thrive on paid-for beaters worth $500 to $2000, dream about owning second homes and the only time they'll have more than $5k in the bank is during tax season.

    But this is gonna suck for those once-well-off middle class families who fell on hard times and need a helping hand, as opposed to a boot to the face. Unless you're willing to sell off your car and other assets, and then drain away your bank account, you're out of luck as far as the Rickster is concerned. If you have $5k in the bank, then you don't need food stamps until you've run through that $5k feeding yourself and your family. Then and only then will you become worthy enough to be blessed with a helping hand from a government that would rather not lend one.

    And conservatives will go along with this. Combine the just-world hypothesis with America's unique Puritanical views on poverty and sense of achievement, and you have a situation where being poor is seen as a moral defect in which the poor are perfectly capable of controlling at their leisure. In fact, poverty is sometimes seen as a leisure activity, with the poor being "lazy" and whatnot. Sometimes I get the feeling these folks actually think the poor enjoy being in poverty.

    For those deep in the just-world hypothesis shit, if you can wail on those poors with austerity-minded legislation that instead transfers wealth under your dull noses and into the bank accounts and investment portfolios of your "betters" (the ones whom deserve all of your praise, with wealth equaling smarts and ambition and drive and whatnot), then you can keep on feeling somewhat impervious while satisfying the bitter asshole that lies in just about every person on Earth.

    Some assets, such as primary residences and 401k accounts, would not be considered for determining food assistance eligibility.

    Gee, well isn't that swell. Most people can tell you the value of their 401k accounts with only one hand, at best. If they're lucky to have a 401k. I guess the 30,000 college students who were recently kicked off the food stamp rolls wished they had 401k accounts. The ones that actually do happen to be legacy students in Ivy League institutions.

    Food assistance benefits came under some scrutiny earlier this year when it was revealed a Michigan man had continued to get food aid from the state despite winning a $2 million lottery jackpot.*

    There are a number of people out there who believe if the government's dumb enough to give out "freebies," they're gonna take the government for all they can. Outside the financial and military contracting sectors, this particular philosophy isn't all that it's cracked up to be. But it's like the fine folks in Texas who took away those last meals from death row inmates on account of one stubborn fella -- it's any excuse to bring the hammer down on everyone for the transgressions of a select few.

    *To be perfectly honest, $2 million isn't a whole lot of money, especially if that amount happened to be pre-tax. No wonder that person stayed on food stamps.