(This was originally posted in 2010. I’m reposting for the 4th of July 2018.)
It’s time for me to come clean and admit how much I scam and rip off the government. Yes, it’s people like me that keep your taxes high (not as high as all the other industrial nations, but still, it’s your money).
First, I should tell you, I’m a third generation grifter. My grandparents arrived on these shores via Ellis Island. They were even given an alias. You think Stein is our real name?
They immediately benefited from soft immigration policies, “give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.“Yeah, baby! They couldn’t wait to come in and start working that system. Soon they were having anchor babies and sending them to public schools on the taxpayers’ dime.They also enjoyed all those freedoms — religion, expression, press.They even got involved in trade unions and collective bargaining!
Then came the Great Depression. That could have set things right, invisible hand of the market and all that, but noooo! They used their vote to get that disabled guy and his commie cronies in and before you could say WPA, tons of people were grifting the government, building roads and dams, even making art — all kinds of nonsense that the feds had no business going near.
The feeling of unity was downright socialistic! Despite the Depression, both my parents got college educations without paying a dime in tuition! They didn’t even have to fake transcripts or forge checks. The local government made it easy, only requiring they do well enough in high school to get a spot in its city university system. Back then the powerful actually believed that educating the masses would help make life better for everyone and prevent political extremism. The naivety is astounding!
Then World War II came and all that touchy-feely propaganda actually helped strengthen the country. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.
My father, always the schemer, joined the army.What did he get out of it?A little something called the GI Bill.That’s right, folks for a couple of years of service, (more like a paid vacation to the exotic Philippines) my father came back to find graduate school paid for AND a rent subsidy.Talk about living high on the hog!
He was then able to grow a business because he hardly paid any rent! Not only did New York come up with a sweet scam called “Rent Control,” but they also had housing projects, which before they were allowed to fall into decay and dangerousness, provided housing to plenty of opportunistic ex-army guys and their baby mommas.
As for my mother, she put her “education” to good use getting herself a cushy job as a “teacher” in one of those public schools. Union benefits! Set up for life. Sweet.
With that government tit to feed us, my father continued to build his business. He didn’t even complain about the “tribute” his Uncle Sam wanted every April 15th. Figured it was his duty or something. Guess he was getting soft.
And even into old age, both my parents kept up their ripping off the government ways, benefiting from those major giveaways — social security and Medicare. They didn’t lose all the money they’d saved when they got old and sick. My mother cleaned up in the end, selling the house, cashing out, and spending her golden years in a swanky assisted living facility. Give me dignity or give me death, baby!
With this kind of background, of course I was heading toward a life of stealing from hard working American taxpayers!
Not only did I attend public universities, I also didn’t have to shell out much for cars because here in New York, we’ve got a little thing called mass transit. There aren’t as many opportunities to feed at the trough as there used to be, but thanks to the “education” I was able to acquire, I found some creative ways to beat the system. There are little things that I hardly even notice most of the time like the fact that I have “protection” in the form of police, fire fighters and even sanitation workers who work for “the public”. Yup, that’s me! Jane Q Public, enjoying those services! Hey, unlike most of “the little people” in those poor countries, I even get safe drinking water and a system that keeps people from selling spoiled and unsafe food. It’s like having a personal food taster or something!
So given that it’s a beautiful Memorial Day, I think I’ll go out and enjoy myself.Maybe head over to a nearby locally supported park like that big one in the middle of Manhattan, or the state park they built over the sewer treatment plant a mile or so north. Sewer treatment! That’s something. My government even cleans my shit! What a country!
Or perhaps I’ll just head a couple of blocks west, pay my respects at the national park which happens to be a government supported mausoleum for some old President who was himself a welfare king who never made a dime at his failed business attempts, but managed to graduate from a publicly supported military academy and went into politics — that last refuge of the scoundrel — after his army stint.
11 thoughts on “My Life as a Welfare Queen”
Yes! I love it.
Like a lot of “good” things provided by government, there is no benefits without costs. I am not talking merely of money. Rent control has actually had a terrible effect on the middle class and housing stocks in New York. What landlord, given the return on his investment that is capped would bother to make any repairs to his property. I am not so silly-libertarian to announce that if there were no rent control, The Bronx never would have burned in the 70s, but if there were no rent control, there would have been more incentive to preserve existing housing stock, and build new housing stock. Those landlords might have, for example, had more incentive to fight Robert Moses on the Cross-Bronx Expressway and other scars in the Bronx – but they probably made out better by having the government use eminent domain to buy their property. After that scar, the slow deterioration began, and by the 70s, property was either abandoned, or “accidentally” torched for insurance money.
Even today, I don’t see why Volvo-socialists on the Upper West Side get to pay ridiculously cheap rents just for having gotten there first.
Public Education is definitely a good, but not everyone is right for higher education, and now, with not just manufacturing, but technology jobs being outsourced, a college degree means a lot less than it would have. Perhaps the fine art of trade schools, apprenticeships and craftsmanship should b resurrected. This is much preferable to a piece of paper that shows basically you showed up and spat back utterly boring information so you could be a “middle manager” in the IT department or the call center – instead of , oh, I don’t know, building software or computers.
I’ll give you some of this regarding rent control by the time we got up to 1960’s or 70’s. I remember growing up friends whose families paid remarkably little, but there are very, very few rent controlled apartments left, and if we didn’t have stabilization, things would be much worse. The idea of “Volvo socialists on the Upper Westside with ridiculously cheap rent” is mostly myth. Besides, hon, uh where do you live and what do you pay?
As for public education, I agree completely that “college or nothing” is not good policy, but back in the day, City College had free tuition AND was competitive. In many ways the Community Colleges have taken on the role of trade schools for an increasingly complex world. As for apprenticeships, trade schools etc. private industry is not going to come forward to support it. You do need a public sector and you need it to be smart.
Hi Marion, Fun piece!
Be sure to stop in and pay the Congressman a visit at his rent controlled double-unit.
As always, you hit the nail on the head, Marion! (But then, you can’t expect a European like me to agree with your Republican critics. If it had been left to them, and if the Japanese hadn’t messed things up, America would never have entered WW2, and we’d be living in a very different world.)
So young and yet so cynical (as Dai might say!)
Keep telling it like it is, girl.
It’ll take a squillion Marions to balance out one Fox News but the effort is noble!
Larry, FYI, my crack was an inside joke with Marion, not a partisan snipe.
Sweetly tart as only a Marion can be!
Wait–I thought patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel?
Same difference, I guess.
I’m proud to be ripping off the government this way, too. Those suckers even guaranteed my student loans so that I could go to a swanky private institution! Whose got the last laugh now, eh?
Actually, Fox news is the last refuge of a scoundrel, patriotism is the next to last and politics is third on the list.
Damn, Marion– you hilarious in the darkest & most incisive way. Let me buy you a drink when I’m back in town!
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