The recent COVID stimulus bill is expected to deliver $600 to Americans. I can just about pay my rent with that because I am married with a child and that adds up to $1,800 for the household. If you’re not, the government doesn’t seem to care about you as much.
I don’t think anyone begrudges me getting extra cash for my kid. Obviously, this quarantine has been hard on them, too. What I’m saving in tuition at her local jiu jitsu dojo I’m spending on her therapy because kids are literally getting suicidal over all this. Taking care of the most vulnerable members of our society is what society is actually for.
That said, this continued insistence that the nuclear family household should always be the ones to reap the maximum benefits of the welfare state is quite literally killing people who aren’t married and don’t have kids. This is no secret to Texans. In this state you can’t even get on Medicaid if you’re a non-disabled, childless adult under 65 since our state has refused the expansion of benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Our food assistance program is similarly stingy, and single, childless people can usually only get three months out of the year worth of help.
The over-arching theme of these assistance programs isn’t that families with children need more help. It’s that people who are “abled” and “unburdened” don’t need help except in the direst circumstances. Maybe that was true back in the ancient 1970s when you could still afford rent on a fry cook’s salary, but it hasn’t been true in my lifetime.
It’s the objective truth that the average person’s buying power has been stagnant for four decades. The wealth explosions of the top 1 percent of American earners have come at the expense of the wages for everyone else. In times of extreme crisis such as now, when even those insufficient wages are suddenly missing in the wake of economic collapse, it should be a moment for the state to reconfigure how it delivers aid.
Instead, we’re treading the same paths we have done before, and huge swaths of the country are rightly mocking the lackluster amount we’re being given. The standard line from the GOP, who stood in the way of another round of $1,200 checks, is that too much money will create dependency on the government. Also, something about the deficit, which was weirdly absent when they passed a tax cut in 2017, but calling out Republicans for hypocrisy is like being mad at your dog for shitting in the yard. It’s what they do.
Underneath the rhetoric is a sinister idea that is the crux of why we can’t have a better welfare state. Individuals are not seen as needing or deserving of help. They aren’t entitled to it. Only families count, and that is probably because even Republicans can’t turn off the mammalian instinct to protect children at least some of the time. The day that each person, in and of themselves, is seen as a worthy petitioner of redress and assistance from their government is the day that the whole capitalist fiefdom system comes down.
Conservatives live in fear of people not scrambling desperately into the arms of employers for basic needs. It’s the entire mechanism of their control of the country. That’s why a single person able to get any job, no matter how wanting it is for providing basic needs, will never be able to reap the benefits of the stimulus. You struggling is entirely the point. Well-fed, secure people ask far too many inconvenient questions.
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