William Thien

Social Safety Net, The Modern Opiate of the Masses

Posted on: October 28, 2012

Karl Marx wrote that religion was the “opium of the people.” His belief was that religion took the place of a heartless, cruel world. It sounds good. It may be true. Yet, I am not equipped to quantify that statement. And for the purposes of this observation, it is not necessary to make such an investigation. History has in fact done that for us.

I have another perspective on an idea that arose from Marxist beliefs, a product of socialistic and communistic government structures. I believe the Social Safety Net that we have here in The United States, the way it is structured and the way it is abused, is a modern form of an “opiate of the masses.” Drug abuse is defined as use of a drug for a purpose it was not intended. We shall see that The Social Safety Net is abused also, something that is common knowledge, though I believe the parallel I draw between Religion as an opiate of the masses and The Social Safety Net as an opiate of the masses may be novel.

As an example I will use the food assistance program where I reside to demonstrate my perspective. There can be no question there is a need for such assistance. But as you will see, in its present form it is merely a crutch, an addiction, an opiate.

Where I reside one only needs to read the paper to find almost daily or weekly references to large scale fraud dealing with our system of food stamps, a social safety net program as an example, called a “Quest Card.” Often those involved in the fraudulent activity are members of the government themselves, whether they be law enforcement which has access to personal information, or the social workers and case managers which have access to the entire system of disbursements. But the larger scale abuses are coming from the recipients themselves. They boldly place advertisements on Facebook and Craigslist offering to buy or sell food assistance benefits illegally. Trades of the Quest Cards are done for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. Thousands claim they have lost their Quest Cards and re-apply for a new one, doubling their benefits as the first is lost and cashed out, so to speak, and then the recipient receives a new card. Benefits are often received twice, multiple times, six or more it is believed, in a benefit cycle.

Then of course there is the user who doesn’t really need the assistance. That is where it is believed the greatest abuse occurs. But they are addicted to the system and are afraid to walk away from it. It is like a drug that is abused, not used for its proper intent, the definition of drug abuse. Once you are cured you are supposed to stop taking the drug. Food assistance benefits are supposed to help those in need but rarely do those who use the system use it only until they can recover from financial difficulty. Through clever manipulation of the system, tricks commonly shared often amongst generations of recipients, the beneficiary frequently continues to manipulate and use the system in perpetuity and therefor abuse it. It becomes like a drug, a crutch, an “opiate” and it keeps them reliant, keeps them oppressed. It is abused like a drug in a way. Food benefit assistance, the most obvious of the government programs arising out of socialist or communistic ideals is therefor an “opiate of the masses.” It is like an addiction.

I wonder what Karl Marx would think of that?

Copyright 2012 William Thien

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1 Response to "Social Safety Net, The Modern Opiate of the Masses"

Reblogged this on William Thien and commented:

I am involved in an online debate about the abuses of the social welfare system in my state. I concluded that things will not change in that regard without physical action as politicians and the elected won’t address the matter knowing that a majority of the population is now receiving entitlements and government handouts and as soon as they feel those benefits are threatened, if they get any inkling of such, they will vote for the other guy. It is human nature.

And I made this observation: I am skeptical that you will change that type of behavior, abuse of the social welfare system, through any political or democratic method. The system itself and those receiving such benefits already surpasses those paying into the system and receiving or refusing to receive any. When the Soviet Union was threatened with a breakup, the hardliner Soviets holed up on the Soviet Parliament and were stonewalling because they didn’t want to see the system change from a communist/socialist system to an open or freer market system. The then President of Russia/still kind of Soviet State, President Yeltsin actually had to use tanks to fire on the Soviet hardliners who were stonewalling in the house of government. In other words, once government gets so large and there are so many people benefiting from its size, you can’t change things without a physical action of some sort.

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