what is a handout?

Every time I hear a conservative vs. liberal argument, the word handout is used. What does that word even mean? I suppose it means all forms of government aid, but it does not mean it in a literal sense. It is, in fact, a supercharged word that embodies a story about that the person who receives this aid. I have wanted to respond for many years and only recently am finding the words.

I am not arguing one side or another in the political fight, for neither side is the truth. I have found that all arguments grossly simplify the position of the other side. It’s like they both gaslight each other nonstop. For example, let’s continue with the argument of handouts. The conservative side holds the oversimplified view that people who receive help are lazy, do not want to fight to change their lives, and giving them any kind of aid is to support that laziness by giving them a free ride. Personally, I have had many discussions with poor and disadvantaged people and have yet to meet one that this argument can apply to. Because the word handout is so charged, it is used ad nauseam as a talking point in conservative campaigns, riling people up and getting them to detest the other, “free-rider” side.

But what really is a handout? In fact, it doesn’t exist. What does exist is the the issue of redistribution of wealth. Now there’s another thing people fight about. They call it “taking from the rich to give to the poor”, or handouts. Ok, let’s get to the point. Redistribution is required because the US economy cannot raise wages. In fact, wages are consistently suppressed vis a vis the cost of living, and in order for the most poor to survive, they must receive government aid. It is a whole set up based on complex macroeconomics. Why can’t wages be raised? Well, because no one can force a company to build its factories and headquarter in the United States; these companies will always go where they can cut the cost of labor, which is one of their biggest costs of staying in business. If another country offers them a better deal, of course, they will take it. This is why there are sweatshops all across the world. The major companies also go where the environmental rules are lax, because the politicians of that country can be bought or coerced to make laws that are in the “interest of the United States”. It boils down to the fact that setting up shop in other countries saves big companies a lot of money. It’s really just about the bottom line, not that they don’t care about their country and its people.

So now, the United States needs to find creative ways to get these companies to come back home. To do this, they need to give them tax breaks and keep wages low, very low. They also need to look the other way when the companies dump their toxic waste in the water and land where the poor live. And, since the poor can’t defend themselves, they just have to live with it. Why can’t they defend themselves? Well, do you know how much money a major lawsuit takes? We regress…

The point is, we are in a massive dilemma. Jobs need to be created and we don’t want to give handouts. The liberal position understands the dilemma and is bent on redistributing wealth because it is the only way to help people get out of the poverty trap. Redistribution does not mean more food stamps; it means better schools and changing the way they are funded. It means investing in college education and helping people access healthcare if they cannot afford it. Who should pay for this? Those people who got the massive breaks. But wait! Doesn’t that take away the break they get? Ok, you see the dilemma. Since the government and all its politicians cannot figure this one out, what they end up doing is passing the buck to the middle class. So now it’s the hard working people who are fighting to stay alive and who live just a few rungs above the threshold to get any kind of aid, and who, because of their gross income, must pay the most in taxes. These people are then told that they are in this position because the liberals want to give handouts to the poor. And the poor, who still cannot defend themselves, are furious because of the trap they are in and for being scapegoated by the ones in power. Because marketing is so powerful, the brilliant idea to brainwash the masses on how the poor are the issue has worked for about 50% of the population.

But here is the thing no one talks about: It is not in human nature to live in apathy. Our nature is to want improvement. It is progress that makes us happy, not the lack of physical exertion. People only become apathetic when they fight nonstop and to no avail. They keep bumping up against the injustice of life. They keep hitting the walls of the intricacies of the economic system, which are set up in a way that keeps them struggling for survival in perpetuity.

But, you may say, I know of a lot of people who just won’t put in the fight when I can clearly see that they have what it takes. Let me assure you that these people are mostly those who cannot bear any more pain. I’m aware of the fact that to you, a passerby in their life, it appears that they just don’t want to fight for themselves. For those who really do not want to lift a finger, how many of them suffer from a variation of PTSD or another form of mental illness? And how many of them just cannot stand to be rejected anymore? They cannot stand to be seen as a worthless human by everyone else around them as they fight to better themselves. This, in fact, is a major issue in the lowest paying jobs. I know because I was there. I felt the mud splashed on my face, the insults that were hurled at me, the constant judgment and the fact that no one sees you as an equally intelligent person.

All I am trying to say, is that if there are a level of poor who want help, it is because they pain that they live in is so great. It does not mean that the pain you or I experience is less. Actually, in my own experience, I would not have survived if it were not for the help of many wonderful people who gave me hard cash just so I can keep afloat. I lived most of my life without insurance and suffered deep pain from PTSD and the grief of all that I have lost in my early years. I could have moved into a position of health much sooner had I had the proper treatment. But I could never get this treatment because I never had the money and I didn’t have insurance. The few nonprofits and community centers that did offer help to the broke and almost-homeless did not offer the specific help I needed–EMDR. What they did offer was the opportunity to talk to someone who would never understand my experience because they had never met someone who grew up in a cult and lost as much as I had lost. They also could not understand the fact that I was still living under a deep mental conditioning that told me that I could never say the truth to an ‘outsider’, which in this experience, was the counselor. They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that most my loved ones were killed and I knew, from my earliest memories, that doing things, like talking to authorities, could get a person killed. My survival mechanisms were so deeply ingrained to NEVER SAY THE TRUTH, that even when I knew I needed to, I could not.

So, basically, help did not exist for me. Although my situation is an extreme example, it is by far not an isolated one. People have to understand that it is not in human nature to live a degraded, no-dignity life where your value as a human is like that of useless trash. Everyone wants to fight for a better life because being seen this way is one of the worst hells that can exist.

In the end, the idea and story that goes with the word handout is a made up illusion that politicians use to sway the masses. Thus, when people start to argue the point, they are arguing against smoke. Now the liberals turn and say that the conservatives do not care at all about the world or humanity, that they would be happy to soak up all the money and go live on an island separate from the hoi palloi, to hell with nature, ocean life and all that makes this planet beautiful. In fact, the rich really would love to live is an oil-dirtied world with nothing but dead fish as long as they have their mountain of money. Of course, this is not true. It, like the other argument, is a painted reality that is used to get the liberal side of the population to stampede in the opposite direction. In truth, most of the rich want to make the world a better place and put a lot of money towards that end. They just don’t want the corruption-ridden government and its hypocritical politicians to decide where that money goes. They want to help lift people up, but not in a way that keeps the person forever dependent, like on a drug. The want the helped person to eventually walk on their own strong legs, then turn around to help the others. Now of course, there are a lot of superrich who do not feel any qualms about hording all their money on offshore accounts. These, again, are the minority. The vast majority of rich and middle class, do in fact, want to make everything better. An no, no one wants to carry a bunch of lazzies. But thank goodness, there aren’t a bunch of lazzies who want to be carried. So why are we fighting? We are fighting because we don’t know better.

We don’t know that the monster we actually face is far, far greater than how wealth is redistributed, and it will eat us all if we keep fighting each other on stupid, brainwashed arguments.

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