A Facebook friend of mine posted a link to a February article from Americans Against the Tea Party, contending that the heaviest users of food stamps are white folks from Red States, and cites Kentucky’s Owsley County as an example. Now, the article seems to want to make a “What’s the matter with Kansas” argument, suggesting that by opposing the welfare state, these lumpenproles are voting against their own self-interest, but I can’t help but wonder if the very phenomenon under discussion is in fact a contributing factor to the disdain many Red Staters have for these programs.
If you live in an area like the ones under discussion, and you’ve seen (along with people whose needs genuinely require meeting) your various “no-account” in-laws/cousins/folks with the cars on the lawns and the kids running around at all hours who take advantage (in the cynical sense) of such programs, mightn’t that actually build distaste for the benefits they use as support, along with resentment of the beneficiaries?
This is not to say that the position of distaste/resentment is a good one — indeed, the holders of that position may be working from an insufficient sample (remember: anecdotes ain’t data), but this may be a more productive thing to consider than either claims of “false consciousness” or the triumphalist screech of “Hypocrite!” that often attends these exercises.
But it probably wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Forget I said anything.