An immigrant on welfare: not exactly what you thought it would look like?

IceNine

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I am not a U.S. citizen, but merely an immigrant. That doesn't stop me from receiving government handouts, however. You could probably call me a welfare recipient, and that would be accurate. The funds in question that are given to me come out of a yearly $134 billion budget, "larger than the entire budgets of the Department of Education, Justice and Energy combined" (see cited source below). I get something, because I already have something: I own my home, and since they are my first and second (I own two), I get a mortgage interest deduction on both. Do I think this is fair, when people who can't afford a mortgage get nothing to help pay their rent? Or can't afford groceries? No. Neither is fair that unlike food stamp recipients, I am free to spend this money for anything I want: cigarettes, booze, smutty magazines...heck, I could buy assault weapons if I wanted to! And unlike the people on food stamps, I don't get glares from self-righteous strangers in the grocery store line. People don't look at me and think: "There goes our tax dollars!"


I've found, to my surprise, that as an immigrant in the United States, you get treated extremely well, as long as you are white. I get treated better than many American citizens of color. They are constantly reminded that they are not white, and their non-whiteness is always an issue among whites (who conveniently don't have to think about race all the time, because they consider "white" to be the norm). Many white people (why don't they get hyphonated as Euro-Americans?) seem so blissfully ignorant of their own racism that it baffles me, but whenever I go out somewhere with people of color, white people treat them as the "others" the "ethnic" ones, and they are the ones who make our group "diverse," not me. Another surprise I learned, coming to this country was that I also get more respect than Americans who are poor and white. I have worked alongside them in low-paying jobs, but my spouse studied at a prestigious university at the same time, and this somehow made me eligible to better treatment from the management. My point is this: If you are an American citizen, especially if you belong to a non-white minority group, live in a low-income area, work two low-paying jobs (no benefits, because they are both part-time; the employers see an opportunity here to save on benefits) that can't pay the bills because the rent cuts into a large chunk of your paycheck, and you are lucky enough to receive any form of government aid (which in reality is not easy to get), you become a target of public shaming. If you are a white foreign citizen, own a home in an affluent area and receive government aid for no reason, no-one cares. Admittedly, I am not the sole owner of my home, my American spouse owns it with me. Our American kids live there too. But still, to be an immigrant with more privileges and in some cases getting more respect for who I am (white, middle class, thus they are not privileges and respect that I've actually earned) than many Americans is something I can't wrap my head around. Shouldn't it be politically outrageous? Maybe it is indeed seen as such, but the subsidies benefit the affluent and the middle class, not the poor, so neither Republicans nor Democrats will ever get rid of it. Even if both parties are rational enough to see it for what it is: undeserved welfare for the rich, they will not get rid of it. It would be political suicide for any politician, so they all accept it.

Funny, isn't it, that such generous freebies from federal funds are accepted by a party that loathes any forms of subsidies, and equally accepted by another party that loathes any kinds of subsidies that benefit the rich. Of all things, they can agree on this one! Don't touch it, or if you do, make sure you cut off the homeowners with the lowest income, don't start saving from the top! If the rules were sufficiently amended, large sums from this budget could be channeled into programs providing affordable housing for the ones who pay half of their meager incomes to landlords (landlords who think nothing of evicting tenants these days if people can't afford their rent). Not the sort of financial aid that makes this population depend on it for the rest of their lives, but aid to make it possible for people in low-paying jobs to advance, to make an actual living at the end of the day. However, the general view among Americans seems to be that once you hand something out to "the poor," rather than to the wealthy, the very act somehow perversely transforms into undeserved charity, and suddenly people decide that the same money that was previously given without question to the more affluent homeowners should be spent elsewhere than on these poor tenants who can't afford their rent.

Poverty and homelessness exist for many reasons, usually a series of conditions and events that make it harder and harder, then finally impossible to advance (if it were ever possible in the first place). Laziness and lack of intelligence are rarely factors that count toward financial destitute. Which is why I have such a hard time understanding poor people who vote for the very politicians that act against their economic interests, and who seem to hold their poverty against them. These politicians don't "give anything away for free," and their less affluent voters (unlike the rich voters) don't want to receive anything, so they support their policies for other reasons (promises of promoting "Christian values" and "national security," and jobs. Anything you want, except higher wages, tax benefits that make a difference or anything else that has to do with money. The jobs may be a joke, because they can't cover your most basic expenses, but they're jobs after all, so don't complain!) Fair enough that you don't want anything. Up to you. But these politicians actually DO give away stuff for free, just not to the people who need them. You still don't want anything? Fine. But the funding that doesn't go to your schools, ends up elsewhere. What you don't end up with, ends up with someone else. It's hard to be self-sufficient when things are taken away from you. It's hard to understand the logic of someone who accepts that the rich take what they think they are worth, while the poor shouldn't even want to ask for anything, not even a decent living wage for their hard work (and most poor people work damn hard). It's not about charity, it's about getting your share of what's available, of what you're worth, but that smacks too much of socialism, thus moving into unpatriotic territory.

To be fair, the political opposition isn't as idealistic and fair as they might think they are. Self-proclaimed altruism is often just self-serving. There are those who may want to promote fairness and justice for all, but don't respect you as a human being until you start speaking in grammatically correct sentences or put a shirt on and get more classy lawn ornaments. Seriously, I'm not kidding. people will be tolerant, but not inclusive.They tolerate minorities until they hear the word "ax" and call the grammar police. But most of all, they really want to give up their own privileges. It's great to invest in the poor, but not if it means having to downgrade in any way: car/house/overall lifestyle. That goes for helping minorities too. Giving up white privileges? For real?! Ask about the idea of America as a meritocracy. Does it really exist? No, but...Ask if they think they would have gotten into an elite college if the playing field was more level? Would they have gotten into college at all? Did they deserve financial aid more that that kid over there, who just might have run circles around them if given a chance? Hard questions for well intentioned people in an elite position. They thrive a little too well at the top. Or, as I should shamefully admit: we thrive a little too well at the top.

Still, we're not too good for government handouts, it seems. Want to see what an area of subsidized housing looks like? Drive through any high income, fancy-schmancy town or neighborhood and take a peek at the houses there. That mansion with the perfectly landscaped garden, immaculately clean inside, thanks to a maid service? Subsidized by the federal government. Because it happens to be the owners' first home. Or second home. And it's easy to get the mortgage interest deduction. Easy as cake if you can afford an accountant. Subsidized housing for the poor? Not offered nearly as generously as many people think. And Trump's tax plan will make it even harder for people in need to attain affordable housing, while that same plan's (minuscule) changes in the mortgage interest deduction benefit will make it less relevant to the middle class than to the truly wealthy, who will still be tapping into those funds.

But maybe I should just be thankful for the cash, the royal treatment I get as a "first-world immigrant" and live happily in a country that is set up for the benefit of those with money, excellent credit, or both. After all, I didn't vote for it to be this way. I'm not allowed to vote (very conveniently, because then I am not responsible for this system). Poverty in America is not my problem. My taxes go to my town, they channel into schools that give our students a clear advantage over kids in the underfunded city- and rural schools. Our suburban parks are pristine and plentiful. There's more police than you'd ever need, to ensure that we remain a safe bubble of privilege. It's a town you can't afford to live in, because the housing prices are so steep (again, thanks to government subsidies). But is this town's affluence and success in any way made possible by outside sources? Not in our narrative. Maybe not in yours either. Are our kids smarter than yours? No, but we pretend that they are. We pretend that the advantage they have that ultimately leads them to college is based on good choices, hard work and personal intelligence. Not the fact that we bleed the system where we can. And we seem more shameless about bleeding it than the poor. Because in America, it's your own fault if you're poor. Or you can blame God, who surely has his reasons to make things this way, so we should therefore accept his ways. Even if the Constitution omitted him, and adhering to his will is therefore not a pre-requisite in order to be a patriotic citizen of the U.S.A..

In America, you can have it all without necessarily having worked for it while denying those same benefits to people that you have decided are less entitled (even if they work harder than you), and still be able to sleep at night. There are people on both sides of the political divide who will help you rationalize this injustice to yourself so that you at the end of the day can tell yourself and everyone else that it's really all fair and square. If you think about it in a certain way, perhaps you could file it under "alternative facts." Because honestly, who wants to give anything up? As they say in Europe: America is only fun if you have money.

Source of the quote, and of this whole rant: "How Home Ownership Became the Engine of American Equality," published in The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2017. Available to read online.

The sarcasm is my own, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.

PS I don't actually smoke, drink or buy smutty magazines, nor do I know how to use assault weapons. In case you were wondering!
 

Tank

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You will make America like the country you ran from
 

depotoo

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I stopped at the mortgage interest deduction. You fail to mention they do get a standard deduction, as well as other deductions. No accountant needed.

The rest I am sure isn't worth my time.
 
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IceNine

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You will make America like the country you ran from
I did not run, dragged is more accurate. But I stayed, and I'm still here, so I'm not saying a bad thing. There are good things about my country, and also bad things. Some pros and cons we'd all be able to agree on, but some things are a matter of perspective, and it's not a perspective that Americans would ever adopt. Which is fine by me. I wasn't suggesting America should become a different country altogether. I'm flattered you'd think I had the power to do it, though! ;)
 

JoeNormal

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I stopped at the mortgage interest deduction. You fail to mention they do get a standard deduction, as well as other deductions.

The rest I am sure isn't worth my time.
Ha! I was going to post that most right wingers on this board wouldn't get past the first paragraph.
 
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IceNine

IceNine

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I stopped at the mortgage interest deduction. You fail to mention they do get a standard deduction, as well as other deductions.

The rest I am sure isn't worth my time.
The article I cite at the bottom is worthwhile, though.
 

TheDude

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I stopped reading at "as long as you're white". It's an outright lie that cannot be proven.
 

depotoo

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Lol, who pays you to post such bull? The NYT's?
I stopped at the mortgage interest deduction. You fail to mention they do get a standard deduction, as well as other deductions.

The rest I am sure isn't worth my time.
The article I cite at the bottom is worthwhile, though.
 

BlindBoo

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I am not a U.S. citizen, but merely an immigrant. That doesn't stop me from receiving government handouts, however. You could probably call me a welfare recipient, and that would be accurate. The funds in question that are given to me come out of a yearly $134 billion budget, "larger than the entire budgets of the Department of Education, Justice and Energy combined" (see cited source below). I get something, because I already have something: I own my home, and since they are my first and second (I own two), I get a mortgage interest deduction on both. Do I think this is fair, when people who can't afford a mortgage get nothing to help pay their rent? Or can't afford groceries? No. Neither is fair that unlike food stamp recipients, I am free to spend this money for anything I want: cigarettes, booze, smutty magazines...heck, I could buy assault weapons if I wanted to! And unlike the people on food stamps, I don't get glares from self-righteous strangers in the grocery store line. People don't look at me and think: "There goes our tax dollars!"


I've found, to my surprise, that as an immigrant in the United States, you get treated extremely well, as long as you are white. I get treated better than many American citizens of color. They are constantly reminded that they are not white, and their non-whiteness is always an issue among whites (who conveniently don't have to think about race all the time, because they consider "white" to be the norm). Many white people (why don't they get hyphonated as Euro-Americans?) seem so blissfully ignorant of their own racism that it baffles me, but whenever I go out somewhere with people of color, white people treat them as the "others" the "ethnic" ones, and they are the ones who make our group "diverse," not me. Another surprise I learned, coming to this country was that I also get more respect than Americans who are poor and white. I have worked alongside them in low-paying jobs, but my spouse studied at a prestigious university at the same time, and this somehow made me eligible to better treatment from the management. My point is this: If you are an American citizen, especially if you belong to a non-white minority group, live in a low-income area, work two low-paying jobs (no benefits, because they are both part-time; the employers see an opportunity here to save on benefits) that can't pay the bills because the rent cuts into a large chunk of your paycheck, and you are lucky enough to receive any form of government aid (which in reality is not easy to get), you become a target of public shaming. If you are a white foreign citizen, own a home in an affluent area and receive government aid for no reason, no-one cares. Admittedly, I am not the sole owner of my home, my American spouse owns it with me. Our American kids live there too. But still, to be an immigrant with more privileges and in some cases getting more respect for who I am (white, middle class, thus they are not privileges and respect that I've actually earned) than many Americans is something I can't wrap my head around. Shouldn't it be politically outrageous? Maybe it is indeed seen as such, but the subsidies benefit the affluent and the middle class, not the poor, so neither Republicans nor Democrats will ever get rid of it. Even if both parties are rational enough to see it for what it is: undeserved welfare for the rich, they will not get rid of it. It would be political suicide for any politician, so they all accept it.

Funny, isn't it, that such generous freebies from federal funds are accepted by a party that loathes any forms of subsidies, and equally accepted by another party that loathes any kinds of subsidies that benefit the rich. Of all things, they can agree on this one! Don't touch it, or if you do, make sure you cut off the homeowners with the lowest income, don't start saving from the top! If the rules were sufficiently amended, large sums from this budget could be channeled into programs providing affordable housing for the ones who pay half of their meager incomes to landlords (landlords who think nothing of evicting tenants these days if people can't afford their rent). Not the sort of financial aid that makes this population depend on it for the rest of their lives, but aid to make it possible for people in low-paying jobs to advance, to make an actual living at the end of the day. However, the general view among Americans seems to be that once you hand something out to "the poor," rather than to the wealthy, the very act somehow perversely transforms into undeserved charity, and suddenly people decide that the same money that was previously given without question to the more affluent homeowners should be spent elsewhere than on these poor tenants who can't afford their rent.

Poverty and homelessness exist for many reasons, usually a series of conditions and events that make it harder and harder, then finally impossible to advance (if it were ever possible in the first place). Laziness and lack of intelligence are rarely factors that count toward financial destitute. Which is why I have such a hard time understanding poor people who vote for the very politicians that act against their economic interests, and who seem to hold their poverty against them. These politicians don't "give anything away for free," and their less affluent voters (unlike the rich voters) don't want to receive anything, so they support their policies for other reasons (promises of promoting "Christian values" and "national security," and jobs. Anything you want, except higher wages, tax benefits that make a difference or anything else that has to do with money. The jobs may be a joke, because they can't cover your most basic expenses, but they're jobs after all, so don't complain!) Fair enough that you don't want anything. Up to you. But these politicians actually DO give away stuff for free, just not to the people who need them. You still don't want anything? Fine. But the funding that doesn't go to your schools, ends up elsewhere. What you don't end up with, ends up with someone else. It's hard to be self-sufficient when things are taken away from you. It's hard to understand the logic of someone who accepts that the rich take what they think they are worth, while the poor shouldn't even want to ask for anything, not even a decent living wage for their hard work (and most poor people work damn hard). It's not about charity, it's about getting your share of what's available, of what you're worth, but that smacks too much of socialism, thus moving into unpatriotic territory.

To be fair, the political opposition isn't as idealistic and fair as they might think they are. Self-proclaimed altruism is often just self-serving. There are those who may want to promote fairness and justice for all, but don't respect you as a human being until you start speaking in grammatically correct sentences or put a shirt on and get more classy lawn ornaments. Seriously, I'm not kidding. people will be tolerant, but not inclusive.They tolerate minorities until they hear the word "ax" and call the grammar police. But most of all, they really want to give up their own privileges. It's great to invest in the poor, but not if it means having to downgrade in any way: car/house/overall lifestyle. That goes for helping minorities too. Giving up white privileges? For real?! Ask about the idea of America as a meritocracy. Does it really exist? No, but...Ask if they think they would have gotten into an elite college if the playing field was more level? Would they have gotten into college at all? Did they deserve financial aid more that that kid over there, who just might have run circles around them if given a chance? Hard questions for well intentioned people in an elite position. They thrive a little too well at the top. Or, as I should shamefully admit: we thrive a little too well at the top.

Still, we're not too good for government handouts, it seems. Want to see what an area of subsidized housing looks like? Drive through any high income, fancy-schmancy town or neighborhood and take a peek at the houses there. That mansion with the perfectly landscaped garden, immaculately clean inside, thanks to a maid service? Subsidized by the federal government. Because it happens to be the owners' first home. Or second home. And it's easy to get the mortgage interest deduction. Easy as cake if you can afford an accountant. Subsidized housing for the poor? Not offered nearly as generously as many people think. And Trump's tax plan will make it even harder for people in need to attain affordable housing, while that same plan's (minuscule) changes in the mortgage interest deduction benefit will make it less relevant to the middle class than to the truly wealthy, who will still be tapping into those funds.

But maybe I should just be thankful for the cash, the royal treatment I get as a "first-world immigrant" and live happily in a country that is set up for the benefit of those with money, excellent credit, or both. After all, I didn't vote for it to be this way. I'm not allowed to vote (very conveniently, because then I am not responsible for this system). Poverty in America is not my problem. My taxes go to my town, they channel into schools that give our students a clear advantage over kids in the underfunded city- and rural schools. Our suburban parks are pristine and plentiful. There's more police than you'd ever need, to ensure that we remain a safe bubble of privilege. It's a town you can't afford to live in, because the housing prices are so steep (again, thanks to government subsidies). But is this town's affluence and success in any way made possible by outside sources? Not in our narrative. Maybe not in yours either. Are our kids smarter than yours? No, but we pretend that they are. We pretend that the advantage they have that ultimately leads them to college is based on good choices, hard work and personal intelligence. Not the fact that we bleed the system where we can. And we seem more shameless about bleeding it than the poor. Because in America, it's your own fault if you're poor. Or you can blame God, who surely has his reasons to make things this way, so we should therefore accept his ways. Even if the Constitution omitted him, and adhering to his will is therefore not a pre-requisite in order to be a patriotic citizen of the U.S.A..

In America, you can have it all without necessarily having worked for it while denying those same benefits to people that you have decided are less entitled (even if they work harder than you), and still be able to sleep at night. There are people on both sides of the political divide who will help you rationalize this injustice to yourself so that you at the end of the day can tell yourself and everyone else that it's really all fair and square. If you think about it in a certain way, perhaps you could file it under "alternative facts." Because honestly, who wants to give anything up? As they say in Europe: America is only fun if you have money.

Source of the quote, and of this whole rant: "How Home Ownership Became the Engine of American Equality," published in The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2017. Available to read online.

The sarcasm is my own, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.

PS I don't actually smoke, drink or buy smutty magazines, nor do I know how to use assault weapons. In case you were wondering!
You def. need to get a hold of a nice Cuban Cigar, some Jamaican Weed, and some Afghan Opium. Then take a few tugs on a 5th of Jack, grab a cup of Joe, and head on out to the Shooting Range for some fun.
 

depotoo

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Desmond, is that you promoting yourself?
 
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IceNine

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I stopped reading at "as long as you're white". It's an outright lie that cannot be proven.
You're right. it can't be proven that it's a lie. I see how people of color are (very often) treated, and I am not treated that way. For example, I whizz through security at the airport with my green card and my foreign passport, while my American friends who are not white are often treated with suspicion.
 

Fenton Lum

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You will make America like the country you ran from
I did not run, dragged is more accurate. But I stayed, and I'm still here, so I'm not saying a bad thing. There are good things about my country, and also bad things. Some pros and cons we'd all be able to agree on, but some things are a matter of perspective, and it's not a perspective that Americans would ever adopt. Which is fine by me. I wasn't suggesting America should become a different country altogether. I'm flattered you'd think I had the power to do it, though! ;)
They like to think they have that power too, but they don't, they just cannot bear to face it. That’s what all the insanity is really about; they know, even if only on some primordial hindbrain level, that the america they were they were taught to worship never existed.
 

Tank

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I wasn't suggesting America should become a different country altogether. I'm flattered you'd think I had the power to do it, though! ;)
You have the power of your nature
 

Moonglow

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I stopped reading at "as long as you're white". It's an outright lie that cannot be proven.
You're right. it can't be proven that it's a lie. I see how people of color are (very often) treated, and I am not treated that way. For example, I whizz through security at the airport with my green card and my foreign passport, while my American friends who are not white are often treated with suspicion.
I'm brown where there is no clothes, yet I get through with less problem than 20-30 years ago when I looked like hippy..
 

deannalw

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JoeNothere's tpost: 17268454 said:
I stopped at the mortgage interest deduction. You fail to mention they do get a standard deduction, as well as other deductions.

The rest I am sure isn't worth my time.
Ha! I was going to post that most right wingers on this board wouldn't get past the first paragraph.

That's cuz theres to mini wurds
 

DGS49

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Are you aware that many of these poor bedraggled Americans that you pity get a substantial "refund" of taxes that they have never paid? We perversely call it the "Earned Income Tax Credit." Further, almost half of these wretches pay NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX AT ALL, which, if my math is correct, is even more valuable than an income tax deduction.

With all due brotherly love, I encourage you to (1) Read and contemplate the U.S. Constitution, with particular emphasis on Article I, Section8, and the Tenth Amendment, and (2) if you don't like the way things are here, you are welcome indeed to go back wherever the fuck you came from. "Dragged," indeed. Bullshit.
 

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