A site of endless curiosity

The New American Dream

with 2 comments

Updated on February 10, 2012 with links to government assistance programs.  See if YOU qualify for other people’s money and/or how you can arrange things to qualify for selected government assistance programs

About a week ago, Mitt Romney got in trouble for this

I’m not concerned about the very poor; we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.

Romney is rightly concerned with the middle class – those are the people who create small businesses.  Small business accounts for about 70% of the jobs in the US (read).  If you can’t help the middle class – as the first priority – then who will create the jobs to employ the poor?

The question is, “Do people who are out of work really want to work?”  If the “safety net” is too good then many people might get the idea that it’s easier to not work than to work.  People will do a calculation – Can I lower my standard of living to the point that I can live “comfortably” on the entitlement system?  It seems, that from some recent studies, the answer is increasingly, “Yes”.

We might be entering a new phase in American History when the old idea of the “American Dream” (get an education, have ambition, get a job, work hard, create wealth, own a home, have a family, make a positive contribution to society, leave a legacy) has given way to the “American Dream” as a life of dependency.

Check out these stats and articles to get an idea of what is “trending now” in the re/interpretation of the American Dream

Dependence on Government at All-Time High

The 2012 Index of Dependence on Government

Guest Blog: The Danger of A Nation of Dependents

  • One in five Americans—the highest in the nation’s history—relies on the federal government for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college tuition and retirement assistance. That’s more than 67.3 million Americans who receive subsidies from Washington.
  • Government dependency jumped 8.1 percent in the past year, with the most assistance going toward housing, health and welfare, and retirement.
  • The federal government spent more taxpayer dollars than ever before in 2011 to subsidize Americans. The average individual who relies on Washington could receive benefits valued at $32,748, more than the nation’s average disposable personal income ($32,446).
  • At the same time, nearly half of the U.S. population (49.5 percent) does not pay any federal income taxes.
  • In the next 25 years, more than 77 million baby boomers will retire. They will begin collecting checks from Social Security, drawing benefits from Medicare, and relying on Medicaid for long-term care.
  • As of now, 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to individual assistance programs, up dramatically in just the past few years. However, research shows that private, community, and charitable aid helps individuals rise from their difficulties with better success than federal government handouts. Plus, local and private aid is often more effectively distributed

A voice from serval hundred years ago… and perhaps a prediction

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [gifts] from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority only votes for candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship — Alexandar Fraser Tytler (1747-1813)


See how much “free” (money from the public treasury) you can get from government programs

These links are from the state of illinois.

Text in Italics is from selected web sites and links provided.
Text in plain text are my comments

Free (Other people’s) Cash

People who need cash assistance may qualify for one of several programs.  Here you will find short descriptions of programs that are available. 

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)program helps pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children with temporary cash and other benefits. TANF can help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.
  • Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD)  helps those who qualify and need cash assistance.
  • Earnfare helps adults who do not have custody of their children and who receive SNAP (formerly Food Stamps.)  They must first work off the value of their SNAP benefits (at minimum wage) and then they can work more hours and earn up to $294 per month.
  • General Assistance (GA) program provides people with money and limited medical care when they do not qualify for other cash programs administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
  • Transitional Assistance (TA) – for those who do not qualify for AABDor Refugee and Repatriate Assistance (RRA). Specific rules apply and qualifications apply.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)puts cash back in your pocket and will locate help to file your Income Taxes.
  • Illinois Welcoming Centers – offer many state, community, health, employment training, and educational services in one location. The Illinois Welcoming Center staff is bilingual English/Spanish and has access to multilingual interpreters and translators.

Find out if YOU qualify for Food Stamps

Who can receive these services?
Most households with low income can get SNAP benefits. The rules are complex, so all of the details are not here. The most important factors which determine the amount of, and eligibility for, SNAP benefits are:

  • income and expenses;
  • the number of persons who live and eat together

Use the SNAP Eligibility Calculator to give an estimate of possible benefits.  This is only an estimate.  Your application must be reviewed by DHS staff at the Family Community Resource Center.  If you are eligible, you will receive a notice of your eligibility.

Find out if you qualify for a “free” cell phone

Seems that once you get on one program, it’s a gravy train including a cell phone


To be eligible for Lifeline or Link-Up, individuals or families must receive benefits under one of the following programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • National school lunch, free lunch program
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

Lifeline and Link-Up Telephone Assistance Programs

Find out if someone else will pay your Utility bills

 NUMBER SERVED: In 2010, IL LIHEAP provided 460,146 households with LIHEAP
financial assistance (There are roughly 1.5 million eligible households in the state).

If 1.5 million people are eligible and only 460,000 served there is plenty more work to do to get about 1 million more people on the program

What is “Poverty” in America ?

A classic paper

The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty
The theory here, to force change through chaos, was among the most provocative of the 1960s.
by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven

The Data

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities


Written by frrl

February 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I am in Thailand on business for a month. It is obvious the standard of living here is much lower than America, yet everyone I meet is content, even happy. It is easy to imagine many Americas could be content living at a level supported by our entitlement programs, since that would still be higher than here. Perhaps our base levels are too high? I once heard it said (some years ago) that being poor in America means you have a 19″ TV instead of a 21″.

    Elwood Downey, WB0OEW

    February 10, 2012 at 5:57 am

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