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By Steve Hunley

Some people have some perception of welfare; more often than not we think about some collecting benefits, pumping out children, and not working. There is a debate raging presently just how much our government spends currently on all welfare-related programs. Some people say it is as much as a trillion dollars. Others argue it is much less than that. Whatever it is, we all know that taxpayers foot the bill for every facet of government, whether it’s federal, state or local.

It is outrageous enough we are spending so much, but it doesn’t take into account what we spend on corporate welfare and we spend plenty to help keep up a lot of corporations in this country.

Last year, I read an astonishing fact in an article in Forbes written by David Brunori; since 1976, evidently three-quarters of all state economic development subsidies went to only 965 corporations.

The left decries corporate welfare, yet lumps all welfare and entitlement programs as matters of need and compassion. The right condemns welfare programs, decrying welfare recipients who don’t work, yet can still afford booze and cigarettes. The right refuses to recognize the existence of corporate welfare, claiming that any subsidy or handout for business is good for America. My own opinion is the backbone of America is small business and the American workers. Yet it is these job creators and working folks that are hit with about every tax devised by the mind of man.

Once again, there’s very little difference between the political parties, both are catering to their base. To my mind, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Welfare was meant to help those who truly cannot help themselves. For those who don’t work and do nothing except for relying on the government for free food, free healthcare, free housing and are still able to produce children, the free ride ought to come to an end. Government ought to experiment with genuine “workfare.”

The same is true for corporate welfare. It’s time to stop the government welfare of corporations who are heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Folks, we’re getting it in the neck, paying for everything coming and going, yet we still have to pay our own bills and nothing is getting any cheaper. Neither individuals nor corporations are “entitled.”

We see consultants descend every time an idea is being considered that involves spending more of your tax dollars. The more controversial and unpopular idea, the more likely it is we will see a horde of consultants, who are paid generously for producing studies and position papers. It sure is odd that these same studies usually point in the same direction the politician leading the pack wanted to go in the first place. Unfortunately, the news media seems to fall for it every time, quoting the study in question as if it were the very gospel written with the finger of the Lord in stone. One recent instance is Governor Bill Haslam’s notion of privatizing certain aspects of government. It bears a striking resemblance to Superintendent Jim McIntrye’s notion of privatizing the school system’s custodians. It’s never the higher-up, highest paid folks being privatized; it always seems to be the least well paid, who are often working back-breaking jobs. Under privatization, the same employees doing the job currently have to reapply and can expect lower pay and fewer, if any, benefits. Do you suppose any of the administrators would have floated down from the lofty corridors of the Andrew Johnson to take out the garbage at Northwest Middle School? Do you suppose any of those extraordinarily well paid administrators would have toddled down from the Andrew Johnson to clean the toilets at Mooreland Heights Elementary School? My guess is not likely.

It’s currently politically correct for the politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties to praise the middle class. They all talk about the forgotten middle class and how government needs to reconsider the middle class. The truth is neither the left nor the right has forgotten the middle class; they just don’t give a hoot about the middle class. The middle class is there to be squeezed til it hurts to make lemonade for the big corporations and the able bodied who produce nothing but bills and only consume.

The tree of greed knows no political party, in fact it forks in two different directions, but make no mistake about it my friend, its roots run mighty deep.