[Paleopsych] welfare and psych

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Thu Nov 25 04:08:40 UTC 2004

Welfare as freedom? Fascinating reframe. Doesn't quite work with me, but 
it is very sophisticated. Much you say is spot on, so I will just 
comment on that reframe.

The other frame I can borrow from the black writer, Star Parker, a 
former welfare mother who wrote "Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big 
Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It"
See: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/StarParker/archive.shtml

My own view is that unearned income, whether by welfare or by trust 
fund, corrupts the recipient and degrades society. Welfare addicts 
(verb, not noun) but keeps people at a disgracefully low level, 
constantly emotionally abused by the inevitable bureaucracy endemic to 
all welfare states. I worked in the public mental health system, saw it 
myself in my clients.

So the welfare state harms those it purports to help. It is a principle 
reason why societies lower in welfare state policies have a higher 
standard of living and more people employed. Socialism and 
welfare-statism degrade society and impoverish workers.
See: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/hitest.html
Especially the projections from the 1970s that showed that Britain, 
before Maggie Thatcher, would have been below Albania in per-capita 
income by 2000. The Iron Maggie saved the UK (provocative, but there is 
some justification).

C.f.: Walter Williams' analysis (Chairman, Dept of Economics, George 
Mason University) or Thomas Sowell. Both Ph.D. economists who happen to 
be black and make a rather convincing argument that the welfare state 
has greatly harmed the black community.

Example: Social security takes the most from black and latino males, and 
gives the most to well-to-do or wealthy white females. It is a reverse 
income redistribution scheme, gone horribly wrong. Social justice? 
Reform social security!
See: http://www.npr.org/programs/totn/
Listen to Wednesday, Nov. 24 program. I like Surowiecki, but he is 
completely out to lunch on this issue.

Your contributions are thought provoking and challenging. Even when I 
disagree, I think about it. Thanks.

Michael Christopher wrote:

>>>Welfare has been pared back and more people are 
>working. Social security will run out of money, and
>the ownership notion may be a way to salvage it.<<
>--The problem may be psychological. It is not easy for
>anyone to give up autonomy and freedom to depend on
>another with absolute trust. For males especially, it
>is perceived as humiliation and loss of status.
>Welfare enables people to have freedom, or relative
>freedom (the freedom to persue an education, read or
>otherwise improve themselves, or to be "naughty"... we
>often talk as if they're all in the "naughty"
>category), and asking people who are used to freedom
>to depend on some privatized community help projects
>may not work well. We can assume it WILL work, but it
>may not, and it's a bit irresponsible to change things
>drastically in a short period of time without knowing
>how it will affect the ecological balance of the
>Psychologically, it is assumed that whoever has the
>money will be 'daddy' and the ones without will be in
>the 'child' role. A good child who flatters daddy and
>pumps his ego gets a raise. A bad child who
>contradicts daddy and makes him look stupid risks
>demotion. Forcing people into those roles is always
>perceived as a tremendous slap in the face, especially
>if one ethinic group tends to get pushed into that
>position. A few corporations and private programs will
>genuinely understand people and work well with them,
>and for them it will be very positive. For those who
>are not so good with people, a system which forces
>some into dependency roles and enables others to
>become 'daddy' will produce chaotic results. The
>Stanford Prison Experiment is one example. State
>programs have the possibility of transparency and
>accountability, but private programs can be slippery.
>Numerous "boot camp" programs for teens have been
>caught in scandals involving horrific abuse. That kind
>of thing is why we have public supervision over
>programs involving people controlling other people.  
>Many adults in the business world and in politics get
>addicted to that 'daddy' role and misuse it by
>emotionally abusing those in the 'child' position.
>Some degree of accountability is always necessary, and
>it cannot be private regulation of private enterprise.
>If your product is an object, no problem... but if
>your product is human beings, you need another layer
>of accountability not needed in normal companies. You
>just can't say "everyone take care of everybody else,
>I trust you". You have to provide systems of
>transparency and accountability, and some degree of
>government involvement, or at least involvement of
>independent NGOs, is necessary when private entities
>perform psychological experiments on human beings.
>Messing with someone's sense of security is always a
>psychological experiment, it is social engineering.
>Welfare too is social engineering, so it all has to be
>looked at in terms of its real effects, not on
>ideological assumptions about what will happen if
>people are thrown out of public programs.
>Never try a social engineering experiment on a large
>scale without first trying it on intermediate levels.
>Welfare reform is not a bad idea, but it has to be
>done in a way that doesn't put people in a
>psychological bind because that just creates extra
>tension which is taken out on real children. When
>adults play those daddy/child games, it is humiliating
>for the losers, who often inflict their humiliation on
>whoever is below them on the social hierarchy, i.e.
>kids and submissive women. People need to know the
>system that keeps them from falling is not run by
>people who despise weakness and use their position of
>power to abuse the weak.
>Do you Yahoo!? 
>Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Get it on your mobile phone. 
>paleopsych mailing list
>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
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