I know that’s a snarky title, but it’s a (mostly) serious question. I’m not talking about Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul or Paul Ryan. I don’t have much positive to say about the Republicans in government, but I don’t think they are, as a rule, lazy. I’m talking about the regular people who self-identify and vote Republican. Are they lazy? Because that would explain a lot.
My whole life, Republicans have been pushing the narrative that anyone who uses any kind of government social services is basically stealing from their fellow citizens. They’ve used this narrative to keep benefits low, restrict who can claim benefits, and shrink the duration of benefits. There have been two prongs in this narrative. The first is that without all the restrictions, benefits might go to people who don’t deserve them. The second is that people need some kind of incentive to stop needing benefits. I’m not sure which one is more ridiculous.
In my experience, most people are pretty honest. That’s not to say that I’ve never met any liars or cheats or thieves. But, the vast majority of people I’ve run across are not those things. Even if it were easy to get benefits, I don’t think a lot of people who don’t need or deserve them would try. It’s for the same reason that most people don’t try to steal every time they go into a store, that’s just not how most people operate. Of course there would be some who take advantage, but not enough to justify making it onerous for the people who need it.
Again, in my experience, people don’t want to be in a situation where they need benefits. I’ve had some bouts of unemployment in my life. It sucks. And the suckiness has very little to do with money. Not everyone likes their job, but virtually everyone likes to work. People have a need to feel productive and a part of something. They crave a sense of accomplishment. Not having a job, not experiencing those things, is humiliating and depressing. That’s all the incentive I need to find a job, even if benefits were unlimited.
Needless to say, I’ve never been convinced by the Republican arguments that we have to take drastic steps to protect against fraud or force people to fend for themselves. Most people really want to fend for themselves honestly. My experience has been so overwhelming that I don’t even understand how someone could be persuaded by the Republican arguments.
The past four years have shown me that there are a lot more bad people out there than I thought. Could that mean that there are a lot more lazy, dishonest people than I thought? It actually makes sense for the everyday people who are Republicans to believe the arguments because they are the very people who would take advantage of the system if they could.
Of course, if this is true, then Republicans would be protecting themselves from themselves and making life harder for the rest of us in the process. That would be some kind of irony.