Rick Santorum: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” through welfare

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Nope, not out of context:

At a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa on Sunday, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum singled out blacks as being recipients of assistance through federal benefit programs, telling a mostly-white audience he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” [...]

It is unclear why Santorum pinpointed blacks specifically as recipients of federal aid. The original questioner asked “how do we get off this crazy train? We’ve got so much foreign influence in this country now,” adding “where do we go from here?”

 

First, let’s interject with the facts:

CBS points out that only nine percent of Iowans on food stamps are black — and 84 percent are white. Nationally, 39 percent of welfare recipients are white, 37 percent are black, and 17 percent are Hispanic. So Santorum’s decision to single out black welfare recipients plays right into insulting — and inaccurate — stereotypes of the kind of people some voters might expect to want a “handout.”

This soundbyte raises two excellent points about social insurance programs, such as “welfare.” The first being that Rick Santorum actually admits that they are successful! By saying, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone else’s money,” he admits that by “giving them someone else’s money,” one can “make black people’s lives better.” Shorter Rick Santorum? Social insurance programs work.

Second, this clip perfectly illustrates how dependent anti-social insurance politicians are on bigoted stereotypes and misinformation. From Ronald Reagan’s infamous “welfare queen” myth to Rick Santorum’s comments today, it’s not too difficult to see how stereotypes and conventional wisdom manage to beat out reality and facts. Is there fraud in welfare collection? Definitely. However, anecdotes (regardless of factuality), stereotypes, and assumptions do not mean that the vast majority of welfare recipients are fraudulent. Quite the opposite, actually.

  

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