Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are You a Sucker or a Moocher?

I am reading a copy of a new book by Charles Sykes called A Nation of Moochers: America's Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing. Sykes is also the author of similar titles on entitlement including A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character and Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add.

The book is good for those who feel like suckers, playing by the rules and paying for those who don't. As you read the book, you can really understand why it is that people vote for wealth redistributionists like Obama. "Roughly 60 percent of American households actually were receiving more government benefits and services than they were paying back in taxes and the Tax Foundation estimated that under the 2009 federal budget, 70 percent of households would take in more than they contribute." Why not keep the gravy train going at little or no expense to themselves? But what about the producers, those who are paying?

One of the central questions of the book is whether we are at the "tipping point." The author asks:

When do independent, self-sufficient men or women realize that they are society's suckers, being made to work for the benefit of an ever-growing, ever-shifting, and increasingly insistent and more grasping class of moochers? When do they decide to jump the line? Are we already there?

In one of the last chapters, Sykes states, "Finally, we need to recognize that mooching simply recycles wealth; it does not generate it."

We all lose if we let the moochers among us dictate our demise. The book gives some suggestions on how to change things but ultimately, it is up to us, by who we elect and our political class to make those changes. If the same losers end up in office, what are the chances? This is one reason that moochers should not be encouraged, either through policy or culture. If we make it more unpleasant to be a moocher, perhaps there would be fewer moochers among us.

So, are you a sucker or a moocher or somewhere in-between? Are you a sucker who has reached the "tipping point?" What do you feel you can do about it, if anything?

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29 Comments:

Blogger TMink said...

"If we make it more unpleasant to be a moocher, perhaps there would be fewer moochers among us."

Indeed.

And paying people to not work, does not work.

Trey

2:38 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Cham said...

It's not just people who don't work. Yesterday I learned about 2 people who recently got married, one has spent 30 years working for the federal government and the other has spent 25 years working for the state government. They live 30 miles away from each other and have no plans to live together let alone talk to one another. Their going to game the others benefit and pension plan upon whomever dies first, and get a bunch of tax and marriage benefits in the mean time.

Everybody is getting into the act now, everyone is looking for an angle.

2:52 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I was going to say I know and have met others who play the mooching game to a "T", but Cham's example says it all. The mooch off of every government entity they can, they mooch off of insurance companies, they mooch off of everything they can.

In general they seem to have unsatisfying lives and I wouldn't want to be them. But, they are a drain on society and the world.

2:56 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Lyssa said...

I'll echo Cham and DADvocate - people don't even think of it as mooching, just as there for the taking.

The husband & I got married while I was still in school waiting tables and he was working at a mall. Things were certainly tight, but we had no problem buying food, clothing, health insurance, gas, and even cable and the occasional cheap vacation. We never asked for or complained about money, except perhaps something along the lines of "that (frivolous thing) would be nice, someday."

Yet, my mother-in-law, who is politically conservative, and was certainly financially well-off enough that she could have helped us if we had really needed it (not that we ever would have asked or expected it), was convinced that we should seek out assistance, claiming "that's what it's there for, for people to use it."

3:55 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Cham said...

BTW,if you are a moocher and you've been scamming your tax return for years by using a tax preparer then 2011 should be an eye-opening experience. There are a whole bunch of new laws on the books regarding tax preparers. Those questionable deductions like your "entertainment expenses", "business mileage" and "business expenses" where you pull numbers out of thin air and slap them on your tax return you'll find are so over. Tax preparers this year are now liable and a big chunk of them are going to be audited so they are going to demand log books, spreadsheets and big explanations about how all your little receipts or lack there-of contributed to the bottom line of your business. Expenses like "snacks"(which is really your grocery receipt from supermarket), "employee dinners"(dinner for two on Feb 14)and unexplained weekend travel are right out the window as well as that netbook and iPod. Good luck with that angry discussion with your preparer though, he/she most likely won't be backing down. You can always prepare your own tax return, I hear Turbotax works real well.

4:12 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger HMT said...

Welcome to the "Tragedy of the Commons". It's not just for ecologists anymore.

If you setup the incentives such that taking from the pot is easy and not taking may mean you get nothing. Well... The math is pretty simple.

In places where there is no "enlightened self interest", i.e. Everywhere, solutions are limited.

Libertarians unite! Sadly I think whatever drives Libertarians to be libertarians also prevents them from being a political force.

In any case I don't think we'll see a candidate [COUGH]Romney[COUGH] this season that will have a solution.

5:07 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

Comparative mooching:

Who mooches more, a person who receives some kind of government aid (paid by the taxpayers), but who also works (the "working poor"), contributing to society ... or a person who doesn't get any aid but who contributes nothing to society and doesn't work (supported, for instance, by family members or a spouse).

I tend towards thinking that people who are working and doing what they can deserve help - IF it's going to be given in society (and it will be) - and they deserve more merit points in society than someone leeching off a spouse or whatever.

5:22 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

With regard to people who don't work AND who mooch off the government:

People sitting on their fat butts scamming the system - and there are more than enough of them in every industrial country - deserve lots more shame than society gives them.

Anyone who claims aid from the government should be subject to much stricter and much more frequent audits. Make it uncomfortable for these parasites.

5:50 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

This has always been my idea:

Open dorms with multi-bed halls in every US city. One hot meal a day that is bad enough that people not down on their luck won't be making much use of it. Open these dorms to anyone - somewhere to sleep at night, some food etc.

And then get rid of all other aid (except to truly handicapped people like quadriplegics or dementia people etc.). No one has to sleep outdoors. No one has to go hungry.

The savings in government spending would be unbelievable. No more scamming: if you are willing to sleep in a bunk bed in a giant hall with others, you probably are not rich.

5:56 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Larry J said...

Anyone who claims aid from the government should be subject to much stricter and much more frequent audits. Make it uncomfortable for these parasites.

You have to understand the big picture to know why this will likely never happen. Years ago, during a fit of insomnia I turned on CSPAN. They had congressional testimony that stated some 80% of the budget for many of the large social welfare programs goes to overhead, not the poor. The overhead consists of all the bureaucrats and social workers. They're the true beneficiaries of the welfare programs.

Unless and until the country finally realizes that running $1 trillion+ deficits every year is the path to destruction, don't expect any changes to the "entitlement programs." You can't raise taxes enough to cover the growth in demand.

6:17 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger DADvocate said...

80% of the budget for many of the large social welfare programs goes to overhead, not the poor. The overhead consists of all the bureaucrats and social workers. They're the true beneficiaries of the welfare programs.

I first read similar statistics 30 or more years ago. The primary beneficiaries are the middle class college educated people who administer the programs.

8:49 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger Gordianus the Finder said...

Guys, you don't understand. If I can't SEE the person that I'm mooching off of, then it's not really mooching. I'm just collecting stuff that is naturally free like sunshine or air. If I can't SEE it, it can't POSSIBLY be real. Like God.

If we still lived in a hunter-gatherer society where I'd get stoned for taking a haunch of boar somebody else killed, it might be different. But this is the MODERN world.

8:51 PM, January 12, 2012  
Blogger redrajesh said...

Mark said:

Open dorms with multi-bed halls in every US city. One hot meal a day that is bad enough that people not down on their luck won't be making much use of it. Open these dorms to anyone - somewhere to sleep at night, some food etc

Actually Mark, that is how it used to be before ww2(read any Charles Dickens novel) when corruption was so sky high. If this is what you want, then it may result in other things which you don't want like people slogging their butt off for subsistence wage and an unofficial slavery since this was pretty much the product of all pervasive corruption. In fact, what you say happens in every part of the developing world where a large percent of people barely make ends meet despite working 16 hour days in an honest manner. I think it is difficult to isolate the two and keep only one and not the other.

2:06 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

I don't see that at all, redrajesh.

One doesn't have much to do with the other. Keep the minimum wage etc.

The only difference: Instead of people getting free money from the government, they have to get it "in kind". This means that they get a warm place to sleep with security guards etc. and something to eat - and that's it.

Providing halls and food of that type would be a lot cheaper than paying hordes of social work and angry studies graduates to "administer" the free money giveaway.

If you want money, you can get a minimum wage job.

And, by the way, these halls would be useful in the case of divorce: Upon divorce, you simply give each party what they earned in the marriage. So if pumpkin never worked, she's either off to the halls or she has to get a (*gasp*) job.

2:56 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

AND - the gubment could also offer minimum wage jobs to people who don't otherwise qualify for other ones. There is enough work that has to be done in any community - picking up trash, removing graffiti and all the rest. These jobs could be more heavily supervised.

So EVERYONE can work if they want to. There is a warm, secure place to sleep and some food for everyone.

And it would all be a LOT cheaper than the present-day system of free money distribution.

3:04 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

Currently: You get money from an office for free.

Future: You can get money, you just have to go work in the government-offered jobs for it.

Why is that a problem? Daycare at the government jobs for parents with young children who are not yet in school. If you don't like picking up trash as your job, better yourself.

3:07 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger M said...

Regarding "mooching",

There but for the grace of God, go I.

Paying taxes is kind of like insurance. You pay it and hope to never need it. That being said, I've been very independent of government services but I want them when I need them. I do not call it being a moocher. I'm a sucker only if I pay the taxes for these services and they are not available when I need them.

5:49 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Will said...

In real life, lots of the people I see complaining about "moochers" are themselves moochers. Like housewives complaining about people getting government services. She doesn't even pay taxes, what does she care.

6:18 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Cham said...

My city wants to build a 175 bed youth prison, because it can get a giant bunch of federal and state funds to build it. Here's the rub, my city doesn't have 175 violent youths to fill the prison. So you would think that the city would go ahead and build the prison and we'd end up with a free empty big prison.

The residents of the city are furious and locked in a heated battle with the government over this prison (and it looks like the residents are losing). The reason for the anger is that we all know that if there are 175 beds available in a prison the city will find a way to fill those beds regardless of the crime because all our prisons are filled to capacity. The prison industry, meaning the wardens/guards/medics/workers will do what they can to fill it because it means more money and jobs for the prison industry. The last thing the residents want is more needless kids in prison and to have to pay all these prison workers.

You guys are right, the poor receives very little of the money, the bulk of the money goes to those that "manage" the government programs. My state always has a huge demand for social workers and police officers ready to micromanage the economically challenged while the diminishing middle class is asked to pay for it all in the name of "safety" and "for the children", the a theme constantly delivered when our taxes are getting raised.

8:03 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Mark said...

"... the poor receives very little of the money, the bulk of the money goes to those that "manage" the government programs."

--

That's how it goes with charities as well. Lots of "administrative expenses".

8:16 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

Sucker.

I was on food stamps for a while in college and later paid it back with a check to the US Government Bureau of Public Debt.

I collect social security and return it to the producers - pay principal on my kids' houses and pay down their student loans.

10:33 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger LPF said...

Last year, I paid enough taxes to buy a new Porsche Boxster outright, but I drive an 8 year old Miata...'Sucker' it is.

10:45 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Don't forget all the money being mooched off of all those gov't workers by the P.E. unions, which is then mooched by the DNC to elect candidates who continue to funnel money right back through the other two to themselves.

11:06 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Cham said...

SGT Ted: You are absolutely right. My state delegates don't bother meeting voters, they spend all their time and money at Union Halls, telling the union member that their interests will be preserved if the vote is delivered. The union members vote for the politicians and the politicians take my money and give it to union interests. There are more union member voters at this point than non-union members. It's a no-win situation.

11:38 AM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Carol said...

You can get money, you just have to go work in the government-offered jobs for it.

Why is that a problem?


With govt benefits too? I guess it beats paying full tariff to regular workers.

12:59 PM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

redrajesh, you are describing historical fact when you talk about dickenisian england, and you are absolutely correct. once you have indigent holding tanks you get all the rest with it also.

why do you think so many asians live and work and give birth and die in factories.

those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

only a fascist tyrant would think that is a solution.

5:47 PM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Larry J said...

Mark said...
"... the poor receives very little of the money, the bulk of the money goes to those that "manage" the government programs."

--

That's how it goes with charities as well. Lots of "administrative expenses".


It depends on the charity. Some, like the Salvation Army, have an excellect record for low overhead costs. Here's a link that rates 500 charities based on many factors. One of the criteria for an excellent rating is that at least 75% of the money raised actually goes to the needy. That's compared to the government where about 80% goes to overhead.

You should always investigate a charity before making a donation. There are some "charities" that spend almost all of their money on fundraising and overhead.

6:38 PM, January 13, 2012  
Blogger Brett said...

Anybody who buys anything Charlie Sykes writes is indeed a sucker.

9:01 AM, January 14, 2012  
Blogger Bob said...

As a cashier at Wal-Mart, every day I see a person buying several hundred dollars of food with food stamps, followed in line by people carefully watching every penny and using coupons, while working for a living.

4:25 PM, January 16, 2012  

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