Do the Poor “Have it Easy?” Most Republicans Say Yes, They Do

Being poor. It means stretching a dollar to be sure that your children can eat every day. It means deciding whether you can skip a car payment or a mortgage payment this month, because one more missed electricity bill will get the power turned off. It means ignoring the pain in your chest because even if you have insurance you can’t cover the deductible for the doctor’s visit, or skipping your medication because the copay is just a little too much. It’s trying to decide between buying a shirt without a hole for a job interview or having the gas you need just to get to it.

And, according to most Republicans, that’s all “having it easy.”

A new study conducted by Pew Research says that over 75 percent of those who identify as conservative believe that the poor have it “easy.” “More than three quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups — agree that ‘poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything,’” reports Wonk Blog. “Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor ‘have hard lives.’”

There’s a number of issues with that misconception, ranging from the idea that government benefits are in any way adequate or that they are easy to get. For the last few years we’ve seen a number of states cut benefits to the poor, providing less as well as making them more difficult to apply for. TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) and WIC programs are always first to disappear in a budget crisis, such as the 2013 government shut down, and TANF has recently been cut in some states to give money to crisis pregnancy centers instead. A refusal in a number of red states to expand Medicaid has left tens of thousands in a gap without health insurance. States that are attempting to force welfare recipients to undergo mandatory drug tests prior to getting benefits are demanding the poor pay for their own drug tests out of pocket, and even when people do receive assistance, they are forced to get rid of every asset they have first, thereby dooming themselves to a cycle of poverty they are unlikely to ever end.

Still, for many conservatives, every cent is a handout that came straight out of their pocket, hurting them and helping the “lazy” poor. As the comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug so eloquently put it, every person getting assistance is a “Lucky Ducky,” taking advantage of the hard work of real Americans keeping the economy going.

Inherently, in the conservative mindset, poor and lazy are inter-changeable, and one simply would not be poor if he or she would work harder. It’s a belief system that ignores the basic realities that poverty imposes one generation after the next, as well as the given disadvantages that cycle on top of each other such as violence, lack of food and medical care, lack of permanence in housing, lack of access to good schools and quality education, and, because of all of these things, lack of access to good jobs with living wages.

The poor do not have it easy, by any means. In reality, it is a lie that conservatives tell themselves to justify their own hoarding of wealth, dismantling of the social safety net, and cruelty to those struggling to make ends meet. By convincing themselves that the poor have it “easy” and that benefits are ample and simple to obtain, they can ignore those who are truly suffering by convincing themselves that it is moral or spiritual weakness, and not their own policies, that have caused others to need help.

The question isn’t how 75 percent of conservatives can be delusional enough to believe the poor have it easy. The real question is how they will sleep at night once they finally realize they are wrong.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thanks for the article.

Ella Brown
Ella Brown2 years ago

thick c***s!
honestly theres too much to explain to these morons. if its so easy sell all your shit and move to the projects. i live in the uk but its all basically the same. some people are lazy and dont go out to work when they can, BUT this is a minority.
stupid stupid a holes

Monica Collier
Monica Collier2 years ago

Being hungry and so stressed about how to keep utilities on is horrible. I know. Tell me where the easy part is?

donald Baumgartner

Well, that show's ya how DUMB Repugs are!!!!

Matt L.
Matt L.2 years ago

I obviously lean more to the socialist side, but I mostly just want a safety net, and protection against, say Monopolies, or businesses that are completely unethical, because not everyone is born with equal opportunities, but also some clearly are smarter and work harder and should be rewarded. We don't want to reward simple laziness, but many hard working people still end up poor, and despite our best efforts bad luck (things beyond our control can play a part) and I don't think even simple hard labor should be too undervalued.

Matt L.
Matt L.2 years ago

Wanda. Fair points. When the US prohibited alcohol the resulting Mafia certainly did not just go away when alcohol was legalized again. They moved on to other profitable crime. But violent crime did rise significantly during prohibition and then drop significantly after the amendment was repealed. Portugal decriminalized personal possession of drugs and focused on treatment instead of punishment for addicts which lowered drug addiction and overdose rates but they left the sale and manufacture of Illlegal drugs criminally punishable, so I wonder if that was their mistake? I think your "red zone" idea has some merit at least for harder drugs. We should try to incentivize organized crime to operate in a gray area or even maybe convert to legitimate businesses.

I think at least Marijuana is safe enough to regulate and legalize country-wide, and maybe just put harder drugs and things like prostitution into "red zones".

Also to get back more on subject, conservatives seem to blame "socialism" for all wrongs, whereas liberals like myself tend to blame the rich people. Yet some socialist countries seem to do very well ,while others falter, and some rich people are obviously indeed really smart and hard working and try their best to benefit the world. I would love to find some common ground and avoid polarized and oversimplified politics. Any thoughts on the subject? You seem to be willing to think about things, rather than just blaming Obama for everything. :-)

Wanda Bagram
Past Member 2 years ago

My friends in Lisbon tell me that small independent newspapers (out of Spain) are the ones that write articles confirming that the Drug Lords never left and adapted to earn other means where they lost profits from drug money. We have to face reality, Criminal Lords will not stop being criminals just because we change our laws to stop their Drug Money flow. They will adapt to make money from other crimes, unless we give them the option to take their criminal lifestyle of money making and become ‘grey businesses’ where they no longer have to fight Law enforcement but don’t have to go 100% legit either, middle ground.

Wanda Bagram
Past Member 2 years ago

Matt L- The overall numbers like the ones you presented will always tell you one story, there is no doubt to it and there is ‘some’ truth to but not the entire picture. Take it from me, when I was a teenager before I traveled my understanding of the world was from magazines, articles, travel guides and generic fluff. It wasn’t lies, it was partial truths, but it wasn’t until I actually travelled when I found out that ‘boots on-ground’ will give you the truths and realities that articles and politicians will not give you.

I am not saying Portugal got it wrong and they are blaming the wrong things, I am saying they got it partially right and just like our politicians when their plans started faltering in certain areas they get disconnected with the people on ground and rely on ‘reports’ for the truth of what is happening on the streets. Bad economies do fuel crime, but that trend does not follow the rest of Europe or the US. Crime wave went up 29% across the board, that means some crimes were higher than others especially; Home invasions, Jewelry Store Thefts (Large Scale), Small Bank (like Unions) Thefts, and Assaults. A spike is one thing, but a 10+ year trend is organized, just like certain parts of Brazil or certain parts Mexico. My friends in Lisbon tell me that small independent newspapers (out of Spain) are the ones that write articles confirming that the Drug Lords never left and adapted to earn other means where they lost pro

Matt L.
Matt L.2 years ago

Wanda, hmm, most of the news I've seen about Portugal focuses on the decrease in drug overdoses and addiction. According to USAC increased unemployment along with decreased social benefits may be the cause of the increase in crime.

Not that I would entirely dismiss the opinion of someone who actually lives there, but at the least it sounds like other factors contribute too.

In the US, I don't think their is much gang violence related to Marijuana, aside from spillover from Mexico, and some armed large scale growers with crops on federal forest land. Most of the Marijuana available here in the NW is from local medical growers who sell it illegally on the side.

Sorry, Robert H. it is off topic, but I think most of what can be said on the main subject has been.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

As long as we have too many pooor crammed into too small an area the gangs will be around. It doesnt matter the country. Right now centeral ameirca is very poor and the gangs are flourishing. The small people have to make money for their families SOMEHOW. As long as we have TOO Much money consolidated into too few hands this will continue. But again we are drifting WAYYYYYYYYY offf topic.