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Fact-Checking the Republican Memes
Author: BobR    Date: 2015-04-15 10:34:24

There are myriad ways that being a Republican believer means that you believe something to be absolutely true, despite evidence to the contrary (see Climate Change, Trickle-Down Economics, and The War on Christmas to name a few). Where things get dicey is in the topics that don't get a lot of discussion. In particular, lower and middle class Americans who consider themselves to be conservative have found scapegoats for their struggles, usually undeserved and tainted with stereotype. This often creates more problems. Perhaps we can do a "Snopes" on a few of these.

Welfare and other forms of public assistance are always easy targets. The apocryphal "welfare queen" and anecdotal evidence often suggests able-bodied lazy people "living large" on the meager sustenance provided by welfare and foodstamps. A new study proves that the majority of welfare recipients are actually working people:
The study found that 56% of federal and state dollars spent between 2009 and 2011 on welfare programs — including Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — flowed to working families and individuals with jobs. In some industries, about half the workforce relies on welfare.

“When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education and one of the report’s authors.
[...]
The report bolsters the long-standing contention that taxpayers are subsidizing low-wage employers.

Wal-Mart is another case where those at the top of the company are filling their coffers while the grunts working in the stores need public assistance to survive. We are literally funneling tax dollars to Wal-Mart executives. There are several other myths about those living in poverty that give those struggling license to be hateful and angry at supposed "freeloaders". Those who believe them need to be clued into the truth.

One of those listed in the previous link is a meme that I see pop up every few months: Require mandatory drug testing for Welfare recipients. The problem is two-fold: It presumes that the poor use drugs more frequently than the general population, and that weeding them out (no pun intended) will save the states money. Seven states have painfully discovered that neither assumption is true. In fact - these 7 states have spent more money than if they had just left well enough alone. The reality is that - with rare exception - when you are living in poverty, illicit drugs are luxury too expensive to consider. Also - see the first myth I busted above... Most people on Welfare are just regular working folk being paid a pauper's wage.

Fear of Islam stokes other prejudicial fires, with people believing false stories they want to be true. At a recent NRA meeting, a speaker described "no-go zones" inhabited by Islamic people where even the police don't dare to go. It's utter nonsense, and may well have been ginned up from a post on a satire news site. The problem is that there is a portion of NRA hard-liners that will likely believe this and try to do the "patriotic" thing and rid our country of this "menace". Fear and hatred over a false story could actually lead to senseless violence.

To take this a step further onto the national stage, there are those who seem to think the only solution to a potential nuclear Iran is to "bomb, bomb, Iran". It's so simple - just blow the heck out of those sites; who needs inspectors? It worked so well for Iraq, right? And Iran is only about 3 times as large and way more sophisticated.

One writer looks at the most likely outcome of a unilateral attack on yet another sovereign state:
They're not alone in that conclusion. A blue-ribbon panel at the Wilson Center, after reviewing the military studies on the issue, concluded that even if extended military strikes were carried out "to near perfection," the best case scenario is still only a four-year delay in Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, the only way military force could stop Iran from going nuclear is if the US committed to a more or less indefinite war. "To fulfill the stated objective of ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear bomb," the Wilson Center report finds, "the U.S. would need to conduct a significantly expanded air and sea war over a prolonged period of time, likely several years."

Even limited strikes against Iran would have the potential to spark a broader conflict. The consequences of that, especially in today's Middle East, would be disastrous. Iran has the power to make an unstable Middle East even worse: it could directly target and kill Americans in the region, exacerbate a number of the region's festering conflicts, and potentially threaten the global oil supply — and thus the global economy.

The writer goes on to mention that Russia and China would back Iran, and before you know it: WWIII. It's a brain-dead idea that some Republicans are trying to sell as a sure-thing, when the only sure thing is that it would be a disaster.

But that's the problem when you're wedded to ideology over evidence. You are willing to blame the innocent, and destroy the village to save it, because your beliefs tell you that the evidence is biased. That may seem easier than admitting you believed a fantasy.

22 comments (Latest Comment: 04/16/2015 04:18:51 by Will in Chicago)
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