Ever notice how the people who seem to have the most to lose are the same ones who champion a fiscally conservative government? It seems like the ones who would benefit most from social services are the ones who want them abolished. Has there ever been another country in the history of the world where its citizens stood in protest of their own health care? Where else can you find a single mother of eight at an anti-welfare rally? You have to say this about Americans: we may not be smart, but we are good at yelling. A lot.
My maternal grandmother was something like this. She was born not long before the Great Depression and was fully cognizant when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ushered in his New Deal. I guess it rubbed her the wrong way, because she voted Republican her whole life. My grandmother worked as a bookkeeper for confectioner Fanny Farmer, her husband was an alcoholic superintendent who died long before I was born. My mom, uncle, and grandparents lived their entire lives in various basement apartments in the Bronx, and though many times they didn’t have two nickels to rub together, my grandmother never took the subway. She either took a cab or traveled within walking distance.
My grandmother was retired by the time I knew her. She lived with my family, ostensibly to be home for my brother and I when we got home from school. And there she’d be, choking down Marlboro after Marlboro, watching some game show through a haze of cigarette smoke and dust. Her Marlboros were provided by social security, the apartment a gift from my parents. Yet she still felt that she didn’t take hand outs from anyone, she thought herself a self-sufficient red-blooded American, who didn’t want or need anyone else’s platitudes. Needless to say, she had zero friends.
I think this is a prevailing American attitude, that we don’t want to pay high taxes but we do expect a lot of shit for free. I can’t really knock it, who doesn’t like free stuff? There just seems to be a disconnect between what we’re owed versus what we’re willing to sacrifice. My grandmother died in 1988 from complications due to smoking. She was penniless. My parents paid for the funeral.