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Secret Welfare System

By: Emiliano Vazquez-Parrales, Student Voices Section Editor (evazqu20@uic.edu)

Last month I watched a 60 Minutes report on the U.S. disability fund where it was revealed that the programs has a budget of $135 billion, which is larger than the budget for Homeland Security, The Labor Department, and the Justice Department put together.  Not only that but it serves 12 million U.S. residents, up to 20 percent applying within the last six years.  The most shocking aspect of the report, however, was that most of the disability claims themselves were not being filed by people living in the cities but in many majority white rural areas, specifically in the southern states. 

Most people that live off of welfare are not the urban African Americans, as the Welfare Queen stereotype seems to claim, but are actually these rural Caucasians.  Now the report called this disability program a “secret welfare program,” and that in itself seems to have infuriated members of the LA Times, FOX News, and The Nation, all of them accusing CBS of publishing a bias report, denouncing them for attacking the disabled, and implying that they were somehow scamming the American tax payers.

This makes me laugh a bit because it is a totally color blind racism.  Here are all these supposedly unbiased news sources getting upset because this CBS report reveals a serious problem in the regulation of a well-intentioned program (much like welfare) and they make it seem like CBS was in the wrong.  However, in the past these news sources (especially FOX) have had no problem attacking welfare, and again this leads back to the articles we discussed in class about racial priming and playing the race card.

This also reminds me of a Tim Wise video I saw once that discussed White Privilege and it seems to me that it is okay for these whites who have applied and received disability to be potentially abusing the system.  However, it is not okay for minorities to abuse the welfare system and they have no problem attacking that at all.

I suppose my questions to you all are: Why do these news sources interpret the CBS report as an attack on the disabled as opposed to a very serious issue of regulation?  How can this have gone on for so long while the economy is clearly still struggling?  What is the subtext to this whole attack on the disabled argument?

For those interested, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57606236-10391709/what-happens-when-the-u.s-disability-fund-runs-dry/

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