“I’ve never known anyone who would rather live off welfare than earn their own living.”



This essay was published several days ago by IronMikeMag.com.



Since we’re currently embroiled in a national debate about unemployment benefits…

Not surprisingly, most conservatives aren’t too sympathetic to the idea of extending unemployment benefits. Less surprising, most liberals are. I keep seeing articles and social media posts describing conservatives of being uncaring, evil or selfish for opposing unemployment extensions. While I can understand why some people support extending unemployment benefits, I’m also getting a little annoyed with all the “those conservatives are selfish bastards” stories. So for what it’s worth, here’s my opinion. This opinion is about entitlements in general, not just unemployment.

Many years ago I arrested a well-known dope dealer, “Sammy”, in the small town where I worked. Sammy was in his early twenties, tall and thin, and could have been an Olympic sprinter. He had outrun almost every officer on the department. Several times I had turned corners and encountered him by chance; he would immediately sprint for the nearest fence, vault over it in a second and be out of sight before I could even call it out on the radio. And Sammy wasn’t just fast, he was cunning. Maybe not book smart, but street smart. Smart enough to sell a lot of drugs and almost never get caught.

One day we were notified Sammy had a felony probation violation warrant. That’s nice, I thought. Unfortunately we’ll never catch him. But a couple of nights later I turned a corner, and there he was. He saw me, the escape reflex kicked in, he started to step off into a sprint. Then he apparently realized, I don’t have any crack on me, so he just stood there. He didn’t know he had a warrant.

I pulled up beside him, threw the car in park, jumped out and grabbed him. He was shocked. He went to jail without a fight.

At the jail I asked him standard questions for the arrest blotter. Address, phone number, next of kin, and so on. When I got to “occupation”, I jokingly asked, “Hey Sammy, what kind of work do you do?”

Sammy answered, “I get disability checks a month!”

I remember giving him a curious look. I knew he was an unemployed dope dealer, and I was just being a smartass when I asked the question. I also didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to say.


“I get disability checks a month!”

Very slowly, I asked, “Are you saying you get disability checks every month?”

He answered, “Yuh!”

“Sammy, you are the fastest human being on earth. You’re in better shape than most professional athletes. What’s your disability?”

“I can’t work!” he blurted. “I can’t get along with the boss man. My lawyer got me disability.”

That conversation was, to say the least, illuminating. I had no idea someone could receive disability just because they’re too undisciplined to work.

Later, in that same town, we had repeated problems with a family living in a housing project. The father worked, mom stayed home with the teenaged kids, they all got snot-slinging drunk every weekend. They had a satellite dish in their front yard, at a time when satellite TV was rare and not cheap. They went through cases of beer and had lots of parties. During one party mom stabbed dad under his arm, hitting an artery. While dad was at the ER, maybe about to die, and mom was under arrest, maybe for murder, the kids kept asking the officers on the scene if they could get the blood-smeared cans of beer in the roped-off crime scene. When officers pulled down the tape, the first thing the kids did was rush in, wipe blood off beer and continue drinking.

Our tax money was supporting that family. Without welfare, could they have afforded all that alcohol?

Years later, in the late 90’s, an officer I worked with told me about a call he was on at a housing project. About three in the morning there was a fight. When the officer showed up he encountered a crowd cheering the fighters on. One of the people cheering was a healthy woman, about 40 years old, who we knew pretty well. She wasn’t a real troublemaker, but every time there was a late-night fight or shooting (which was several times a week), she’d be out there drinking a beer and enjoying the show.

Since the woman was a witness to the fight, the officer interviewed her. During the interview, he asked her, “Why do you just hang out here every night? Shouldn’t you have a job or something?”

The woman very calmly asked him, “Officer, how much money do you make?”

The officer told me he was surprised by the question. But he gave her an honest answer: his salary was about $38,000 a year.

She answered, “Well, I make almost as much as you do. And I don’t do nuthin’.

I once participated in a raid on a crack house. The owner of the house was about 60. His house was disgusting; no electricity or running water, trash everywhere, roaches scattering at our approach, holes rotted through the floor, buckets full of urine and feces in the kitchen. An officer asked him, “How can you stand to live like this?”

The man answered, very articulately, “Officer, I have no stress. I don’t have to work. I get free food. I get free money. If I want crack, I let a dealer use my house to deal from, and he gives me free crack. If I want sex, I let a crack whore stay here and she lets me have sex with her. I have no stress at all.”

As years went by, and I met more people who seemed perfectly capable of working but received welfare, disability or unemployment instead, I came to resent the entire system. In my case, as a cop and soldier I literally risked my life to earn a not very big salary. And some of that salary was taken from me and used to support people who were just plain lazy or, even worse, career criminals. These criminals were running the streets all night stealing cars, burglarizing houses, robbing and even killing people. They were able to run the streets all night because they didn’t have to be at work in the morning. They didn’t have to work because we give them free places to live, free food, free medical care, and free money. They have the basics, they don’t have anyone telling them when to get up or where to be, they don’t have to do anything unpleasant like manual labor. They have no reason to even look for work.

No, not every welfare or unemployment recipient is like that. In the same complex as the drunken family I knew another family who were all employed, never got in trouble, and were trying to work their way to a better life. Some welfare recipients are worthy, but some of them sure as hell are lazy scam artists. The President has said “I’ve never known anyone who would rather live off welfare than earn their own living.” Apparently the President never met some of the people I have.

No, I’m not against all forms of welfare, unemployment or disability. My daughter was born on Medicaid, because at the time I was a rookie cop making $600 a paycheck, and health insurance would have cost me literally half my pay. I just couldn’t afford it. A few months later I switched to another department and got a significant raise, and got off Medicaid even though I was still eligible for it. I didn’t consider it an entitlement I should hang on to for as long as possible. It was temporary help that I paid into before I used it, and have paid into since.

I don’t have an issue with welfare or unemployment when it’s used to help a deserving person through a tough time. Anyone can have an accident, get sick, or lose their job through no fault of their own. A woman who chose to stay home and raise her children while her husband supported the family can unexpectedly become a widow. People who work hard and save every penny can fall victim to changing economic fortunes. Few of us have so much money put away that we can sail through any crisis without help.

But welfare and unemployment don’t just go to decent people who get sick, or stellar employees who show up at work one morning to find the doors chained shut. Sometimes, far too often, those benefits go to people like Sammy, or the family of drunks, or the crack house owner, or the woman at the housing projects. Unemployment benefits can go to people who choose to do nothing, because it’s easier to party all night and sleep all day than get up early and commute to a job they don’t like.

Yes, the examples I’ve described are anecdotal. Liberals will cite studies that prove 99.99999% of people on welfare/disability/unemployment are desperately struggling to get off entitlements and support themselves. People like me won’t believe those studies. I would really like to believe them. I wish I was wrong about this. I hope the number of people scamming the system is infinitesimally small compared to the number of deserving recipients. I hope I’m completely wrong when I say that among parts of the population, anyone who doesn’t cheat the system for unemployment or other benefits is considered an idiot, because it’s so easy to do.

But I can’t believe I’m wrong about this. Because my own lying eyes have convinced me otherwise.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

27 Responses to ““I’ve never known anyone who would rather live off welfare than earn their own living.””

  1. The president used to “community organize”. So
    a) he DID (ad does) know people who’d rather collect welfare than work, and
    b) he’s lying about it now.
    Surprise, surprise.

    My exemplar was the welfare queen at the ER who fanned out a solid dozen active MediGimme cards out of her purse, before my very eyes, all under different names, and kept handing them to the clerks to process one by one until one worked. If the state would pay bounty on turning in the fraudulent, that would go away with the speed of buying a lotto ticket.

    But they don’t, because it’s in their perceived interest to perpetuate and reward the fraud, and punish the hard-working who pay for it instead.

    When the teamster looks up from pushing the wagon uphill and notices all the horses are riding in the back, the jig is about to be up.

    When this eventually happens here, it won’t be pretty. I don’t think civilization has ever witnessed a French Revolution in reverse, where it’s the productive and hard-working on top who decide to start running the worthless eaters getting a free ride through the sausage grinder, but it’s bound to happen.
    I don’t think the folks who voted, directly or indirectly, for such a system will entirely escape the consequences either.

    In any event, I hope to watch it from a safe distance off, but one never knows.

    • When people generally get sick of it and push back, I don’t know what it’ll look like either. What I worry about though, is that it will never get there; I’m afraid so many people will jump onto the free money gravy train, there just won’t be enough people to rise up and fight back.

      • 3 Jeff Gauch

        We’ll get there eventually. One way or another the checks will stop, either because the productive class gets fed up and cuts off the unproductive, or because the productive class simply runs out of money.

        When it happens I think we’ll see something similar to the LA riots. In every single city. It will not be pretty. It’ll be even uglier if it comes about because we’ve run out of money, because that means that cops and soldiers will have long since gone away.

  2. 4 Nathalie Leclercq

    I’ve made similar observations in my country. I have quite a few friends who had a very comfortable life. They got unemployment benefits or welfare for something like a decade, and they certainly enjoyed all the free time they had. And then the conservative government lost the elections, and the social democrats took power. And the first thing they did was reform the welfare system, with the result that all my lazy friends, every single one of them, had to go find a job. It was either that or moving into much smaller apartments. They’ve been working ever since. You argue that liberals or left-wing people are not seeing the truth. That’s not what I experienced. All the hard-working people I know, regardless of their political preferences, resent those people who are living off tax payer’s money.

    • In the US, I think what’s happening is that much of the left simply refuses to believe the widespread fraud exists. Any resentment among the left is reserved for people like me; generally speaking, they certainly don’t resent the people they view as oppressed victims of racism and class inequality. I can’t think of a single instance of a democrat or liberal speaking out about welfare fraud and entitlement abuse. That doesn’t mean it’s never happened, but I can’t recall it ever happening.

  3. 6 lwk2431

    One word: “Amen!”


  4. 8 BobF

    I learned long ago that there is a significant part of nature that says go for the kill the easier way. That seems to be the way of the segment we’re talking about here. Large or small in population, they do exist. I don’t blame them as much as I blame the legislators and the pencil necks who administer, or FAIL to administer, the programs that distribute my money to those who prefer to live according to the lower animals’ instincts.

    • I’m sure plenty of people figure, “It’s so easy to get free money, why not do it?”

      I blame them and the people who make it so easy for them to make that decision.

      • 10 Jeff Gauch

        It comes down to the rather common economic fallacy that money is the only thing that has value. Time is also valuable. So are things like pride, self-respect, and community approval. Unfortunately the well-meaning advocates of these policies (and more than a few supporters view welfare as a means of supporting and rewarding those who give them power) don’t realize that not everyone has the same internal reward mechanisms they do. You and I would feel bad taking welfare, which more than offsets the reward of the extra free time.

  5. 11 prcek

    Hahaa, it is joy a bit to see that in US you have the same trouble as we in CZ. No, it is not joy (It was the malevolent part of my ego). Unfortunately most visible people in my country doing that fraud are gipsies. Sure not only they are cheating but they are most visible examples. When anybody points it out then he is called racist …. Funny that they can cheat in GB too and sentence and jail them in GB is not racism regardless that many yellers in GB say “Czechs are racists” 🙂 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/10375380/The-33000-a-week-benefit-scam-so-easy-a-child-could-do-it.html

    • 12 Jeff Gauch

      “Racist!” is simply how a Progressive says “You’re right and I have no argument against your position, but I don’t want what you say to be true.”

      • Whats nice about being hispanic is that the racist spear comes out less often. Even better if you have a wife of another ethnicity. 😀 I have strong convictions about entitlements and I see these type of people on the medical side of things… and its the same story.

  6. 14 Stuart the Viking

    When I was a kid, my father told me something that has stuck with me ever since.

    “Welfare is a poison to a man’s soul”

    The levels of depravity exhibited by those who make a career of receiving welfare doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    This isn’t to say that I believe that all who need a hand-up are morally deficient. There is a time and a place for such help, but it is not good for anyone to live their lives in such a manner.


    • 15 LBT

      Welfare IS a poison. I have refrained from having children because I would have to get on welfare to survive, and with no college, im afraid I would never be able to come out feom under it. However, I live in Detroit and see this happening everyday. It doesnt matter who you call, who you tell, nobody has time to hear you. When you can apply for a bridge card online, and get approved without having to prove much, its hard to resist “something for nothing” in todays world. Sad.

  7. Chris, it’s true some do need temporary assistance and in a few cases permanent help. It is however starkly clear that abuse of the system is both blatant and prevalent. We truly do need to some constructive changes in this non functioning system. I have an idea, how about the executive branch of the government use welfare recipients from the D.C. area as staffers in the White House; that’ll get them in touch with the true situation, lol. Seriously I hope someone comes up with a reasonable idea to break this chain which perpetuates societal degradation as well as taxing the strength of this great nation. Thank you for the article!

  8. 18 Cary

    I’ve just been reading an excellent book about FDR and the Great Depression and the thing that astonishes me is how very, very different the attitudes are towards work and welfare at that time. You’ve got things like WWI veterans marching on Washington- in good order, with military discipline and setting up a neat camp to protest from.

    And everyone is looking for ‘work.’ Not money, or the dole or anything else- they want a job, with work as well as pay. I’d like to see something like the CCC come back- here’s an honest day’s wages and you can do something useful (like repair the infrastructure that is falling apart) while being employed.

    I was (shamefully) a full blown Socialist (big-S) in my college days. I can remember the exact day I stopped. I left college, got my first real job, and, more crucially, my first real paycheck, with all the now-too-familiar deductions, exemptions, etc. etc.

    I was suddenly a lot less into higher taxes and more social programs.

    And I’ve lived in too many poor places to ever think that there’s no such thing as a welfare cheat. Nothing to do with race. Whites did it, blacks did it….it was more the difference between “poor” and what around here in Carolina they call “po'”. Poor people are people with less money. Po’ people are what a less enlightened time would’ve called “po’ white/black/hispanic/asian/whatever trash”. Poor people can be helped. Po’ people will just take and take and take and take…and complain when you stop giving.

    • Cary,

      Thank you for your insight. Maybe it’s just the crowd I hang out with, but I’ve heard many more stories of “I used to be a liberal/socialist/communist in college, then got into the real world and had my mind changed by reality” than I’ve heard stories of people going the other way. I do have one very intelligent writer friend who did switch from conservative to liberal though, so I know it does happen.

    • Tony,

      Please see above where I wrote, “Liberals will cite studies that prove 99.99999% of people on welfare/disability/unemployment are desperately struggling to get off entitlements and support themselves.” 🙂

      But I get your point. There are plenty of decent hardworking people on some type of assistance. The problem comes from those who abuse the system. The article you linked to, which was not from an impartial source, emphasizes that “benefits only last two years.” Well, disability doesn’t. Neither do other programs. And even if everything in the article was true, that doesn’t prove nobody abuses the system.

      • 22 Daniel

        Fun fact in that article:
        It claims that minorities aren’t disproportionately on benefits because
        “39% of recipients are white, 38% black”

        … Except that Blacks make up only 12% of the population.

        So, by liberal logic, in a town with 400 whites and 40 blacks, if 40 of the whites and 40 of the blacks are on welfare, it means minorities don’t go on welfare more often!

  9. I use to volunteer for the Red Cross in Akron Ohio.

    The Red Cross decided that a single dwelling fire was as disastrous to that family as an apartment complex to those family. It made and still makes sense to me.

    So, I and a lot of other volunteers agreed to go out and make use house fire victims had a roof over their head at a local motel, meals and clothing until they could get into RC HQ for more assistance.

    At some fires we found people standing in blankets provided by their neighbors and they told us don’t worry, we have insurance.

    Other claimed to have nothing. The people with nothing seemed to always call at 2:00am. We’d get out of bed and discover the fire was at 6pm. We had to verify the damage. Most of them claimed burnt clothing or a toasted mattress in addition to the fire damage, no matter how trivial. These burnt items were never available. They never answered the question, “If the fire was contained in your kitchen, how did the bed in the upstairs back bedroom get destroyed? Where the ashes and metal springs?”

    “Oh, we had someone haul the remains away,” we were told. They claimed to have found someone who would come out and haul the burnt mattress, clothes and furniture away at midnight.

    Finally we went out to a fire and found grandma, her daughter and her granddaughter who was pregnant. The future grandmother was late 30ish. Soon there would be four generations of people on the dole in one house. Nobody worked. There were no men around.

    I stopped volunteering at the Red Cross.

    I’ve been unemployed and the first thing I want to do was find a job. So no, I don’t believe the majority of people on the dole want to work. They have a job, collecting welfare.

  10. 25 Roy

    Serves you right all you COnservatives who have been too cowardly to speak the truth about race for yeArs as the country is going down the crapper. All I ever. Here from COnservatives is that race doesn’t matter, blacks will all join the CONservative movement as soon as they see the light. What a joke

  11. 27 D


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