The deserving vs. the undeserving: The tricky line to walk in Trump's America

The knee-jerk liberal interpretation is that this is all racism: It’s hatred of immigrants, and that talk of “welfare abuse” is just code for black people getting benefits. This isn’t totally false. Many white people surely hold subconscious or conscious prejudices that lead them to assume the worst of those different from them and the best of those similar.

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But it’s too simplistic to wipe away all distinctions among types of benefits. Veterans benefits are different from other benefits — veterans were the employees (an understatement) of the federal government, and so their health and pension is the government’s responsibility.

Unemployment? All workers pay for that through insurance. On disability, Americans will distinguish between the “really disabled,” and those with disabilities they see as fake — maybe depression or neck pain. People with those “fake” disabilities will tell you they are very real. Medicare? I’m paying into that.

Do these distinctions tend to be self-serving? Yes. Is there a racial element? Undeniably. And welfare abuse is also a real thing.

There’s no easy way to navigate the rocky terrain.

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