by Erin Kotecki Vest

When you basically tell a mother, fighting for her children to stay fed and warm and with a roof over their heads, that they are moochers…or feel ‘entitled’ to handouts…yeah, you better believe the claws come out.

I sat here tonight thinking about all the people in my life and how hard they work, or have worked, over the years. My parents. My friends. My husband. Myself.

How many years of paying into the system that was supposed to be there for us when needed. It wasn’t supposed to be there for us with the promise of ‘shame’ and ‘embarrassment…’ no, it was just supposed to be there. There was no shame or embarrassment in working hard and taking your money back out.

But don’t tell that to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the gang who has somehow turned the typical American dream into a nation of victims, expecting government to care for them at every turn.


Then I stopped and thought about how many of those people in my life, at one point or another, used a government program to give them a boost, or provide them a safety net, or even just furnished their fridge with some food when times were tough.

Parents on Medicaid and Social Security. Grandparents on the same, along with a pension. Myself having once collected short-term disability from the State of California and now having applied for Social Security disability benefits.

Friends and their children on state programs to make sure they have vaccinations and well-checks. Formula. Diapers.

Other friends who used Pell grants and student loans to enter higher paying jobs. You know, the kind of jobs that are now supporting their families, have gotten them off all assistance, and have put them in a position to give back to their communities and put money into the economy.

And then there are those I know and love who have made the ultimate deal with the government and entered the government’s ultimate program: to serve their country in uniform in exchange for many programs unavailable to the rest of our citizens.

I’m not sure where this entire idea about government programs are all ‘bad’ came from. I’m not sure how or why those who use them are moochers or freeloaders or undeserving entered the public discourse, but I can tell you this…it’s all bullshit. All of it.

You may have some tiny percentage of people who abuse the system. Why they are the stereotype, I also have no idea. Why that is what is stuck in some conservatives minds as the ‘real’ 47% is beyond me when every stat shows otherwise…but I can’t convince crazy. They are, however, very fond of saying ‘oh but not you Erin…not people like you, either.’


Because statistically, it’s allllllll people like me. The disabled. The ones who need temporary help. The ELDERLY.

Just recently, I was finally approved for long-term disability through my private insurance. We began this process in November. As part of this ‘deal’ I’ve also agreed to use the lawyers provided to me by said private insurance so they can now deal with the Social Security Administration on my behalf. You see, they don’t want to pay me…they would much rather the federal government forked over the dough.

Reprinted with permission from Queen of Spain Blog, copyright 2012, Erin Kotecki Vest, all rights reserved.

I’m sure this somehow also lowers me in the eyes of the holier-than -thou conservative who think government shouldn’t be taking care of me. Never mind that in order to even get the money I put in out of every paycheck, this is what I need to do…none of that seems to matter…what matters to them is these are THEIR tax dollars and apparently since I am currently not putting into that system, I’m a freeloader for taking out.

I’ve gotten nasty emails about taking my kids out to dinner. I’ve gotten tweets asking where I got the money to buy a nice handbag. I’ve even gotten Facebook messages wondering how someone publicly discussing her attempts to get her mortgage modified and having a mountain of medical debt has the audacity to take her children to Disneyland.

It seems that the moment you have accepted any sort of government help, the citizens of said country believe it is their business to manage your family’s budget.

I could tell you all about what gifts I have received or what family has paid for. I could tell you what we’ve saved for in order to provide treats here and there for the kids or myself. I could even tell you what has arrived in the mail, generously, from wonderful friends.

But I don’t feel I need to explain. Nor do I feel it is your right to know. For all you know, I spent every single dime that came to me via the government on something entirely frivolous just to piss you off. And as far as you all know, that is my choice.

In a way, I wish I had, because the outrage has made me just angry enough to do it…and I could use a nice pair of $4k heels.

Instead, I find myself reminding people my husband is still gainfully employed and my current check comes from a private insurance company…but then I get mad I even said that. Even wanting to tell people that is bullshit. It may be none of your damn business but you sure have made me feel like I need to justify things. Something. Anything. All because of this utterly insane notion that somehow, somewhere down the road, it became un-American to accept help. It became un-American to pay into a system and then retrieve that money from the system.

But what is worse…what is even more insulting…is that somehow they have made me feel as though I didn’t work for what I have. That my father didn’t work for what he has. And that all of my friends and family and loved ones are not currently doing all they can to simply provide for their kids and their parents and wouldn’t choose work over taking help any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Do you think I ENJOY Lupus? Do you think I ENJOY collecting my disability check so I can sit on my ass and receive treatment and NOT be able to travel and rule the motherfucking world as God intended me to?

Shame on you Mitt Romney. Shame on you Paul Ryan. Shame on you fellow conservatives for emotionally and mentally abusing so many of us who have worked, wanted to work, or tried to work. For publicly shaming anyone down on their luck, looking for compassion, looking for just a little bit of understanding and love.

I always knew politics was ugly. But never in my life did I think a group of people would stoop so low as to kick those who are down. Never in my life did I think those wealthy and those in power would laugh and spit on the poor. Never, ever in my life did I think you would treat a mother, this mother, with anything but respect for doing all she could to take care of her family. For doing all she could to get herself healthy so she could work again. For doing all she could to make sure she never had to take any money, from anyone. EVER.

Perhaps family and love and compassion means something a bit different to Democrats than it does Republicans these days. Perhaps you see dollar signs and we see people. You see deficits and we see a table in need of food. You see tax hikes and we see a child in need of books.

You see the entitled and the victims and the 47%…and we simply see Americans.

Damn proud Americans.

Reprinted with Permission from Queen of Spain Blog, Copyright 2012 Erin Kotecki Vest, all rights reserved.