The Importance of Checking Your Facts First

Recently, someone dear to me, but whom stands on the opposite side of many important contemporary issues, sent me an email about the current state of Hiroshima as the 67th anniversary of our bombing the city approaches. (***Correction: This apparently has been floating around the web for some time as the 68th anniversary will be this August 3rd.

The whole thing is a mess of propaganda, weird claims, and outright lies. Here it is (be sure to get past it to read my response below!):


67 years later!

What happened to the radiation that 

lasts thousands of years?


We all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 after the expl*sion of atomic bo*bs.  However, we know little about the progress made by the people of that land  during the past 67 years.















What has caused more long term destruction- The A-b*mb,


Government welfare programs created to buy the

Votes of those who want someone to take care of them?

Japan does not have a welfare system.

Work for it or do without. 

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

  1. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.


 Wow.  Right? It certainly seems to make the case that welfare is more destructive than an atomic bomb.  Well, that would be true, except that those pictures above are not actually of Hiroshima but of the much larger Osaka.  This is immediately recognizable from the ferris wheel, which is a rather famous landmark in Japan’s third largest city, not the much smaller but certainly rebuilt Hiroshima. It is on one hand dishonest by the person who wrote the email and on the other hand offensive.  How would you like it if a Japanese person said “Oh, you’re from Los Angeles?  Isn’t that where the Statue of Liberty is?”

The pictures of Detroit are sadly true, but the city’s woes are not the result of large social welfare programs.  If that were true, other cities with a substantial social safety net thought to make workers “lazy” like Chicago or New York City would look the same.... but they don’t.  The most common consensus in reading the history of the city is that its troubles began as trade barriers began falling and car companies outsourced their work to other countries where the labor was cheaper.  China first, the Mexico with the passage of NAFTA, and now many other parts of the world.  It is disingenuous at best to claim welfare destroyed Detroit when it is readily apparent that de-industrialization is the prime culprit.  This is happened in numerous small towns across the US - the main industry leaves and there are no jobs left so it becomes a ghost town.  Is it that big a leap of understanding to see how this applies to Detroit?

Further claims are made, let’s see if I can refute them one at a time.

  1. You may or may not be able to legislate poverty out of existence.  We haven’t been successful despite the 50 years of War waged on it since president Johnson declared it.  We can, however, note the influence of money in politics.  Unless you are a hardcore Commie (I know a few), the end goal is not to make the wealthy less prosperous but to see that their prosperity doesn’t equal more than the one vote we are all given as a right by being a citizen of this country.  The rules are written to privilege the already privileged and not to help those with already dire life circumstances.
  2. This is a common zero-sum assumption - that welfare is only sustained by stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  It also ignores that those who often scream loudest about it don’t actually work for their money.  The richest of the rich, who should be paying the highest share as they benefit from our economic system.  The current classic example of this is Mitt Romney, whose net worth of $250 million means that he can sit back, do nothing and earn $22 million a year as his wealth generates returns.  Did he work hard to get where he is?  Certainly.  But is he working for dividends?  Hardly.
  3. This one may be true, but I don’t see it as a problem.  We all participate in society of give-and-take.  I give currency and get bread.  The government taxes me a builds a road.  What’s the problem here?
  4. You absolutely can multiply by division.  What is 1/.01? 100!  Non-monetarily speaking, investment in social programs like welfare have been shown to yield the highest multiplier effect as economic investments.  That means that for every dollar invested in feeding people, more dollars are spent throughout the economy, which has a stimulating effect.
  5. I hate this.  It’s similar to the 47% remarks Romney made in the 2012 presidential elections.  It’s insulting to the people who are actually trying to find work but can’t, the people stuck in underemployment because big companies want to dodge paying full time benefits, and my whole generation who went through the expected motions of a college education only to move back in with their parents after facing a shitty job market.  Don’t call people who can’t find work lazy, you might be in that position someday and see how it really is. I know I have been.

Also, Japan does have a welfare system, and a much more extensive one than the United States.

If we tried some kind of experiment as the email suggests, it would end disastrously.  It would be based on false assumptions and un-truths that would send us back to a time when children were forced to work 10 hour day in factories from the time the were 8, or people would never be able to retire because their job didn’t pay enough beyond subsistence to be able to save. 

Sorry this got so rant-y.  I’m just sick of being told that a lack of motivation or personal failure is to blame for those who have to lean on the social safety net.  It’s a lack of compassion that leads to such an accusation.

Zach Rubin, 2018