The real story of Ronald Reagan's "welfare queen"



Wow. I just skimmed the piece on Slate, and this will be my bedtime reading tonight (instead of continuing a Coling Forbes that has failed to grip me 102 pages in).

EDIT: Colin. Colin Forbes. And every couple of years I make the mistake to pick up one of his novels because I’m intrigued by the premise of the plot and when I read it it disappoints me.

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I’ve read similar articles in the past, but it’s always good to revisit things. The more you read about Reagan, the less you can understand all the love he gets.


So basically Regan used the most extreme example possible to portray as your average person on welfare.

…Why does this not surprise me.


Read this on Slate, and it’s a pretty incredible story, not only of “Linda Taylor” and the dizzying layers of deceptions that she practiced over decades, but also the whole “welfare queen” thing. It’s still defensible, I think, to say that Reagan lied, as he often did about factual matters (the book There He Goes Again: Ronald Reagan’s Reign of Error was first published in 1983); the figures he reports in his radio address are well in excess of what was originally reported in the Tribune, which in turn is far above what was legally indictable.

What’s really remarkable to me is how and why the Tribune turned a serious criminal investigation, with its possibility of Taylor marrying and killing men for their estates and even kidnapping children, into a case of welfare fraud. It’s worth noting how furious the police detective who was investigating the case was when the Tribune broke the news.



Obama is too much like him for my taste.


It is interesting, I wonder if it’s because the kidnapping and murder happened to other people, but welfare fraud involved someone stealing .2 cents directly from each individual taxpayer, so more directly involved the reader.

Obama did say that Reagan was his favorite president. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then for once we can take him at his word.

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The only welfare queen I know is named Elizabeth.

The issue here is not that Reagan based his bigoted denunciation of welfare recipients on an actual person, but that anyone would take this person as a representative sample of anyone but herself. It’s the equivalent of using an actual murderer as evidence that all black people are murderers. What difference really if bigoted stereotypes are based on a real person or persons or are invented out of thin air? The hostile intent is the same.

The idea that anyone on welfare is living the life or royalty is absurd. In most places people on welfare are not given enough to survive at even the most basic level. Most will have to borrow money from friends and family, go heavily into debt, or find some means, legal or otherwise, to earn money off the books to supplement their inadequate benefits.

Far from being layabouts and losers who don’t want to work, the single moms on welfare I met while working with the tenant movement in NY are in fact some of the toughest, most resourceful people I have ever met. These are women with the strength to endure unbelievable stress and privation and do whatever it takes to feed and protect their families. They are survivors, not helpless victims or losers.

I used to call these women “Iron Ladies,” a name they earned far more than Reagan’s soul sister Maggie Thatcher. The only thing iron about her was her heart, her brain, and that bulletproof bouffant she wore.

Many people on welfare that I met work off the books to make ends meet and while this is technically welfare fraud, by any civilized standard this is morally justifiable, because they must do this to survive. When I was in the Army, they used to say that “the first law of the jungle is survival.” This isn’t an invitation to discard morality as a first principle, but to recognize that all other considerations are meaningless if you don’t stay alive, so survival considerations must come first.


Unfortunately, some people love ol’ Ronnie because they know almost nothing about him apart from his (very well cultivated) hagiography; but some people love ol’ Ronnie because they approve of his policies.

The former are dangerous, if they vote; but are often otherwise decent human beings. The latter, um, less so.


Yes, I have posted this before, but as this thread is about Reagan:

I remember whenever he appeared on TV I didn’t like his delivery. A tiny voice inside my head kept saying ‘He’s lying. He’s trying to sell you something. Something you don’t need. Something you don’t want. Something that will be bad for you.’
Does that mean I have latent aphasia, or can I pat myself on the back for being oh so very clever?

Before I even clicked on the link I just knew it was from Oliver Sacks’ “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.” Great book.

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