Friday, December 29, 2006

Damn Matthew Lesko to Hell for all Eternity 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI hate Matthew Lesko, that flim flam artist who is the bane of librarian and government worker's existences. Due to his criminally misleading television commercials, especially the one shilling his book "Free money fto Pay your Bills,” I have confused, desperate patrons waving their overdue credit card/final notice utility bills in my face in the misguided belief that Lesko’s book will provide them with a magical phone number to make all of their money problems go away.

Lesko generally advertises on the cheap local late night slots, the ones targeting the drunk and desperate late night television viewer, the adult version of the suckers who send off for sea monkeys, x-ray goggles and hovercrafts. Bursting with crazy good cheer, he practically jumps out of the television at you, screaming about ‘free money’ like some deranged, frantic gremlin or retarded, methed up Batman super-villain. “Government studies show that 50 million consumers are not taking advantage of even the basic programs,” he shrieks, “Don’t you be one of them!”

Lesko’s scam is that his books, which sell for $39.95 and up, are nothing but repackaged GPO pamphlets. And suckers, hearing what they want to believe, shell money out that they can ill afford in the hopes of an immediate windfall. Hey – I’m all for people getting the assistance they need. Why should Halliburton get it all? His ads are disingenuous and misleading, however, and I have to deal with disgruntled patrons looking to lash out at someone when they take a look at the dogeared reference copy and it dawns on them that it's not just as simple as making a phone call to get their bills taken care of.

What I do appreciate about Lesko’s books, however, is that they expose the welfare state that the United States has become. The New York Times had a recent revelatory article on the explosion in the SSI disability rolls. We in the U.S. sniff at Europe for being a welfare state but the US is just as bad – we just refuse to admit it. I could tell you first hand about the SSI disability recipients who hang out at the library all the live long day, getting paid by the government to sit on their ass and not bother anyone.

U.S. citizens on welfare sometimes don’t even realize that they are. In the wonderful Cadillac Desert: the American West and Its Disappearing Water by the late, great Marc Reisner, he chronicles how the Western farmers, with their massive water and farm subsidies, became the embodiment of the welfare state. He marvels at the hypocrisy of their conservative, anti-welfare, all-about-personal-responsibility, self righteous politics when they are, in fact, some of the biggest 'welfare queens' of them all.

"They regularly sent to congress politicians eager to demolish the social
edifice built by the New Deal - to abolish welfare, school lunch programs, aid
to the handicapped, funding for the arts, even to sell off some of the national
parks and public lands. But their constituents had become the ultimate example of what they decried, so coddled by the government that they lived in the cocoonlike world of a child. They remained oblivious to what their CAP water would cost them but were certain that it would be offered to them at a price they could afford. The farmers had become the embodiment of the costly, irrational welfare state which they loathed - and they had absolutely no idea."

Hell, even I, as a civil servant, am on the government dole, although I strongly believe in what I do and the mission of public libraries. But I've done my time in the private sector and know that it isn't pretty, so I am profoundly grateful of my job. When colleagues complain about working conditions here I stare at them in open-jawed amazement. This job may have its peculiar stresses, but when I listen to them bellyache I just think to myself, "You have NO idea what it's like out there." I may be a government parasite but I'm greatly appreciative one.

Worker and Parasite.

The Wikipedia exegesis

You're not on the government dole. You're doing a job, for which you're being paid--and probably not a terribly high salary. The dole is money for nothing. You're no more on the government dole than firefighters, police, park rangers...
Andy Dick's Lyle Tillman character nailed it.
Walt, you are so kind. I was trying to be funny as well as fend off any libertarian/Any Rand Objectivists who might accuse me me of being a social parasite. Check this from the social parasitism Wikipedia entry:

"Libertarians and other advocates of laissez-faire capitalism believe that most people earning an income from the government (including welfare recipients, civil servants, doctors working in a public health system, etc) are social parasites. Ayn Rand referred to them as "looters" and "moochers". In the libertarian view, all economic activity should be conducted through the private sector; taxes should be reduced to a minimum and the public sector should be abolished. Those who currently rely on the public sector for their livelihood are seen as a burden on the rest of society (because their wages or stipends are funded by taxes), and libertarians believe that they should be encouraged to find private sector jobs."

Thanks for posting this, Foxy. I wondered if this was a scam or not and you've saved me the cost of trying it out. And on m meagre civil service pay, I need to save money wherever possible.
did that say libertarians or librarians?

I get so confused.

When I first started working at the desk, I had an old man call and ask for "that book by the crazy guy with the crazy suit who's on late at night. He jumps all over the place and yells. Do you have that?"

At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about and started naming various late-night talk show hosts, SNL actors, etc.

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