10.18.16: The Myth of the "Welfare Queen", Solar Politics, & Uncovering Guy Sims Fitch

Oct 18, 2016

In 1976 presidential candidate Ronald Reagan used "welfare queen" when describing a serial criminal who bilked the government for tens of thousands of dollars in aid - what was true then and still true today:  the typical welfare recipient is rural and white. But it stuck as code for urban, black, and working the system. Today, how the myth of the “welfare queen” gets in the way of helping real families.

Plus, his byline appeared in thousands of international papers celebrating American free market economics in but "Guy Sims Fitch" did not exist. Unraveling the identity - or identities - of a Cold War-era propaganda program that is still protected by CIA secrecy. 

Listen to the full show.

The Myth of the "Welfare Queen"

It was during the 1976 presidential election when then-governor Ronald Reagan stamped aid with the image of "welfare queen." The woman he described was a serial criminal who bilked the system and racking up tens of thousands in government aid. The image stuck. “Welfare queen" came to be code for dependent, urban, and black, while the typical welfare recipient is actually rural and white. 

Rachel Black and Aleta Sprague looked at the legacy of the welfare queen on policy for The Atlantic and wrote “The Welfare Queen is a Lie.” 

Solar Politics

As far as public policy goes, Democrats tend to push for renewable energy, while Republicans are more likely to press for oil exploration. SolarPulse partnered with Priceonomics and discovered a different split on the ground: homes in Republican-leaning areas are five times more likely to install solar panels than in Democratic strongholds over the past five years. Matthew Hirsch a writer and editor for SolarPulse, and looked into the numbers.

Best Enjoyed By

It's 9pm and you're hungry for a late night snack - you pull out a box of cereal and grab the milk... But before you pour, you take a sniff. And then, you hunt for that date that will tell you, yes - your milk is fine. Or no - time to pour it down the drain.  Of course, it's not just consumers that check the expiration date.  This story comes to us from Roman Mars of 99% Invisible.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Uncovering Guy Sims Fitch

During the 1950s and 60s, the CIA's "Propaganda Assets Inventory" division paraded America's creative and intellectual freedom in front of the world - especially Russia, where artists were bound by the government's ideological straightjacket. At its peak, employees joked that the assets division was like a Wurlitzer. When it pushed a button, it could hear whichever tune in wanted playing in newspapers, magazines and public information organizations across the world. Many of those newspapers ran articles under the byline of one "Guy Sims Fitch". Matt Novak is founder of “Paleofuture”. He wanted to find out who this influential - and fictional - writer was.