Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Do we Hate the Poor?

Do we hate the poor?

I understand people who have made personal determinations regarding whether or not they will support charitable organizations. I can understand whether or not people will support legislation which will provide aid to the poor. But why such vitriol when it comes to the homeless and the poor?

Read our CEO, Larry James' blog this morning. I think there are comments reflected there that are nothing less than shameful. And while I know its not representative of all people, why have people stereotyped poor people as 'dregs on society', or people 'who have children they can't afford'? When did some people get such a heightened sense of moral superiority?

Of course I've known people, homeless and poor, who have taken advantage of charities, the church and good natured individuals. I've been taken advantage of more than a few times. But I've also known rich people of every hue and stripe, who were predatory, opportunistic and insensitive materialists. The problem is we tend to think of the former as drags on society and we think of the later as those who 'contribute' to the welfare of our society.

I think its a sad commentary on our values.

When it comes to the whether or not the support for the poor ought to be a part of our social compact with one another: wasn't that question answered by 'the New Deal', 'the New Frontier', 'the Great Society'.

If those were wrong, why hasn't 'trickle down economics' worked?

There are 6 million more poor people in our country than there were 10 years ago. During a 10 year people did we 'acquire' a group of people who chose to be unable to afford health care? Who chose to get older? Who selected mental health problems as a way of life? Who asked to be laid off of jobs that have been off shored and outsourced? Who selected economic insecurity after the death of a spouse, or depression after the death of a loved one?

Or is it easier to simply characterize them as 'immigrant', 'black', 'lazy', 'welfare cheats', 'undeserving', 'criminal', 'uneducated', 'drop outs'? One thing about doing that: it makes them easier to ignore and simply wish them to simply disappear. And it makes it a lot easier to ignore the fact that unless we do something besides hate, those whose economic circumstances are not what up to our standards, should be, the quality of all of our lives is diminished. And not because of the public or private money that we don't invest - its because of what it reveals about the spirit of our society.


Anonymous said...

I do not hate the poor, but this comment of yours has a flaw "There are 6 million more poor people in our country than there were 10 years ago..."
Now, I believe that this increase of 6 million (if thats accurate?)is primarily illegal immigrants who have settled here, and that is not the mistake of our government, but of the countries they are leaving. Are we then to count out these illegals, or add them to our welfare rolls?

Anonymous said...

I suspect many poor people are like my extended family. An otherwise smart girl in my family got pregnant right out of high school without benefit of marriage, then compounded the problem by marrying an idiot who can't hold a job. When he did have a job for a few weeks they bought a new car "to get good gas milage." Now they are dependent on the girl's grandparents. Wrong choices. Should not people be held responsible?

Anonymous said...

So, how does the Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter fit into your "responsibilty scheme for the nation, anon 6:34? I mean, are you saying if a kid is poor, tough luck you're on your own? But, if the kid happens to be rich or middle class then not so much to worry about? What blind judgment!