Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's with the demonization of the poor?

Tea Party raving
More and more it becomes clear that the Tea Party, no matter what its constituents purport to believe, is driven not by patriotism, and most certainly not by logic.  Rather, the Tea Party seems to be driven by a deep-seated resentment toward the vulnerable and weak in our society.  The mind-blowing remarks of Tea Party Senate candidate Todd Akin, revealing the contempt Tea Party folks have toward women is only part of the story.  More generally, the Tea Party seems to scorn poor people.

Remember Newt Gingrich's remarks during the South Carolina primary?  "President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history."  That's how Newt put it.  Rick Santorum added a racial twist with his remarks in Iowa:  "I don't want to give black people someone else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to make money."

As the Tea Party graphic at the top of this post suggests, Tea Party folks work under the assumption that people who apply for any kind of public assistance are lazy sponges looking to take advantage of the labor of others, that they are the leeches and mooches that Ayn Rand raved about.

When my parents divorced in 1971, we three kids went to live with my mom in Salem, Oregon.  Mom was out on her own with 3 kids and no education. (She'd started college, but the birth of her first child (me) prevented her from finishing.)  Even though Dad paid his child support every month, it wasn't enough to cover all the bills and expenses associated with raising three kids in the 70s. 

So Mom decided to go back to school to get her degree. While she was attending Oregon College of Education (which is now called Western Oregon University) she enrolled us in the Food Stamp program.  I remember she was embarrassed by it, but felt there was no other way to get by.

Eventually, she earned her teaching certificate and went on to teach in public schools in Oregon and Washington.  Each of her three kids also went on to earn college degrees and become productive members of society as well.  So, society got a big return on its investment.  

I believe our story, the story of my mom and my brother and sister and me, is fairly typical of those who apply for food stamps.  To be sure, there are probably people who take advantage of the system.  But so what?  Which is more egregious:  a few people getting something that they don't deserve?  Or people with legitimate needs being denied nutrition in this land of plenty?  

I don't have a problem with food stamps (the program is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)). People need help sometimes and all in all, my life is very good. It doesn't bother me to kick in some money to help folks who don't have it so good. I'd much rather spend my money that way than give a tax break to people who already have everything.

What about you, Christians?  What about you, Tea Partiers?  Does it bother you so much to think that somebody somewhere might get a tax-payer subsidized box of Kraft Mac and Cheese?  


Jcarnini said...

Well let me try to look at what you said with just notions i have come to after 27 years in the field of DV work.  I do agree with your questions about why demonize poor people, but I don't believe your mom and you kids were the usual single parent family needing some assistance.  Your mom came from a family where her dad was a professor and she herself was exceptionally bright.  The first mistake is to believe that everyone is created equal in any since of the word in this country.  There are many things that keep the poor poor, and are designed to do just that.  Our founding fathers never meat for everyone to be equal, at the time they wrote the constitution only one per cent of the people were represented white male land owners period.  So you see nothing has changed.  More proof the senator who spoke about legitimate rape as apposed to non legitimate rape, that made me feel very hopeful for this country.  Then the Senator in Wisconsen (sp) who is pushing his bill through congress that says all single mother's should be charged with neglect and child abuse because there are no fathers in the homes.  They should only get to buy certain things in the stores for groceries, there should be no low income housing for them, or at best "cramped low income housing" the wic program should be wiped out (that is help with formula and milk and 7 diapers a week.) those are basic needs but obviously single women with children should be punished if they need that program. It really gets much better, VOWA dollars  Violence Against Women funding is being held up by the tea party folks because they want certain groups of women primarily Latina woman and lesbian women to not be funded and so far they are not budging on that point and nor is VAWA, which means no women will get assistance to leave an abusive relationship.  I don't write well so if you are going to argue a point please don't beat me on a technicality.
Thanks Dade for the opportunity to blow off some steam  it has been one long ugly day today, looking forward to tomorrow it just has to be better.
Love to you,

Roger Buck said...

The Christians you identify here are a very peculiar brand of **American** Protestant. I can't of any European Catholic either liberal or conservative who would have any problem with what you write.

Great post.

Best line:

Which is more egregious:  a few people getting something that they don't deserve?  Or people with legitimate needs being denied nutrition in this land of plenty?