Your Opinion: Denying poverty doesn’t end it
Monday, January 6, 2014
One disturbing trend in public discourse is the effort to elude reality by creating your own. Dick Cheney is famously reported to have told a reporter in regards to Iraq, “We create our own reality.” Senator Imhofe proclaims global climate change a hoax. In that spirit of reckless disregard for reality another local Tea Party person eliminates poverty by re-defining it out of existence in a Dec. 29 letter to the Tribune.
If half the conservative writer’s assertions about “the poor” were true it would be the greatest triumph of unfettered capitalism. The Samaritan Center could close its doors. The Pope and President Obama could stop addressing the crisis of worldwide income equality.
The Tea Party writer says our poor have more stuff than the rest of the world’s poor. This implies they are well off. My house is worth three-fourths of a million in Boston but it is here. I have to live in the real world. So do our disadvantaged citizens.
It’s true some poor people have beat-up, crappy cars that are hocked to the car title business at 300 percent interest rates. They may have cell phones to call their case workers. Some have crappy jobs that pay up to $14,000 a year. Their employers give them forms for food stamps.
Cruel conservative posturing towards the disadvantaged is dismissed by creative stories of a wealthy, slothful underclass sapping the wealth of the makers. This conservative mime was long ago framed by the atheist and sexual libertine Ayn Rand. Her novels of unrestricted capitalism infuse conservative thinking. In her black and white world there were the morally upright makers and immoral takers.
The federal poverty level of $22,000 is for a family of four. Many disadvantaged families are a parent and two or more dependents. There are many children in this category along with the disabled, elderly and infirm. The Great Recession has added millions to the poverty level. Senator Paul says extending unemployment benefits is a disservice to those who would be helped. It’s like a drowning person being told to swim some more and toughen up.
The federal definition of poverty is a class who are denied the goods and services found among mainstream citizens. Unrestricted capitalism has failed to provide a living wage to millions of citizens. In the past 30 years the top 1 percent has received almost 90 percent of all income gains.
It’s a grim reality.