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Thoughts on U.S. poverty


To The Editor:

Here are some of my random and disconnected thoughts on poverty and related issues:

1. I have a tough time telling poor people to go out and work their butts off to make minimum wage when I get paid a lot of money, with paid holiday, vacation and sick time, to simply show up at my job and not do a whole lot. Sure, I’ve worked hard, but I’m NOT where I am in life because of hard work. I’m where I am because of luck. I was lucky to be born in a good family. I am lucky to have an addiction to reading and not drugs. I’m lucky that my recreational drug of choice is beer and not weed. I’m lucky I was born smart enough to go to college. This doesn’t make me any better than someone who has chosen to collect a little government assistance instead of breaking his back getting paid slave wages when in a more just world those companies would be forced by the government to pay living wages with medical benefits and paid sick, vacation and personal leave.

2. When I hear someone whining about the “lavish” lives of welfare recipients, I smile because I realize that is someone I no longer have to take intellectually seriously. I also frown, because our Galtian overlords have somehow convinced working-class Americans that the enemy is not the corporate titan getting tax subsidies or the Wall Street bankster getting a government bailout, but the poor person next door who can’t find a job with a decent wage (probably because of the labor-squeezing policies of that corporate titan and the economy-destroying casino games that investment banker has been playing with the financial system).

3. There’s only one real problem with Obamacare: it’s not a single-payer system of universal health care. I don’t care about conservatives being sad because otherwise healthy middle-class and upper-class people who have been choosing not to buy health insurance will now be fined. Those are the people whose fault it is for the rest of our exorbitant health care costs.

Health care should be a public good, not a market commodity, and as such we should all share in paying for the collective health, each what he can afford through taxes, the same way we all contribute to public education for all, public roads for all and public police protection for all.

4. Even if every single theoretically lazy poor person living high on the government hog started working hard and got a job, the vast majority would remain indefinitely poor. That’s because the USA, like ancient India, has a caste system. Yet unlike ancient India, USA leadership doesn’t have the decency to admit it. Poverty is a systemic problem, not a personal moral failing, and it demands a systemic response, not throwing blame on individual poor people for not having the willpower to lift themselves up by their bootstraps.

5. Sure, if you cut the poor off of food stamps and welfare, maybe they will magically find jobs in this atrocious economy. More likely, they’ll non-magically just starve to death.

Sean Pidgeon


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