Posts Tagged ‘privilege’

Language Matters

October 31, 2015

Any valid points “allies” to trafficking/prostitution survivors otherwise make in articles like this one in Huffington Post, are fully negated by calling crime victims (trafficking survivors) “prostitutes.”

How we are labeled and named determines how we are treated by everybody else—for the rest of our lives. Because what was done TO us was used to define us and STILL is many years later, even into our 40’s and 50’s (if we live that long and have not died from unrelieved abject poverty and total social neglect in a country where the middle class/rich refuse to provide any real, decent non-discriminatory and uniform social safety net for the unemployable/jobless poor whom no one will hire)

Over 75% of the adults in prostitution were initially trafficked into it as minor children between the ages of 11-14, which means they are trafficking victims—victims of a crime. No magical Choice Fairy pays you a visit on your 18th birthday after you’ve been trafficked into prostitution since age 12 or 13, and gifts you with all the options and access to opportunity that middle class privileged NON-trafficked people get.

in 44 states here in the US, 12, 13, and 14 yr old trafficked girls are still arrested for prostitution, and that automatically slaps a 99-year “sex offender” status on them, rendering them unemployable for life. In other words, a 14 yr old trafficked child arrested for prostitution won’t be able to pass the background checks and be able to get a job, rent an apartment or even get food stamps (in many states) if she manages to exit and get any education or build any “in-demand” marketable skills in order to make herself “worthy” of a chance for a job. (Gee, ask me how I know this.)

In other words, in most states in the US, that 14 yr old trafficking victim won’t be able to get even a minimum wage job at McDonalds until she reaches the age of 113 years old—if she lives that long.

Which is a joke, considering that plenty of unemployed, NON-trafficked/prostituted women over age 40 with years of work experience and employment references to put on their resumes can’t get jobs because no one will hire them due to age discrimination.

So what chance does a poor marginalized 48 yr old woman who’s a trafficking survivor have after she was unable to get ANY job at all when she was younger due to her un-expunged/vacated prostitution record? The US only pays lip service to helping poor trafficking survivors.

When you refer to an adult trapped in prostitution, operating under the control of brutal pimps/trafficking rings, who initially got trafficked into prostitution as a homeless 12 or 13 year-old child, as a “prostitute”, that very damning and deeply stigmatizing label harms ALL the victims/survivors, everywhere.

It perpetuates oppression through the imposing of “middle class values” and top-down paternalism. And it puts the onus of responsibility for abject poverty on the individual poor marginalized woman instead of addressing the systemic and structural causes. (And let’s be honest here: Middle class/rich women can be victims of incest and have drug addiction issues, but they’re not usually trafficked into prostitution as a result.)

Especially in countries like the US where 12 yr old trafficking victims get arrested for prostitution and that prostitution arrest record results in them getting slapped with a 99-year “sex offender” status which renders them unemployable for life—IF they can ever manage to escape their trafficking situation alive (as opposed to leaving “the life” in a body bag only to lay unclaimed in some morgue).

The language used to describe us, whether in front of us or even when you think we’re “not in the room”, dictates what kind of helping hand up we get to rebuild our lives (if we get ANY help at all, since the majority of American trafficking victims in the US don’t get anything while all these anti-trafficking charities are making bank off of this trendy ’cause’).

For far too long, the voices of poor women and girls who always were traffickers’ and johns’ primary targets, have been ignored and once again, our voices are being shoved aside in this ‘movement’ for some long overdue justice for us.

Too often, poor women and kids who are trafficked are pathologized. As in, “there was/is something wrong with us.” And it was the very damning label of “prostitute” that caused that.

I was a human sex trafficking survivor DECADES before the term “human trafficking” became part of the public lexicon. The human sex trafficking of poor, disposable women and children was always a problem in the US and across much of the world, even during the “better” economic times.

But abusive social and economic policies (like Welfare Reform here in the US) caused it to reach a crisis level because NOBODY ever gave poor, marginalized women a fair shot in life. Instead, they blamed the poor for being poor and refused to take any responsibility for unequal opportunities and lack of enough jobs for all. Why? To preserve their own privileges and status by eagerly serving as “gatekeepers” to economic opportunity.

Fact: Human trafficking was not made an issue and concern for trafficking victims was non-existent until: (1) it started happening to middle class women and girls, and; (2) upper-middle class white Christian males were able to monetize this ’cause’ via Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” which he signed into law by Executive Order #13199 on Jan 29, 2001.

What that did was redirect any public tax dollars earmarked for “welfare” to private “faith-based” charities instead of giving that money directly to the poor who need it.

Being a trafficking survivor who gets referred to as a “prostitute” and who sees other victims of human trafficking labeled as “prostitutes” reinforces the message from society that I don’t deserve a chance for a good job, a chance at love, the experience of being treated like a princess (even if only for ONE night—like the prom I never got to have since traffickers don’t let their victims go to school, never mind go to the senior prom), to be treated like I mattered, to be wanted and to be socially accepted.

Calling women like me “prostitutes”, “child prostitutes”, or even “former prostitutes” reinforces the message so often said by pimps and traffickers: “Once a ho always a ho”—which calcifies the gutter and an early grave as the ONLY place in society we’ll ever be allowed to have.

Language matters. Make NO mistake about it: it is NEVER acceptable to refer to human trafficking victims/survivors as “prostitutes”, “child prostitutes”, or “former prostitutes.” There is only ONE acceptable accurate term for us: CRIME VICTIMS. You blame the victim, you become an accomplice.

The Diversity Algorithm

July 19, 2015

The Diversity Algorithm.

Where’s the Help For Pre-Anti-Trafficking Movement Survivors?

June 3, 2014

Where’s the Help For Pre-Anti-Trafficking Movement Survivors?

“I am hoping that you will all do your best to look into your hearts and ask “what would I do if this happened to me?” To tuck your judgement away and to discover what gifts you have to contribute to fighting this horrible, destructive trade. The truth is that no one has the right to pay to have access to another human being. This is exploitation and it is not okay. We all have our causes, and this is mine. I promise to do all that I can with all of the gifts that God has blessed me with to fight for justice and stability for Jacqueline and people like her. They are human beings and deserve all of the rights and respect that any human being deserves.

They did not deserve what was done to them. And they don’t deserve to have to continue to struggle to get even their basic needs met in a society that didn’t protect them in the first place.” ~ Lucinda Ulrich

Lucinda Ulrich is the VERY talented and hard-working filmmaker/documentary maker that set up this (now expired) fundraiser on my behalf after a significant number of women in feminist groups sabotaged the first one set up on YouCaring by Marley Cote.

But apparently, nobody cares about this country’s poorest and most marginalized and disprivileged women—as evidenced by the LACK of donations this fundraiser received, despite getting well over 800 Facebook shares and thousands of views from people lucky to have incomes to live on who are getting their basic needs met because they weren’t denied any and all job opportunities their entire lives due to discrimination and the added oppression of deep, lifelong stigma and unjust criminalization for being victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Would it really kill anybody fortunate to have a job to give up the cost of just ONE latte to help poor sex trafficking survivors who are NOT being served and helped by all the new “non-profit” NGO’s springing up like weeds that completely overlook the unmet economic and medical needs of survivors who had been trafficked and managed to escape BEFORE there even was any anti-trafficking movement?

Would it really kill those who have high paying jobs to participate in some job-sharing—i.e. share some of their paychecks and work opportunities with disadvantaged women who have nothing, struggling to NOT die from poverty and economic exclusion due to a legacy of oppression and discrimination—rather than offer poor formerly sexually exploited women nothing but unpaid internships and calling that an “opportunity”, while having the nerve to bitch about begging through fundraisers for that same poor woman who is a sex trafficking survivor that got held back her entire life because of it?

As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may have a chance to rebuild my life, mentor other poor trafficking victims who want to learn software development, and continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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We Don’t Serve Your Kind—Dispatch From the Anti-Trafficking Trenches

May 1, 2014

Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Without Apology and Classism for Dimwits

An anti-trafficking activist shared an article in a Facebook anti-trafficking group addressing how orphans are particularly vulnerable socially and economically to human traffickers for exploitation in the commercial rape industry.

Yep. No Earth-shattering news there. Children who enjoy the least opportunities, social value and status and family protection are ripe prey for pimps and traffickers. I can totally relate. I was orphaned. And because I was orphaned, female and POOR, this whole society threw me away right into the clutches of traffickers and left me there to die, long before there ever was an anti-trafficking movement.

And instead of taking any measure to make any of this right for me throughout the past 30 years that I had been struggling just to NOT die from poverty since escaping from my traffickers, this society continues to hide its failures behind abusive social and economic policies, laws and unfair and discriminatory employment practices that blame the victim.

“Fallen woman” my ass—I was PUSHED. And if we’re honest about it, “pushed” is putting it very mildly. “Pushed” is something that kids do at the pool. Deliberately discarded and condemned to SLAVERY and slapped with lifelong dehumanizing stigma and total social exclusion (for those lucky to escape and survive) is more accurate.

The hatred and stigmatization of commercial rape victims resulting in the economic abuse of life threatening jobless poverty forces many to return to prostitution where they end up dying in “the life”—the average life expectancy for victims/survivors of commercial rape is only 34 in the US.

And what does society—including many of the privileged “do-gooders” getting donations and government funding for their “faith-based” anti-trafficking NGO’s—do when the women and kids they “rescued” are left homeless and unable to support themselves after leaving “faith-based” safehouse facilities because NO ONE will give them a chance for a real job, or allow them to rent an apartment, and no one will welcome them into their workplaces and into the community because “we don’t serve your kind?”

They go Pontius Pilate. They wash their hands of it. It’s no longer their problem and “we can only pray for them”, they say.

And when destitute pre-movement survivors—who have been PREVENTED from being able to get ANY chances at all for jobs with livable incomes to survive with just a little bit of human dignity for YEARS after escaping our traffickers, as opposed to struggling just to NOT DIE FROM POVERTY—are forced to BEG for money just to get SOME of our basic unmet needs met, we are told to “look to god to provide” by comfortably-off, privileged people who cannot seem to practice what they preach by giving away their money, their cars, and their nice houses filled with nice things to the poor disprivileged women with nothing whom they’re “ministering to” and then “looking to god to provide” in order to replace their stuff and meet their own basic needs.

This is how poor survivors with ZERO privilege are often treated by the very same people who raise millions in charity fundraising drives that never seem to go directly to resource-starved survivor-run organizations and to neglected older survivors in need of real material support and a real helping hand up (without the judgments and sermons and browbeating).

Too many people with privilege seem to feel that it’s OK to blame the victims, and look down on us and talk down to us with assumed superiority. Too many feel justified in using us for their own agenda, including using this movement as a platform for their war on women’s access to birth control and other forms of misogynistic abuse and re-exploitation.

Many feel that by “serving” in the anti-trafficking movement they can buy the right to be selfishly myopic by going out on “prayer walks” instead of actually giving up some of their privileges, comforts and luxuries to provide the social and economic resources needed to exit for the “fallen women” trapped in prostitution whom they are “ministering to.”

And of course, they deliberately ignore the pre-anti-trafficking movement survivors whose needs continue to go unmet.

People think that women and girls are trafficked because poor women are too mentally defective or culturally brainwashed and morally inferior and that this was how they ended up in the commercial rape trade.

They persist in pretending that there are NO other forces acting on commercial rape victims—like the socially constructed barriers of poverty, institutionalized misogyny, discrimination and abusive social and economic policy that put them there in the first place—all which act in synergy to ensure there is never any other place in society for POOR women, for abused, unwanted and unvalued women and girls, except the gutter and an early grave.

And as a 47 year old survivor of commercial rape who escaped from my traffickers thirty years ago when I was 17, I will NOT shut up about this compounding of injustice until this is made right.

Justice does not descend from its own pinnacle.

As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may have a chance to rebuild my life, mentor other poor trafficking victims who want to learn software development, and continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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Women Who Care About Women Don’t Bat For Team Patriarchy

December 14, 2012

By Jacqueline S. Homan, Author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

A “feminist” scolded her sisters for being righteously indignant about the capo-like behavior of patriarchy’s handmaidens and honorary men, saying that being critical of women who deliberately throw their sisters under the wheels of patriarchy’s shit train distracts from the primary focus of feminism. She says that discrediting these capos doesn’t do anything to help women as a class.

Well, I have a LOT to say about that.

Although it’s true that women didn’t initiate patriarchy, and although it’s also true that some women’s bad behavior is not the same as men’s behavior under male supremacy because of the undeniable power differential, failing to publicly discredit honorary men does a far greater disservice to feminism and to women as a class by giving these handmaidens a free pass just because “they’re women, too.”

Women who use their relative, albeit male-bequeathed, privileges to slam the glass ceiling’s trap door shut on all their other sisters, hurting disempowered and marginalized women the most, and who are NOT challenged for it by feminists, isolate and silence women whom they are consciously and deliberately helping the patriarchy to oppress and crush underfoot. It is women like that, especially if they claim to be feminists (which is supposed to be about liberating ALL women from male oppression) who are harming the feminist mission of women’s liberation — far more so than the het women and libfems who are fighting in the trenches for women’s liberation from male-imposed PIV and childbirth chattel slavery.

What would a poor, homeless teen girl think about “feminists” and feminism in general if women like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle, or Kathleen Passidomo are given a free pass by feminists for using their positions of power and privilege within patriarchy to force her to give birth to her rapist’s progeny because these successful, highly educated and politically well-positioned women acting as honorary men were defended by those who claim to be all about ending women’s oppression?

Would that woman or girl who is forced to go through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, no matter the physical and psychological harm to her, feel included as part of the very same oppressed group that feminists claim to be trying to liberate?

The Rosetta Stone of women’s oppression by men as a class IS forced pregnancy/childbirth, whether a woman is het or lesbian. And just because a woman is het, does that mean that forced childbirth is something she “deserves?”

When a 13-year-old girl asked Sharron Angle, a Nevada Republican Congressional candidate and retired public school teacher, if she would bend her “pro-life” stance to make an exception for rape and asked what she would say to a 13 yr old rape victim who got pregnant, Angle told the girl that the victim should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term and “just learn how to make lemonade out of the lemons life handed her.” What kind of message about feminism and feminists is being sent to women and girls when some feminists silently defend (or excuse) women like Sharron Angle for “being a victim of patriarchy, too?”

What message does it send to the average woman or underage girl who doesn’t want to be forced to give birth against her will when the liberators of women won’t speak out against women using their administrative, judicial or legislative (or even their basic voting power) to pass laws to force childbirth on her, when the liberators don’t even pretend to fight for HER human rights — namely the right to NOT be conscripted into forced organ donation (which is what forced pregnancy/childbirth really is). The right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity form the first pillar of bioethics, and also form the basis of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and are outlined the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In fact, the legal language in the UN Convention Against Torture defines “torture” to include “rape, sexual assault, and forced pregnancy.”

When former vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin passed a law in her state forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kits at about $1,200 a clip and signed other laws that put access to birth control and safe legal abortion out of reach for underage girls and poor and working class women, what kind of message to the majority of women — who are far more socio-economically class-oppressed than Sarah Palin on top of being sex-oppressed — are feminists sending when they say that Sarah Palin isn’t to blame for using her office to strip the majority of our sisters of basic human rights, including her own daughter’s, just to further her political career in patriarchy?

How is defending women who are enemies of women helpful to feminism’s goal of ending male oppression of women? How many “average Janes” is it acceptable to sacrifice so as to not hurt the feelings of a few honorary men and handmaidens who sacrificed their own daughters on the patriarchal altar of this phallocracy?

Most women and girls don’t have a fraction of the privileges and power (even if it is male-assigned) that Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann, and Kathleen Passidomo (who publicly called 11-year-old gang rape victims “prostitutes”) have. How is throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus consistent with the core tenets and principles of feminism? In order to stay focused on liberating women as a class from the oppression by men as a class, feminists cannot excuse or defend the harm inflicted by these honorary men by saying that “they are not like men.” That defeats the whole purpose of feminism. Putting it bluntly: It’s pissing up a crooked rope.

You cannot help women as a class by throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus for the sake of a few handmaidens who don’t want to be liberated (and who don’t want the rest of us to be liberated either) because they’re more than happy to serve in the ranks of patriarchy’s phalanx of Stepford capos because they’ve sold their souls for some lentil soup in exchange for doing men’s dirty work.

That “feminists can’t criticize other women” crap is precisely what helped cause the 30+ year erosion of the few hard-won rights for ALL women to have access to birth control and safe legal abortion (which are major life-savers for women) to the point where we’re at today where not only are America’s poorest women (who number in the tens of millions) without access to birth control and safe legal abortion, but rape victims are being FORCED to give birth against their will while lawmakers and others in positions or privilege and power have denied America’s poorest women food, cash support, and medical care on top of legalizing rape [e.g., Pennsylvania House Bill No. 2718] by making it practically impossible for a woman to prove she was raped — in a society that says she “asked for it”; a society that threw 300+ women in prison to date for the “crime” of having a stillbirth or miscarriage. A society that supports rapists over victims, and tells junior high and high school girls that they must share their locker room, shower and sauna with someone who has a penis in the name of “transgendered rights.” A society in which women suffering fatal pregnancy complications are left to suffer and die and “bleed out” in 1 out of 6 US hospital emergency rooms as a matter of policy because some hospital administrators’/executives’/doctors’ right to “freedom of religion” trumps pregnant women’s human rights to life, bodily autonomy, and bodily integrity — contravening the federal law that was supposed to prevent these abuses ( the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA), as well as the United Nations Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994.

The War on Women was not launched by a couple of fringe crackpots in the Republican Party without a huge groundswell of entrenched misogyny and self-centeredness of a whole society of accomplices — including women with a significant degree of political clout, and social and financial capital who, in the name of feminism, defend the enemies of feminism and in doing so, silence the very people whom feminism is supposed to be helping: the overwhelming majority of women who are stuck between the shit and the stink of having to make choiceless choices within the dictates of patriarchy just to be able to survive.

And what are these choiceless choices? Answer: Survival sex (the sex trade). Or attaching themselves to male partners and breadwinners under male terms and conditions in order to survive. Compulsory PIV sex without condoms. Mandatory childbirth (for lack of access to birth control and abortion), which even reduces what few low-paying job opportunities within the pink-collar ghetto that are available to most women which in turn forces economic dependence on abusive, selfish males or the practically non-existent and grossly inadequate welfare benefits (which poor women are begrudged).

Why defend the female enemies of women who are the willing and eager tools of patriarchy when they could have chosen NOT to be, in the name of an abstract ideology that is not being put into real down-to-earth practice to help ALL women? How does that extinguish the inferno of patriarchy when it silences the victims of it, leaving the majority of women behind to fend for themselves while telling them in so many words, “Sorry sister, you’re on your own to liberate yourself” — just because the delicate sensibilities of a few faux feminists, handmaidens and honorary men are more important than ending patriarchy by attacking the oppressor (men) AND the oppressor’s willing agents?

Women who care about women don’t bat for Team Patriarchy, or defend those who do — even though women are not like men.

Classism For Dimwits Updated Edition is Out!

December 29, 2010

Classism For Dimwits - the new revised updated edition

The updated edition of Classism For Dimwits is now available as of December 29th, 2010.

This new edition has updated information from 2008 on forward through the present year and month, along with a more thorough source citations and about 100 new pages of additional new material that I was able to crunch down to fit into 368 pages by altering the margin width and going from a size 12 Times New Roman font to a size 11.

The new material reflects much more information on the utilities shut-off crisis in states where utilities have already been deregulated, and also cites current representation of the Great Depression II that was not in my earlier edition that was written and published in 2007.

Although Amazon takes awhile to upload books’ images and updated annotations from the printers and publishers, it is also available through Amazon. And it is also available through Barnes & Noble online as well.

For anyone who has been following me on Alternet and here who would like to get a copy of this updated edition of Classism For Dimwits, you can buy a signed copy directly from me using PayPal, or by mailing a check or money order.

To buy by check/money order, send to:

Jacqueline S. Homan
816 E. 26th Street
Erie, PA 16504

Skype: 330-238-6951

By PayPal, remit funds to me via PayPal via my email:

jacquelinehoman7@gmail.com

Hardcover edition is $23.00 + $3.57 Shipping & Handling (media mail) USD
Paperback edition is $17.95 + $3.57 Shipping & Handling (media mail) USD

An Untold History of Organized Labor’s Inconvenient Truths

October 25, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan - Feminine Defiance

On the progressive site UnionBook.org, a seemingly sincere union organizer from Canada, Blaine Donais, asked me some thought-provoking questions that have deep and complex answers — painful, but truthful ones. In response to my article on classism, he asked me:

” I am curious to know, since it is your view that unions have been co-opted, what you think of unionized employees? I ask this because I have a theory of my own on this matter. I believe that unionism in North America has in essence created a new class of employees whom many see as privileged – that is the unionized employee. This is the only employee left with defined benefits pension plans, pay for overtime work, and rights in the workplace. Other employees (especially in the US it seems) regard unionized employees as privileged and thus the subject of derision.

It always surprises me to see read or hear from non-unionized employees, that unions are just thugs and bullies and only protect themselves – that they have no care for the work or lives of others – that in essence they are acting like a privileged class lording it over the unionized masses. Yet when I go to union functions, it seems the primary desire of many is to improve the lot of unionized employees either through minimum standards legislation or by organizing them. UFCW for example took a run at the Ontario Government over the exclusion of farm workers from the right to unionize. At least in my view, they improved the lot of farm workers immeasurably by doing so.

It is hard to deny that there is a considerable difference between the lives of most unionized employees and those who are not unionized. Does this make unionized employees a privileged class?”

And here is my well-detailed answer to Blaine’s very valid questions.

What I think and what I have to say to answer your question is a lot of inconvenient truths that those who are comfortably off and securely employed as well-paid union workers don’t want to hear.

A lot of union workers who are middle class white males never gave a damn about those of us who are hungry, who are/have been homeless, who lost all our natural teeth before age 35 due to lack of access to medical and dental care, who never got a chance to have anything at all in this country — a nation whose bedrock was rooted in racial and gender inferiority, economic oppression (colonialism), and the exploitation of poor women who are at the bottom of every pile.

They refuse to acknowledge how their unearned privileges (male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege) work against someone like me — a very poor woman from the Underclass. For the most part, union workers are overwhelmingly white middle class men who got into their good jobs by virtue of race privilege, gender privilege, and having an “in” — i.e., knowing the “right” person willing to help them get a union card.

Meanwhile, these same middle class white men railed against Affirmative Action — the only measure that ensured that a meager 2% of all the good-paying union jobs went to women while 10% went to non-whites. Those who automatically got 90% of all the good jobs and opportunities in this country cried victim if those of us on the receiving end of discrimination and exclusion got very, very little.

I find it ironic that those who’ve benefited unfairly at the expense of poor women and minorities from an entire matrix of unearned privileges and nepotism — the “White Guys’ Affirmative Action program” — which ensured that the favored, dominant group got the lions’ share of all the good jobs and vocational choices, complained about poor women and minorities getting a miserly inadequate slice of the pie.

Given that women comprise over half of the population, it is beyond grossly unfair for us to be begrudged and denied proportional opportunities for the good jobs — especially since we don’t get to pay less for the things we need to be able to live than men. And it’s not like those white men with the good-paying jobs were lining up to marry and economically support poor women (and our kids) to lift us out of poverty and utter misery and hopelessness.

Instead, they frequently exploited us as sex trophies and told us that we should be “grateful” if they bought us a cheap meal, or put a five dollar bill in our G-strings.

Based on my experiences and observations, I’ve found that an overwhelming number of union workers getting middle class wages are white males with a sense of entitlement — they’re the only ones deserving of anything while it’s perfectly okay for poor women to starve, be homeless, be without utilities, be without medical and dental care, exploited and abused, cheated out of paltry child support, and then deprived of even the miserly safety net that AFDC once was before that got eliminated by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.

There isn’t much difference between middle class white collar professionals and the overwhelmingly white male blue collar middle class union workers. Both have taken food and other economic needs away from the poor. , 84% whom are women, because both are self-important middle class greeds who only care about themselves and they both identify with the bourgeois. So long as they’re comfortable and their own seat is secure within the socio-economic hierarchy of our capitalist system, they could care less and they grow increasingly intellectually lazy. They don’t want to know about injustices faced by other people. All is fine in their own little world.

The unemployed union workers getting far more in unemployment benefits than poor women who work two minimum wage jobs with no health benefits got their middle class unemployment benefits extension paid for with cuts and slated future elimination of food stamps for destitute women, children, the disabled, and the low-income elderly. They get to live a nice life, but they cry poverty with two loaves of bread under their arms while we get to suffer and starve — and unlike them, we don’t have a lifetime worth of middle class doo-dads bought on middle class union wages to sell on eBay to get money to live until someone maybe feels like giving us chances for jobs so we don’t have to go hungry.

Unions, especially the skilled trades and manufacturing unions, are just as responsible as the rich for creating a destitute Underclass by oppressing poor women because they discriminated against us for union memberships and for getting a chance in life for living wage jobs with dignity that didn’t entail having to dance naked or trade sexual favors just to get money to eat and a place to live.

They’re the ones who helped create all those poor welfare mothers whom they despise — poor women who have been denied equal opportunities for decent paying blue-collar jobs, after being abandoned while pregnant without medical care and then left with children to raise while rarely getting enough money in child support.

They complain about their “hard-earned money” being taxed to support “welfare queens” and “able-bodied SSI cheats.”

They voted for racist, sexist and misogynistic Congressmen and US presidents like Reagan, Bush Sr., and the Shrub who won elections by cutting social programs for the poor and dismantling any measures that tried to provide equal opportunities for poor women and minorities. Union workers’ votes raised lawmakers and presidents to office who promised them an array of middle class goodies and tax cuts at the expense of the “undeserving” poor. Of course, those same pro-capitalist leaders then turned around and began the assault on organized labor after greasing the skids for organized labor’s middle class white male majority to throw those of us at the very bottom — poor women and children on welfare and poor disabled people on SSI — to the sharks in exchange for their “lentil soup.”

"Classism For Dimwits" by Jacqueline S. Homan

They sacrificed us because they identified with the bourgeoisie and sided with them out of personal greed and hatred for the poor who have been economically excluded by discrimination and a real lack of enough living wage jobs to go around for everybody who needed a job. So these union workers who had their nice life didn’t give a shit about those of us with absolutely nothing, and no chances to ever get anything either.

Their votes for presidents and lawmakers, who made their pile by hurting the poor, brought us 30 years of abusive social and economic policies that are called “Benign Neglect” in polite circles. But make no mistake about it, those policies were not “benign.”

Union workers with economic security who comprised part of the economic middle class were no different than the rest of the middle class — everything was all about “ME ME ME.” Middle class voters whose votes resulted in this nation’s poorest and most downtrodden being thrown under the bus with the elimination of CETA and other social programs that were the poor’s only economic lifeline, overwhelmingly supported and cheered the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. This was not the result of a momentary absence of mind.

Good-paying white male dominated union jobs, in addition to all the other good jobs this nation enjoyed during the Clinton administration, largely did not go to poor women being booted off of welfare who faced the “gender penalty” in addition to significant barriers to decent jobs due to classism — the most deeply entrenched but least challenged bigotry in the US.

The overwhelming majority of workers with middle class wages and benefits never wanted poor women to be able to climb out of grueling poverty and join their ranks because they viewed us as competition for “their” jobs. If they hadn’t felt this way, the Equal Rights Amendment would have been passed (among other things).

Union organizers, leaders, and membership bodies begrudged us welfare, voted for Congressmen and presidents who cut our throats, while denying us a chance for the good life as union workers. All the rules about joining the unions were set up to favor white middle class males who hadn’t been excluded by a legacy of discrimination for training and employment opportunities. Unreasonable prior work experience requirements, heavy lifting requirements for job descriptions where such activities are not a BFOQ, and countless other requirements that had little to do with whether or not someone was qualified for a chance for a job and union membership were contrived to deliberately exclude poor women from opportunities.

Unions, their leaders, members, et al, were part of the middle class problem. The good life erased their memory. The middle class — unionized or not — who were Reagan’s electoral foot soldiers begrudged miserly inadequate AFDC benefits for the poor, but demanded that the poor be thrown off the dole and get jobs. The middle class were/are overwhelmingly a bunch of greedy, insecure backstabbers who were only concerned with ensuring their own position was comfortable within the capitalist system — a system in which somebody always has to be at the bottom, in which there has to be “losers” in order for there to be “winners.” Typically, the “winners” were men.

The lawmakers and president who passed the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 knew it. So did unions and their members who were part of the “new” middle class.

In a capitalist society where the economic law of supply and demand does not operate in a vacuum, where markets are artificially manipulated by the rich and powerful, there exists a lot of unearned privileges for some members of society at the expense of others. Unions and their individual members don’t seek to challenge the unfairness in that reality.

Welfare Reform was a one-sided policy that put a unilateral obligation on the most socio-economically underprivileged to get jobs — any job. But there was no conciliatory gesture by unions to voluntarily welcome and include these poor single moms — or any other poor women for that matter — into the fold and let us join the ranks of middle class union workers. And there was no requirement under the Welfare Reform Act obligating the unions to do so. There was also no requirement for employers to hire poor disadvantaged women who had been on welfare for many years for lack of any appropriate or real equal opportunity for good-paying blue-collar jobs, which rapidly disappeared throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Middle class gatekeepers in union organizational structures and in employers’ human resources departments alike viewed the poor as “the Other” due in no small measure to decades of indoctrination with deficit theory ideology such as the “culture of poverty” school, which blamed the poor for their misfortune for being “morally defective”, rather than acknowledge that poverty and inequality of opportunity as the culprit.

Welfare Reform did not include a guaranteed right to a living wage job (or any job at all), but it placed a lifetime benefit limit of five years and drastically slashed benefit amounts. And the unions were silent. Neither their leaders, organizers, nor worker members uttered a peep about that. They had theirs, tough luck for those of us who never got a chance to get ours. For that, they have blood on their hands. All of them.

On the eve of the passing of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, there were 14 million AFDC recipients comprising 5 million families — almost all who were poor single mothers and children with no other means of economic support and opportunity, and no resources built into their lives. Less than 1% of AFDC recipients were able-bodied men. Eliminating paltry sub-poverty AFDC benefits was defended by comfortably off union workers along with the rest of middle class America as a way of getting “baby makers” and “leeches” off the public dole (which was never enough to live on).

Welfare was never an adequate solution to the problems inflicted on the poor by a patriarchal capitalist society. But eliminating welfare without providing other realistic opportunities and alternatives was a worse solution. Some in the poor people’s rights camp have even likened Welfare Reform to the “Final Solution” for the poor because in the US, being poor is often a death sentence just based on the lack of access to medical and dental care alone.

This society has serious issues with classism, and classism has two daughters: sexism and racism. Classism is capitalism’s greatest social and economic harm.

Capitalism is based on unearned privileges and entitlement, and as you go up the economic ladder, the attitudes of self-importance and entitlement increase. This naturally follows the rate of capital accumulation, which increases at a greater rate as one moves up the income scale. And the micro mirrors the macro. But we never talk about the culture of capitalism; the culture of greed and getting ahead at all costs that is pervasive among the middle class — including well-paid blue-collar union workers and union organizational leadership, which has a white male face — who think they have a “divine right” to always come first.

We have a culture of capitalism that promotes and maintains classism. We have a capitalist society that touts greed and self-centered entitlement as a virtue. We have an architecture of aggression in which capitalism’s biggest losers (poor women) are discarded, labeled as “the Other”, devalued, disrespected, and unacknowledged. We’re not even seen as being human enough for harm to us to matter. The culture of capitalism is centered on the notion that wealth and unearned privilege (race, gender, and class privilege) is sacrosanct, that only the “fittest” deserve anything and to hell with those of us who have been socially and economically excluded. Unions, their bodies and individual members, are content to operate under the status quo within the culture of capitalism.

Capitalism is an Architecture of Aggression

This all arose out of the “second purges” in the 1930’s and 1940’s where unions expelled anyone remotely suspect of Communist politics and socialist leanings from their ranks. Unions made a deal with the devil, and they became indifferent and even hostile to the equally valid needs and claims of others among the ranks of the poor and working classes. Unions sought to protect their own at the expense of many less fortunates, which created divisions among the working class and poor, and left very deep wounds that cannot be readily dismissed with admonitions along the lines of “just get over it and move on.”

Harvard and Princeton Sociologists Resurrect the“Culture of Poverty” During the Worst Recession Since the 1930’s

October 22, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

In the October 17th, 2010 New York Times article, Culture of Poverty Makes a Comeback by Patricia Cohen, labeling the poor as “the Other”, as “less than” and as morally and socially defective by Princeton and Harvard sociologists and various other poverty pimps has made a resurgence and is now once again in vogue. The article cited former Assistant Labor Secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s description of urban poverty in terms of race and a culture that was a “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency couched as moral deficiencies to blame the poor for their own misfortune.

Moynihan’s analysis appeals to politicians who bandy the poor around like a political football, especially conservatives and moderates (Reagan Democrats), and led to the passage of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which placed a lifetime limit of five years, regardless of one’s ability to get a living wage job. This was more generous than the draconian measure that Clinton initially proposed: limiting welfare to two years.

Neither proposed welfare reform bills, including the one that was passed in 1996,  came with the guarantee of a right to a living wage job; or any job at all.

Clinton, like his predecessors Reagan and Bush the Elder, and both parties of Congress declared war on this nation’s poorest, most economically vulnerable and socially disadvantaged citizens: poor women and children and the disabled. These measures were largely the result of the influence wielded by purveyors of the “culture of poverty” school and all its tangential deficit theory views about the poor.

The article quoted coddled Ivy League members of America’s selfish class, as if their bovine excreta passing for “research” were some sort of infallible gospel.

Princeton sociologist Douglas S. Massey argues that Moynihan was unjustly maligned, saying, “We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect.”

Cohen’s article mentioned that at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, attendees broached the subject of the “culture of poverty.” In Spring of 2009 in Washington DC, social scientists participated in a Congressional briefing on the “culture of poverty” linked to a special issue of The Annals, the journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The introduction proclaimed, “Culture is back on the poverty research agenda.”

How convenient for the resurgence of this deficit theory view of the poor to come on the heels of the worst economic depression since the 1930’s where we now have one in seven Americans living below the federal poverty level. How convenient, indeed, that the entire discourse shifts the burden of poverty from government and the most privileged members of society onto the backs of the poor.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) said that the “culture of poverty” views “play an important role in shaping how lawmakers choose to address poverty issues.”

This blame-the-victim claptrap is propagated by those with the most interest in preserving a system of unearned privilege. Blaming the poor for their misfortune is nothing new, but such views that shape social and economic policies never include the views, experiences, and voices of the poor at whom said policies are aimed.

Also quoted in the article was Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson who conducted a well-funded and large study of the poor conducted in a way to assign personal value judgments against the poor and confirm his own class bias using the “culture of poverty” school of thought. His experiment entailed dropping fake letters on the streets of a poor Chicago neighborhood to see if anyone would pick them up and return them. Sampson said he studies inequality and that the dominant focus is on structures of poverty, and suggested that the poor are amoral with no respect for the rule of law because they “believe that laws were made to be broken with impunity.”

It is beyond arrogant for those who have received the most advantages and benefits from an entire system of unearned privileges to authoritatively proclaim that it’s the undeserving, defective poor who need to be “fixed” and taught how to get with the middle class program, and then call such ideas “scholarship.”

There is nothing that remotely passes for intellectual and academic honesty in a study that was undertaken with confirmation bias reeking with the stench of classism.

Poverty pimps who advance the “culture of poverty” school despite knowing better, do so to curry favor and receive social prizes and rewards from the corporate ‘Massas’ who endow their academic department chairs, fund their research, and pay them to serve as “policy experts” in right-wing think tanks.

Capitalism is based on entitlement, and as you go up the economic ladder, attitudes of self-importance and entitlement increase. But we never talk about the culture of greed and getting ahead at all costs that is so prevalent among the middle and upper classes who think they have a “divine right” to come first.

The notion that the misery and deprivation commensurate with grueling poverty is merely the “undeserving poor” getting their “just desserts” for being morally defective is not an original idea. It is rooted in Protestant Calvinism — the Calvinist deficit theory view of the poorest and most downtrodden people is predicated on the ideologies of predestination.

The argument for the “culture of poverty” has been internalized these past 30 years by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who say that social security is a “milk cow with 310 million tits”; that unemployment benefits (which only cover about 40% of the unemployed) makes the jobless “lazy” and encourages them to buy drugs; that the miserly inadequate food stamps allotment in post-welfare reform America makes the recipients rich and causes obesity; and that the solution for 50 million uninsured Americans, 44 million struggling in unrelenting misery below the poverty level, and for the 35 million ill-housed, are more vouchers, more “free market” capitalism, and more budget cuts for food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare to pay for middle class unemployment benefits extensions — leaving the poorest of this nation’s jobless to starve to death given that food stamps is the sole income for six million of the most disadvantaged and unemployable jobless.

As it stands, deregulation of utility monopolies in tandem with deep cuts to the already underfunded LIHEAP program, which provides very stingy and inadequate help to only 20% of the eligible poor while 80% of the poor are turned away, has resulted in nearly ten million US households suffering without at least one life-sustaining utility. The increasing number of casualties among the poor from freezing in unheated homes and apartments or fatal residential fires caused by unsafe alternative heating methods in a desperate attempt to avoid freezing to death, evidences only some fruits of the “culture of poverty” school’s bitter harvest of classism.

The past three decades of abusive social and economic policies justified by the “culture of poverty” amount to one sordid continuum of human rights violations against the “undeserving” poor. For those who have unfairly benefited from a legacy of unearned privileges, including advanced educations at prestigious universities, to use their privileges like a cudgel to beat the poor into the ground and crush them underfoot for personal gain and accolades under the guise of “scholarship” is sociopathic.

We don’t have a “culture of poverty.” We have a culture of capitalism that promotes, perpetuates, and maintains classism — the least challenged bigotry that is responsible for the most social harm. We have a capitalistic society that touts greed and self-centered entitlement as a virtue. We have an architecture of aggression in which capitalism’s biggest losers (poor women) are set up and labeled as “the Other”; devalued and unacknowledged.

"Classism For Dimwits" by Jacqueline S. Homan

This culture of capitalism is centered on the idea that wealth and privilege is sacrosanct, that only the “fittest” deserve anything and to hell with those of us who have been socially excluded and economically marginalized in order to make way for the spoiled, overprivileged alpha dipshits of this society to grab everything they can latch their greedy grasping meat-hooks onto; without a shred of remorse for the human casualties they leave in their wake.

Since cultural norms, mores, and trends are largely defined by the higher status and more affluent classes, this “culture of poverty” was created by the privileged. The injustices and social ills framed by deficit theory thought are not caused by “just a few bad apples.” They’re caused by a cultural ethos; a sociopathic one that is reflective of the dominant class’s “values.”

It has not escaped the notice of those of us who struggle in poverty and who agitate for social justice that the government is described as “democratic” when it serves only the interests of the privileged and economically powerful elements of our society. In the words of Michael Parenti: we have a “democracy for the few.” And whom this “democracy” serves was made painfully obvious by the absence of poor people’s voices.

When poverty is couched in euphemisms that really mean race and gender, it’s a deliberate attempt to justify classism and legitimize the economic terrorism and social repression visited upon the poor of all races and genders. Being black, being a woman, or even being a single mother doesn’t make one poor — abusive social and economic policy and discrimination does.

Raising rhetorical questions associating crime and poverty in terms that label the poor as “criminals” is a deliberate promotion of prejudice. The poor are routinely denied employment opportunities because there is now a widely held view among human resources personnel and corporate employers that the poor are a bad risk for hiring because they’re likely to steal. Asking why the poor “break the law with impunity” implies that they’re not punished — an outright fraud when everyone knows that the poor overwhelmingly comprise the US prison population. It further ignores the fact that when people see those with lots of money and privilege breaking the law on a grand scale with impunity, there is a loss of respect for any law.

The “culture of poverty” claptrap also led to the assumption that poverty can be reduced to a lifestyle choice — something former House Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed from his bully pulpit during the Clinton administration as he cheered the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 threw this nation’s poorest and most socially disadvantaged families and individuals under the bus; 99% whom were women and children (only 1% of AFDC recipients were able-bodied men) under the guise of “personal responsibility” — a unilateral social contract best described as a policy of Benign Neglect in which the entire burden of poverty was dumped on the poor while society and government did nothing to guarantee poor women living wage jobs with health benefits, child care help, and assistance in obtaining reliable transportation.

Former Wisconsin governor and US Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson provided the template for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is one of the “pro-life” religious conservatives who would deny poor women access to birth control and abortion while cruelly leaving poor single moms and their babies utterly destitute if society failed to provide the supports required for poor mothers to enter the workplace and guarantee them living wage jobs with health benefits.

Since the enactment of Welfare Reform, Tommy Thompson (and other political leaders who swallowed the “culture of poverty” pablum spoon-fed by Ivy League “poverty experts”) defeated measures to track the outcomes of all the poor women and children thrown off of welfare after exhausting their five year lifetime limit, regardless if they were able to get a job.

Are the promoters of the “culture of poverty” school proud of these “scholarly” achievements that encouraged nationwide mother-mugging and framing poverty as a “choice?”

There is a fundamental mathematical theorem that has been proven over 200 years ago, named after mathematician and clergyman Thomas Bayes, who studied how to compute a distribution for the probability parameter of a binomial distribution. Bayes’ Theorem treats conditional probability and the outcome based on the relationship of the conditional and marginal probabilities of events. One of the most simple and basic mathematical statements of Bayes’ Theorem is:

P(A|B) = [P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)]

{Read as: “The probability of A given B is equal to the probability of B given A times the probability of A, all divided by the probability of B.”}

where :

P(A) is the marginal probability of event A. It is “prior” in the sense that it takes nothing into account of anything known about event B.

P(A|B) is the conditional probability of A, given B.

P(B|A) is the conditional probability of B, given A (also called the “likelihood”)

P(B) is the prior or marginal probability of event B and acts as a normalizing constant.

Theorems analogous to this one cover situations entailing more than two events. Applying Bayes’ Theorem to the existing axioms and theorems of calculus, we can describe the marginal probability distribution of a variable to a data set where the likelihood function is the probability of “y” successes in “x” trials for a binomial distribution, in the set of all real variables. (The most common application being in the study of voting patterns and employer drug testing).

More famous applications of Bayes’ Theorem are the Monty Hall Paradox and the Principle of Restricted Choice, which proves with a mathematical certainty that making the “right choices” 100% of the time is impossible. It is therefore intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt to frame the discussion of poverty in terms that blame the poor for their poverty by reducing it to “lifestyle choices” and the “culture of poverty.”

It is no secret that middle and upper class people also frequently screw up and make the same “poor choices” as poor people. But the difference is that the outcome is totally different; such that it does not punish them with lifelong destitution and misery. It is also known that the middle and upper classes have a lot more options available to them while options for the poor are really a Hobson’s choice (either way, you’re screwed). Any well-funded and large “study” of poverty that makes personal value judgments about the poor based on whether or not anyone in a poor neighborhood picked up fake letters deliberately dropped on the street is shambolic. So here’s a thought for future “poverty studies”:

Being poor is being fetishized, demonized, and infantilized by teams of “poverty experts” from the middle and upper classes.

Being poor is hoping you and your disabled spouse make it through winter alive without freezing to death, or dying in a house fire from a space heater mishap after your gas got cut off because they raised the rates by 20% and you can’t afford the bill.

Being poor means nothing around your run-down home ever works and everything is in serious disrepair because there’s no money, or way of getting money, to fix what’s in disrepair.

Being poor and white means being an invisible non-person.

Being poor means you have no pictures of your “ancestors” — or even of yourself and your sister — after being evicted where anything you might have had got taken away from you when your roach-infested ghetto apartment got padlocked.

Being poor is a lifetime of everything always getting taken away from you.

Being poor is being wrong even when you’re right.

Being poor is never fitting in.

Being poor is guilty until proven innocent and still getting slapped with unaffordable fines or a criminal conviction regardless.

Being poor means never getting a chance your entire life, and then having some self-centered privileged person tell you how poor they are when they enjoy far more economic opportunity, comfort, and security than you will ever get a chance to have — especially if you’re still poor by the time you’re middle-aged (and therefore unemployable) after an entire lifetime of never getting a chance for a good job, no matter how hard you tried.

Being poor means going hungry at least two or three days out of each month for years.

Being poor is living in a neighborhood where you can’t put chairs or a couch near the window because of the drive-by shootings.

Being poor is dying or becoming permanently disabled from pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Being poor is facing having to go blind from glaucoma because there really isn’t “all this help out there.”

Being poor is losing a leg from diabetes complications because you couldn’t get the help you needed to afford diabetic supplies and the low starch/low carb low MSG diabetic-friendly foods so you could manage your diabetes better in the first place.

Being poor means that your only interactions with middle class “professionals” are through bullet-proof glass windows at government agencies and welfare offices after waiting all day to be “served”, and then being told “sorry, we can’t help you.”

Being poor is everyone who isn’t poor wondering why you went back to the abusive asshole (whom you hope won’t kill you) who gave you that black eye when it’s either that or live on the streets with NO way to get a living wage job and get on your feet and support yourself after your 30 day time limit at the battered women’s shelter is up.

Being poor means you have to choose whether you have electric or gas, or food or a roof over your head.

Being poor means you don’t get the early preventive glaucoma treatment options to save your eyesight, while being told that you don’t deserve your eyesight because you’re just a “loser” who “blames everyone else for your problems” — it’s never the fault of employers who refused to hire you at a good job with health benefits, and it’s never society’s fault for being too selfish and punitive to have a safety net for the economically excluded.

Being poor means access to dental care is a luxury that is as far out of reach for you as a day trip to Sedna.

Being poor is getting denied even a minimum wage job in retail or as a supermarket cashier where you must face the public because of your visibly decayed/broken/missing teeth as a result of never having access to decent dental care — while everybody else who has never been anywhere near as poor as you or for as long as you, tells you that it’s all your own damn fault that you don’t have any teeth and lack the “right image” to be “deserving” of a job because you were “too stupid to brush your teeth properly.”

Being poor means dying a lot younger than those who lived in middle class comfort for most, if not all of their lives.

Being poor means suffering with an untreated UTI until it goes into your kidneys because you couldn’t afford antibiotics.

Being poor means you can’t even get a chance for a minimum wage job at Wal-Mart because your credit is poor due to poverty — which is, by definition, not enough income to afford your basic needs, including utilities, let alone afford an expensive emergency room bill because you didn’t have a good job with health insurance when you got that UTI or that abscessed tooth.

Being poor means that even if you go into unaffordable debt for a Bachelors degree from a state college in order to be “worthy” of a chance for a job, you still won’t get one because your visibly decayed/broken/missing teeth, a big gap in your work history of menial jobs, your lack of the proper clothing and a car, and your address is in the “wrong” side of town — all which serves to alert the employers’ middle class gatekeepers that you’re “not a good fit” for the office culture and that you “lack work ethic.”

Being poor means that nobody cares about you, your problems don’t matter.

Being poor means that no matter how hard you try and whatever you try, you never get a break but you sure get a generous helping of middle/upper class social Darwinist lip service, condescension, and personal value judgments that they call “advice.”

Being poor is always being told that it’s your own fault you had to suffer without getting your needs met your entire life because you’re nothing but a “loser.”

Being poor (if you’re white and female) means that decent paying blue-collar “men’s jobs” are never afforded to you so you can support yourself without having to resort to prostitution or stripping.

Being poor (if you’re white and female) means you’re never good enough to be wanted, loved, married and supported by some middle class mother’s grad school bound son because everybody knows that poor white women are all nothing but “whores who get pregnant only for the welfare check” — or “gold-diggers” who have no social status and cultural capital to bring to the table.

Being poor (when you’re white and female) means never being wanted or accepted. It’s getting left on the shelf since poor white males either see you as a burden they can’t afford/don’t want, or if they DO commit, you frequently become a punching bag for them to take out their own frustrations and resentment at their own oppression.

Being poor is being begrudged any pleasure in life; even the most basic human need to have sex because your birth control options are very limited and if you get pregnant, you have no money to travel to get an abortion and pay for the procedure.

Being poor means any hopes, dreams and aspirations you might have once had got crushed out of you and ground underfoot.

Being poor means you don’t get to have any hobbies because all the cool stuff costs a lot of money — which you don’t have.

Being poor means owing a lifelong debt of nothing but misery and deprivation to the comfortably off for the status crime of being born into “their world.”

Being poor means your suffering and misery doesn’t matter, only those who are poor in other countries are worthy of middle/upper class concern.

Being poor is when middle class people with advanced educations read what you write, they act shocked that you’re actually smart and educated too.

Being poor is having scars that will never heal.

I cannot speak from the perspective of a poor white male or a poor person of color. I am a poor white female that was a homeless orphaned teen who endured danger and deprivation on a daily basis on the streets in a Philadelphia ghetto, so my experience is a white female urban one. I am a 43 year old woman who did “all the right things” and who has no criminal record, but I never made it out of poverty because I never got a chance.

I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve had access to medical and dental care throughout my entire life. I saw one of my neighbors lose her leg to diabetes for lack of help. I saw another neighbor die at age 37 from an abscessed tooth. I face possible blindness from glaucoma that I got diagnosed with three weeks before my 43rd birthday this past May for which I have yet to get any help outside of universal health care to afford the routine monitoring and possible future treatments in order to preserve my eyesight — a cruel blow for someone in poverty whose life is already difficult enough and whose only outlet is reading books and writing.

I could certainly go on with more on what being poor is, but I think I’ve illustrated enough for you to get my point. I have over 40 years worth of life experience in the trenches of poverty, suffering because of inequality and classism in addition to all the “gender taxes” too. You don’t get to be more of a poverty expert than that.

Jacqueline S. Homan,

Author: Classism For Dimwits

Freedom in the Homeland

June 7, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, Author: "Classism For Dimwits", "Nothing You Can Possess", "Eyes of a Monster", and "Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie"

While checking out Paul Street’s page at Znet, something leapt out from the computer screen and gripped my throat. An article titled “A Comeback For Chattel Slavery?” by Geraldine Winstanley published through the Associated Newswire on April 1, 2010 quoted a top Obama administration aide on condition of strict anonymity in an extensive interview in which the aide stated that Obama is considering an executive order to resurrect slavery on an experimental basis here in the US.

The aide said that the program under consideration would be called “Freedom in the Homeland.” It would begin in two selected Washington, DC ghettos where unemployed men and male high school drop-outs would be purchased by a joint public—private consortium. This program would be operated and overseen by the US Department of the Interior.

The article quotes this anonymous White House official as saying that under the Freedom in the Homeland program, these slaves would provide a wide range of services for senior members of participating firms; including shining shoes, washing cars, picking up children from daycare, laundry, personal care for lobbyists’ aged parents, planting and tending lobbyists’ vegetable gardens, working in lobbyist-owned sweatshops, and auto repair. In return, these poor and mostly inner-city enslaved males would get food, clothing, shelter, and (quoting Winstanely’s article):

“a feeling of being at the real center of power in the world’s greatest empire — priceless. It should move a bunch of them off that destructive, personally irresponsible inner-city culture that the president has been criticizing for years. Knowing that Barack Obama stands behind this program will be useful for garnering cooperation from the young men selected for service to their country. It will help them see bondage as an opportunity for growth.”

This official also added that Obama’s “vision for this is color-blind and post-racial. Although Freedom in the Homeland might initially target poor urban blacks, it would eventually include poor Latinos, Asians, and poor whites. Several top corporate Obama sponsors — Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Wal-Mart, and Exxon-Mobile — have already expressed an interest in participating as slaveholders in Freedom in the Homeland.

My initial knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss Geraldine Winstanley’s article at Paul Street’s Znet page as a twisted April Fool’s joke. But there’s nothing funny about it. The only ones who realize any “opportunity for growth” in a system of chattel slavery are ruthless exploiters — those profiting from the trafficking in human beings.

Although the overwhelming majority of Americans should be outraged enough to march on the White House lawn, most probably won’t. This society has already accepted the time-honored tradition of degrading the poor and supporting abusive economic and social policy that targets capitalism’s losers with punishment for the status crime of being poor.

"Classism For Dimwits" by Jacqueline S. Homan

Americans applauded the assault on women’s basic human rights and personal liberties with specious “conscience clause” laws and “fetal personhood” laws which put every woman’s uterus and genitalia in the realm of male dominated church and state owned property; expropriated for patriarchal capitalism’s benefit — guaranteeing the reproduction of a reserve army of labor. The conscription of unwilling women into childbirth chattel slavery without any regard for how the “breeder livestock” feels about it (or if the reproductive chattel survives pregnancy and childbirth) was welcomed by society under the “pro-life” banner.

Nobody cares if women suffer trauma from the permanent negative impacts of compulsory maternity — we’re not human enough for harm to us to matter.

Nobody cares that rape victims are denied EC in emergency rooms, and why 87% of all US counties have NO abortion provider while women in most regions of the US (excluding large coastal cities) are forced to travel 50 miles or more to the nearest Planned Parenthood for free/low-cost reliable contraceptives.

Pregnant women in US delivery rooms are routinely deprived of privacy, basic human dignity and civil rights under the aegis of “fetal personhood” laws and degrading (and often sadistic) “routine” medical procedures.

Being denied the right to self-determination and bodily autonomy and bodily integrity IS chattel slavery. Only rich women enjoy the blessings of liberty in a nation billed as the beacon of freedom.

The public accepts slave labor for inmates in our prison-industrial complex under AR 210-35. The assaults on workers’ rights and the gutting of social programs for the working class and the poor beginning with the Reagan Revolution precipitated a burgeoning underclass and skyrocketing drug-related crimes — to which the response was “Three Strikes” laws and mandatory minimum sentencing.

The state and federal prison system has replaced HUD Section-8 as the nation’s largest subsidized housing program. With an increasing number of drug offenders from the dispossessed working class, more money in federal tax dollars goes to the communities where prisons are built. The prime beneficiaries are businesses using prison labor and private prison corporations. There are two corporations that dominate the privatized prison industry in the US: Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut). These two outfits control 75% of the for-profit prison industry.

“The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is indeed exciting to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery. However, this is the 21st century, and race together with gender and even class can be very seductive tools of propaganda. For what is so often overlooked and what matters…is the class one serves.” ~ John Pilger

Wackenhut’s founder was an ardent John Bircher who made his pile during the McCarthy era by compiling dossiers on those suspected of “un-American activities” (Communists); achieving over 4 million files by 1966 — one for every 46 American adults. The company was founded in 1954 by George Wackenhut, a former FBI official. It was a publicly held corporation from 1966-2002; after which it merged with Group 4 Falck, creating the monster private security firm Group 4 Securicor (now known as G4S). Prior to the merger, the chairman was George Wackenhut, the CEO and vice chairman was George C. Zoley, and the president and COO was Wayne H. Calabrese. The company’s upper echelons included ex-CIA, FBI and other government officials.

Wackenhut is a subsidiary of G4S, a UK based global security firm. It has profited handsomely from the school-to-prison pipeline created by an agenda of deliberate disinvestment, which escalated during the Reagan Revolution. The Reagan administration aimed its malevolence at poor single mothers and cut social programs for the working class — including CETA, the federally subsidized jobs placement program. During the 1980’s, the US got “tough on crime” by implementing “Three Strikes” laws. Wackenhut entered the prison business in 1987 and was reaping annual profits of $630.3 million by 1992. By 1997, Wackenhut controlled one third of the prison market contracts and provided prison slave labor for IBM and Microsoft. Prison industry officials admit that there is a vested interest in ensuring a burgeoning prison population, and how those prisoner slave laborers are treated is of no concern.[[i]][[ii]]

The permanent loss of jobs and aggressive union-busting left the most vulnerable members of the working class with few alternatives other than the illicit economy. Most of the crimes committed by the poor are illegal drug sales out of economic desperation for lack of any real job opportunities. The semi-skilled $7/hour worker who loses his job due to disinvestment finds himself unemployed and alienated by a society that was indoctrinated with the meritocracy myth. He turns to crime to survive, then gets arrested and imprisoned where he is given a new job by a private corporation doing business with the prison system under the federal guidelines framed within AR 210-35, where he is put to work for 22 cents an hour. He went from worker to unemployed to criminal to convict slave laborer.[[iii]]

Inmate slave labor is the goose that lays the golden eggs for wealthy corporate interests. There’s no unionizing, no strikes, no unemployment benefits, no workers’ comp insurance, and no employers’ portion of the social security taxes. It’s not a coincidence that the working class is overwhelmingly represented among the prison rolls.

Nothing You Can Posses

Prisoners across the US work at data entry jobs for Chevron; taking telephone reservations for TWA, raising livestock, making electronic components for computer motherboards, making waterbeds, and making sexy lingerie for Victoria Secret.  The beneficiaries are the corporations using slave labor, the investment banking firms, mutual fund managers, and the rich who can afford to have stock portfolios. Saloman Smith Barney, American Express, and GE (to name a few) are major shareholders in the privatized prison-industrial complex — of which Wackenhut has cornered the market. By 2001, Wackenhut’s revenues topped $2.8 billion as the leading provider of security at US national defense sites with a global presence on six continents. It serves as the US division of a global corporation that provides security officers, customs protection officers, property security, training programs and investigative services. It handles law enforcement duties, “operations maintenance”, and airfield management for the Justice Prisoner Transport System (JPATS).

In 1997, Professor Ian Stewart — science fiction writer and world class mathematician — met with Alexander B. Cuppett to discuss what he knew firsthand about the implementation of a fascist totalitarian regime through FEMA and Wackenhut under REX-84 (Executive Order by Ronald Reagan for constructing concentration camps to detain “subversives”). Cuppett is a retired US Army /Joint Chief of Staff and US Department of Defense inspector. Cuppett extensively documented the infrastructures set up under REX-84. He told Dr. Stewart that as of 1999, there were heavily fortified FEMA bases throughout the US. This is corroborated by the fact that FEMA contracted with Haliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) to build “black site” prisons and detention camps at undisclosed locations throughout the US as a final preparation phase of REX-84. According to former diplomat Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a US Department of Homeland Security plan called ENDGAME. The stated purpose of ENDGAME is the “removal of all removable aliens and potential terrorists.” No Congressmen spoke out against this no-bid contract with Haliburton.[[iv]]

To be clear, a “potential terrorist” is anyone who agitates against the corporatocracy. Under the Patriot Act passed and reauthorized by both Democrat and Republican Congressmen, anyone can be charged with the status crime of being a “terrorist” and indefinitely incarcerated — habeas corpus has been replaced with corpus juris[[v]] for this status crime.

In 1995, right before KBR got its no-bid gulag building contract, the air fleets of the US Marshals Service and ICE merged, creating JPATS. This merger created a frighteningly efficient “Con Air” airline for the transport of prisoners and detained undocumented workers. JPATS is managed by the US Marshals Service. It handles over 1,000 requests per day to move prisoners between judicial districts, prisons, and foreign countries; performing over 300,000 transports prisoner and alien transports per year. JPATS is the only government-operated and regularly scheduled airline in the nation, routinely serving over 40 domestic and international cities on an as-needed basis. It transports prisoners for a fraction of the cost that privately owned commercial airlines would charge. JPATS flight schedules are kept secret.

The infrastructure is already in place to reintroduce slavery. The public has already accepted the deprivation of rights and the enslavement of certain subgroups of the US citizenry on “moral” grounds.

The notion that a black man, especially the first black president, would contemplate issuing an executive order to reintroduce slavery for unemployed males is not an unlikely prospect. Nor would Barack Obama be the first wealthy black man to participate in slavery on US soil.

When the axe entered the forest, the trees said, ‘Behold! He was once one of us.’  ~ African proverb

In the antebellum South, the majority of black slaves were owned by “slave magnates” — wealthy plantation aristocracy in the top 1% income bracket. Of this top 1%, some were black.

In 1860, at least six wealthy freed blacks in Louisiana owned about 65 slaves apiece. A wide, C. Richards and her son, P.C. Richards, were wealthy blacks who owned a sugar cane plantation with 152 slaves. Another wealthy black slave magnate in Louisiana was Antoine Dubuclet who owned well over 100 slaves. Dubuclet owned a sugar cane plantation and according to 1860 tax and census records, his estate was valued at $264,000 ($7 million in 2010 dollars), while the mean wealth of southern white men was $3,978 ($93,978 in 2010 dollars). In Charleston, South Carolina, 125 freed blacks owned slaves and 69 freed blacks in North Carolina owned slaves. The most famous wealthy black slaveholder was William “April” Ellison. [[vi]]

Obama is one of America’s fortunate sons. In the antebellum South, blacks couldn’t vote whether they were free or not. But that same imperialist tool of oppression — legalized slavery — still permitted some blacks to gain freedom and wealth, which they used to get even richer by owning their brethren.

How impossible would it be today in post-racial America for a black US president to use his wealth, power, and privilege to resurrect the despicable practice of chattel slavery as a matter of social policy in dealing with the poor?


[i] Palast, Greg, “Wackenhut’s Free Market in Human Misery”, London Observer, September 26, 1999

[ii] Silverstein, Ken, “America’s Private Gulag”, Prison Legal News, June 17, 2000

[iii] Evans, Linda and Goldberg, Eve “The Prison-Industrial Complex and the Global Economy”, 1999

[iv] Homan, Jacqueline S. “Nothing You Can Possess

[v] Corpus juris: the imperial pronouncement of the force of law without due process; based on the ecclesiastical courts set up under the Roman Curia.

[vi] Johnson, Michael P. and Roak, James L. “Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South

Utopia For the Rich, Dystopia For Everyone Else

June 4, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, Author: “Classism For Dimwits”, “Nothing You Can Possess”, “Eyes of a Monster”, and “Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie”

The following article was submitted to Alan Colmes’ site at Liberaland whom I occasionally write for as a guest author. Apparently, this piece was a bit too liberal for Liberaland. So it is being re-posted here and also submitted to other alternative media venues. It is highly controversial and steps on more than just a few privileged and very ruthless toes. For that reason, Alan Colmes (whom I do respect, BTW), understandably feared potential reprisal if he kept this piece at his site.

I am not, however, afraid of the rich and shameless capitalist class of misogynists, bigots, and social parasites who have left me and countless other Americans poor, without a chance or hope for good jobs, and a chance in life despite having done “all the right things.” In a nation without enough jobs that pay a living wage to go around for everyone, guaranteeing that women (capitalism’s biggest losers) and unemployed workers over age 40 will be excluded regardless of education, skill sets, and experience — I have little left to lose. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.

[Originally posted in Liberaland by Jacqueline Homan • June 3, 2010, 4:29 AMET ]

New Mexico-based investors teamed up with Samsung Heavy Industries to build a fleet of floating castles to serve as a safe haven for the uber rich. Wall Street’s darlings have planned billion dollar luxury liners to keep the poor, starving masses at bay after they’ve plundered them in case their gated communities are besieged by hordes of pissed off Americans posed to take a cue from Hannibal’s invasion of ancient Rome. And why would the masses be feared? Maybe they’re enraged at the economic cannibal class of social parasites who have forcibly relieved them of their social programs, jobs, homes, and pensions.

The first of these sea-faring fortresses has already been named “Utopia.” The $1.1 billion dollar ship is due to be launched in 2013. Orders are already being taken to buy one of the Utopia’s 200 or so mansions for sale ranging in price from $4million for a small luxury condo to $26 million for 6,000 square foot estates. The Utopia’s largest mansion is 40,000 square feet priced at $160 million. These are permanent residences.

The Utopia has plenty of recreation opportunities on board to amuse its inhabitants: outdoor movie theater, casino, golf course, nightclubs, restaurants, and upscale clothing boutiques for the “Stepford” wives of the “masters of the universe”, and a water park with a rock climbing wall. The Utopia is 1,000 feet long, almost as long as a nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carrier.

This concoction is a laissez-faire Tea Bagging oligarch’s wet dream — a means to escape without having to face the masses of vulture capitalism’s impoverished losers or be accountable to the government they’ve bought that tricked out like a gaggle of hookers for some token baubles from K Street’s coffers.

“Classism For Dimwits” by Jacqueline S. Homan

Since these plutocrats grew rich from exploiting  America and other nations’ peoples across the globe, they have plenty of leisure time and money to fund think tanks that promote right-wing totalitarianism like the Cato Institute and projects like the Seasteading Institute. The latter is run by Patri Friedman, grandson of disaster capitalism’s guru Milton Friedman, and is financed by ultra right-wing Facebook investor and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel.

Last year, Thiel wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy is compatible” around the same time that Friedman announced, “Democracy is not the answer.” Thiel believes that America went to hell in a hogcart ever since women were enfranchised with the vote. Their neocon drivel was published by the billionaire Koch family Libertarian dispensary Cato Unbound. Friedman’s solution to Thiel’s democracy dilemma is to build off-shore Libertarian compounds where social Darwinism rules.

While Thiel and Friedman hash out the details for their Libertarian “haven”, the Frontier Group investment firm entered the actualization phase with the Utopia. The Frontier Group is an offshoot of the Carlyle Group. It was founded by some of the big names from Carlyle, which  was the private equity firm that brought American right-wing oligarchs like former CIA director and former president George Herbert Walker Bush together with billionaire buddies from Saudi Arabia — the Bin Laden family — all of whom  profited enormously from the War on Terror launched by their spawn: George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

The Frontier Group’s founding director is Frank Carlucci, former chairman of the Carlyle Group from 1989-2005. Frank Carlucci (a.k.a. “Creepy Carlucci” and “Spooky Frank”) is one of America’s fortunate sons who attended Princeton where he roomed with Donald Rumsfeld. At age 30, Carlucci was appointed vice consul of the US embassy in the Congo — the African nation that suffered one of the worst human rights violations under European imperialist colonialism: the Belgians exterminated nearly 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1908 and introduced the barbaric practice of hacking off the people’s forearms to terrorize them into submission. This remained a widespread practice that Foday Sankoh’s R.U.F. routinely employed in DeBeers’ blood diamond zone of Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

When the Congo was granted its independence, America’s elite didn’t like the way the Congolese voted. Carlucci was implicated in facilitating Patrice Lumumba’s murder[1] two months after his popular election. Lumumba was dismembered and his body parts dissolved in sulfuric acid after he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup which installed Joseph Mobutu, the dictator who embezzled more than any other corrupt African dictator.

“Nothing You Can Posses”, by Jacqueline S. Homan

After his role in destabilizing the Congo, Carlucci transferred to the embassy in Brazil in time for the fascist military coup in 1964. After Brazil, Carlucci went on to become deputy to his old Princeton buddy, Donald Rumsfeld, in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) under the Nixon administration where Dick Cheney was making his bones. The first thing Carlucci, Rumsfeld, and Cheney did was purge the agency of “subversives” — staff who might be sympathetic to democratic principles. Approximately 25% of the OEO staff was fired. After gutting the OEO, Carlucci was appointed ambassador to Portugal where he ensured that the Communists who overthrew Portugal’s dictatorship were overthrown themselves by pro-IMF “moderate” socialists. Later, Carlucci returned to DC to a job as the CIA’s second-in-command under the Carter administration.

After the Reagan Revolution in 1981, Carlucci was appointed as Deputy Defense Secretary. In 1983, Carlucci left his cabinet position to head up Sears World Trade, a company involved with shady arms deals and described by Fortune Magazine as a front for CIA and military intelligence operations. After the company’s collapse, Carlucci was rewarded by Reagan with the job of National Security Advisor and Defense Secretary based on his “merit.”

In 1989, Carlucci became chairman of the Carlyle Group and used its prestigious A-list as a lobbying force to get corporate welfare in the form of generous defense contracts paid for by the taxpayers — while extolling the virtues of the “free market.”

Carlucci is among his peers in social parasitism at Frontier Group, whose executive ranks overwhelmingly comprise rich white males on the Who’s Who list of Carlyle directors, such as former McDonnell-Douglass CEO Sanford McDonnel and Riggs Bank former director Norman Augustine. Rigss’ legacy is pregnant with endless scandals, including money laundering  for Augusto Pinochet’s stolen loot — blood money expropriated from Latin America’s “dirty war” and Operation Condor victims. One of Riggs’ top executives was Jonathan Bush, uncle to Dubya.

The Libertarian brainchild of the Utopia is the uber-rich’s fantasy-come-true where they can flee social repercussions for their actions of economic cannibalism. Being “responsible for your actions” is the Kool-Aid flavored pablum that serves as the mass line to cover up the class line.  Those who create the biggest messes leave their victims to deal with the fallout. The Libertarian non-aggression principle, as stated by the Cato Institute, apparently does not apply to damage inflicted on others caused by abusive economic and social policy that promotes age, race, disability and sex discrimination that Libertarians, neocons, and neoliberals think should go unfettered by “Big Government.”

How ironic that the same people who arrange their system of unearned privilege to steal your last penny and keep you from getting on your feet have the moxy to sell you the notion that they should be free from regulation. Anyone not in the top 10% who is led to believe that they would benefit from such as system ought to be arrested for possession of brains with intent to use.

______________________________

[1] Stockwell, John “In Search Of Enemies


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