Posts Tagged ‘welfare reform’

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

Classism and the Final Solution For the Poor

October 17, 2010

 

"Classism For Dimwits" by Jacqueline S. Homan

 

We have the best democracy that money can buy: a democracy for the rich, that is. Since the rise of corporations as private for-profit entities, our system operates for the benefit of the rich at the expense of the poor and the working class. Throughout the 1960’s through the 1990’s, the US viz-a-viz the national security state, either directly fomented or backed bloody insurrections against popular reformist movements here — such as the American Indian Movement (AIM), MOVE, the Black Panthers, and the Nation of Islam (NOI) — as well as abroad against the people in El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, and other lands.

The common denominator was that all these victims of capitalism were striving for social reforms and economic justice.

The nations that were brutalized by the national security state had popular reformist regimes that were attempting to redirect and redistribute some of their nations’ resources towards meeting the needs of the people instead of into the already overflowing coffers of exploitative multinational corporations. They were trying to develop a class order that posed a threat to the global capitalist economy and the existing class order within the US itself.

When we hear talk about “national security interests”, what we’re really hearing is talk of policies that favor the interests of the most privileged and powerful and making the world a safer place for that klepto-plutocracy at the expense of the masses of working class people at home and abroad.

The American poor and working class bears the heaviest burden of taxation that disproportionately supports the elite’s capital accumulation machination through subsidies, tax loop holes, and deficit spending that enriches a huge defense industry and sustains economic imperialism of global corporations through a brutal military apparatus and the CIA — but little to zero government deficit spending is directed to meet the social and economic needs of the poor and the working class.

Government assistance for the poor rarely reaches the neediest people. In the 1960’s, the Great Society programs saw $7 billion invested by federal, state, and local governments in the pockets of Third World poverty in the Appalachian region. But the majority of Appalachia’s poor remained unhelped because these anti-poverty measures served as a boon for the entrenched petit bourgeoisie interests — the merchants, banks, coal operators, and contractors. [Office of Economic Opportunity report quoted in the New York Times, November 29, 1970]

Workers’ comp, social security, unemployment benefits, and disability benefits distribute a lot more money to people from the middle class than to those with the most need: the poor. Social programs, before they were eliminated entirely or their budgets drastically cut, only reached a small fraction of those in need. In 1990, the $2.1 billion that went to the Supplemental Food Program for pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and small children known as WIC, helped only half of those who were eligible. But nobody ever talks about the poor who have been turned away. Nobody even thinks about them. Nobody even cares.

The middle class and the decently paid unionized working class who aren’t badly off think that because there are government programs and charities, that there must be “all this help out there” for the poor and destitute. They never hear about the majority of the poor who are turned away, who aren’t getting helped. And truth be told, they really don’t want to know about it either.

Nobody cares about the poor. We are invisible. No one even acknowledges that we exist until we become a threat to the social order and pose to upset some middle class apple carts — or until enough middle class people fall into poverty and start to “feel the love.”

From 1980 – 1991, social programs (as miserly and inadequate as they were) for the nation’s poor and most disadvantaged were defunded and subjected to brutal budget cuts:

14.7% from maternal and child health care

69% from job training and subsidized employment programs (CETA) for the socio-economically disadvantaged of any race or gender

94% from rural and urban community service grants

81% from subsidized housing (HUD) for the poor

100% blanket denial of SSI benefits to needy applicants eligible for SSI

Benign Neglect and Welfare For the Comfortable

While the poor got begrudged decent safe housing by the middle class, the most affluent 20% of the American population received 60% of the federal housing subsidies in the form of property tax exemptions, mortgage interest deductions, and capital gains tax deferrals on home sales.

According to a 1990 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless, over half of all federally subsidized mortgages went to affluent people who could afford to buy homes without any help. Wealthy people who own beachfront properties that no insurer will insure due to hurricanes and coastal plane erosion, receive federally subsidized insurance — meaning that the taxpayers are liable for billions of dollars in insurance claims for property and casualty losses.

One of the beneficiaries was multi-millionaire George H. W. Bush, who regularly preached free market self-reliance. Most of the $400,000 worth of storm damage to Bush’s Maine vacation home was covered by federal insurance in 1991-1992.

Under the fearless direction of “Silent” Sam Pierce, Reagan’s HUD appointee, the lion’s share of HUD funds were redirected from low-income housing to the private sector for the enrichment of developers, banks, and real estate investors while the poor didn’t get any affordable decent housing at all.

Contractors and developers used federal assistance from HUD to build housing slated for the poor for merely a year or two in order to qualify for HUD funds, then flipped the properties to other buyers who were not held to the original contract under HUD; who evicted the poor and converted the units to upscale luxury rentals and condos for the middle and upper classes. Thus, the poor were shoved out entirely. Many were left homeless.

By the end of Reagan’s second term in 1988-1989, only one quarter of all poor US households got any kind of housing subsidy. Of the very few poor who get rent vouchers, half of them returned the vouchers unused because they couldn’t find any affordable housing.

Suckling from the public tit is apparently OK for the haves and have-mores, while those of us in poverty with no hope and no chance for any resemblance of a decent life are undeserving of anything — we’re just a social and economic nuisance who owe the middle and upper classes a debt of unrelenting suffering and misery for the “crime” of being born into “their” world.

Billions of dollars were cut from the food stamp program, college aid and other educational/training funding under Title IV (thanks to the Gramm-Ruddman bill passed in the late 1980’s), and from SSI — the miserly inadequate, but often the only, safety net for low-income disabled and elderly people otherwise ineligible for regular social security disability (SSDI) due to lack of enough prior earnings and social security credits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was supposed to give disabled people a toehold in the job market so they could become economically self-sufficient and live with at least some dignity. But all the ADA ended up doing was dumping disabled people off of SSI while failing to require employers to hire them.  As of 1995, over one third of those needing SSI were no longer getting helped.  The ADA is more appropriately the Americans Who Have Been Discarded Act, because discarded is precisely what was done to millions of disabled Americans who are utterly destitute and homeless with no means of support, other than begging on the streets under constant threat of police brutality, harassment, and arrest.

Democrats in Congress throughout the Reagan-Bush I regimes and under the Clinton administration did absolutely nothing to abate or reverse these cuts, even after signing the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 into law; which put the onus of economic self-sufficiency squarely on the shoulders of those least able and least likely to get any opportunities at all.

The hunger, homelessness, malnutrition, and casualties of lack of medical and dental and vision care that skyrocketed in the Reagan Revolution was not abated under Clinton’s two terms in office.

The reductions or elimination of all these social programs under the guise of “tough love” and “personal responsibility” really amounted to a social Darwinist War On the Poor, with an agenda of “extermination by imposed destitution.” In more polite circles, this is called “Benign Neglect.” But make no mistake, there is nothing “benign” about it.

Those with the least opportunities, resources, and political clout were deliberately made to suffer the most while being kicked in the teeth by a large comfortably complacent middle class that consistently told the poor that if we weren’t making it, it was our own damn fault.

We got told that it’s our own fault for failing to be good enough, able-bodied enough, smart enough, educated enough, thin enough, young enough, physically attractive enough, and hard-working enough.

We got told to “shut up and stop whining” — nobody wanted to hear about our problems, and that the poor in far away lands have it so much worse than those of us here who go hungry, homeless, jobless, and without health care here on American soil.

We got told that “there are plenty of jobs out there for anybody willing to work” — yet no one stepped up to the plate and offered us their middle class jobs while they easily got another one, or expressed a willingness to hire us in entry level jobs at a living wage with health benefits.

On the eve of the signing of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, there were 14 million recipients of AFDC. Of those, 5 million were families, almost all of whom were single mothers and children with no other means of support, no access to abortion (thanks to the Hyde Amendment) in the event of contraception failure, and no equal opportunity for good-paying “men’s jobs.” Less than 1% of the AFDC recipients were able-bodied men.

Yet, reductions in benefits and the elimination of “welfare as we know it” was defended as a way of throwing “baby makers” and lazy “leeches” off the public dole.

Moving people off of welfare and into jobs is a noble idea — if society and government is committed to equal opportunity employment, a living wage, health care for all, and the guarantee of enough jobs for everyone in need of a job. Anything less than 100% employment — not 95%, but 100% — cannot deliver that.

The “Final Solution” For the Poor

After the five year lifetime limits under Welfare Reform were implemented, millions of poor women with children were booted off. Even during the “good times” of Clintonian prosperity, not all of these poorest and neediest hard-to-employ women were absorbed into the labor market and given jobs. But the government never bothered to track the whereabouts and situations of those women with the least chances of getting hired in jobs that pay a living wage.

Welfare was never an adequate solution to the problems inflicted on the poor by capitalism and eliminating “welfare as we know it” without providing alternative and reasonable economic opportunities is not merely a worse solution, it is the “Final Solution” for the poor. Anyone familiar with the politics of genocide knows what “Final Solution” means.

The War On the Poor was part and parcel for the implementation of a wholesale pogrom of “extermination through imposed destitution.”

Just like the fascist Nazi forebears of today’s corporatist class, the elite gained the support of a sizable portion of the middle class (who were overwhelmingly white males in male-dominated lucrative industries) via the ballot box in the carrying out of the “Final Solution” against the poor — 84% whom are women, children, and unborn fetuses that the “pro-life” arbiters of morality feign shambolic concern for.

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

Fox’s Fake Liberals Are Neocon Lapdogs

July 23, 2010

 

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

The “American Dream” was always a nightmare. You cannot get ahead unless others around you are poor — often directly as a result of your efforts to get yours. They say democracy is two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner, but capitalism is a few wolves deciding how many captive sheep to devour. It is against this backdrop of faux democracy that corporate-owned media trots out its own “favorite son” wearing the liberal label on his sleave: Alan Colmes, the “liberal” star of Fox’s Hannity & Colmes, and his new Internet site, Liberaland.

But is Alan Colmes really liberal? He admitted having a personal liking and admiration for Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

I’ve been told by affluent pseudo-liberals that “I’m not being fair” in stating that Alan Colmes is really a flavor of neocon-lite and criticizing him for lacking the balls to admit it. I’ve been told that since I’ve never worked in TV or talk radio, I couldn’t judge Alan Colmes for being either a wimpy excuse for liberalism or a neocon apologist. But how does a self-proclaimed liberal working in TV and radio justify liking Rush Limbaugh — a misogynist class bigot who made his pile beating up on the poor for the last three decades; especially on poor women whose advocates he labeled as “feminazis?”

Alan Colmes likes neocon religitard Ann Coulter, too. Maybe that’s because she’s thin, blonde and has big boobs. And maybe that is somewhat excused for a rich, successful, famous male “star” — affluent men finding hot-looking, thin, WASP blonde Barbie types physically attractive. It’s the upper class WASP Barbie ideal of thinness, big boobs, and perfect hair that is our nation’s standard of beauty and “worthiness” in a society where women are valued only on looks. Ever wonder why that is, and why only affluent women can afford cosmetic surgery to fix what genetics, nature, and life’s circumstances bestowed?

Classism, like religion, is a memetic viral infection

We all know how invidious the whole system of unearned privilege and class stratification is, and that it is set up to promote a pretentious sociopathic middle class who is willing to stomp on the poor and keep the poor at the bottom and censor their voices. We all know that selling out on one’s principles plays a role in winning life’s comforts, class status, social prizes and rewards in this country.

For the past 30 years, the media and academia launched a multi-pronged assault on those at the bottom of the pile: poor women. This has gone unchallenged because everyone felt it was perfectly OK to beat down poor women with the “personal responsibility” cudgel…until now. The sudden change in tide is largely due to the fact that a lot of downwardly mobile middle class people are now “feeling the love” of the same victim-blaming that has always been disproportionately meted out to those on the very bottom socio-economic rung. The Underclass have always been on the receiving end of this backhand of “tough love” as opposed to a helping hand up.

"Classism For Dimwits" by Jacqueline S. Homan

The corporate media shamelessly peddled classism like a drug dealer hawking his wares, enticing the unwitting masses into a collective addiction.

The corporate media’s talking heads of questionable credibility and biased pseudo-intellectuals paid by billionaire-funded conservative think tanks have all set the “undeserving” poor up as the enemy, as “less than”, as “the Other, and as “trash” who are living undeservedly large off the largesse of good, hardworking middle class people that played by all the rules (that the rich contrived).

The sea of professionals who romanticize, fetishize, and demonize the poor took up the baton on cue and led the parade in poor-bashing. Their Ivy League PhD’s gave them credibility, quasi-celebrity status, and public worship for every word of their insipid drivel amounting to how we need to “fix” the defective poor and whip them into line to get with the middle class program and not look, sound, or act so…well…poor.

Who turned the tide of public opinion of compassion and support for the poor with social reforms such as FDR’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society programs into sentiments of social Darwinism culminating in the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 — the crowning achievement of the Reagan Revolution, which epitomized and legitimized the idea that “greed is good?”

Whose fault is it that the majority of the American public got conned into the myth of the “ownership society” where stepping on others’ necks to get ahead was OK, and that the “undeserving” poor should just go suffer quietly out of sight and dumpster-dive for food  as social safety nets were gutted?

Who spoke out for poor people’s economic human and civil rights these past 30 years while poor women and children were offered up like sacrificial scapegoats for misery and pain on the altar of the Almighty Dollar by pundits, clergy, and TV personalities? Who popularized the practice of stigmatizing the poor and calling that “entertainment”, and what do you think happened?

The result is a society of “Me, I, Mine” that emerged, producing a class of sell-outs, cheaters, liars, and backstabbers who will screw over anyone else they can in order to get theirs because they’re expected to have the “right” image and the “right” homes in the “right” neighborhoods where they/their progeny can make the “right” friends in order to be “worthy” and deserving of a chance for increasingly scarce good jobs.

Here’s a thought: how about we stop making excuses for this dysfunctional status quo.  Helping someone who is very poor and downtrodden — who is reaching out in desperation asking for help because there isn’t really “all this help out there” from all these government agencies and private charities — isn’t “someone else’s responsibility.” Be the change.


%d bloggers like this: