Thursday, October 25, 2007

The conservative equation of poverty

by shamanic

So while I'm still experiencing zombie brain and a seriously aching back from too many hours alone in a car - and while I catch up on the last few days' news - I'm going to pass along some of the stray thoughts I've had recently regarding the controversies that have rocked the nation and blogosphere.

On the topic of S-CHIP, what ultimately frustrated me about the attacks on the "poster families" who shared their stories of being helped by the program is the constant game of Pong that gets played by conservatives with the poor. For instance, a poor family will say, "We couldn't afford to insure our children after X happened," and the conservative will say, "If you had made different choices, you would have been immune from X happening." The poor family might say, "My business failed," and the conservative will say, "You shouldn't have opened a business in a marginal market." The poor family might say, "The insurance would cost the same as our mortgage," and the conservative will say, "You should sell your house then."

And on and on it goes, in an equation very much like "Poor person's circumstance + Conservatives' bright idea = success in America". I don't think this math works, frankly. There have always been poor people, there always will be poor people, and more importantly, that demographic provides incredibly important services in our economy. The girl at the coffee shop, the gas station attendant, every single person who makes your grocery store run, those people are vital to the functioning of all our daily lives.

And it may be that these jobs are transitions for them. Perhaps they'll end up in middle management at a big corporation, but in the meantime, our attitude toward their kids continues to chill me deep down.

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