Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Really Easy to Cop Out

You know, as I get older, I get more political, and more liberal. It's funny, because in my early 20s, I contended that grassroots upswells were for 'little people' who couldn't affect change. And now, I'm a believer.

Why? Because it's become clearer to me how far we have to go.

Here's what I believe.

It's really easy to say that health insurance or housing isn't a right when you have no worries of losing either.

It's really easy to say that the poor should pull themselves up by their bootstraps when you've never been poor, never had to dodge a gang on the way to work, never had to wonder if you'd have dinner on the table, and never had to work 3 jobs to keep a roof over your kids head.

It's really easy to say that women's rights don't need to be protected by the courts, as that jackass to end all jackasses, Antonin Scalia recently said, when you don't make less than your male counterparts just because you happen to wear a bra instead of a jockstrap.

It's really easy to say that we shouldn't extend unemployment benefits when you have a job.

It's really easy to say that extended unemployment keeps people from looking for a job when you don't have to worry about whether you are going to lose your house tomorrow morning, and have to live in your car.

It's really easy to say that the free market solves problems when deregulation over the last 20 years has benefited you and yours, and you aren't one of the millions who it hurt.

It's really easy to say that federal social programs are too expensive when you don't need them.

It's really easy to pretend that their aren't kids who are going hungry, without immunizations and medical care, and without basic needs when you don't see them every day.

It's really easy to say that people want to get a handout, when you don't have to see the shame on their faces when taking it.

These things are all cop outs. They are all said from positions of relative power, education, and well being. They are rarely said by the people that truly need the services and the help. Our government doesn't always do the best job, that's true. But human need is never so simple as 'get it together and get a job' or 'survival of the fittest'.

We're a society, we Americans. We're not just consumers, we're citizens. I was a US Marine. The one thing you know about your fellow Marines - whether you are BFFs or not - is that they have your back.

Somewhere along the way we've forgotten what it means to have our fellow American's backs. I pray that the current trend of selfishness takes a turn for the better. Because more people fell into poverty over the last 24 months than at any time since the depression. And if we don't have those people's backs, who is going to have ours if something bad happens to us?


Anonymous said...

As someone who grew up in poverty, homeless at one point, I firmly believe my situation was the fault of parents who made bad choices and it is NOT the responsibility of people who do work hard to make up for what my parents chose not to do. Direct quote from my dad - why should I work harder? the gov't gives you guys food and schooling. A monopoly system is a monopoly system even if it's the government. I totally disagree with you and work to be the opposite of my parents. I'm biased and grew up in that system surrounded by others who said similar things to their children (my friends). It's easy to be liberal when you don't know people who take advantage of the system.

I have worked 3 jobs at one point and I think liberal policies (whether they're put in place by "conservatives" or "liberals") are making things worse - when anyone spends more than they make (individual or gov't), it's not going to be pretty in the long run. My dad pillaged other people's garbage to feed us. My mom refused to try to get a job and hated big business.

It's really easy to screw up an economy when you mess up incentives in the name of helping others.

I disagree with anyone who wants to take from one party to give to another without everyone's permission.

My background growing up in the slums of America makes me shudder at any more liberal help. You have no idea. You're favoring policies that are going to hurt everyone because you think it's more caring. In the short run it will feel good but it's not going to work in the long run.

Ms.Moneypenny said...

Anonymous, I respectfully disagree. And I grew up poor. Thankfully never homeless, but that was in large measure early in my life on to subsidized housing, what is known as 'the projects'. Otherwise, who knows.

I worked hard but I had gifts. Gifts of intellectual ability. Gifts from my parents of the love of reading and knowledge. Gifts of a work ethic. Even the gift of being tall and reasonably good looking. I bet you had a lot of gifts too.

I've worked 3 or more jobs to make ends meet. I've walked miles home from retail jobs because I couldn't afford a taxi and the buses stopped running. But I did those things once given - yes, given - the opportunities to succeed. I was hired. I was mentored. Someone, somewhere, said yes.

And you too were told yes. What if no was the answer over and over again?

For too many people, no is the answer. Or they don't have sufficient gifts - and yes, the ability to pull oneself up by the bootstraps is a gift too - to keep going. Or the belief that there's anything to go to. You did.

I know I won't change your mind. It is made up, and you made it out of the garbage eating and on to something better. Good for you.

But your take that it's easy to be liberal for me is just wrong. It means more taxes on my already stretched budget. It means

But I'm a lucky one. I got the opportunity to make my own luck, but so did you. And until someone figures out a way to ensure that everyone gets the same gifts that allow them to make their way in the world, I will continue to vote to ensure that those that are disadvantaged get a leg up. Even if it makes you and I even further apart.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your ideas, however, I do not agree that government is the answer.

I also grew up in borderline poverty. My parents worked in a factory and grocery store. One Thanksgiving, our dinner was bologna. My parents never accepted government help, but managed to work their way up the ladder through hard work, and my mother is just now finishing her college degree. She is 46. When I look back, it amazes me that they were able to go so far with so little. Yet, it disgusts me that so many are not willing to put forth such a great effort.

I do believe that some people really do get "stuck" in poverty despite their best efforts. This is where charity comes in. Not only is charity more efficient, but it is infinity more satisfactory to write a check to X, Y, Z charity for $100 than to have $100 deducted as part of fed taxes.

Charities must operate efficiently: if not, they will have to shut the doors. If the government doesn't operate efficiently, instead of being forced to reevaluate, they have the ability to reach deeper into everyone's pockets. Some can afford this, some cannot.

So, please, if you are feeling generous, write a check to a local charity. Or, if you insist, mail a check to the IRS. But don't assume that the government has the right, ability, or brains to satisfy every need for every individual.