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Clearing Away The Pablum: @Dicentra33 On The American ‘Poor’ [UPDATED]

06 July 2014 @ 19:58

Responding to a column by the ever-reliably-wrong Doug Mataconis, as cited by Darleen Click, Dicentra cuts through all of the BS concerning the eternal Leftist whining about ‘The Plight! Of The Poor In America™©':

Poor.

Pffft.

REAL poor people live on the streets of Calcutta, in the cow manure and market waste, for generations on end, because their caste the lowest.

REAL poor people construct makeshift shacks out of bamboo and newspaper on the slopes of the Andes: no plumbing, no running water, no refrigeration, and electricity only if they’ve managed to run a wire to the nearest transformer; the accumulation of informal connections blows the thing up every few days. Oh, and during the rainy season, the shack more than likely slides off the hill.

REAL poor people don’t have free school offered them of any kind: not even bad inner-city schools. They don’t learn to read because nobody will teach them, not because they don’t want to “act white.”

REAL poor people spend most of their day hauling rancid water from a distant well — water that will make most of their kids sick and kill not a few.

REAL poor people have no access to birth control at any price — No Planned Parenthood, no HHS Mandate, no school-distributed condoms. Women die regularly in childbirth and cannot prevent pregnancies after it’s evident she can’t handle another one.

REAL poor people have no dental care — their remaining teeth go every which-way — they are deformed by cleft palates, club feet, spinal curvature, and other problems that we 1st-worlders fix once they’re found. Those who need glasses never get them. Cataract patients go blind because there’s no surgery available. Babies born with handicaps and illnesses are often abandoned or if kept, mercilessly rejected by the society. They get no care, therapy, or treatment whatsoever.

REAL poor people are plagued by heterosexual AIDS. (Perpetrated largely by superstition that education doesn’t fix. When in Johannesburg, my dad tested whether learning Just The Facts, Ma’am about AIDS changed behavior. It doesn’t.)

REAL poor people die of diseases we’ve largely wiped out or have under control: tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, (thanks Rachael Carson!) polio, influenza. To name a few.

Chemotherapy? Dialysis? Insulin?

Not even in their dreams.

American poor live in more square feet than Britian’s middle class. They’re offered free K-12 education with a hot lunch, have refrigeration, running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, cell phones, healthcare, and vaccinations. They’re obese, ill-mannered, emotionally damaged, and difficult to motivate.

But they still live better than my ancestors did on the prairie.

It’s true that “the poor” are not a monolithic whole. It’s true that some are the victims of bad luck and their situation is truly desperate. It’s also true that some…are trapped by generation upon generation of dependency — like captive animals, they have no idea how to fend for themselves in the wild because their captors need the Morality Points for championing their captivity public assistance. They’re not lazy; they’re stuck, and it’s not their fault.

OTOH, some of the poor conform exactly to the stereotype: greedy, lazy, ungrateful, and not worth a plug nickel.

Our ancestors used to distinguish between the “worthy poor” and the “unworthy.” We’d do well to get back to that distinction.

Dead solid perfect.  That is the best refutation of that particular Big Lie that I have read in my fifty-three years on this spinning piece of solar driftwood.  Bravo.

Di wrote that as a comment to Darleen’s post.  I highly recommend you read the commentary left by others in it and Darleen’s, as well, because it shows why I visit Protein Wisdom a least a dozen times per day.

One Possible Quibble With One Of Dicentra’s Points…

She wrote:

…It’s also true that some…are trapped by generation upon generation of dependency — like captive animals, they have no idea how to fend for themselves in the wild because their captors need the Morality Points for championing their captivity public assistance. They’re not lazy; they’re stuck, and it’s not their fault.

It is ultimately their fault if they do not make serious efforts to overcome the very bad hand they have been dealt.  Every single Human Being is endowed with Free Will.  Every single Free Soul is capable of transcending their situation be it physically, spiritually or both.  These kind of people, unless they are blind, deaf, and dumb, have been exposed to some form of Common Sense during their lifetimes if they are of adult age.  They have witnessed it in action in some form.  Therefore, though it may be small in quantity, they possess some knowledge of the methods of overcoming adversity.  Granted, it will be very, very hard for them to attempt such an effort and even harder to succeed, but that’s what we who are not in their horrid situation are here for and what is our duty to provide aid for when we encounter such a person — that is, if we dare consider ourselves Virtuous.

But this is a very minor quibble.

UPDATE on 07JUL2014 at 2049…

Dicentra’s response in the Comments section:

“It is ultimately their fault if they do not make serious efforts to overcome the very bad hand they have been dealt.”

They don’t necessarily know HOW to make such an effort, especially if such an effort means swimming upstream of the “don’t think you’re better’n us” contingent. Precious few people in the world possess the inner strength to buck the contempt of their peers.

Many of those people have never lived in a home where a breadwinner lived — you and I are accustomed to the rhythm of getting up every morning whether you want to or not, doing your job even if you hate it, and putting up with stupid bosses, obnoxious employees, and unfair workplaces. I’ve worked with white kids who came from messed-up homes and they couldn’t deal with the ordinary pressures of showing up every day, on time, and doing your damned job. They were too messed up emotionally even for that.

Furthermore, learned helplessness is a very real thing: most multigenerational poor kids were raised in homes filled with chaos, violence, revolving-door boyfriends, substance abuse, and even sexual abuse. Kids learn that their life sucks, that they themselves are worthless, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Pep talks from distant Republicans don’t do jack to overcome that degree of inertia.

The Left is wrong about why people are poor, but often, so is the Right. We gravely err if we think that pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is a viable option for people who’ve been so enmired by dependency that they can’t even imagine a different life. Our ancestors came from the working classes — they just changed locations for their work, so their “work your butt off” muscles were not atrophied and underdeveloped the way the multigenerational poor are.

No, dammit, you CANNOT blame a kid born into the projects as a 4th-generation welfare client. Such a kid needs the same rehabilitation and training as an abandoned eaglet: keeping it in a cage its whole life and then cursing it for not being able to hunt is arrant nonsense. Release such a kid into the wild and he’ll starve or join a gang. Without hands-on rehab the eaglet has no chance. Reciting vapid platitudes about free will and common sense doesn’t cut it.

Let us not congratulate ourselves for being raised to be productive — or for having the Highly Unusual Ability to overcome the odds. Many American poor would be able to make it if they had adequate modeling, training (LIFE skills, not just job skills), and incentives.

We conservatives could do that, but the Left has encircled them with an impenetrable wall, telling them that we’re monsters who want to put them back into slavery. They hear everything we say as cruelty. In some cases, it IS cruelty.

“These kind of people, unless they are blind, deaf, and dumb, have been exposed to some form of Common Sense during their lifetimes if they are of adult age. They have witnessed it in action in some form.”

No, they haven’t, not without the vile filter that the left places on it. I think you underestimate the emotional inertia that some people need to overcome to stand on their two feet. Alcoholics don’t recover by observing sober men.

Until you’ve worked with someone one-on-one and seen for yourself that the person is vehemently resistant to improvement, you have no place writing them off as merely lazy or unmotivated. And today’s shiftless bum might be tomorrow’s Miracle Story.

Free will requires that two or more options be present. Have pity on those whose lives have been reduced to one dimension by dependency and lies.

-

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 06 July 2014 @ 20:16 20:16

    Reblogged this on That Mr. G Guy's Blog.

  2. 06 July 2014 @ 20:54 20:54

    Your last paragraph sums it up exactly Bob. Those of us who have it better, need to give a “hand up” to those who are in less than desirable straits. But our largesse should stop for those who don’t try and just want something for nothing.

  3. 06 July 2014 @ 23:19 23:19

    Why, oh why, oh why do people still give Failconis the attention he constantly demands?

    Besides that, Dicentra has got it about right. If I may go into crotchety old coot mode for a moment: when I was a kid, we were considered middle class, but by today’s standards we would have been poorer than poor. People these days don’t seem to realize just how high the standard of living has risen over the last half century or so. What they really don’t seem to realize is that you don’t raise that standard of living for others by mandating it. It’s cargo cultish thinking and it never works.

    • 07 July 2014 @ 20:47 20:47

      Same here.

      • 08 July 2014 @ 07:58 07:58

        Grandpa grew up on a dirt farm on the prairie and then worked on a mail car when they moved to the city. When we were kids, you couldn’t get oranges in the winter and our great treat for the week was popcorn in front of the TV on Friday night. I can recall being pretty much constantly hungry — not starving by any means, nor unhealthy, but having that little edge that made me scarf down pretty much every meal. This is not to say that Damn Kids These Days should be shamed by the relative poverty of the recent past, but to know that today’s abundance is unusual and by no means effortlessly guaranteed into the future.

  4. 07 July 2014 @ 17:13 17:13

    “It is ultimately their fault if they do not make serious efforts to overcome the very bad hand they have been dealt.”

    They don’t necessarily know HOW to make such an effort, especially if such an effort means swimming upstream of the “don’t think you’re better’n us” contingent. Precious few people in the world possess the inner strength to buck the contempt of their peers.

    Many of those people have never lived in a home where a breadwinner lived — you and I are accustomed to the rhythm of getting up every morning whether you want to or not, doing your job even if you hate it, and putting up with stupid bosses, obnoxious employees, and unfair workplaces. I’ve worked with white kids who came from messed-up homes and they couldn’t deal with the ordinary pressures of showing up every day, on time, and doing your damned job. They were too messed up emotionally even for that.

    Furthermore, learned helplessness is a very real thing: most multigenerational poor kids were raised in homes filled with chaos, violence, revolving-door boyfriends, substance abuse, and even sexual abuse. Kids learn that their life sucks, that they themselves are worthless, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Pep talks from distant Republicans don’t do jack to overcome that degree of inertia.

    The Left is wrong about why people are poor, but often, so is the Right. We gravely err if we think that pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is a viable option for people who’ve been so enmired by dependency that they can’t even imagine a different life. Our ancestors came from the working classes — they just changed locations for their work, so their “work your butt off” muscles were not atrophied and underdeveloped the way the multigenerational poor are.

    No, dammit, you CANNOT blame a kid born into the projects as a 4th-generation welfare client. Such a kid needs the same rehabilitation and training as an abandoned eaglet: keeping it in a cage its whole life and then cursing it for not being able to hunt is arrant nonsense. Release such a kid into the wild and he’ll starve or join a gang. Without hands-on rehab the eaglet has no chance. Reciting vapid platitudes about free will and common sense doesn’t cut it.

    Let us not congratulate ourselves for being raised to be productive — or for having the Highly Unusual Ability to overcome the odds. Many American poor would be able to make it if they had adequate modeling, training (LIFE skills, not just job skills), and incentives.

    We conservatives could do that, but the Left has encircled them with an impenetrable wall, telling them that we’re monsters who want to put them back into slavery. They hear everything we say as cruelty. In some cases, it IS cruelty.

    “These kind of people, unless they are blind, deaf, and dumb, have been exposed to some form of Common Sense during their lifetimes if they are of adult age. They have witnessed it in action in some form.”

    No, they haven’t, not without the vile filter that the left places on it. I think you underestimate the emotional inertia that some people need to overcome to stand on their two feet. Alcoholics don’t recover by observing sober men.

    Until you’ve worked with someone one-on-one and seen for yourself that the person is vehemently resistant to improvement, you have no place writing them off as merely lazy or unmotivated. And today’s shiftless bum might be tomorrow’s Miracle Story.

    Free will requires that two or more options be present. Have pity on those whose lives have been reduced to one dimension by dependency and lies.

    • Starless permalink
      08 July 2014 @ 08:30 08:30

      I’ve got some problems with phrases like “by his bootstraps” and “self-made man”. I hate to admit it, by Obama was a little bit correct with his perfunctory “you didn’t build that”. I think of one particular guy I worked for who was very proud of being a “self-made” man. He liked to proudly strut around and survey all that he had built, and with some justification because from where he had started to where he landed was a fairly large jump. The thing was that there was no way he could have achieved what he achieved without people around him who were smarter, more industrious, and had better people skills than him.

      What he did have, and what I eventually concluded was the key to his success, was *balls*. He was willing to take risks that other people wouldn’t. Where Obama is wrong is his conclusion that all that has been built in this country is the end product of collectivism and that the individual self-interest of capitalism is false consciousness. No, what we have built is the end product of the willingness of individuals to take risks. Our productivity requires many and varied groups of people to execute, but it never happens if some individual doesn’t step up and say that he’s going to risk it all to make it happen.

      Collectivist thinking tells people that they don’t have to take a risk in order to prosper. Someone else — Mommy and Daddy government — will take the burden of risk-taking from them. If you grow up in an environment where economic risk-taking is unheard of — where you learn that easy money, whether it’s welfare or drug money, is the best kind of money — your nature is going to be risk-averse. And frankly, that attitude is not limited to the welfare dependent. Middle class kids are constantly being told nowadays that being a neutered drone is the safer and more prosperous route to take. To be Luke Russert and say “sack up” isn’t going to change the way someone approaches the world if they don’t know how to sack up.

      I don’t know how to do it, but I think that those who have been caught in the Left’s dependency trap need to be taught that where there is risk there is greater reward than what they get from the smothering arms of the nanny state.

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