Peregrine flight

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

War on Poor

Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother. February 1936. Dorothea Lange

The current national conundrum is breaking down along some interesting demarcation lines. Poor people and the unemployed are now cast as lazy sinners who want to sponge off the fortunate few lucky enough to still have jobs.

Republican Orrin Hatch wants to test the unemployed for drug use.

Republican Michelle Bachmann is worried that BP is going to get fleeced and turned into "chumps" by the american taxpayer.

Republican Tea Bag candidate Rand Paul thinks that it is time for a little "tough love" for the unemployed.  “As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again. Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough-love things that has to happen.”

Ditto GOP teabagger Sharron Angle, running for the senate in recession wracked Nevada with its 14% unemployment thinks that Nevadans are just, well, spoiled. “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesn’t pay as much… we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Count Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King as another who thinks that the shiftless poor are getting over. King, says "We shouldn't turn the 'safety net' into a hammock. It should actually be a 'safety net'." Fair enough.

Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller thinks that we are about to see an upsurge in hoboing. Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

Millions of Americans are out of work because the bailouts never trickled down farther than the steps of AIG and Goldman Sachs. Responsible people that have held jobs for decades are now finding themselves homeless and out of work. I have a friend who is a pentecostal minister who tells me that he has 12 new homeless families in his church, and none of them are psychotic, or drug users or alcoholics.

Yet the Republican Party chooses to carry water for their big business buddies and characterize the unemployed as shiftless, lazy parasites intent on gaming the system. Their compassion speaks volumes about how they feel about the American worker, some of whom have spent months and years looking for a job, not a handout. And notwithstanding the fact that current unemployment benefits are barely enough to get by for most individuals. We are back to social darwinism at its finest, with a wistful look back at Hobos and Hoovertowns. If you can't make it in the economic downturn, Jesus Christ probably just doesn't love you enough.

Looks like the good old class war is back in bidness. We have been through this before as a nation, and we will get by. Yeah I know, there will always be winners and losers. But just maybe some of the haves will taste a little instant karma and get to ride a few rails themselves. Here's hoping it instills a little empathy and tempers their free market idealism a smidge.