Thoughts on poverty and homelessness in the U.S.A.

Posts tagged ‘homelessness’

Freedom is priceless: First they came for the homeless…then… we became homeless too.

A city in Florida is making it illegal for homeless people to carry possessions in public places.

My question is, how will they know whether or not a person is homeless? Are they just going to target people who are poorly dressed, assume they are homeless then take away whatever possessions they are carrying with them? If someone is walking home from the grocery store, carrying a bag of groceries and looking poorly dressed, might the police not stop that person and demand he/she give up the groceries? Suppose the police officer is hungry, for example, hasn’t eaten in hours and then this rather homeless-looking person shows up carrying a bag of groceries in a city that doesn’t allow possessions to be displayed on public sidewalks?

http://think-progress.tumblr.com/post/83441673147/florida-city-about-to-make-it-illegal-for-homeless

http://wonkette.com/547183/fort-lauderdale-will-magically-fix-homelessness-by-stealing-homeless-peoples-stuff-basically

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/city-pass-law-allowing-cops-seize-homeless-peoples-belongings

Am I trying to be funny here? Just a tongue-in-cheek little anecdote for today’s Mad Bag Lady blog entry?

Look, I know most Americans don’t care at all about the homeless. Whether you’ll admit to it or not, most of you still believe in the “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” nonsense. You think that if you keep supporting the system, keep working hard at tiny wages for bosses who act more like slaveholders than business owners that one day someone will recognize your good “attitude” (slaves are notorious for having good attitudes toward their situation) and promote you to CEO of corrupt corporate America. So you dare not speak out on behalf of the homeless. After all, they’ve just made “bad choices,” obviously. Otherwise, they’d be temporarily embarrassed millionaires too.

Believe me, I get it. I get it.

But remember this: dictators always choose a scapegoat, deprive them of their civil rights first and convince the rest of the population to support it. But the real agenda is to deprive everyone of their rights. It’s just easier to start with the most unpopular people first. The homeless are just guinea pigs for an overall plan to eliminate our public spaces, privatize everything, and take away all of our rights (unless of course we’re wealthy and can afford to buy the streets and sidewalks so that we can do whatever we want on them.)

So Hitler attacked the Jews, for example. But ultimately, no one was free under Nazi leadership. What many people don’t know is that Hitler went after union leaders too.  Union leaders, communists and democratic socialists–anyone who wanted more civil liberties for the average person (as opposed to the wealthy elite) was the enemy of Hitler and the Nazis.

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005686

http://www.johndclare.net/Nazi_Germany1.htm

This might surprise many Americans who’ve been brainwashed into believing that “socialism” is the enemy. In fact, Hitler was strongly against democratic socialism and communism.

Think about that for a moment. Please. Please think, and think for yourself, if only for a moment. Because it’s important to remember that “communism,” “socialism,” “capitalism,” etc., are all just labels. None of those systems are practiced in their purest forms (at least to my knowledge.) Most countries use ideas from all of these systems and combine them to create their own systems. (More about this will be addressed in a future blog.) The Nazis may often be thought of as socialists and may have claimed to be wanting to help the average German (who was struggling during the Great Depression) but the Nazis persecuted union leaders, democratic socialists and communists, threw them in prison or executed them. What the Nazis said publicly and what they actually did were often two different things, as we now know from history. (Oddly, I had a hard time finding any videos online about this. Most were filled with propaganda about the Nazis. However, I’ve read the history of Nazi Germany, and I urge you to do the same, so that you don’t believe the lies being told by people who assume you won’t take the time to actually read about it for yourself.)

 

But back to the point. Laws restricting the rights of the homeless to sleep on “public” sidewalks, to ask for money and now to own possessions of any kind affect all of us. Homeless or not, should you decide to “hang out” in public, you may be accosted by the police. And now, in some cities, you can have your possessions taken from you.

Is this what you want, America?

Perhaps I’m an unusual person because I value freedom over everything, including money. (OMG! OMG! You value something over money!) Yes, people. And I’ll even say it again. Freedom, civil liberties, civil rights–are more important to me than money.

I think we’ve all read about wealthy people who’ve been very unhappy in spite of their material wealth. Marilyn Monroe was a classic example. She was beautiful, wealthy and famous but very, very unhappy. She was not free. That’s right, Marilyn Monroe did not have freedom. As a woman, she was oppressed the way all of us females are. She was a mere sex object. And that’s all she was allowed to be. No matter how often she cried out that she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, that she didn’t want to be a “joke,” the business people who managed her career would not allow her to be herself. To be herself and a serious actress would have meant speaking in her own authentic voice, not the child-like, false-innocent ingenue voice that had made her famous. Being herself meant not flirting with every man–perhaps there were some men who irritated her. Perhaps there were times when she didn’t feel sexy, when she didn’t want to wear makeup or do her hair. Perhaps there were times when she thought about civil rights issues and politics herself. (From what I’d read, she’d had democratic-socialist ideas. That’s not surprising as she’d grown up poor.) But a sex object does none of those things. A sex object is pretty, mindless and always eager to please.

So tragic. So sad. Ms. Monroe seemed to have it all. But the one thing she didn’t have was that which is priceless, that one thing money cannot buy: freedom. Should she have dropped everything to pursue her own desires, she would have lost all that money, all her connections. And then what? Happiness, maybe. But money? She could have lost it all. Instead she gave up her life. So ultimately she lost it all anyhow.

Personally, I don’t see the point in that. But then who am I? I don’t have a lot of money myself, so I suppose nothing I say really matters, does it? Believe it or not, I was faced with similar choices to Marilyn’s. In some ways, my childhood was similar, and I too–yes, me, the mad bag lady!–was thought of as rather, shall we say, sexy… I could have slept my way to the top…

But I chose a different route. And look where I am today! Woohoo!

I haven’t committed suicide because I chose to be myself and not be commodified, but I, obviously, paid a financial price.

However, it could have been different if I’d had a large following. What I mean is, if millions of Americans had also chosen freedom –and we can do it now, all of us, we can choose freedom today!–if Americans were to choose freedom then the few of us who value freedom wouldn’t be the outcasts, the dregs of society. We’d be the heroes.

But today’s American heroes are sellouts. They live like Marilyn lived. It’s fun for a while until the years go by and you start to find you can’t be a commodity any longer. If you’re an intelligent person, eventually, you’ll start to realize that there are aspects of yourself you’ve had to suppress in order to appease those you’ve allowed to have power over you.

And increasingly, it’s getting dangerous to hold onto our humanity, to be ourselves. We’re all under surveillance. We go to work and our bosses are watching us via cameras all over the building. They watch us as we drive into the parking lot and park our cars. They see us applying that extra dab of lip gloss and straightening out the wrinkles in our clothes before we exit our car. They’re watching while we think we’re alone in the elevator and pulling the crease out of the back of our skirt when we forget someone else is there (behind the surveillance camera.) Even some public restrooms have surveillance cameras in them. But we ignore all that, telling ourselves no one is really watching us, and we adjust our bra strap, maybe remove our blouse to fix our bra, and all the while a man is watching us behind that camera in the restroom where we thought we were alone.

We have no privacy. No time to be ourselves, even when we’re alone. No time to lock ourselves in the bathroom to have a good cry–because they’re watching us there too. But that’s not enough for them.

Now they want the right to stop us and confiscate our belongings–but only if they think we’re homeless.

Well, guess what, Americans? We are homeless! All of us. They’ve taken our country away from us. We grew up living in the Land of the Free and the Brave, the land that claimed, “Give me your tired and your poor…” but our land was taken away from us.

So where do we go now?

 

 

A Child of the Poor…

“Helpless and hungry, lowly he lies, wrapped in the chill of midwinter…

born into poverty’s embrace…

Who is this who lives with the lowly,                sharing their sorrows,                    knowing their hunger?

This is Christ,                       revealed to the world in the eyes of a child,                       a child of the poor…”

————————Scott Soper

I went to church last night, Christmas Eve, flipped through the hymnal and found this song. I memorized the key lyrics and the song’s composer ’cause it inspired yet another blog entry. It reminded me of what Christianity used to be, as I’d learned it anyhow, until recently. Christianity, as I understood it, was all about helping the poor and not striving for money or material things because those things are of this earth, physical, not spiritual, not eternal. As Christians, we are to strive to cultivate and enrich our spirit but certainly not our bank accounts. In fact, we should be ready to give away everything, including the shirt off of our backs, to help those in need. This, my friend, is the Christianity I grew up with.

Sayonara, peace and love. Christianity, like everything else in our society, has become mean.

(I’ve had trouble embedding the videos below,  so I’ll just include the links for your viewing pleasure…)

http://crooksandliars.com/2013/12/stephen-colberts-homeless-holidays

http://jezebel.com/colbert-sticks-it-to-the-homeless-with-homeless-for-th-1480425413

And look, another blogger beat me to this at:

http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/fox-news-knows-how-to-keep-the-spirit-of-christmas/

What happened? Seems Christianity itself has become, in a sense, the anti-Christ, the very thing that attacks everything this Christ stood for:  turning the other cheek, i.e., nonviolence, kindness, generosity, compassion, rejecting greed and materialism, embracing humility and poverty.

This new “Christianity” says that greed is good and that money and material things are given by God to His followers… Huh? Modern times!

Huh?

Read the Bible, people. The Christian Bible does not advocate the obtaining of money and material things. It does not. Does not. Does not.

Christ is born “a child of the poor.” He is born into poverty wrapped in nothing but the “midwinter chill.”

In fact, Jesus and his family–mother Mary, father Joseph–were homeless. There was no room at the inn, so they stayed in a stable where animals were kept. Hmm… Where were the trespassing laws to arrest these occupiers? How would you have treated this homeless family of three had you been alive to witness Jesus’s birth? Would you, like Bill O’Reilly and his anti-Christ wannabe/pseudo Christian friends, give help to the child but ignore the parents, treating them with scorn? Would you accuse Mary and Joseph of being lazy, irresponsible and not wanting to work? Why did they choose to have a child when they were so low on money? Shouldn’t they have put off marriage and children until their financial situation improved?

Yes, this child of the poor, this hungry, helpless, lowly, homeless child was none-other than Jesus Himself. The Messiah Himself, revealed to the world as a poor homeless child. I guess we’ll never know what great gifts an impoverished person might be able to offer if he were allowed to live up to his greatest potential. And I think this was Jesus’s biggest message of all.  And I believe this is why he was killed.  His very existence as a man who was not born into wealth, not the son of a king (by worldly standards) but who was being treated like a king and followed by a host of admirers, posed a huge threat to the wealthy and powerful who wanted the people to follow THEM, not this Jesus upstart.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth…”  Matthew 5:5

Hmm… What would Bill O’Reilly say? He’d probably say, “Get out of my stable, ya’ no-good crackheads. Get a job! You shouldn’t be havin’ kids if you can’t afford ’em!”  Then he’d call the police, have Mary and Joseph put in jail and Jesus placed in a foster home. In fact, Bill O’Reilly and his pals would be the first to demand Jesus be sentenced to death for his rebellious ways.

Do you think Jesus and his family were lazy drug addicts who lacked intelligence or practiced poor planning, etc.?   Some people ask, “What would Jesus do?” Now, I am asking you, my dear, darlin’ reader, what would you do if you encountered Jesus right here and now–long hair, sandals, poverty and all.

Because, as we all know, Jesus was poor.  Someone even wrote a song about it…

God bless America!… Well, someone should… If not God, then whom?

Whew, that last blog was a mangled mess of verbiage: words tossed together and plopped haphazardly onto a blog like some sort of twisted verbal salad, or like the mishmash on your daddy’s supper plate. “It’s all goin’ in the same stomach,” he used to say as you watched in awe…

Eating that mess is one thing. But having to read it? Well, sorry. Might just go ahead and delete it till I have time to rewrite the darn thing.

I promise you, I wasn’t drunk when I wrote it, nor was I insane. I was, however, mad. Mad as heck…  But that’s a given. Just look at this blog’s title.  But ya’ know…

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow, roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop, and everyone goes, “Awww!”    –Jack Kerouac (No one would write anything like that today and become successful, and that’s fodder for a future blog. He died in 1969, just as freedom as we knew it was on its slow, demoralized way out.)

Anyhow, the previous blog entry does need some serious editing, and perhaps one day I’ll get to it. But, as you’ve probably noticed, the time to edit just isn’t there.  (The time to do just about anything that we aren’t paid for isn’t there for most of us overworked and underpaid Americans these days, is it? Leisure time is virtually nonexistent for most of us these days. And frankly, I think that’s a part of the plan–no leisure time to think, to blog, to write, to ponder the mysteries of the universe or just to hone our typing skills. Certainly, there’s little time for political action, involvement or protest. Everything we do spend time on needs to bring us back some money, or else it just isn’t worth anything, as far as our falling society is concerned (and as far as our landlords, mortgage bankers, bosses, social service workers,  bill collectors, politicians and next-door neighbors are concerned.)

Perhaps what we need is a blessing. Which brings me to this latest blog entry. Is there a God? And would He, could He, please bless us, America? If there were a God, a Higher Power, a force of all that is good, a universal Creator, would he, could he (or she?!) bless the USA?

Uh, no. Apparently not.  And the answer, my friends, comes from a surprising source: Bobcat Goldthwait. A friend of mine once said that she never met a comedian who was not some sort of genius. Goldthwait seems to prove the point.  This oddball comedian  has come out of the closet, as it were, to reveal the  genius behind the weirdness. Who knew?

To wit:

“My name is Frank, but that’s not important. The important question is, ‘Who  are you?’ America has become a cruel and vicious place. We reward the shallowest, dumbest, the meanest and the loudest. We no longer have any common sense of decency, no sense of shame. There’s no right and wrong. The worst qualities in people are looked up to and celebrated. Lying and spreading fear are fine, as long as you make money doing it. We’ve become a nation of slogan-saying, vile-spewing hate mongers. We’ve lost our kindness. We’ve lost our soul.

What have we become? We take the weakest in our society and we hold them up to be ridiculed, laughed at for our sport and entertainment, laughed at to the point where they would literally rather kill themselves than live with us anymore…”

And with that said, Frank goes on a killing spree, slaughtering all the rude, discourteous, ugly Americans he can find.  Oh yeah. He’s a nice guy who does something that’s very much not nice, i.e., killing people who aren’t nice. So his dissatisfaction with the way things are corrupts him. He becomes, in a sense, meaner than the mean people he destroys. But perhaps he’s not really killing them for being mean. Perhaps it’s the stupidity, the dumbed-downedness that really irritates him. In that sense, he is triumphant. He succeeds in killing off some of the dumbest and most irritating people in our society–reality show stars, spoiled, rich brats, etc.

I admit, I didn’t enjoy the violence or the blood and gore but I think it was fitting nevertheless.

In fact, it is ingenious:  a movie about the decline of American culture that uses violence, blood and gore to make its statement, thus reeling in the ugly Americans who thrive on such titillation who will want to see this film but who probably won’t recognize themselves in it.

Actor Joel Murray nailed the role of the soft-spoken, polite, mild-mannered everyman, Frank, so well that I nearly cried when he beseeched his neighbor to please move his car. (The neighbor  repeatedly blocks Frank’s car.) Far from apologetic, the neighbor replies using what has become commonplace American “logic” these days:  “it’s your own fault if you’re a victim of my selfishness and greed.”

“You blocked yourself in, bro'” he says to Frank. Meanwhile, the neighbor’s wife is overheard in the background saying, “Tell him to park his car away from us.”

Frank is already late for work. He likes to park his car in front of his apartment. Finally, the neighbor reluctantly walks toward his car with the intention of moving it but he takes his time, looking over his car to see if there are any scratches on it before moving it out of Frank’s way. He’s also careful to reprimand Frank with, “Dude, you need to leave yourself more room.”  An American flag proudly displays in the man’s front window, just above the a/c and a bumper sticker remembering 911 is on the back of his car. He’s patriotic, proud of his country and the mean-spirited selfishness and greed that have become so much a part of it.

There is, however, some brilliant, thought-provoking dialogue here (Bobcat Goldthwait wrote this?), and that makes me think this movie could never possibly become a hit in the US, though it may develop a loyal cult following. As the film itself suggests, Americans don’t like intellectual discourse. They/We prefer cheap titillation. Instant gratification. Or whatever brings in a buck. Violence, explicit sex, blood and gore, yes. But thought-provoking dialogue? Where’s the remote? Next!

“It’s not nice to laugh at someone who’s not all there. It’s the same type of freak show distraction that comes along every time a mighty empire starts collapsing. I’m done, really. Everything is so cruel now. I just want it all to stop…”

“Nobody talks about anything anymore. They just regurgitate everything they see on TV or hear on the radio, or watch on the web. When was the last time you had a real conversation with someone without somebody texting or looking at a screen or monitor over your head? You know, a conversation about something that wasn’t celebrities, gossips, sports or pop politics? Somethin’ important or somethin’ personal?…”

“Oh I get it, and I am offended, not because I got a problem with bitter, predictable, whiny, millionaire disc jockeys complaining about celebrities or how tough their life is, while I live in an apartment with paper-thin walls next to a couple of Neanderthals who, instead of a baby, decided to give birth to some kind of nocturnal civil defense air raid siren that goes off every f—‘in night like it’s Pearl Harbor. I’m not offended that they act like it’s my responsibility to protect their rights to pick on the weak like pack animals or that we’re supposed to support their freedom of speech when they don’t give a f— about yours or mine.”

Frank is speaking to his coworker who completely misses the intriguing points just raised. Fancying himself as the intellectual know-it-all, the coworker responds to Frank: “So you’re against freedom of speech now? It’s in the Bill of Rights, man.”

Frank patiently takes a moment to restrain himself then begins with:

“I would defend their freedom of speech, if I thought it was in jeopardy. I would defend their freedom of speech to tell uninspired, bigoted, blow job, gay-bashing, racist and rape jokes all under the guise of being edgy, but that’s not the edge. That’s what sells. They couldn’t possibly pander any harder or be more commercially mainstream because this is the ‘Oh no, you didn’t say that!’ generation where a shocking comment has more wit than the truth.

No one has any shame anymore, and we’re supposed to celebrate it. I saw a woman throw a used tampon at another woman last night on network television—a network that bills itself as ‘today’s woman’s channel.’ Kids beat each other blind and post it on youtube. I mean, do you remember when eating rats and maggots on Survivor was shocking? It all seems so quaint now. I’m sure the girls from Two Girls, One cup are gonna have their own dating show on VH1 any day now. I mean, why have a civilization anymore if we are no longer interested in being civilized?”

Oh yes, indeed. Why have a civilization anymore when we are no longer interested (or perhaps capable of) being civilized?

Indeed. Indeed. I would say the only dispute I’d have with the film’s statement would surround the scene in which Frank loses his job. A receptionist of his employer accuses Frank of possible sexual harassment.  (He’d bought her flowers then sent them to her house. She hadn’t given him her address.) I appreciate the moral statement behind the scene. Yes, we as a society are too paranoid. Yes, we need to be more friendly, more loving and forgiving toward one another. Yes, we need to be free to connect with each other again and not be so afraid of others who are trying to connect with us.

Yes, yes, yes!

However…

Sexual harassment is a reality that many women experience. (I wish more men had empathy for women!) I can point to specific situations in my own life when certain men have made the workplace uncomfortable for those of us they found attractive but were unwilling to reciprocate. Basically, if you’re not interested in sleeping with them, some of those guys get vindictive. They’re bullies essentially, and they expect to get what they want. Or else. It’s one more glass ceiling women hit in the workplace. Sleep with that guy! Or at least respond favorably to his advances. Or else.

But as usual, I have my own take on everything I see. Yep, this is why I have no money. I think for myself. I express my own personal opinions. I think outside the box. And, sadly, I live in the USSA, er, the USSR, uh, I mean, the USA. And American society doesn’t like that sort of thing, especially when the thinking comes from us ladies.

No, no, no!

Are you with me, women? If you’re a woman and others think you’re “pretty” or (heavens to Betsy!) “sexy,” some men expect you to be available to them. If you don’t play the role of sex object (using your bod, ala Anna Nicole); if you insist on keeping those clothes on and developing your intellect and/or talent rather than keeping the focus on your, uh, endowments, then you’ll hit that glass ceiling so fast you won’t even know it hit you. (And ouch! That really hurts!) This is especially true if you try to get men to see you as a person and show no interest whatsoever in ever, EVER sleeping with or being fondled by them.

Point is, the receptionist at Frank’s place of work had reason to be a bit standoffish and concerned. Women do deal with stalkers, unfortunately, and violence against women is a reality and a part of our society’s problem.

But the ruthless reaction of Frank’s boss doesn’t make sense. No one talks anything over. There’s no diplomacy nor due process for Frank. He is accused of something and then he’s out–just like that. His coworkers seem happy that he’s being taken away. Dog-eat-doggedness and unhealthy competition is common in most offices these days. Americans have learned to compete with each other, to fight with each other, to fear each other, while at the same time displaying that flag and that ‘Remember 911’ bumper sticker as though the meanness we show each other is somehow negated by those superficial attempts at being a whole, cohesive society of people who truly love and support one another.

Well, I didn’t intend on writing a movie review, but here it is. Great film (except for the violence, though I understand why it is there. Americans won’t go to see it unless there’s plenty of violence.) Well-written. Great dialogue. Intriguing. Glad I got to see it. Maybe you will too?

And here’s hoping Goldthwait will continue to be successful in this country, in spite of his pesky habit of thinking. Perhaps he needs therapy? Ah, but don’t we all…

“god bless america” (lowercase?) was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait and presented by Darko Entertainment in association with Jerkschool Productions.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/bobcat-goldthwait-god-bless-america-movie_n_1519387.html


Aside

Why occupy?

Here’s an UNEDITED comment I just posted on Facebook (of all places) in response to critics of the occupy movement. Again, I don’t have time to edit, so it is what it is….on my way to work again… (at my low-paying, stressful, dead-end job for which I am way overqualified, mind you…)  But I”m so lucky to have a job in this economy. Woo-hoo!

XXX contends that public camping is not a protected right by the US Constitution. S/he refers to a US Supreme court decision. The decision of the court reflects an interpretation only (and interpretations can be wrong) of the US Constitution and, I believe, it is misguided

Second, if you read the Constitution, it does state that the rights not specifically spelled out by the Constitution automatically revert back to the people. Since the Constitution does not specifically state that people cannot camp out in public places then it is up to us, the people, to decide whether or not we should have that right.

And we’ve decided.

Third, the colonists camped out on land that was owned by the Native Americans (Indians), so they couldn’t possibly advocate laws forbidding camping out in public spaces. (Otherwise, what they were doing in coming to this land and taking it over would have been illegal.  Wait a minute…it was illegal…)

Fourth, many Americans are losing their jobs and homes and are having no choice but to camp out somewhere as homeless shelters are overwhelmed with the increasing need (and are often dangerous and unpleasant places to stay anyhow.) Those of us who are suffering greatly in this economy need to confront those in power with our poverty. “Look at what you’ve done to us,” is what we are saying to them when we camp out in front of their luxury office buildings and add some discomfort to their luxurious lifestyles.

Living in their gated communities in affluent areas and traveling in their limos and private planes, it is easy for them to ignore us. (They’ve been ignoring us for decades. Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickeled and Dimed.” It was written over ten years ago!)

But when we’re camped out in front of their well-manicured faces, they can’t ignore us! That’s why the occupies are so important. We need to take back public spaces.

Ironically, we Americans have become a lot like the Indians or the illegal immigrants we claim so much disdain for in our own country and in direct result of this very system we have set up. We are now suffering, in part, due to our own unjust laws and policies. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes now and be the change we seek in the world.

Occupy is our big chance to do just that!

Fifth, the great thing about Occupy encampments is that they give us that chance to learn to live together, to share and cooperate with each other again. Camping out together, we have the opportunity to formulate a new system that truly is democratic. It’s not easy and there have been lots of problems and conflicts at the Occupy in my own city (as I’ve written about in previous blog entries), but those conflicts exist because we have all been influenced by this corporate-controlled society. We’ve been conditioned to think dog-eat-dog and fight with each other. The Occupy movement is our chance to work on ourselves and create a new way of living and looking at the world and each other.

My question to the anti-occupiers is this: why are you so against the encampments? Is it because it forces you to confront what you’d prefer to ignore, i.e., the suffering of others and the real truth about the US–that we are NOT democratic, NOT free, and most certainly NOT the land of opportunity?

there’s no incentive to work! why people stay on welfare (or remain homeless) for years and years… (hint: it’s not ’cause they like being poor)

The real reason is this:

Well, actually, it’s not so simple.  I can’t reduce this concept to a sound byte.  Sorry, TV watchers.  But this is a complex idea and will need to be explained in two blog-writing sessions.  I have to go to “work” myself this morning, so I’ll just begin this blog here then continue it later on tonight or tomorrow…

I’ve had yet just another fellow American tell me that safety nets, such as welfare, encourage laziness, that there’s no incentive to work when someone is given everything he/she needs by the government.

Ehem.

This was a very nice person, so I was able to explain my point of view, though not very well, I think, because it is complex.  How do I explain a concept that a semester of college work could perhaps barely explain?  (Yes, I do think there should be Poverty Studies courses in college.  The neo-cons are against this sort of thing.  They dislike the liberal arts in general–contains the word “liberal” after all.)  But the liberal arts teach us to think about each other, about why we’re all really here on this earth, about morality, about ethics, social responsibility and social injustice.  Right now, especially right now, we need to be thinking about those things.  For all their talk about “Christian values,” the neo-cons are anti-morality.  Their only concern is themselves, their money, their material things, and, yes, their taxes.  They don’t like taxes!

Personally, I don’t like poverty and despair.  I don’t like human suffering.  That to me is a much more serious problem than paying taxes.

But there ya’ go.  I’m not a neo-con, neo-liberal, Republic-con, or whatever they call themselves these days.

(Disclaimer:  if you’re  a Republican, rest assured that I don’t want to hate you.  In fact, I’m trying real hard not to hate you.  I know that only a few of you are addicted to money, greed, selfishness and mean-spirited, rugged individualism.  Most of you just don’t have an understanding of what is really happening in this country.  You’ve been misinformed or uninformed.  Without an understanding of how governments and societies are formed and have been formed throughout history, how can you learn of what is happening in today’s world?  So you turn on that TV set–some call it an “idiot box”–and just hope for the best.  Sadly, you make the mistake of turning on Fox News.  Naively, you trust the misinformation you’re given as “fair and balanced.”  And, being uneducated in history, sociology, and human psychology, how would you know enough to do any different?)

So there.

When people say that poor people are lazy and don’t want to work, that safety nets just enable them to not work what they are really saying is that poor people are inferior to rich people and that poor people should not have the right to pursue their own happiness but that only rich people should have that right.

Case in point:

Why is no one attacking rich people for being lazy and not wanting to work?  There are many people who were born into wealthy families who do not have to work. Yes, that’s right, they have nothing to do, nothing that they have to do.  They don’t have to work because their families are so rich that they can literally live off of their parents’ money and never, ever work a day in their lives.  Some of them become very apathetic and bored.  They begin spending their money on drugs and alcohol in a desperate attempt to alleviate the tedium by creating some obstacles for themselves.  (Poor people drink to forget about the obstacles.  The mega-rich drink to create them.  Go figure.)

Yet we don’t attack the lazy and irresponsible rich.  Why?  Because they worked for it, you say?  No, I’m talking about people who were born with  money, who never worked for it.  (I need to repeat myself here and will continue to repeat myself over and over again on these blogs because, sadly, one must repeat one’s self in order to get heard amongst the chaos and shouting in this attention-deficit-disordered, fast-paced age.  So I’ll try to make this simple and repeat myself enough times so that, I hope, some people will “get it.”

Point is this:  if we value  hard work so much (and I’m curious about that too) why do we not attack wealthy people who are lazy and don’t want to work?

(Sadly, I must work and not at what I love to do or am good at. Perhaps one day I’ll earn a living from writing these blogs or from writing in general.  However, now I must go to work at a dead-end, low-paying job that will cause me to become homeless again soon because that is the only kind of work I’ve been able to obtain in this Land of Opportunity, the USSA.)  So I’ll continue this thought later…

Okay, I’m just going to add this thought before I go.  Here’s what I would do if I were collecting welfare and food stamps, if I didn’t have to “work” at a regular job.  I’d spend my days working on my writing, writing more blogs, practicing my guitar, making my videos.  Yep, I’d be working at the things I do best.  Maybe I’d be able to make a positive contribution to society.  Maybe I’d be the next Michael Moore and make films that enlighten, educate, that make other people think differently about their society.  Oh, I guess that explains why some wealthy, powerful people don’t want people like me to really “work.”  They want us to work at low-paying, dead-end jobs that support corporate America.  They just don’t want us to work at anything that will better ourselves and our community.  And often those are the jobs for which we don’t get paid in money.  No one pays me to write these blogs, to make my videos, to produce my music.  No one pays me.  Not a penny.  I don’t even get donations.  Perhaps I should solicit for them.  But right now I want to be able to speak my mind while I still have the right to do so.  Soon the government will send in agents to arrest people like me, to shut us down for good.  I already have reason to believe that I’m on some sort of terrorist-wanted list.

But that’s the way it goes…

And I will continue this later…

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