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Monday, September 17, 2012
(Poverty, and it’s Uses.)
We’ve been corralled into a focus on the wrong things…into believing, to the exclusion of other beliefs, in one metric of human value.
Under this Criteria, I am a worthless waste of air…and so are my Wife and Kids.
So’s my Mother in Law, and my Late Great-Grandmother.
So are 90% of my Neighbors…here, in the Barrio.
(and, more than likely, so are You)
This Criteria has been foisted on us…by Force, sometimes…but also insidiously, by Lies and Misdirection.
The “Poor” are always implied to be somebody else…(somebody other than the “Real Americans” that are being addressed…)
And then eviscerated, as the “Other”…the one’s who are at fault.
The ones who are Taking..
The ones who are Poor, due to their Laziness…their Lack of Work Ethic…On Purpose.
“Welfare” , as the Family Business.
Most “welfare recipients” are White Folks. (5)
This is never acknowledged…the Myth persists. (and if one includes so called, “Corporate Welfare”…most “welfare recipients’ are not even Human.)(15)
It amazes me, that with so many Nouveau Poor, these Assumptions are still thrown around, without challenge. The Right tapped into the Fear of Becoming Poor….as well as poorly concealed Racism…and, especially, the Shame that We are encouraged to feel, if We ….for whatever reason…Fail to meet the Criteria that determines Our Worth, as Human Beings/”Consumers”. Emphasis on “FAIL”.
The “Left”(lol) has been only marginally better…since what we call “Left” includes “Blue Dogs” and “Conservadems”…Remember, the “Liberal” Clinton “Ended Welfare as we know it”.
By an objective analysis, “Workfare”…”Welfare to Work”, has been an abject failure, at least since the Great Recession began….and , I assert that it was a failure from the get-go…relying on another, unexamined, part of the Mythology…that a “job is a job is a job”;that all jobs are equal.
I am enraged every time the Mythos of Welfare Queens is used…every time some pundit makes the assumption that being Poor is a Choice…that Folks set out to be Poor…and that it’s so fucking Easy to Do, that “Welfare” is preferable to Working.
That Poor Women Purposefully Get Pregnant, in order to rake in more Taxpayer Dollars…
That People on “Welfare” are…somehow…living the life of Riley….undeservedly.
This Mythos is completely, totally, made of Bullshit. There is not a shred of Evidence to prove it.
There is, on the other hand, plenty of Verifiable Evidence to Prove that it is False…but this is ignored.
In my Reluctant Journey into “Welfare”….I have found the various Federal and State and Local Programs to be Draconian, Byzantine, Convoluted and Stupid.
Most glaring…at least to me…is the Presumption of Bad Faith. It is assumed, from the Outset, that someone applying for any form of Government Help is attempting to Cheat….that they are more than likely Lying, in order to avoid having to work. The Burden of Proof is on the Applicant to Prove the Negative.
When my Doctor told me that I needed a Hip, and should apply for “Disability”,his assumption was that it would be Easy as Cake…and that soon, I would be able to access the medical care I needed. It will be Seven Years, this June(I think…my Timelessness has put me at a rather large disadvantage in this endeavor)…Seven Years of trying to get past the Funding Issue for my needed surgery.(now, it’s many surgeries.I Disintegrate)). At every Step along this still unfinished Journey, I have been made to feel Less of a Man, Less of an American and Less of a Human Being. This is written into the Rules and Regulations. It’s part and parcel of the Script, the Checklist, used by Government Functionaries.(If/Then Decision Scripts). It is Baked In to the Criteria used to determine Worthiness.
Luckily, the Boys were able to qualify for Medicaid, from the beginning…for Kids, even in Texas, the Bar is set much lower….but I expect this to become harder, the further we swing to the Right.
The one 3 month period, before my second son was born…and before I “Retired”…when my job put me just a little over the income cutoff, for Medicaid for my Boy…I attempted to procure Health Insurance…signed up with Unicare…paid them a bunch of money…and found, after a visit to the doctor for an ear infection, that nothing was covered…because allergies, and problems that flow from allergies, constitute “Preexisting Conditions”….ergo, None of the Common Childhood Ailments were to be covered…
Why, I reasoned, should I pay so much, for so little. I told Unicare to kiss my ass. It was cheaper to pay cash. “Free Market”, without the possibility of an “Informed Consumer”(go read your insurance policy, or your Medicaid/Medicare/Chip fine print.)
When the Crazy Bosslady Crashed her own business…back on Medicaid he went.
Even this remnant of “Welfare” has been anything but “Easy”. Texas assumes Fraud…so one has to “Reapply” every 3 months, or so…and you can’t predict what they will require, this time…the “Documentation Requirements” change, seemingly at the whim of whomever you happen to get on the phone, that day.
This Feature is widespread, it turns out; and has to do with those Decision Scripts.. Like with other Government Entanglements, if ya get an “unfavorable” answer, often, you can call back, and get a completely different one…but the whole thing leans hard towards Denial….
TANF…what used to be AFDC…is next to impossible…no matter your situation. These are Cash Payments…supposedly to lift the Super Poor up to some semblance if Civilised Living. Clinton’s Welfare “Reforms” ended whatever effectiveness this particular program had. I have reviewed the requirements, and decided against it…it’s just not worth the enormous Hassle. Foodstamps are bad enough….
With Foodstamps(Snap, it’s a debit card…and almost Fraudproof), the Assumption of Fraud…of Bad Faith…is omnipresent. We finally convinced the Bean Counters that we weren’t Lying…that, despite my Wife having a Full Time Job, and 2 Part Time Jobs…and Numerous One Off “Jobs”(like keeping “books” at basketball games, all of which is included in the one School Paycheck…so it counts as One Job)…that, despite all of this, we remain Poor. I look at the Federal Poverty Level, for a family of four, and think…Wow! We’d feel Rich if we could only pull down such Bank!
In Texas, one is told to , simply, call “211”…which is anything but Simple…it is, instead, a Black Pit of Labyrinthine Incompetence…
Barring that, on every such website, there is the Blithe encouragement to “ Pop In to your Local Welfare Office”…I understand that I live in the Wilderness, but still…my “Local Office” is, depending, between 50 and 100 miles away(this changes all the time). One cannot call such places and hope to talk to a Human, save with Superhuman Persistence.
Suffice it to say that I know what I’m talking about…If it were so damned Easy to game the system…to live large on the Dole…I would have been a shoe-in. I qualify for everything except “Adult Medicaid”….(due to Texas Republican’s Hatred of Poor People!). The Truth is, that even if one Obviously Qualifies for all of these Programs, the Bar is too high.
The Self Censorship that Po’ Folks perform on themselves is a remarkable achievement. The Guilt at not being able, for whatever reason, to Thrive in a screwed up Economy is large…it is the reason that Poor People don’t get together. With the continuance of this Prohibition of the Voice of the Poor, nothing will change…which is just fine with those who benefit from the inconsistencies and gross inequalities inherent in our system. The Poor stay in the Closet, ashamed of their “Failure”; while the “masters of the universe” rob them blind.
I put my sordid tale Out There…but I have no idea how others fare…with very few exceptions.
Over the years, I’ve written and called a few hundred elected officials, top to bottom.
One is supposed to communicate with one’s Employees, after all.
I would like to think that others, who are in similar situations, make their Voices heard, as well.
I have no information, on this, either way…but I would bet that few do…..either from Shame, Denial, or Ignorance.
The other day, I listened to NPR, on the radio, on the way to Fredericksburg; Glen Beck, on the way back.
There is an amazing contrast, here…NPR, regarded as “liberal” by many, is Fact Based, low on Hyperbole, but mainly concerned with other issues, besides Poverty.
Beck(!) is almost completely Fact Free…and he does deal with Poverty, especially, now that it has (sort of) become a campaign issue….but Beck doesn’t have a Clue. The same old tired clichés….Lazy Poor, Poor as Terrorist Moochers…as, it is inferred, mostly Black or Brown…”Get a Job”…
Us in the “Reality Based Community” are at a disadvantage…because, in the service of Honesty…of Reality…we must Refute Every Damned Sentence. Beck hammers away at the Innuendo and at the insistence that it is Shameful to be Poor….and, of course, it’s yer own Fault.
I’m sick of all of this.
It’s Not Real.
For one thing…none of what I’m talking about is “Welfare”, at all….it’s Insurance…run by Government.
Food Stamps…the various Healthcare Programs…Unemployment Insurance…even AFDC?TANF….We, the People, Paid for that. All of Us.(Except for whatever incomes are above some arbitrary “Cap”(I think it’s still $100K)…effectively exempting the Super Rich from paying for much of any of this)
The Only “Bad Faith” that I have encountered is on the other side of the issue…the System, itself, and those who have purposefully made it dysfunctional and cruel….then go on TV and, on the one hand, pat themselves on the head for their Compassion;, on the other, belittle and besmirch and Slander the very Folks they want us to believe they are Compassionate about.
I cannot count the number of Congressional Aides, Bureaucrats, and Functionaries I have encountered, who are so obviously adherents of the Tea Party…Working For the very Government that they Hate with such Passion. I can hear the frothing, right through the phone.
I have been told, right into my ear, as it were, that I am little more than a Parasite….and that I should suck it up…that if I am really, truly, in such need, that the System will Catch Me. Fear Not.
Like Drowning Witches.
What does Winning look like?
You’re only Genuine if yer Dead?
What about Human Dignity?
What about having a care for one’s Fellow Man?
What of the Least of These?
Is Denial of Poverty, especially if you are actually Poor, such a palliative?
Does believing in the Narrative have so much of a positive effect on the Self-Esteem, that it alleviates one bit of Suffering?
I have always been poor…But I didn’t feel poor, until I lost the wherewithal to Work.
It was only then, that I found that the Narrative was Wrong. Worse, that it was a Deliberate Lie to Divide Us.
A few of my (I guess) well meaning Conservative acquaintances insist that it’s no great feat to get “On Welfare”…and answer my objections…based on the Facts of my own Experiences…with assertions that I must simply try again…or that,”Well, if you lived HERE, you would have no problem, at all”…’here’, meaning “where I live…among hordes of freeloading porch monkeys”…(but we ain’t racist!)
Poor Folks will have to emerge from this Closet, at some point, if We are to reasonably hope for a Better World. We’ll have to rise, and challenge the Lies…the Sacred Myths of the Republicans.
We must stand up for ourselves, in any way We can…because the onslaught will not cease, unless We do.
In addition to the widespread, systemic Presumption of Guilt…the Poor are Condescended to. From Headstart, to SNAP, to the myriad Healthcare Schemes.
Is there anyone in America who is unaware that Veggies and Fruit are Good For You? That you should endeavor to feed your kids healthy things, and limit Junk Food?
The Presumption of Stupidity, if not Nazi-Morality, is most evident at Headstart…(which is, overall, a good program) Do the majority of Poor People really need to be told that Beating their kids is a Bad Thing? That Raping them is wrong?
Who comes up with this stuff?! Who decided that most Poor People are violent sexual predators? And that stern admonitions against such things should be read aloud, from a worksheet, weekly?
On the one hand, “people” who see no problem with incest or injury towards their own children, are unlikely to change their behaviour at the suggestion of some bored government worker….on the other, I found it offensive …the Presumption that This is what Poor People Do. (!!!) (Don’t give your toddler Heroin…seriously)
Surely a better way to combat such abuse could be found, rather than Assuming that anyone attempting to get help is inhuman.
“Economics, education, health outcomes, fashion, capitalism and music are inherently designed to favor people who have more money/wealth over those who do not have money or wealth.”(16)
Pointing out this quite Obvious feature of Civilisation is considered an unwarranted instigation of “Class Warfare”. Part of the Mindfuck I’m always ranting about is the insistence that in the USA, we enjoy a “Classless Society”. We are expected to Ignore any evidence to the contrary…which is Legion.
Whenever some Poor Person, or an advocate of Poor Folks, attempts to point out Systemic Maladjustments, Gross Inequalities of Opportunity, or the Overall Unfairness built in to our economic system, out come the Defenders of the Faith…”You’re engaging in Class Warfare!”…
Lost in the fray is the Fact…quoted, above…that the System is geared to benefit those that built it.
Myth Maintenance, accomplished by;1. Encouraging Shame, and Silence in the Poor(Closeting/Self-Censorship) 2. Denial that there is a Problem, at all…3.Othering, almost entirely Mythologically(most of the Poor are White).
And,4. “Blaming the Victim”.(17)
This last is reliant on a peculiar phenomenon known as the “Just World Hypothesis”(18)…which Assumes that one has Earned whatever misfortune that one is suffering under….that the Poor, in this instance, are Lazy, and without Morality and a Work Ethic…and, therefore, Deserve their Poverty.
I suspect that there’s a little Schadenfreude at work here, too.
I find it interesting that, according to the research…on the one hand, African Americans are the least likely Demographic to subscribe to a Just World Hypothesis…and, on the other, that those who lean Right(Authoritarian/Hierarchical Personality) are more likely.
It’s also quite interesting that these Right Leaning Folks are more likely to be subject to another Cognitive Bias; the “Semmelveis Reflex”…or, the “Backfire Effect”(19 & 20)…wherein new evidence that contradicts a deeply held Belief, has the actual effect, reflexively, of Strengthening that Belief. (!!!)
In other words, if you Believe that the Poor are Lazy, and, therefore, Deserve their Poverty…then evidence to the contrary…rather than pushing you to Amend such Beliefs…instead, leads to a Strengthening of the now Disproven Beliefs.
It’s Lose/Lose, for Liberals, and others in the “Reality Based Community”.
Facts no longer matter.
Hence, Ontological Crisis.
(I can only speak to my own experiences, of course.
We have only the Appearance of a “Safety Net”.
At least in Texas…perhaps it’s different, somewhere else.
Perhaps in the more Civilised regions, there is a Functioning and Compassionate Government Insurance System…. I don’t know.
It is likely, as with so many things, something of a Continuum…further confusing the issue.
Here, the “thinkers” on the Right refer to it as the “Texas Model”….and want to export it…Universalise it…to the rest of the country. This indicates that it Is at least a little better elsewhere.)
“It’s not Class Warfare…it’s Patriotism!”-Corey Ellis
“It’s not Risky to be Wealthy…it’s Risky to be Poor!”-Melissa Harris Perry
“Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 64 percent of the population in 2010 and received 69 percent of the entitlement benefits. In contrast, Hispanics made up 16 percent of the population but received 12 percent of the benefits, less than their proportionate share — likely because they are a younger population and also because immigrants, including many legal immigrants, are ineligible for various benefits. Non-Hispanic African Americans account for 12 percent of the population and received 14 percent of the benefits.”
it’s all imaginary, anyway:
so why not try an
(14)for the Adventurous: http://jacobinmag.com/2012/08/how-the-left-has-won/
Too bad we are, generally, so unaware of Marx.lol.
And….We seem to have plenty of money…in the other account: 15http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/18/968223/-ExxonMobil-Billions-in-Subsidies-Profits-and-Not-one-Dime-in-Taxes-Paid
Sometimes, the Links work...sometimes, they do not.