Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Politicians and Poverty

Two weeks ago, Ann Romney told Republicans that she and Mitt had known lean times:

“We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know what? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining-room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. But those were the best days.” Oh, what fun to be poor!

It was easy to believe that poverty was fun, writes Richard Cohen. Ann and Mitt were living off the stock that Mitt's father -- the president of American Motors -- had given them. Romney's assertion simply proves that today's political class knows nothing about poverty:

Poverty, after all, is not about bookcases made of planks and bricks but about utter hopelessness. The poor do not have affluent parents. The poor do not have college degrees. The poor often do not even have high school degrees. The poor often don’t have a man in the house or, to be perfectly frank, sometimes the discipline and work habits to lift themselves out of poverty.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, Stephen Harper's said, "The stock market will sort itself out. I suspect some good buying opportunities are opening up with some of the panic we’ve seen in the stock market in the last few days.” As always, he was not thinking about the little guy.

The Star's Richard Gwyn writes that the old class system -- best illustrated by passenger allocation on The Titanic -- has re-emerged.  The wealthy on the upper decks were given a chance to survive. The miserable in steerage never had a chance.

That same structure, writes Gwyn, has now been revived:

According to the Tax Justice Network, the holdings in these tax havens now amount to an incredible $21 trillion. That sum is equal to the gross national product of the U.S. and Japan combined.

That unimaginable horde is owned or controlled by just 92,000 people in the world. They constitute not Occupy Wall Street’s 1 per cent of all taxpayers but a mere 0.001 per cent of them.

They and the lawyers and accountants and bankers who serve them — as substitutes for the butlers and gardeners and downstairs maids of earlier years — do indeed live lives utterly different from everyone else, and can indeed pass on their wealth, as little taxed in today’s global world as it was a century and a half ago, to their children. Even the old dukes and duchesses didn’t do as well.

If today's politicians  -- like the Romneys -- are not wealthy, they are the servants of the wealthy; and, therefore, they are well cared for. But most of the world lives in steerage.


Anonymous said...

It's scarcely believable that the wife of an American Presidential candidate during a time of high unemployment would have remarked that it's fun to be poor. She might as well have said, "Let them eat cake."

Owen Gray said...

Anne's mission was supposedly to help Mitt connect to ordinary folks, Anon.

She and Mitt haven't got a clue about how ordinary folks live.

Anonymous said...

The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

If Ann Romney had a clue what it is like to be poor (especially those of us who grew up in households which could not afford three meals a day), she would definitely not have said that it was fun to be poor.

Why do poor working white folks who cannot afford private healthcare or insurance diss Obamacare and vote for these people who hide their riches offshore to avoid paying the U.S. taxes that these poor working folks have to pay?

Stupidity is just part of it --- what else???

Owen Gray said...

I have to admit that why they vote for folks like the Romneys has puzzled me for a long time.

The only explanation I can think of is that the Romneys of the world have managed to convince the poor that the other guys are the elite.

As Bill Clinton said, it takes brass to attack a guy for something you did.

Anonymous said...

why? and what else?
joe bageant wrote an excellent book ...deer hunting with jesus...which explores these very questions
he also has a site with all his essays
for this one i recommend ...amerika why r yur peeps so dumb? (on line)
its the stuborn independance that rejects "gubmint" help and the self responsible salvation..."if i'm to have it god will provide" (also a tenant of harpers church)
its family values (they all say it)...and pappy always said and godless communists.
and the american dream manifest in guys like romney ....blessed by god and it had to be hard work...he looks like that nice young preacher.
anyway do yourself a huge favor and google joe bageant.com he asked those questions for 45 years from the inside out and he is an outrageous writer in the class of hunter thompson
i read somewhere once that a multi-year study on poverty was presented to harper early in his majority government
his response was to drop it in a waste basket and comment ...."we won't be needing that"
blessings ....mike

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Mike. The obsession with "gov'ment" sounds a lot like Pap Finn -- who was his own worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

Owen: I am the Anon 10.39 above.

Actually, there is an interesting book by Chip Smith entitled: The Cost of Privilege: Taking on the System of White Supremacy and Racism, Camino Press, NC, 2007. In it, Chip asked some of these very questions (e.g. why poor white folks in the impoverished areas of the U.S. consistently vote against their own self interests).

One of the suggestions in Chip's book is that these poor working white folks had traded their own self interests for some other privileges, that they are told, are associated with their race/ class(e.g. that somehow they are superior in intellect to the colored plantation workers who are deemed unworthy of the privileges of the "superior" class/race). As Chip stated, land was used as the bait to hook poor Europeans into supprssing the Indian peoples and enforcing the slavery system. This land was not even the better quality land which had already been grabbed by the ruling elites.

I should read that book again while keeping in mind what a friend of mine used to say: ignorance is curable but stupidity is forever. LOL

Owen Gray said...

I earned a Master's degree from the University of North Carolina, Anon; and, as part of the program, I spent a year teaching in the public schools of North Carolina.

My experience was that there was a fierce need among "poor whites" to maintain their superior status viz. a viz. African Americans. If you've read "To Kill A Mockingbird," by Harper Lee, you encounter that fierce racism in Bob and Mayella Ewell.

The truth is that the Right -- at least in the United States -- has developed a code which doesn't support overt racism.

But it does tell poor Southerners they are better than those folks who they were forced to accept under civil rights laws.

And those poor white southerners hold the liberal elite responsible for what happened.

Mogs said...

"Stephen Harper's said, "The stock market will sort itself out. I suspect some good buying opportunities are opening up with some of the panic we’ve seen in the stock market in the last few days.”

Steve I need you to deliver a letter to the 1% tell them to quit hoarding, you are the mail boy for them after all are you not, Stephen Harper?

Owen Gray said...

It's pretty clear who Harper is working for, Mogs.