Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who Taught You To Hate The Poor?

With apologies to our Shining Black Prince, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X.

You're fine, my brother.

I have been thinking about this for a long, long time.  Finally, it hit me.  That's why I'm paraphrasing Malcolm X's brilliant speech about self-hatred in the Black community to discuss the absolute hatred that some people have for the poor in this country.  It is beyond ridiculous, and it is the antithesis of the Christianity that I profess about, embrace, and preach about.

Who taught you how to hate the poor?  Who taught you that the poor were somehow sub-human, and not worthy of basic things, such as food, shelter, human dignity, and common decency?  Every now and then, the topic of drug-testing people who receive public assistance comes up.  The supporters of this measure rail on and on about how they are sick and tired of their tax dollars are funding a poor person's Cadillac, X-Box, and cocaine habit.  They INSIST that people receiving public assistance MUST prove themselves worthy of the government's generosity, and one of the ways to prove this is by taking a random drug test.  In one discussion, someone actually said that in his "hood", up to 90% of the people on public assistance were drug users.  Now, unless he lived on the set of "The Wire", I'm calling shenanigans on that claim.  

With regards to drug testing people on public assistance, we already have a model on which to base our observations.  We have the state of Florida.  Yep, good ol' Florida, the home of George Zimmerman, "Stand Your Ground", and the place where LeBron James took his talents.  Florida Gov. Voldermort Rick Scott implemented drug testing for people needing assistance in his state.  And to the surprise of no one ever, the results were less than stellar.  A heaping 2.6% of those tested failed the drug test, costing the state an additional $46,000 over the initial $118,000 that it cost to reimburse the people that tested negative.  The state of Utah had similar results.  

Look at me!  I'm a fiscal conservative!  I'll prove it by spending MORE money on tests!  Muah hah hah hah!!!

Even if the results kicked every drug user of the rolls of public assistance (which it didn't), there is a key element that the conservatives always refuse to address. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY.  In the case of Florida, as it turned out, the facilities that conducted the drug tests were owned by Gov. Scott, who then transferred the shares to a trust controlled by his wife.  Conflict of interest, you say?  Pshaw.  There's no conflict of interest when the governor of a state institutes a state-wide drug-testing program, and those tests are to be done at facilities basically owned by his wife.  Why would ANYONE think that there's a conflict of interest?  And of COURSE, it's fiscally responsible to directly benefit from a measure that costs the taxpayers money.  And it really shows that you're compassionate when you require that the poor pay for these tests out of pocket, only to be reimbursed if and when they test negative.

It would be a crying shame if your children didn't eat because you acted like you had something to hide.  Yep, a darned crying shame.  Your children will thank you for your pee.

Drug tests are just one way that the poor are treated with disrespect.  Conservatives act as if the poor are just a bunch of lazy bums, sitting on street corners, demanding handouts.  This sentiment played out during the 2012 Presidential election, when robot Mormon Republican candidate Willardham Mittington Romneyhilliard IV stated that he would never get 47% of the vote, because they are nothing but takers.  Obviously, this didn't sit well with the poor, the middle class, and anyone who has an iota of common sense and decency.  But the rich continue to latch on to this idea that if you're not as rich as a Limbaugh, a Hannity, or a Koch, you are somehow a taker and a leech on society.  They also believe that if you don't think the way they do, you too are a moocher.  Corpulent Gasbag Rush Limbaugh actually stated that the reason why President Obama won was that Romney couldn't compete with "Santa Claus."

But who taught YOU to hate the poor?  Who taught YOU to believe this hyper-partisan, self-serving garbage that the poor are nothing but takers?  My guess is that if you believe this way, you believe that you are one Republican election cycle away from the mystical, mythical unicorn people known as "job creators" opening their offshore jobs war chest, and giving great jobs to everyone.  It's the darned Democratic Party that's forcing the benevolent JOB CREATORS to offshore jobs when they're needed at home.  This argument trickles into raising the minimum wage.  Ironically enough, the same people who condemn the poor for being poor, the same people who act as if poverty is a lifestyle choice, these are the same ones that rail AGAINST a living wage.  It doesn't matter if a person is working their tail off at a minimum wage job, at a company that won't give them full-time hours as a cost-cutting measure (Yay, job creators!).  To the disillusioned people that aren't rich, it's a poor person's own fault if they are poor.  They just haven't applied themselves or gotten the proper education.  That's all fine and good, but what do you tell a person with a master's degree that has taken an entry-level job to make ends meet?  What do you say to the person with years of experience and the education to back it up, but can't find a job?  Who taught you to treat them as if they are lazy bums, wasting away their lives?

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  The people who hate the poor so much and the people who worry about tax costs when it comes to helping the poor, are flat out hypocrites.  It is absolutely hypocritical to rail against the cost of public assistance when you are silent on the tax breaks that billion-dollar companies receive.  It is hypocritical of you to demand accountability for the poor receiving benefits when you are silent regarding jobs being sent offshore.  And it is egregiously and criminally hypocritical to be angry that people receive "your tax dollars" for their benefits, but you don't say one tiny thing about companies like Walmart.  Walmart encourages its entry-level workers to apply for public assistance for their health care needs, effectively shifting the cost of their workers' health care to the taxpayers.  And it's not as if Walmart can't afford to pay its employees a decent wage or provide solid health insurance.  They are a BILLION-DOLLAR company and a corporate monster, laying waste to everything that crosses their path.  But people say NOTHING about Walmart and other companies socializing their health care costs while privatizing their profits.

The High Cost of Low Savings, indeed.

Who taught you to hate the poor?  That hatred certainly isn't Biblical, despite the fact that right-wing Evangelicals treat hating the poor as if it's Scripture.  If it were up to them, Jesus would only heal people if they proved that they were worthy of being healed.  And instead of turning over the tables of the money-lenders in the temple, Jesus would be right along with them, selling "I Was Baptized At The River Jordan and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" merchandise.  Let's go to the scripture that the conservatives love to pull when addressing their disdain for the poor.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 says:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
Basically, you don't work, you don't eat.  Conservatives act as if everyone who receives public assistance is lazy, and they're just waiting around for their next gubmit handout.  And by quoting this Scripture, they attempt to justify their self-righteousness and their desire to keep the poor from receiving help.  When they quote this scripture, they automatically dismiss people who are working, and yet earn enough to still qualify for public assistance.  They are dismissing the people who CAN'T work, due to catastrophic illness or injury.  They dismiss people who are treating their job hunt as a full-time job, but just can't find work.  They would probably demand drug tests at soup kitchens, if they had their way.

"OK, your tests came back negative.  Enjoy your meal!"

Of course, this is the exact OPPOSITE of everything that Christ teaches.  First of all, it's incredibly condescending to assume that poor = lazy.  Second of all, this scripture does not condemn poverty, as the Apostle Paul is teaching against being idle.  He is teaching that believers should distance themselves from people who are idle and disruptive, and he is teaching that believers should distance themselves from busybodies.  It is bad hermeneutics to try to use this scripture as justification for looking down at the poor.  

But what DOES Jesus say about treating the poor?  I'm glad you asked.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.- Matthew 25:42-46
This is the Scripture that the conservatives and their ilk leave out when discussing the poor, legislation, things like unemployment benefits, care for the veterans, and so forth.  There's also another Scripture known as The Golden Rule, which teaches that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  If Republicans followed the teachings of CHRIST, instead of the teachings of Republican Jesus, we wouldn't even be here.
Taken from the Book of Reagan 3:16

Finally, people are constantly complaining that the poor are abusing the system.  This may be true, in that we are all humans, and ANY system is open for abuse.  Whether it's public assistance, the private sector, jobs, or politics, any system that exists is subject to abuse at some point.  But people who abuse the public assistance system are few and far between, and they should be treated accordingly.  Just as we would any other person that abuses whatever systems they're involved with.



Who taught you to hate the poor?  And why didn't they teach you to stop scapegoating the poor because it's easy to do so, and to focus your attention on the people that are actually setting this country on a path towards destruction?  Like the Koch Brothers, and the Tea Party?  After all, if there's ANYONE that deserves the wrath of the general public, it's them. 

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