A Town Without PitySunday, August 11, 2013
A Town Without Pity
------ Original Message ------
From: Alan Gilbert
Date: 8/11/2013 1:58 AM
Subject: [Democratic-indv] An elite without pity...
An elite without pity...
In America, a fabulously wealthy elite, more swollen than the robber barrens, eats unceasingly - takes food stamps from the poor - and scorns those who suffer, here and abroad. In the New York Times, Charles Blow has a true - and therefore remarkable - column on Washington as "A Town Without Pity." In it, he speaks of the Congressional representatives and others as "pariahs," as people who blame, he says, the very poor. That a tendency like this exists among the leaders of a supposed affluent society - a society whose representatives trumpet their Christianity while scorning the poor (Jesus preached for the poor, as his own words and the great philosopher Hegel remind us) - is repulsive. The rich are parasites or exploiters (even those innovators who also make some important contributons). They live off the labor of others and dominate the government as a particular tyrannical - oligarchic in Aristotle's terms - interest.
In addition, they are often sociopaths who have no concern for and blame others ("blaming the victim" - with indigenous people, the enslaved, the poor, the unemployed and the homeless as emblems - is a widespread elite trope). America is rapidly becoming, in high places, an odious society. (see Paul Krugman's reflections, invoking Michal Kalecki, on the war against Keynsian policies - science be damned - instituted by the rich here).
Obama has been forced by Edward Snowden to call for some balancing of the spying Bush-Obama apparatus he now heads (the Times says here, echoing an elite attempt to evade the law, that he has eschewed only "brutal interrogations" - the right word is torture which American and international law bars; again, it is remarkable that Blow's words appear in the Times. Still, Obama has concern for ordinary people and his Presidency is pretty well all that holds the American elite, in itself, from the starkest villainy.
Occupy - and in the future, hopefully a much stronger version - are the only things that will reestablish a modicum of wellbeing in America. We are a society which has always progressed through such movements from below (the Revolution, the abolitionists led by John Brown and Frederick Douglass, the women's suffrage movement, the union movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movements and the like).
Blow cites a Wall Street Journal poll and a study by Susan Fiske at Princeton alleging:
“'The stereotypes of poor people in the United States are among the most negative prejudices that we have. And people basically view particularly homeless people as having no redeeming qualities — there’s not the competence for anything, not having good intentions and not being trustworthy.'”
Fiske's report, as recounted by Blow, makes prejudice too democratic (though speaking unclearly or ambiguously this central issue, she also speaks very well on prejudice and her relationship with Gordon Allport's work here). But most of us want health care. Most of us want decent jobs, Most of us know that the danger of poverty is one accident, one hospital bill, one lay-off away...
The elite has manipulated elections, gerrymandering districts and often disenfranchising the poor. The right to vote is not actually a right, not sacrosanct (one major party from the very white Justice John Roberts to every Republican state legislature/Governor is a standing attack on it).
Perhaps this turn away from the condescension of the elite (as human beings, the elite need to be stopped and require pity) is why Blow's article made the Times.
Nonetheless, "A Town Without Pity" makes the need for movements from below glaring.
‘A Town Without Pity’
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: August 9, 2013
America was once the land of Lady Liberty, beckoning the world: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Today’s America — at least as measured by the actions and inactions of the pariahs who roam its halls of power and the people who put them there — is insular, cruel and uncaring.
In this America, people blame welfare for creating poverty rather than for mitigating the impact of it. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in June found that the No. 1 reason people gave for our continuing poverty crisis was: “Too much welfare that prevents initiative.”
In this America, the House can — as it did in July — pass a farm bill that left out the food stamp program at a time when a record number of Americans, nearly 48 million, are depending on the benefits.
In this America, a land of immigrants, comprehensive immigration reform can be stalled in The People’s Branch of government, and anti-reform mouthpieces like Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan can warn that immigration reform will be the end of the country.
And in today’s America, poverty and homelessness can easily seep beneath the wall we erect in our minds to define it.
A December report by the United States Conference of Mayors that surveyed 25 cities found that all but 4 of them reported an increase in requests for emergency food aid since 2011, and three-fourths of them expected those requests to increase in 2013.
The report also found that 60 percent of the cities surveyed had seen an increase in homelessness, and the same percentage of cities expected homelessness to increase in 2013.
But poverty isn’t easily written off as an inner-city ailment. It has now become a suburban problem. A report this week by the Brookings Institution found that “during the 2000s, major metropolitan suburbs became home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in America.”
Nor can economic insecurity be written off as a minorities-only issue. According to survey results published last month by The Associated Press:
“Nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.”
How did we come to such a pass? Why aren’t more politicians — and people in general — expressing outrage and showing empathy?
Part of our current condition is obviously partisan. Republicans have become the party of “blame the victim.” Whatever your lesser lot in life, it’s completely within your means to correct, according to their logic. Poverty, hunger, homelessness and desperation aren’t violence to the spirit but motivation to the will. If you want more and you work harder, all your problems will disappear. Sink or swim. Pull yourself up. Get over it. Of course, that narrow conservative doctrine denies a broader reality: that there are working poor and chronically unemployed — people who do want and who do work and who do want to work, but who remain stuck on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
In this regard, Republicans have all but abandoned the idea of compassionate conservatism and are diving headlong into callous conservatism.
But another problem may be more broad-based: the way that many Americans look at the poor with disgust.
As Susan Fiske, a Princeton professor who has studied people’s attitudes toward the poor for more than a decade, told me on Friday:
“The stereotypes of poor people in the United States are among the most negative prejudices that we have. And people basically view particularly homeless people as having no redeeming qualities — there’s not the competence for anything, not having good intentions and not being trustworthy.”
Fiske’s research shows that people respond not only to the poor and homeless with revulsion, but they also react negatively to people they perceive as undocumented immigrants — essentially anyone without an address.
If some people’s impulse is to turn up a nose rather than extend a hand, no wonder we send so many lawmakers empty of empathy to Congress. No wonder more people don’t demand that Congress stand up for the least among us rather than on them.
As Fiske so aptly put it: “It seems like Washington is a place without pity right now. A town without pity.”
For the table on attitudes accompanying Blow's article, see here.
9:48 AM (1 minute ago)
to uniting_people, ZZZ, Karen, chblow, Alan, rep.phyllis.ka., rep.tom.anzelc, sen.david.toma., Alice, Andrea, Andrew, Anna, Barb, Ben, Bob, Bob, Bob, Brian, Bud, Carlos, Carly, Carolyn, Chris, Cindy, Connie
I want to thank Robin Hensel for bringing this to our attention.
Just so we are all on the same page... this discussion revolves around this article, A Town Without Pity" and the links included:
And note; I have sent this to Charles Blow.
Several important points I think Alan Gilbert misses here. Plus what Charles Blow, writing in the New York Times, doesn't tell us about these numbers and the very important number of "8%" that Charles Blow leaves out for some reason (a "reason" kind of like a New York Times' "reason?").
First of all, if you add up all the numbers from the chart Blow provides, less the 24% (all the numbers add up to 87%; what happened to the other 13%?) you get a very good figure that 63% of the American people do have a very good grasp of poverty.
But; and this is a very important "but." But Charles Blow leaves out the number "8"--- 8%. 8% is the number of people who feel that ALL the reasons minus the 24% are responsible for poverty--- so, 71% of the people have a very good grasp of what causes poverty and demonstrate an empathy for the poor.
Most likely if one were to include the 24% this majority would say they are part of the problem, too. If you have to scratch your head thinking about this you probably aren't going to understand much about poverty.
We aren't told the races (nor class) of the people interviewed since the numbers indicate there is an almost complete lack of understanding of the relationship between racism and poverty... if you don't have a job or you have a poverty wage paying job you are going to be poor. Well, guess what? Because of racist discrimination in employment practices without Affirmative Action being enforced people of color, in a society dominated by racism, are going to be poor.
One should read this article by Charles Blow directly from the New York Times' website <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/10/opinion/blow-a-town-without-pity.html?_r=0> and follow through on EACH and EVERY link encountered in order to get a better understanding of the issue itself--- plus, get an understanding why one has to "read between the lines" and question every single article or op-ed piece that appears in the New York Times and "how polls are conducted" in a tainted way to begin with.
For instance; why weren't people asked if capitalism creates poverty?
Why weren't people asked if so few people being so extremely rich causes poverty?
Why weren't people asked if these dirty wars are creating poverty?
Something happened to 5% of the people in this poll--- what is with this? Is it possible 5% of the people wanted these other three questions asked before they answered the pollsters?
Charles Blow could have referred to the last article written by his former colleague at the New York Times, Bob Herbert; why didn't he? He didn't want to get the ax like Herbert did? An interesting question when it comes to what kind of "freedom of the press" we have in this country since the New York Times makes the boast that it is the best reflection of "freedom of the press" and apparently a lot of people buy into this hype because we all use the New York Times as a point of reference more often than not.
But, here is what Charles Blow missed:
Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert...
Now, Minnesota politicians in the state legislature--- Democrats (with their huge super-majority) and the minority Republicans who have been relegated meaningless and without any decision-making status what-so-ever except what the Democrats grant to them which is essentially acceptance of the Republican agenda!--- have a kewl and nifty little committee they call "Ladder Out Of Poverty."
But, their perverted sense of what a "ladder" is leaves much to be desired because their "ladder" has only missing rungs and rotten rungs. If one can reach the first rung of their "ladder" the rungs breaks and they fall back down to the bottom and it becomes harder and harder to reach another rung.Charles Blow correctly points out, these politicians don't understand poverty and have no empathy for the poor.
Wars kill jobs just like they kill people; and these dirty imperialist wars, as anyone can see, also kills freedom and democracy--- one reason why the New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, can conveniently get away with not discussing these issues like his fellow columnist Bob Herbert did. People who are involved in the struggles for peace, full employment, universal health care, equality and defense of democracy are not permitted in the proverbial "public square." Remember, Occupy Wall Street was chased out of the "public square" and silence by billy club swinging police and police firing tear gas and rubber-covered steel bullets at them not to mention the little fact that the Obama Administration unleashed a force of over 500 FBI "Special Agents" to disrupt and disorient the Occupy Movement from within.
Charles Blow never adds up the figures because he would have to explain why, in a country which boasts--- and the New York Times has been the biggest boaster for decades--- that we live in the world's greatest bastion of democracy--- that not only a bunch of uncaring, insensitive politicians are making the decisions in this country, but these politicians--- Obama especially--- are bribed by Wall Street to work for these wealthy parasitical vultures who profit from exploitation to begin with, there profits get a big boost from racism and they reap fabulous super profits from war and they have even managed to profit from the very poverty they create by all kinds of schemes from cutting food stamps and transferring the funding to the lucrative Military-Industrial Complex to enabling Wall Street bankers to reap huge profits just for issuing the plastic debit cards that are now food stamps.
It is not only as Charles Blow states that these politicians are an uncaring and non-empathetic bunch of morons and insinuates they have screwed up priorities; it is because they work for their Wall Street masters whose one and only concern is the bottom line--- PROFITS.
How else can one explain why the billionaire Democratic Governor of Minnesota, backed by the Rockefeller family's wealth, leading a Democratic super-majority would leave the state's Minimum Wage at $6.25 an hour--- lower than Wisconsin with Walker at the helm, and lower than Mississippi or North Carolina--- only Georgia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico have lower Minimum Wages. Even the Virgin Islands have a higher Minimum Wage than Minnesota!
Any little school child can figure out that workers without jobs are going to be poor. And these same schoolchildren understand that workers receiving poverty wages are going to be poor--- concepts that Wall Street bribed politicians and billionaires like Mark Dayton not only don't understand--- but they don't even want to hear this.
What would poverty wage workers workers receive from the Obama Administration and Governor Dayton's Administration if they took to the streets demanding justice? Most likely, instead of the raise America needs, the sharp blow over the head from the policeman's bill club, tear gas and steel covered rubber bullets--- not exactly what one can feed a family on but the way Wall Street intends to try to survive.
Say, has anyone thought to look into the Full Employment Act of 1945 as proposed by liberal Democratic Congressman Wright Patman to see what became of that?
Why is it that not one single member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus would provide me with a copy of the Full Employment Act of 1945 and a transcript of the Hearings--- not even for a fee?
Is there a reason why politicians fixated on "jobs, jobs, jobs" when they want our votes refuse to make themselves accountable for not having full employment? Something to think about, eh? Especially when one considers the callousness of this 24%.
Which begs the question:
Why hasn't the Congressional Progressive Caucus brought forward real Full Employment legislation?
Perhaps if they don't know how to draft Full Employment legislation someone else should and they should run on this legislation as part of their platform for peace, which like poverty, is another word no one among this 24% wants to hear about.
Peace, Full Employment, Living Wages and Full Equality are like four peas in a healthy pod; wars, unemployment, poverty and racism are like four peas in a moldy, rotten pod... the rotten peas in the pod are going to cause the entire pod eventually rot... any home gardener should be able to understand this simple concept even if Obama's "economic advisers" from Wall Street don't understand.
Keep in mind that here in Minnesota, not only did billionaire Dayton and his Democratic super-majority not raise the Minimum Wage at all... they also refuse to enforce Affirmative Action even when it comes to two huge billion-dollar public works projects: the Viking Stadium and the Bridge over the St. Croix--- a joint project with the Scott Walker's Republican super-majority in Wisconsin. Dayton and these Democrats might be able to get away with "blaming the Republicans" for not enforcing Affirmative Action on the billion dollar Bridge over the St. Croix River; but, what is these Democrat's excuse for refusing to enforce Affirmative Action in the building of the billion dollar-plus Viking Stadium? Same excuse for not raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage? Just what is the excuse? Does the excuse have anything to do with corporate profits and the super-profits derived from racism?
I take it that no one will mind me providing a Marxist viewpoint; after all, the New York Times' Paul Krugman just encouraged people to read a Marxist point of view: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/opinion/krugman-phony-fear-factor.html?ref=paulkrugman even though Krugman is more enamored with Keynes.
Anyways; I look forward to further discussion of all of this. And who knows; further discussion might lead to the kind of grassroots and rank-and-file working class mass action that might lead to at least some kind of miserly increase in Minnesota's shameful poverty Minimum Wage. Anyone ever thought of legislatively tying the Minimum Wage to all "cost of living" factors with regular increases that would lead to an improved "standard of living" of living beyond just keeping up with the "cost of living?"
Come on; it's not like I am suggesting Minnesota State Legislators should include casino workers under the protection of the States "Freedom to Breath" legislation and their right to work in smoke-free workplaces like all other workers or extend the protections of state and federal labor laws to workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry.
Alan L. Maki
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Primary E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org