This discussion of the minimum wage and its opponents now, lets us slide easily right into one of our regular features, the Clown Award, given for meritorious stupidity.
Now, I was seriously considering giving the Clown Award to the folks involved in this thing called "Rolling Coal," what one site pointedly (and accurately) called "Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks."
Simply put, some truck fans are spending anywhere from $500 to $5000 to pull out pollution controls and install switches that will trick the engine into thinking it needs more gas - diesel fuel - than it actually does. The fuel is incompletely burned and the excess is churned out as copious amounts of black soot.
This is being done as a matter of political and social protest against all things perceived as liberal - including hybrid cars - or as Obama: One said that the attitude is "If Obama's into the environment, then we're not." The trucks become a way of giving the environment the finger.
Instead, following on our discussion about opposition to raising the minimum wage, the Big Red Nose this weeks goes to - significant numbers of American liberals.
The Pew Research Center is doing a massive survey of American politics. As part of that, they have divided the populace into seven typology groups, ranging from "steadfast conservatives" to "solid liberals" but with shades of meaning and attitudes between.
One of the attitudes considered in establishing these typologies was about poverty. And the results are astonishing and disturbing.
First off, four-fifths of the typologies considered conservative think that poor people have it easy, that they have an easy life, that they can just live off government bennies without having to do anything.
But notice something else, and this is what I find important: Significant parts of the typologies considered "liberal" agree with that. Even 6% of the "solid liberals," the most liberal, the most "left" of all the typologies, agree. It's not just the right wing saying this.
When you ask why people are poor, it's the same: Most conservatives say it's "lack of effort," but so do significant numbers of liberals, even some among the most hard-core. If you're poor, it's your own damn fault, you lazy bum.
So overall, on the question of do the poor have hard lives or easy lives, there is nearly an even break. Nearly half of the people in this country think that poor people have easy lives.
How can anyone think that? How can anyone rationally argue that?
Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" offered a quick and abbreviated list of how easy the life of the poor is:
- Compared to middle and upper-income Americans, the poor are three times less likely to have health insurance, and so more likely to put off or skip necessary medical treatment.
- They are three times more likely to be victimized by crime.
- The daily stresses of living in poverty actually impair mental function to a degree equivalent to losing 13 IQ points.
- Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity;
- Poor children receive a lower quality education in public school, and the ones who make it to college are more likely to drop out;
- Poorer Americans breathe dirtier air, they sleep less, they even have less sex;
- Their life expectancy is somewhere around 15 to nearly 20 years less than that of more affluent Americans.
[Links to his supporting data can be found at the site]
Someone else put it this way, and I'm going to quote this:
Being poor. It means stretching a dollar to be sure that your children can eat every day. It means deciding whether you can skip a car payment or a mortgage payment this month, because one more missed electricity bill will get the power turned off. It means ignoring the pain in your chest because even if you have insurance you can’t cover the deductible for the doctor’s visit, or skipping your medication because the copay is just a little too much. It’s trying to decide between buying a shirt without a hole for a job interview or having the gas you need just to get to it.Several years ago, I came across a website that was having people post what being poor meant to them - that is, based on their own personal experience, what symbolized, what summed up, the experience? Unhappily, I can't find it now; I found another one, but not that one; perhaps it's no longer there. But I do remember my answer. I'm not poor; I'm not affluent, but I'm not poor. Barring some serious medical disaster, my wife and I will be fine. But I grew up poor, and I remember. My answer was that being poor was having a phone but always being afraid to answer it because it was another bill collector. More recently, at a time things were harder for us than they are now, it meant seeing the dismissive condescension in the attitude of the person who was supposed to be helping us but was irritated because I objected to being ignored for some minutes by the receptionist - irritated, that is, because I apparently did not know my place as a supplicant.
Being poor is facing every day a hundred limitations on what you would want to provide for your family, your spouse, your children; it's facing every day a hundred barriers, some little but some not, to a better life; it's being subjected every day to the judgments, the looks, the questioning eyes that see you as lazy or shiftless, the eyes that see you as a failure, as a leech, no matter how many hours or how hard you may actually be working.
Our classism, our contempt for the poor no matter their race, is another of the afflictions we suffer from as a people.
We would expect the right wing to embrace this economic bigotry, we would expect them to follow the lead of the powerful self-serving elements of our society; that, after all, is what conservatives do.
But it's not just the right; significant numbers of liberals, those who proudly, even arrogantly, declared they constitute the "reality-based community," even some among the "solid liberals," the most liberal of the liberals, share in that bigotry. You are the ones we could expect, we should expect, to know better. But too many of you don't.
And that makes those of you won't don't thoroughgoing clowns.
Sources cited in links:
[And something I will add here for anyone hung up on such trivia, this is the 5000th post here at Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time. My very first post was on November 13, 2003. I shut it down in late November 2005 only to "succumb to the addition" in February 2007 and for a few months past seven years now I have managed to have something up on a reasonably regular basis. Now I will sit back and wait for the praise and plaudits to flow in.]