Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Surprise! Not.

1 out of 8 Americans lived in poverty last year. In case you can't do your math (like me), that's 37 million people who make less than $10,000/year for individuals, $20,000 for families, in a nation that is supposed to be the best place to live. We pride ourselves on being the #1 First World Country yet we can’t lower our poverty rate much less eradicate it.

(These figures were just released by the Census Bureau so I don't want to hear any screaming about made up statistics or how the liberal media has taken over again.)

This does, however, bring up a frustrating conversation I had with Nascar Nut the other night. He was lamenting over the fact that his new job requires him to visit those areas most people would recognize as projects or low income housing. He said some of the people are living in squalor yet have all the latest cable additions which he didn't understand because, as he said, if he were living in conditions such as those, he would try to work himself out of it.

*sigh* said I. Then I asked, "Have you learned nothing from hanging out with me this past year and a half?"

You see, there is this evil cycle going on where once people are born into poverty, it's really hard to get out. We like to think of America as "The Land of Opportunity," but who are we kidding? We live in a country that allows companies to pay illegal immigrants below living wage then blame those illegal immigrants for taking the jobs instead of focusing on the real problem: the societal breakdown that allows it to happen.

So let's get something straight, right from go: America is only the land of great chance if you're a white man. Just open any high school history book for that lesson.

I didn't try explaining anything to Nascar but instead left him with this simple phrase: You have no idea what you would do in that situation because you've never been in it. And he hasn't. His parents might not have had tons of money while he was growing up, but they were certainly comfortable.

While finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked part-time, earning a salary that ended up being appx $12,000/year. I certainly didn't consider myself living in poverty because I was living with my parents (and still am but that's another story). I saw myself as living a middle class lifestyle, but it was afforded to me by having the sometimes nice, sometimes understanding parents that I do.

Let me give you a brief synopsis of this social welfare thing so many dumbasses (who are entirely misinformed) keep yelling about as there are no "free rides." Sure the occasional person cheats the system, but it's no different from CEO's stealing from their employees or lying on quarterly financial reports, essentially crashing an entire future for thousands of workers, now is it?

The reason why we view these 2 very similar forms of cheating so differently: the former is committed by a few underprivileged (and probably pissed off) persons while the latter are a bunch of rich white boys who felt they were entitled.*

Women are required to work 32 hours a week in order to get services. There is no push for them to learn a technical skill or go to school, as their should be simply because it increases their earning potential tremendously. Instead we have Bush and the Shrubites telling women to get married, including an incentive if they do so.

You see, as the Census also reported, 1 in 4 African Americans/blacks (appx 25%) lived in poverty whereas us white folk went from 8.7% to 8.3%. That's a decrease in case you didn't notice.

This is why I'm becoming a Sociologist since I, too, believe society at large is the reason for almost everything wrong in this world, not individual people, such as what Nascar seems to think. If we could all successfully pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, do you think we'd still have families living in the projects or kids without any form of healthcare? Of course not, that would be too easy.

And in case you haven't figured it out already my dear readers, Nascar Nut is a white man therefore afforded certain privileges well before he's earned it.

Perhaps one day he'll remember that.

* If you need a refresher, think Kenneth Lay and how it took him, what, 4 years to get a trial? If that isn’t privilege, then perhaps I need to look up the definition again.