Unlike most of you reading this, I have seen real poverty. To do that you have to travel the world and go to countries where poverty is a completely different animal. I understand that it's all somewhat relative, and you can't tell a poor person that his or her situation isn't as bad as it gets. I don't care what country he or she lives in.
Here in America, thanks to cable television outlets like FOX Views, and certain republican politicians telling their base what they want to hear, it's become very popular to bash and demonize the poor these days. Particularly the urban poor. (See black people.) With Paul Ryan's recent pronouncements the right went public with their views in a very dramatic way. And citing Charles Murray as an authority on the subject crystallized Ryan's position even more.
This is an old republican trick of turning everyone else against urban black folks by demonizing them and portraying them as lazy and shiftless. From Reagan's welfare queen to Romney's 47%; it's always been those bad poor people with no power who have been scolded. Forgetting, of course, that seemingly wealthy white folks are the ones who are guilty of some of the most egregious instances of welfare fraud and trying to get over on the government. Or, for that matter, that most poor people--- and a much higher percentage of poor people than most people think, are white.
Cynthia Tucker's take on the subject is on point:
"Can we have an honest conversation about the nation's poor and near-poor? Can we discuss the subject as if we want to find solutions and not just pass judgment on the less fortunate?
If we were to have an honest conversation, one based on verifiable facts, hard data and empirical evidence, we wouldn't use the inartful term "inner city," as GOP star Paul Ryan did recently -- serving up a phrase that suggests that poverty is primarily a condition limited to darker-hued citizens. That's simply incorrect.
Getting it right matters if we care about policies that help people climb the ladder toward financial stability and if we want to fund programs that give folks a hand up. If we don't really understand the problem, it's hard to find the right solution. (If we only want to look down on the have-nots from our positions of superiority, making ill-informed judgments will suffice.)
As chairman of the House Budget Committee and an alleged GOP policy wonk, Ryan ought to know better; however, he is certainly not the only American to make wrong-headed assumptions about poverty and race. Since Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, which 50 years ago highlighted the abysmal living conditions of so many black Americans, many have assumed that poor equals black. That notion is woven through our politics.
But it's wrong. As American Prospect writer Paul Waldman noted recently, 41 percent of the nation's poor people are white. That's a substantial plurality. Drawing on government data, Waldman pointed out that blacks make up 23 percent of the nation's poor, while Latinos account for 28 percent. (Other ethnic groups account for the rest.) So, to recap, 41 percent of the poor -- close to half -- are white, not black or brown.
But that's not the public conversation we are having. The assumption -- whether revealed in phrases such as "inner city" or not -- is that poverty in America is a problem of black and brown "pathologies." [Source]
Now let's not get it twisted, some folks in urban America are lazy and shiftless. And they would rather lead a life of crime than do an honest day's work. But this is also true of some folks on Wall Street and in Appalachia as well.
The majority of people in urban America work hard like everyone else. And they do it with fewer opportunities available to them and under tremendously trying conditions. If you think it's easy to get up at four in the morning and catch two buses to get to your job in the suburbs, where you have to bathe old people and clean their shit all day, well then go for it.
I think that we can all agree that the best way to guarantee that you won't live a life of poverty is to get a good education. That's where it all begins. The rest will depend on how hard you want to work and the kind of principles that you allow to guide your life.
But you won't hear politicians talking about better schools or proper funding for education. They would much rather talk about a "tailspin of culture in our inner cities". That's how they get votes, and that's how they turn those of you who think that you are not poor, against those who are.