Friday, August 05, 2011


Because, you know, they're fucking poor.


Using material ownership as a means to assess poverty is highly flawed, for two main reasons. Derek Thompson of the Atlantic calls it the “productivity paradox.” Production costs have gone down due not only to new technologies, but the financial success of outsourcing and other neoliberal ventures. Electronics, clothing and even food are cheap or generally affordable for most Americans, regardless of their economic status.

Meanwhile, the true signifiers of American poverty are access to health care, education and the ability to find and keep adequate housing. Contrary to the report’s claims, homelessness has risen in America. Emergency food programs, though inadequate in many ways, have been overwhelmed with the numbers of new people seeking help in order to feed themselves and their families.

Say for a minute that those defined as living in poverty by the Census Bureau do own these modern amenities. It’s no surprise that those living in poverty would, like all Americans, subscribe to even an appearance of living the American Dream. Another accomplishment of capitalism is that success and failure in life are defined as either having or not having enough "stuff."

More here.

Right. Spending thirty dollars on a microwave oven, or fifteen on a DVD player, isn't really going to affect whether you can pay your rent or hospital bills. That's where the real poverty inducing element is: rent and health care have risen astronomically in recent decades, even though everything else has been getting less expensive. But it's not really much of a trade-off. Cheap trinkets and gaudy amusements just don't make up the difference.

So poverty here in "the land of plenty" generally doesn't resemble poverty in the third world. The poor here have access to cheap TVs. But when you can't afford to pay for cancer treatments, it doesn't matter whether you look like you're from Calcutta or not. You're just as dead. When you can't pay your rent, you're just as homeless.

Quite frankly, I'm fucking sick of hearing conservatives talk about how good the poor have it here. In the end, it's nothing but rhetoric designed to assuage the sense of guilt that must necessarily come when one champions an economic system like ours that guarantees masses of people will live their entire lives in poverty. But it's total bullshit, too. Like I said, cheap video games don't make it any easier to keep a roof over my head.

I think "fuck you" is as good of a response as any to this kind of right-wing claptrap.