State of the Union: Poverty Place

Noah is giving his fourth-grade classroom speech on poverty, and it’s interesting for me to listen to a child speak earnestly about something he’s never experienced. Obviously I’ve had a role in forming his opinions. He decided he can’t say something such as, ‘being raised poor is like being beaten every day; no matter what you grow up to be, you never get over it’ – because there are poor children in his own class and he doesn’t want to make them feel different. He did point out: ‘poverty is hard to talk about because many people think it’s your own fault and you’re a bad person.’

My feelings, of course, are clear. We are a confused and amoral people, governed by the hereditary rich, who demand poverty to create the fear which keeps everyone else working. Even those uncomfortable with the consequences live their lives bamboozled or silent, at their best hoping to promote change through elections. And what have we elected this time?

Mr. Obama is presiding over enactment of public law requiring all citizens to hand over hard earned pay for private insurance company profits. He has worked tirelessly to preserve and promote financial institutions ‘too big to fail’ and cultural structures resistant to threatening the status quo. A primary social function of the United States stock market is to transfer labor’s earnings to the financier class. There remains a sizable group who haven’t been hooked into this scheme by their employers’ 401ks. Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech featured a proposal to pry away a chunk, even, of their money for his banker buddies. You see, many of our squishy liberals (myself included) thought we were getting something else when we elected him. Our subsurface bigotry was played to perfection: we actually believed because he is a black man for some reason he was likely to be a good one.

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