Tag Archives: health care

Insightful comments on Romney’s 47%: Can we talk about poverty?

So I was reading this breakdown on the 47% that Romney described as ‘paying no income taxes’ and ‘freeloaders’ and I came across two reader comments that I wanted to share with my peeps. I found them to be right on, and truly, inspirational. If mainstream news channels brought in more people like this to share their perspectives, maybe we could have some actual conversations instead of just the usual partisan bickering.

The problem with folks that don’t really do their homework, is they think that folks earning 20K or less do so on purpose. They think folks are lazy and take the easiest, thoughtless jobs so they can spend most of their time doing nothing. If they actually tried living that way they’d see that it isn’t true. There’s also a toxic amount of judgement that happens without a depth of knowledge. I say this as a social worker who works with low income folks. There are many who are tired, stressed out, and cranky … and yes, sometimes it’s hard for them to give up time with their children to flip burgers or wait tables for people that do the same amount of work but make tons more. In America, we say you have to work hard for success but the truth is, we inherit our lifestyles and defend them to the death. In more socialized countries, folks get what they need and you work hard to get that extra. Do you really think Mitt Romney works harder that a miner in Eastern Kentucky? I say this with a healthy acknowledgment that I have been blessed with privilege myself.

And this comment in reply:

I also work with low-income people and have realized that a lot of “poor” people make more money than I do, but face much higher economic barriers because they got a point of destitute poverty.

For example, someone who is homeless and has to rent a hotel room every night for shelter might end up paying $1200/mo. Because it’s owed weekly or daily, there is no point where they actually have that $1200 all at once to use for an apartment rental.

Falling all the way into unassisted poverty incurs great cost to individuals. Going from homeless to housed and employed costs much, much more than being employed and finding new housing.

When was the last time you heard voices this insightful on FOX or MSNBC?

There is, indeed, a crazy amount of judgement towards people who are struggling that come from people who a) have never really struggled and b) have never worked with people who struggled. Furthermore, there is this tendency in our country to make giant, lazy leaps to socialism every time there is a call for greater government involvement. Support labor unions? You’re a socialist. Support a fair minimum wage? You’re a socialist! Support health care? Obvi, you’re a socialist. And of course, any support for these policies means we’re one step away from becoming the old Soviet Union or China … watch out!!!!

OK seriously. Calling someone a socialist for wanting a health care system that protects people from dying is way harsh, Tai. Instead of engaging in one-sided debates that avoid the complexity of the issue, perhaps Americans should  look beyond the confines of their small towns to countries in Western Europe, where people work their asses off despite a more socialized system. Reading this article by an American who lived in the Netherlands for a few years, titled “How I learned to love the Dutch Welfare state,” will prove enlightening. Here are some snippets:

“Over the course of the 20th century, American politics became entrenched in two positions, which remain fixed in many minds: the old left-wing idea of vast and direct government control of social welfare, and the right-wing determination to dismantle any advances toward it, privatize the system and leave people to their own devices. In Europe, meanwhile, the postwar cradle-to-grave idea of a welfare state gave way in the past few decades to some quite sophisticated mixing of public and private. And whether in health care, housing or the pension system (there actually is still a thriving pension system in the Netherlands, which covers about 80 percent of workers), the Dutch have proved to be particularly skilled at finding mixes that work.”

“I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits of the Dutch system might fit. One pretty good reason is this: The Dutch seem to be happier than we are. A 2007 Unicef study of the well-being of children in 21 developed countries ranked Dutch children at the top and American children second from the bottom. And children’s happiness is surely dependent on adult contentment. I used to think the commodious, built-in, paid vacations that Europeans enjoy translated into societies where nobody wants to work and everyone is waiting for the next holiday. That is not the case here. I’ve found that Dutch people take both their work and their time off seriously. Indeed, the two go together.”

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Critical Media – An Intro!

For me, I am far less concerned with political ideology of left vs. right, as I am with the corporatization of culture, which includes (to give a few of many examples):

  • The shrinking nature of public space. Corporate expression in the form of advertisements has permeated every inch of our streets, parks and even  schools. When malls start to look like towns, and libraries are nestled in a shopping center, that to me, implies that we are losing the notion of the public and we are seeing ourselves as consumers, not citizens. And while advertisers bombard us in the public space with their consumerist propaganda, graffiti and street artists are arrested for making art that often expresses social concerns!
  • How this corporate culture has affected our notion of ‘free expression’ when those who are able to have a voice and frame the dialogue are usually the elites (those that have the money, political influence and power) who control our government, schools, and airwaves. Of course, these elites are a tiny percentage of the population, and are usually white, and male. Anyone who has been following the “war on women” in Congress probably would agree with me that these hateful conversations wouldn’t be happening if we had a more diverse political body.
  • Along those lines, the merging of media organizations into just five corporations that own the vast majority of the media outlets we get our information from has further excluded diverse voices that are so desperately needed in a democracy. This corporate influence has resulted in excessive advertising during programming, the rise of ‘infotainment,’ (where Britney’s shaved head is the main headline on CNN) at the expense of important foreign coverage so that these corporations can make more money by catering to the basest ‘bread and circuses’ mentality, which also saves on the cost of operating expensive foreign bureaus that could cover foreign policy stories. It has allowed powerful political and military lobbyists from both the Republican and Democratic parties to give ‘objective’ views on pressing  issues like the Iraq War and the Health Care debate without revealing their corporate ties and thus, conflict of interest.

If this sounds ridiculously depressing, don’t worry! I will also be covering movements that are trying to take back the public sphere from the corporations and politicians. These include independent media outlets and social media bloggers, to street artists and culture jammers. This is an issue that blurs partisan lines and I can’t wait to work on this project with everyone!

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