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by c. j. macq
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 at 4:38 AM
examines the reality of poverty in contemprary america, asks "where is the left" and offers solutions
I am American Poverty
I am a secret. I am called an anomaly if it’s admitted that I exist at all. I am an embarrassment. I am an undesirable. I am a criminal. I am a sorry reminder of what many would prefer to forget. I am a disease. I am the personification of misery and despair yet I am an American joke. I am lazy with no ambition. I am the cause of my own misfortune. I am invisible. I am everywhere but you can’t always see me. I am ignored. I have no voice. I have no representation and no power. I have no choice. I am a nobody and I don’t count. I have no freedom. I am subhuman. I am quickly becoming a majority.
I am American poverty and there are 50 million of us. What I have written above are only a few of the realities that haunt us and misconceptions that inflict us everyday. What follows is a clarification of these realities and misconceptions in the dire hope to draw attention to the largest ignored group in contemporary American society.
Some of us are schizophrenics. Some of us are drug addicts or alcoholics. Some of us are black and other racial minorities. Some of us are Jewish or another religious minority. Some of us are urban. Some of us are elderly. Some of us are disabled. Some of us are unemployed.
Most of us are not addicts and suffer from no psychosis. Most of us are women, mothers with children, or runaway adolescents entirely on our own. Most of us are white. Most of us are Christian. Most of us are rural. Most of us have jobs. Nearly all of us are United States citizens and every single one of us is human.
The American poor are the American elite’s dirty little secret. They try to make us invisible by rarely conceding our existence. Just recently on one of the three major networks, between stories of “real” news, the secret was mentioned in one line… there are now 33 million Americans living below the officially sanctioned poverty line. Of course that number is way too low but still; it received one line, in passing, like, oh… by the way…. When it deserved headline status and it deserves headline status every damned day.
Due to the propaganda perpetuated through our elite-controlled American media most Americans who believe the American poor exist at all erroneously believe that we have the richest poor people in the world. This is one of the most moronic oxymorons I have ever heard and it is pure denial of the true nature of poverty itself. Americans have a misconception of what poverty actually is. It is not, nor has it ever been, bloated bellies, unclothed refugees and blind babies vainly suckling at the shriveled breasts of their starving mothers. As poor as these people may be this is poverty compounded by famine, some other natural disaster or political unrest.
Many of the poor the world over possess vehicles, shelter, telephones, clothing, food and even computers. But this is technology and it would’ve come regardless. Technology is a sign of when we live not how we live. It is the condition of this technology, the dilapidation of vehicles and shelter, the torn and used condition of clothing and the quality and accessibility of food that defines poverty in much of the world today.
Poverty is hunger and malnutrition as well as starvation. Poverty is being forced to choose between food or rent. Poverty is the real threat of homelessness as well as homelessness itself. Poverty is being fired from a job because you can’t afford child care. Poverty is the inability to look for work because you can’t afford to look. Poverty is working yourself to death yet barely maintaining the capability to survive. Poverty is dying of disease because you can’t afford medical care. Poverty is selling what few possessions you have to bury your dead. Poverty is being brutalized and ostracized because you can’t afford adequate clothing for yourself and your family. Poverty is witnessing the tears and pain of your children as they suffer at the hands of cruel peers or as they ask why they can’t buy new clothes, new gadgets, and hamburgers at Wendy’s. They are so ashamed they fear school and society itself.
Poverty is economic stress and the misery that results from such stress. Poverty is dehumanization due to lack of economic means and is a true commonality in today’s American life Poverty is isolation, misery, despair and hopelessness and. the American poor are just as poor as the poor anywhere else.
There are Americans living on the street. There are Americans who live in cardboard boxes. There are Americans who live in their vehicles. There are Americans who live in shanties with dirt floors. There are Americans who have no indoor plumbing. There are Americans who live in rat and roach infested “apartments” that are often the size of some people’s bathrooms.
The number one cause of death among American children is starvation! The elite call it malnutrition but it’s the exact same thing. There are Americans who die from extreme heat and cold every year because they can’t afford the luxury of indoor climate control and many others die from direct exposure to the elements. An American poor person is many times more likely to die of cancer, once it is contracted, than a non-poor person. A poor person will lose all of what little they have to pay for medical care. And a poor person is more likely to be a victim of physical violence from the elite, the police, the middle class or from their own ranks than any other social group.
Abortion is 90% economically based. The elite’s answer: have your babies you damned selfish poor people, then give them up to us… the unfortunate, sad, infertile and barren elite who have the wealth to “properly” care for a child. It’s odd… no hypocritical, that it’s illegal to sell your baby but perfectly legal for the elite to buy one through officially sanctioned third party adoption agencies whose administrators in turn profit from the adoption process. Here’s an idea. Take all that money spent and gained in the adoption process and give it the real mother so she may keep her child!
Divorce is rampant in America and 90% caused from money problems. Prostitution is 100% created from economic realities. Drug and alcohol addiction always inflict the poor at higher rates than the wealthy. Have you ever heard of a rich armed robber or a rich car-jacker? In many ways even rape and spousal abuse are economically based because these are violent acts committed on the helpless by those who feel they, themselves, have been forced to relinquish all control over their own lives to the elite. And what about the abused spouse? She is mandated to live in horrifying physical terror and pain, in a life threatening situation, because she can’t afford to leave.
These people aren’t falling through the cracks of society; they’re being pushed through gaping holes that are designed to be there. Every attempt to reform capitalism is met with attached loop holes, exceptions and excuses.
All of these social realities that the elite claim to abhor are actually caused by their own economic policies, apathy and greed. They want to stop your right to an abortion but don’t want to eliminate the reasons for abortion. They want to throw all prostitutes in jail but give them no alternative choices of employment and use them themselves. They obviously don’t really care about children. They don’t care that more children die every week in this country because of economically preventable causes than the total number of people who died as a result of the attacks on 9-11. They don’t care that abused kids have but one legal recourse to end there misery and that is homelessness. They claim to be pro-family but do nothing to stop the reasons for divorce even among their own ranks nor do they want to take the necessary measures to guarantee your family the same medical care, nutrition and housing that their own families enjoy.
Everything the elite do leads to the continued existence of violent crime. On average, 90% of all violent crime is economically based. But what the hell do the elite care? They have the money to protect themselves from such violence. They isolate themselves from the real world building fortresses in which to hide and hiring armies of body guards for personal protection. Sometimes entire neighborhoods are illegally cordoned off to prevent the influx of “undesirables.” Besides all that… they have the combined might of every law enforcement agency in the country at there disposal.
So, being out of touch with the cruelty of everyday life that they cause, the capitalist reaction to these realities is to remove what little welfare style social-safety-nets we ever had, pass more laws to protect the wealthy, remove human rights and to build more prisons. Nearly every violent crime ever committed is a yell to society that SOMETHING IS WRONG! But instead of listening to these desperate calls for help and fixing the social problems that breed violence the elite just make matters worse and offer incarceration to anyone that capitalism doesn’t benefit.
I for one am damned sick of automatically being treated as prospective criminal every time a leave a store or enter a government building. Because the elite are paranoid of how the poor will react in any given situation and the poor are not commonly visually identifiable all of society is suspect. The saddest part is no one complains. Everyone seems to accept the fact that they are accused of being a criminal before any crime is committed when the fact is the elite are the real criminals.
Even if you conclude that surveillance devices are an absolute necessity you must then ask why is their necessity so absolute? Is it because poverty is so prevalent? Is it because wages are too low and prices are too high? Is it because consumers are tired of being gouged with every dollar spent? Is it because we Americans don’t hold the elite and their absolute control over everything in as much a high regard as the media keep telling us we do? But the elite respond to retail “theft” not by fixing the actual problems that create the need for this act but by creating a social climate of “suspect everyone,” passing still more laws protecting ever increasing profit margins and by building more prisons. It’s the same callous and apathetic mistake that has been repeated since the dawn of “civilization.” We must learn from history. When are we going to open our eyes and stop allowing the perpetuation of the past mistakes that have inflicted humanity since the dawn of written history.
One of the earliest known writings by any human (it is the fourth entry of my fifteenth edition of Bartlett’s) was a suicide note complaining of loneliness and the cruelty of the world. It was written around 1990 B. C. and four thousand years later things are no better! In fact they are much worse.
Today, in fact, the American elite have arranged it so that merely admitting you are unhappy in this country is treated with such stigma it’s actually now called a mental illness and entire industries have been created to exploit the misery of these people. Instead of actually changing the social causes of this "depression" epidemic they want to pump those inflicted full of chemicals that only aid in numbing the pain... not curing it. There simply is no profit in solving the social conditions that create depression but tons of profit in pushing legal pharmaceuticals. So now if you are unhappy because of the everyday horrors of poverty you are really just a depressive and all your problems will vanish with a pill… oh, of course, if it’s coupled with a constant regiment of expensive therapy. But the therapy is only necessary if you can afford it.
So now all us poor who don’t like our poverty are not only potentially violent criminals we are mentally ill and we are not to be trusted. We are composed of the makings of a criminal element are we are sly and devious indeed.
Recently the retail store called Smart and Final actually denied me my right to use my food stamps although I have used them there many times before. Why? In actuality why isn’t important because there is NO excuse but I’ll concede out of kindness and tell you anyway. I didn’t have my “poverty I. D.” with me. They had never asked for it before but if they had it wouldn’t have mattered because I just don’t carry it. Other stores have asked me for it but have always given me the benefit of the doubt and allowed me to buy food. I have several reasons to do this but the most important one is that I refuse to be treated as a liar and a thief, unless I can prove otherwise, with every financial transaction I make. My character is beyond reproach, in fact it’s about all I have, and I will not have it questioned just because I’m poor. I guarantee you I’m more honest than any rich person who has ever lived.
But I run out of food stamps and money to buy food nearly every month. The laws state I am not allowed to repair my eye-glasses and if I lose or damage just one contact I will be legally blind. I am now unable to buy insurance or to register my 14 year old vehicle and if it ever needs repairs I won’t be able to afford them. And when my rent is raised again I will become homeless. I’m fucking done jumping through those damned elitist hoops just to be kicked in the head every time I do!
Recently I heard the comedian Chris Rock make an insightful observation of America’s strange reaction to its own poor. Paraphrased, he said… when I was poor nobody would give me nuttin… but now that I’m rich people wanna give me free stuff all the time! This is but another example of the convoluted American psyche. Kick people when they’re down and continue to reward those who do the kicking or no longer need rewarding.
Not all Americans practice this absurdity. Of these, many find solace in the illusion of American charity.
These bureaucratic, poverty-perpetuating “charities” that pay their administrators ridiculous salaries while relying on free materials, financial donations and “volunteer” and court ordered personnel to do the real work offer society no fundamental or permanent social solutions.
Yet many elite legislators want to eliminate all governmental aid to the poor and force them to rely on these “private sector” (usually religiously based) charities for help. But it’s this so-called private sector that is actually responsible for the creation and continuation of poverty to begin with. A full 80% of all American poor are employed! What these legislators are actually doing, and quite successfully, is creating yet another profiteering industry through which the elite can control people and create yet another avenue to gain more profits for themselves.
Charities and “non-profits’ have become the new “opiate of the people.” Their only function is to create the illusion of elitist philanthropy and bourgeois altruism while offering tax shelters to the rich and making the middle class feel less guilty while perpetuating the social conditions that create the need for a charity industry. Their end result is giving false hope to the poor and creating apathy for the poor. “Why should I do anything to better society when I can just pay someone else to help the poor?” WAKE UP! The poor are not being helped. In fact our conditions are worsening and our numbers are growing. This strategy has failed… it doesn’t work and will never work if you seriously wish to end American poverty.
There are more American poor today than 5 years ago; or 10 or 20 years ago. There are more poor in America right now than at the height of the so-called great depression! Where have the American leftist elite been during all of this? The leftist elite have completely forsaken the poor. They ignore them and deny their existence, just like the fascist elite, all the while directing their rhetoric and efforts towards America’s foreign policy.
Regardless of how you feel about the atrocities the American elite are committing the world over those atrocities are nothing compared to those committed against the American poor. We American activists must first address and solve our domestic shortcomings before we have any right to turn our efforts towards the rest of the world.
Quit giving your money to the leftist elite. All you are doing is contributing to the elitist status of the leftist elite. They are hypocrites and frauds. They, like all salesmen, will do or say whatever necessary to get your money and the best way to tell if someone is lying is if they ask for your money (the individual poor themselves are the only exception to this rule). Social activism is not a damned career or an industry… it is a means to an end. The leftist elite have sold us out and its time for a reality check.
Jobs and a “living wage” are not the answers. These are capitalist concepts and there are no capitalist solutions to capitalist problems. As long as there is an elite there will always be a poverty class. Predatory economics is capitalism and capitalism is nothing but elitism. That’s all it is. Poverty exists by design and it exists for three reasons: punishment, threat and profit.
Profit: As just explained charities that “help” the poor are big businesses run by administrators and bureaucrats who create fine careers for themselves as long as poverty exists. So like any industry the charity industry is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy bent upon the perpetuation of the sources and causes of their own profit.
Keep your money. Or if you feel a guilty twinge and an uncontrollable urge to give money away give it to a poor person you see on the street. Any organizations you give to… the smaller the better. Make it local and make sure you see where the money goes. Inquire as to whether their mission goal is to establish permanent social solutions… are they discussing these solutions with those they help, organizing them… empowering them? And lastly make sure that no forced (court ordered) participation is used and that all workers are compensated equally at no more than 10% over the poverty line.
Threat: The very threat and possibility of poverty is a means of control. What better way to coerce, manipulate and enslave a productive middle-class than to threaten them with the horrors of poverty. And to prove the elite’s absolute power over the workforce they force 80% of the poor to work and call it legitimate employment and a standard free market necessity.
Punishment: To prove that the threat of poverty is real they penalize those who refuse to play the game. If you step outta line, you express an anti-elitist thought, you question elitist supeority or authority you will be punished. And poverty is their punishment.
The punishment for those who don’t like the punishment of poverty is incarceration. It costs more to house a convict than it would’ve cost to keep him out of poverty. If the money spent on incarceration was given to those incarcerated they wouldn’t be poor and would’ve never been arrested. But it doesn’t work this way because although incarceration is paid for through middle-class tax dollars it’s the elite who financially profit from the ever-growing jail and prison industries. So the elite use the poor to scare the middle class out of still more money.
But most of the poor, oddly enough, do not exhibit any of the above anti-elitist sentiments. Most of us play the game and submit to their corrupt authority. So why are we poor? Is it a lack of greed? No, there is no shortage of greedy poor people. There can’t be. We live in a predatory society fueled by predatory economics where kindness and compassion are considered foolish and unrealistic and ruthlessness and self-interest is rewarded; if any rewarding is done at all.
Are we poor because we are lazy and unambitious? Hardly, most adult poor people are employed, work hard, often at more than one job and strive and plan to better their conditions. Is it a lack of talent, creativity or intelligence? These claims are just prejudice. The only common difference between those elitist society deems successful and those deemed as failures is luck. Those who claim that “luck is the product of design“have no real concept of luck and no grasp of reality. Countless people pursue identical routs to elitist success but only a few are allowed to achieve it.
This is one of America’s greatest myths; the myth of opportunity. If you’re born poor the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the probability that you’ll die poor. Even if you weren’t lucky of enough to be born wealthy (99% of those within America’s wealthiest 10% were born there) to become a member of the elite requires an astronomical series of “opened doors” and yes’s.
Lastly, we poor have absolutely no social representation; One of the biggest disappointments is this is true in organizations claiming to seek social justice. But it’s everywhere. We’re not represented in the media, the market place, in academia, the unions or charities, not in the government or the courts. Poverty is a human rights violation but I can’t be heard when I complain about it!
I recently contacted my two state representatives in the hopes of informing them of the plight of the poor in general by using my broken eye-glasses as an example. According to the law prescriptions for corrective lenses become invalid if they are over a year old. It’s obvious this law was introduced by the eye-care lobby and serves only to guarantee continued revenue for the eye-care industry. If one cannot contribute to this industry the industry is just fine with you being forced to go blind.
I was humored and patronized by the office workers of my representatives but when I realized this and requested to make an appointment to speak to the representatives themselves I was refused this right! California state senator Richard Alarcon and state assemblyman Tony Cardenas both committed crimes by violating my constitutional rights and there isn’t a goddamned thing I can do about it. The elitist politicians just don’t care about the human suffering they are causing.
And when America is controlled and corrupted by just one political party, the capitalist party, self-interest will always over-rule compassion. Yes, the capitalist party is divided into many factions… mainly the republicans and democrats… but it’s also comprised of the libertarians, the social democrats, the American nazis and the green party. They are all pursuers of capitalist “reform” not anti-elitisism.
We American poor have no rights or representation in our own country. We have no governmental or legislative representation. We have no PACs or lobbies. We have no legal, judicial or law enforcement representation. We have no educational representation and no representation in any church. We have no representation in charitable organizations nor in the “market place.” We have no representation as consumers or as employees. We aren’t represented in the medical industry. We aren’t represented in the media and have absolutely no means to expose or correct these violations of our human rights.
Have you ever heard of a poor politician or legislator? The one reason I don’t vote is because I am given no poor candidates that represent my interests? Who the hell am I going to vote for... one greedy piece of shit elitist who offers no fundamental social changes over another? What’s the point of that?
Have you ever heard of a poor lawyer, judge or cop? Have you ever heard of a poor person sitting on a school board or religious tribunal? Have you ever heard of a poor charity administrator or corporate executive? Have you ever heard of a poor professor or so-called intellectual?
Have you ever heard of a poor entertainer, producer, publisher or journalist? So-called “journalists” report almost exclusively on the problems (?) of the relatively few American elite rather than on the masses of American poor. All of these institutions are nothing but industries controlled by the elite for the benefit of the elite and I’m damned fed up with having my human and constitutional right to social representation being continuously and systematically ignored.
Something is wrong here. I am writing not only to complain but to offer solutions. American poverty IS the umbrella under which ALL American activists can unite. But first we must stop perpetuating past mistakes and failed strategies. The left must stop acted as conservatives and grasp new ideas and directions.
All of the past efforts to end human caused human suffering have failed. I have a new strategy and I demand to be heard. I demand a free exchange of ideas. I have notified local politicians. I have notified leftist organizations, poverty rights organizations and charities with the following message… “You have failed. The suffering continues and the numbers of the poor are increasing.” But I am being ignored by all. I WILL BE HEARD!
The answer is an almost singular focus on American domestic policy and to take our fight to the courts. We must sue for our rights. First we must sue for our right to sue: to not be discriminated against because of our lack of financial means and for our right not to be forced to participate in the very system we are trying to change. Then we sue for our right to take our message to the general public and be heard.
We can still utilize the traditional means of protest such as the street parade or the under-used sit-in and picket-line but since these methods have failed in and of themselves they must be used to compliment our legal battles. Justice is on our side. The Bill of Rights is on our side. We must use, but never abuse, the very system that is being convoluted to deny us our rights to ultimately gain the freedom and social respect all humans deserve.
We live in a fucked up country my friend. All is not hunky dory in this land of sour milk and money. Things are so much worse than they were 20 years ago. We have fewer human rights, inflation and poverty are skyrocketing, the middle class is disappearing into poverty, and our jails are overflowing with the poor. What's America’s elite answer to these social ills? It's eliminate social safety-nets and build more prisons! “Sit down and shut-up,” they say, “Have faith in your superiors.” Have faith in the same class of lying, thieving elitists who have betrayed the human species for 5000 years. Corruption and tyranny are everywhere and it’s my generation who has made this damned mess even worse!
For the life of me I can’t understand how anyone can allow these deplorable conditions to persist. How can anyone be so cruel? I don’t hate America. I just wish America would stop hating me… and its own people. The hardest thing to convince people of is that life doesn’t really have to continue to be this way. There really are alternatives. Although the problems are complicated the solutions are always simple. We can do better. We must do better.
c. j. macq
equality IS freedom!
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||Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 at 6:40 AM
||Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 at 7:53 AM
||Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 at 5:08 PM
||Friday, Oct. 18, 2002 at 12:26 PM
||Friday, Oct. 18, 2002 at 12:37 PM
|Selene is right
||Friday, Oct. 18, 2002 at 3:06 PM
|thanks for your imput
||c. j. macq
||Friday, Oct. 18, 2002 at 7:44 PM
||c. j. macq
||Friday, Oct. 18, 2002 at 7:48 PM
|Name calling and the right of free speech
||Saturday, Oct. 19, 2002 at 12:43 AM
||Saturday, Nov. 02, 2002 at 2:29 AM
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