Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hey Joe, I Heard You Shot Your Argument Down (With Apologies To Jimi Hendrix!)

Joe has asked a very good question, straight out of the Gun-Toting Liberal's toolbox for analyzing social problems. He asks, "Who benefits by the existence of a permanent underclass?"

This merry-go-round is going to close soon, as I spent Saturday afternoon in a Quixotic attempt to joust with this human windmill and I don't intend to go around again today. I want to enjoy my weekend before the House Leadership repeals weekends outright as a communist government program.

Ok. Joe asks, so the GTL answers. Here goes:

Nobody, Joe, that's what I've been trying to say. There is no benefit to a permanent underclass, and we should do whatever we can to end it. Why do you always frame an argument in such a way that anyone who disagrees with you must obviously love social pathology and not want to end it?

I’ve been trying to help you, Joe, but you aren't listening. One big problem here is that sore-headed, poorly-defined, anger- and prejudice-based assessments of the problem are not the best starting point. They might work for making fame and oodles of cash for Glenn Beck, Rush Oxylimbaugh, and Bible Spice, but not in the real world.

Why are you getting your information about poor people from ultra-rich media head entertainers? Listen to people who know what they're talking about from first-hand experience. Like me. Hell, if you want a tour of the hated underclass to help you develop an actual first-hand opinion, I'll take a day off and bring you around to the world you have imagined, and you can decide for yourself if the imagined world and the real world align. That'll be up to you. I'll just drive.

Right-wing policies cause far more social problems than they alleviate. So let's solve them. I agree with you 100%. No one benefits from a permanent underclass, Joe, but Officer Krupke was right - no one wants a fella with a social disease.

So let's recalibrate your imagination to to allow a little oxygen and some facts in. Nobody in social services is benefiting like the businessman benefits, unless you consider shelter workers or AFDC social workers on low salaries to be benefiting.

These people don't lay awake at night laughing at the stupid taxpayer. They lay awake worrying if tomorrow they'll come home from the shelter carrying scabies, bedbugs, or worse, as a consequence of doing the right thing and helping not the wealthy and powerful, but the neighbor in need. That, and paying the bills.

I have a masters degree and am the clinical director of a psychiatric hospital program. My education and several thousand hours of training prior to licensing are at least equivalent in effort and sophistication to any financial management training program, but after a decade of success, the money man lives in Larchmont, and I live in Lowell. The finance man, BTW, is a stock character in my depression and anxiety program, and he agrees. What I do is at least as hard as what he does.

Now, I'm not complaining, mind you, and I feel lucky and blessed by the privilege to be trusted by so many people in need and their families. There is definitely a deep spiritual reward. But my Christmas bonus this year, as it is every year, was a ten-dollar Stop n' Shop gift card. Now, I know it'll take more than ten dollars to talk you in from a sore-headed rant, but if you want, I'll give the entire bonus to you if you'll simply acknowledge that you have no direct experience in any of the things you are talking about here.

1 comment:

nomis said...

Actually, there is a benefit for certain groups to maintain permanent underclass, specifically the business community.

If there is full employment, wages are driven up as employers compete for limited labor resources. The existence of a permanent underclass (or lumpen proletariat) serves to not only keep wages (a business expense) down, and helps keep workers (the regular proletariat) from gaining to much confidence, or demanding more. If workers can have the stick of "there's other people that will happily take your job, so get in line and stop complaining, or we'll replace you" they will keep their costs down.

One thing the business community fears is 100% employment, which would could result in increased expenses and reduced profits.