Cla$$ism
"Classism For Dimwits" - a book that's long overdue

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"Cla$$ism Fof Dimwits"  also available in hardcover and paperback through Barnes & Noble and  Target

Privilege Is Never Having To Explain Why It Doesn't work For Others

A Tale of Two Economies 

No More Poor Americans Left Behind!

Smokers' Club

Class Action

FORCES

Paying More And Getting Less

The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand

The Truth Is A Lie!

 

 

 

Before the draconian Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was passed, Congress heard testimonies from notables that included Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute. On June 7th 1995, Mr. Tanner testified to the following before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Youth Violence:

"The ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributing factor to the crime problems we face today...for example, research by Dr. June O'Neill and Ann Hill for the US Dept. of Health & Human Services showed that a 50% increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC and food stamp benefits led to a 117% increase in the crime rate among black men."

But the Cato Institute and all the rest of the "bash-the-poor" think tanks failed to consider a few hard facts:

1. In our capitalist society, in order for there to be exceedingly wealthy people, followed by upper-middle class people, etc it follows that someone will invariably be stuck at the bottom - i.e. poor people. If everyone cannot be rich, or even comfortably middle class, there will be a portion of the population who will be poor. It is not moral or right to deprive them of the most minimal basic support so they can at least survive. Their survival in their assigned place ensures the privileges and benefits of those who are far more fortunate. In essence, every poor person in some non-poor person's "place keeper."

2. Poor people of ALL races (the majority of poor in America are white) on welfare - including low wage workers who get food stamps - are NOT welcome as potential "newcomers" to America's middle and upper classes. They are not welcome at universities or even in lower-middle class jobs - something vitally necessary in order to climb out of poverty.

Poverty is marginalizing and isolating. When those who have been socially excluded due to their socio-economic class, they become angry at the injustice of being rejected by the rest of society. They're angry becyase they're being excluded from being able to participate as full citizens in society - while being told that it's all their own fault for "not trying hard enough".  Now, participation in society includes educational and career opportunities.  If some are being denied those two critical things, is it really fair to continue to bash the poor and then tell them that their poverty is their own fault?

We live in a classist society, not a classless one.  Our identities of who we are, our sense of self-worth, is tied to what our parents do for a living, what we do for a living, how much we are paid, where we live, and what status symbols we have.

It is this reason that the middle and upper classes covet their positions in the American socio-economic pecking order and jealously guard their privileges in society. They don't want to lose. They don't want to have to compete for fewer and fewer jobs and  admissions to prestigious universities with the poor. So they erect and maintain systemic barriers in all aspects in society to keep the poor at the bottom.

In a society that calls itself a meritocracy founded on the ideals of rugged individualism, this breeds alot of seething anger and resentment from those who are disenfranchised. When people are deprived of their basic needs in a society that has discarded them, they invariably will get angry and develop antisocial tendencies - including violence.

If there is a correlation to be made between poor people and crime, I'd bet it has everything to do with social exclusion and marginalization of the poor due to classism fueled by the greed and insecurity of the middle and upper classes who feel they're the only ones entitled to the benefits of this society. But nobody wants to talk about this.

But it's time we start talking about it. In 2006, President Bush claimed that unemployment in Iraq was contributing to the violence there. He sought Congressional approval for more funding  to deal with that crisis by creating more jobs there. The estimated cost for the war in Iraq is $2 billion per week. Yet, our government - and unfortunately the American public - claims we can't afford to address the poverty, health needs, and joblessness here for Americans who have been and who continue to be socially and economically excluded. Meanwhile, more and more people are falling into poverty due to downward mobility caused by a rapidly shrinking pie. Isn't it time we start taking care of the needs of poor Americans before making a mess in other nations?

My name is Jacqueline Sarah Homan, and I approve this message.

Copyright 2008 by Jacqueline S. Homan. All rights reserved.