A lot of talk about addressing poverty coming from the left and right. That may be an integral part of this year’s campaign rhetoric. Underscore rhetoric. In the 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson was selling his Great Society package, the aim was to close the gap between what Senator Patrick Moynihan described as two Americas, one poor, one not poor. Poverty was to be eliminated.
Instead, what we have today is the firm establishment of the poor as a ready made constituency that can be manipulated for the vote, kept alive with enough aid in the face of shrinking opportunities.
In addition, we keep the poor hidden, unacknowledged, ostracized by local ordinances that discourage the homeless from camping out in parks, prohibit distribution of food from food trucks that park in residential neighborhoods, and criminalize pan handling. We’ll hook you up with some food and free health care, but we don’t want your musty asses around when we throw a black tie or white linen party ironically being held to raise money for you.
Poverty isn’t going anywhere until people decide that state of being, poverty, is not necessary for their self-esteem and that poverty is nothing to romanticize about. Rich people have no problem with poverty per se because it allows them another platform to stand on while looking down on the little people. On the other hand, too many of the poor, especially their hotep advocates, like poverty because it gives them a perverted false sense of ownership, belonging, to an otherwise depressing or worthless state of being. Both groups are whacked or, as my 11-year old son would say, ratched.
To solve poverty, you have to get into the mindset of both groups. The rich have to learn to engage and incorporate the poor into the whole community. The poor need to stop thinking that this vicious cycle of poverty is all I got but sooner or later I’ll be delivered by Sky Daddy because I held on long enough while not gathering riches on Earth.
Congress and the Obama Administration need to acknowledge that poverty is a societal problem and that the political machinations may result in feeding someone for the day but tomorrow they are still poor.