Casaubon's Book

Poor Mitt

Now let’s be clear – we all knew Mitt Romney did not give a flying fuck about the poor. Other than the occasional service provider, he’s never met any poor people, first of all. Moreover, it is a fact that no presidential candidate, Democratic or Republican for the last 30 years has cared about the very poor. Add in the fact that Mitt demonstrably cares only about his hair, campaign donors (not a lot of them among the very poor) and getting elected, and this isn’t exactly news.

GOP front-runner Mitt Romney said this morning that he’s not concerned about the plight of the country’s very poor because there are social safety nets that take care of them.

“I’m in this race because I care about Americans,” Romney told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning after his resounding victory in Florida on Tuesday. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”

“I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

Ultimately, Mitt is pretty safe in saying this, because he’s playing on a whole host of American presumptions about poor people that are generally shared – even by many poor people. First of all, that the poor constitute only a tiny percentage of people, while 95% of us are “middle class.” In America, everyone is middle class – it is one of our cultural precepts. There is lower middle class, which for the most part could be more accurately described as “poor’ or “poorish” and upper middle class (better known as “richish” or actually rich), but very few people who will willingly call themselves rich or poor. This is, of course, factually ridiculous, but it is part of our national mythos.

The second assumption is that the very poor people are doing pretty well. You can see this on evidence any time any news story about social welfare appears, whereupon one is deluged with commenters about people on food stamps driving Jaguars and how unfair it is that some people get to live with these awesome safety nets while others have to work for a living. This is because one of America’s best tricks is setting the poorish against the poor, and setting up the very poor as the enemy. What we like to believe is that poor people are those whose moral failings are the primary reason for their being in poverty. In fact, their moral failings (which exist) tend to be mostly the same moral failings of ordinary Americans, only exacerbated by a lack of support and many things that other people take for granted.

Mitt seems to believe what most Americans believe, which is that those on social welfare programs are doing just awesome, while the real victims are middle class Americans. This is a pretty funny idea, but it isn’t just Mitt’s. The notion that lower and middle class Americans are struggling more than the truly poor is not an uncommon one by people who look on social welfare programs with hostility. If there’s anything really different about his assumptions it is the very funny classing of the desperately poor with the extremely rich as having a lot in common.

Let’s take a look at some of Mitt’e assumption, though. First, how many people are actually poor in the US? The number is just around 40 millon at this point, not the 2-5 percent at the top and bottom that Mitt seems to think, but around 15% of the US population (relative poverty is greater, but I’m using the US census figures).

More than half of all Americans will spend at least a year in poverty during their adult life times. Almost a quarter of those people that Mitt just said he didn’t give a crap about are children. Another ten percent are senior citizens. Let us note for the record that Mitt just disavowed interest in just under 10 million children and four million elders. Just mentioning it, since kids and senior citizens get a lot of attention during an election year. But they aren’t the right kind of kids or seniors.

How well are safety nets doing for these folks? Well, we know that despite those safety nets, the ones that the Republicans do their best to hammer Barack Obama with (despite the fact that the dramatic rise in food stamp usage began under George W. Bush), 11 percent of American households were food insecure in the course of a year. This means that even though the largest percentage of people in history are on food support programs, we still have a significant number of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from a lot of the time. Again, it would be worth noting that a lot of those people are kids.

What about other measures? Well, we know that infant mortality rates in poor areas are a scandal. We know that in a number of poor counties around the America lifespans are actually declining, and that the poor endure more stress, having higher rates of suicide, depression, homicide and disability due to untreated medical conditions – yup. those poor people are doin’ just awesome – practically as good as their counterparts like Mitt, the incredibly rich.

What’s disturbing about this is that it reinforces an absolutely insane set of beliefs that people really do hold – that an upper-middle class person struggling to manage private school tuition is actually really hurting, while the desperately poor are protected by social welfare programs. Unfortunately, this belief isn’t limited to the American right – it is reinforced by the language of the Occupy movement, which speaks of the “99%” as though they are uniformly oppressed by the ultra-rich 1%. This isn’t the intent of Occupy, of course, which is vastly more concerned about poverty than Mitt is, but the rhetoric being used builds on the assumption that we’re all basically part of one group, the (vast) middle class except for a few people, and that there is a great deal of commonality between the moderately rich and the very poor.

That simply isn’t the case. While the 1% have more money than the 2 and 3%, all of them are doing just fine – what the rhetoric does is make sure that the people you are opposing are never you, always someone else. By building on language of classlessness that America loves so much, we elide differences just as much on the left as the right. That’s not to say that under the sound bites the Occupy Movement hasn’t a had a lot of good things to say about class and poverty – but that the sound bites are the things that other people hear best and remember longest.

Income disparity and poverty have become part of the national discourse in a way that owes enormously to both the Occupy Movement and the traditional poor-bashing that goes with an election year. That’s a positive thing – but the language that we use to talk about poverty, class and equity falls short of what is needed and that’s a problem on all sides.

It is easy to pillory sleazy, ignorant Mitt Romney for his inaccuracy and inequity – actually what really should be news about this is the unpublicized part of this. What’s actually shocking is Mitt’s statement that if safety nets are inadequate he’ll fix them, a statement almost unheard of by a Republican. What he doesn’t know about poverty and class aren’t really news, unfortunately, because they represent what America doesn’t know and doesn’t want to talk about.

In a society where energy and resource decline has clear economic results – more poverty, more volatilty, more uncertainty and a winding down of the growth economy, those people that Mitt doesn’t care about will get greater in number – indeed, have been growing greater in number. As long as we use language and misconception to conceal them, however, they can grow and grow and still be marginalized until the day that they decline to be marginalized any more, and everyone looks up, startled, that the very poor are so many and so angry and so familiar to us.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 neil5280
    February 2, 2012

    A generally well thought out entry.

    I find it funny that your speak so passionately about how language can be used to shape perception, and you decide to open the post with one of the most powerful expletives in the English language.

    I guess it’s a matter of knowing your audience, but I would think that a fair number of people that this post could actually enlighten would stop reading after the first sentence. Additionally, there are definitely some people that I might otherwise have forwarded this on to, but feel unable to do so now.

    Are you trying to reach out to people that already agree with you, or are you trying to change the minds of those that don’t?

  2. #2 Sharon Astyk
    February 2, 2012

    Are you assuming I didn’t do it on purpose ;-)?

    Sharon

  3. #3 Robyn M.
    February 2, 2012

    Yep, got it in one (two, and three) Sharon. I am hoping, however, that this statement is going to get him raked over the coals, and just *maybe* will raise this issue to the mainstream in a more coherent fashion. At the very least, Jon Stewart is having a field day. =)

    And about language use. Um… srsly? Maybe she used the word “fuck” because that is *exactly* what she meant, and is trying to communicate with people who won’t get freaked by such language–i.e., us. Perhaps she should take a poll of people who might someday be enlightened by something she would write, to see what language they are comfortable with, and then carefully tailor all of her messages to ensure that each one can go out to as broad an audience as possible with no possibility of offense? Oh wait, the MSM already does that.

  4. #4 Brian M.
    February 2, 2012

    Wait, wait, I know! you can release a (radio edit), and a (raw edit) of your posts …

  5. #5 neil5280
    February 2, 2012

    Well, no, I wasn’t assuming anything, that’s why I asked the question at the end. I think it’s a well laid out piece, and I was just a little disappointed that I couldn’t send it on to my parents or more conservative friends because of the opening salvo.

    Aside from that small obstacle to full enjoyment, I think you’re doing fine work and encourage you to keep it up. :D

    Thanks for responding to my comment.

  6. #6 Sharon Astyk
    February 2, 2012

    If it is any consolation, my Mom and MIL both read my blog, and will also have to survive the f-bomb ;-).

    My take on language is that good anglo-saxon obscenity should be used well and sparingly, but used when appropriate – but we may not agree on the appropriateness of this, and that’s fair enough – I promise I’ll write some stuff about poverty with no swearing in it.

    Sharon

  7. #7 Andy Brown
    February 2, 2012

    Americans pretty much always make a distinction between the “undeserving poor” (those lazy or incompetent slackers) and those that are poor “through circumstance” — like the war widows and orphans that formed the ur-argument for a social safety net. I suppose what is likely to change (though not from the top) is that more people than before are seeing a first-hand view of poverty (and OMG, it turns out things get pretty unfair down there!) — and while this unfortunately doesn’t get them to re-think their attitudes about the undeserving poor — it does get them to think about social safety nets, risk, economic inequality, health disparities and so on. It might be (or at least I can hope) that setting the poor against the poorish won’t be enough anymore to derail such thinking.

  8. #8 neil5280
    February 2, 2012

    @Robyn M.

    I would argue against your premise that the MSM is tailoring itself to go out to as broad an audience as possible.

    Don’t you find that part of the problem in the dialog of today’s world is that people are generally getting their information from more and more insular sources? If you’re so inclined, you can go all day without hearing or reading anything you don’t agree with.

    Offensive has at least two meanings here. 1) Not vulgar 2) In opposition. I think that you’re conflating the two meanings.

    I think it’s quite possible to talk about a topic without diluting the content of your message and without being offensive. That is, you can be in opposition to something without being vulgar.

    Certainly everyone should feel free to use whatever language they like when talking, I was simply pointing out a side effect of the language that had been chosen, and asking if the consequences were intended. I, personally, took no offense, but, as I stated above, found that it made the post less useful to me.

    If you take umbrage at me pointing that out, then I’ve illustrated that I can make a disagreeable point without being obscene.

  9. #9 Anisa
    February 2, 2012

    Yes! Thank you!
    “Mitt seems to believe what most Americans believe, which is that those on social welfare programs are doing just awesome, while the real victims are middle class Americans. ” Spot on.
    And Andy Brown’s comment about the undeserving poor vs. the poor through circumstance. Yes, that. Except I don’t think many minds will change. But at least Mitt is getting a ration in the media.

  10. #10 DeeAnn
    February 2, 2012

    No, sharon WE DON’T all know that. In fact, Mitt has been in the trenches helping poor people over the years. As a bishop of a ward that included parts of inner city Boston, he most definitely dealt with people on the edge, providing them food, money, support, employment assistance, counseling or whatever else was needed. I’m sure there’s more. He’s not one to trumpet his charitable acts, but he’s definitely one to pitch in a help. J

    You don’t know Mitt. Don’t paint him as someone he is not, just because he’s not of your political persuasion.

  11. #11 Sharon Astyk
    February 2, 2012

    Wow, DeeAnn, that’s a much harsher judgement of Mitt than I would have made myself. So what you are saying is that he does know poor people and has a close experience with how badly they suffer due to the failures of the safety net system, and yet he said he didn’t care about them anyway. Since we know quite clearly that the facts show that the very poor are not adequately cared for by our safety net system, that makes his statement much more disturbing. It means a. he is actively outright lying when he says poor Americans are adequately cared for by the safety net system and b. he’s saying he doesn’t care about 40 million poor people, including ten million children simply for political gain. Your vision of Mitt Romney is much harsher and far more reprehensible than mine is – I think he’s just ignorant about poverty in the ways most Americans are ignorant. But I’ll take it under advisement since you say you know him so well – thanks for your input.

    Sharon

  12. #12 Sue
    February 2, 2012

    I find it interesting that the majority of the comments have to do with the use of a pretty much mainstream word and very little to do with what Sharon wrote about. Just today, a front page story in our local paper began with the headline “The need is great” and went on to write about the huge increase in the demand for food boxes from our local foodshare sites. As a backyard chicken advocate I had stopped by our local site to see if they would or could accept excess eggs and vegs and fruits from urban farmers. While I was there, a man with two little kids rushed up to the counter almost in tears but with a big smile on his face. He was holding a cake some bakery had donated and told us that his wife’s birthday was today and that he had nothing to give her, but now he did. It seems every time a serious issue comes up, we end up allowing ourselves to be distracted by the latest celebrity marriage or what some politician is telling us. We need to turn off the tv, ignore the political crap (yes, I said crap) and start looking at what is really going on in this country. You won’t find out unless you see it for yourself. Donate your time and money if you have it, and yes extra eggs and what you grow in your garden. Follow what bills are being passed that are frequently not in our best interest. Do, think, and don’t let a the snake oil salespersons in Washington get away with anything. And for heavens sake, don’t get distracted. I think Sharon got our attention, now read the rest of the blog. Oh, and go ahead and forward it without apology.

    Sue

  13. #13 dean
    February 2, 2012

    Deeann, would that be the same Mitt that told a young mother to give up her next child for adoption or risk being excommunicated from the church? that wonderful person? or the mitt who, when the woman’s son was born and found to have medical problems, called to ask him to visit and bless the child, sent two people she had never before met?

    mitt may have donated money to organizations, but his actions indicate that he views the poor as less than his equal.

  14. #14 Brenda W.
    February 2, 2012

    Sharon,

    Add me to the group that would prefer no profanity. This is a post I would have forwarded to several people, but will not because of that first paragraph. I almost did not read further myself, but since I know you and know that your writing is worth reading, chose to proceed. You could certainly get across your strong emotion in other ways. You are an excellent wordsmith, and certainly do not need to stoop to profanity to get across strong emotion!

  15. #15 Onkel Bob
    February 2, 2012

    The phrase “Flying…” has a fine literary history, see Vonnegut’s Slapstick for example. (A discussion at the incomparable Onion, #12). Indeed, the book may serve as a harbinger for a Romney presidency should we be so cursed.
    Oh and DeeAnn, Willard’s service at Bain did more to strain the safety net, to increase the poor than any paltry contributions he may have made during his public sector service. Finally, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not the money itself. And there’s no doubt what Willard loves, probably more than power.

  16. #16 knutty knitter
    February 2, 2012

    Just how precious are you guys. Was there a profanity even. How terrible (not)! The point is well made and as one of those ‘middle class’ poor (in a different country fortunately) I don’t take offence when a word is as well merited as it is here.

    viv in nz

  17. #17 S Mukherjee
    February 3, 2012

    Of all the things that could be discussed in Sharon’s post, are some people seriously choosing to focus on the F-word?! Why don’t you just copy and paste Sharon’s text, blank out the profanity, and then email it to your family and friends, to spare their delicate feelings?

  18. #18 becca
    February 3, 2012

    This is an excellent post (I didn’t notice the ‘flying fuck’ until the whinging ensued- you can always forward it to people hoping they don’t read opening sentences extremely carefully).
    I’m not sure most Americans really are ignorant about poverty. I mean, people are separated in gated communities more than ever, and the media generally sucks, so it’s possible they are. However, I suspect it seeps into people’s consciousness even without personal involvement.
    I think, instead, what is going on is a kind of willful ignorance.
    Society depends on a certain level of trust in each other. In a sick way, the “just world” fallacies (e.g. rape victims must have done something to be raped; poor people must have done something to be poor; unemployed people must done something to be unemployed- perhaps they majored in English or History?), may actually be propping up some level of trust in ‘the system’. If people need to believe hard work is rewarded in order to work hard, it’s not as sociopathic as it might first seem to believe poor people deserve to be poor.

  19. #19 Brad K.
    February 3, 2012

    Two comments about the comments here.

    First, the claim that the MSM doesn’t denigrate the very poor. They don’t buy the soap that the MSM is selling. Advertising and content development target those with money to spend. Mainstream media doesn’t spend a lot of air time with ads targeted to those that don’t know where the next meal is coming from, or exploring the lives of how the very poor live and ‘get by’ — or don’t. The audience and the “society” that is depicted all have appreciable disposable income.

    The other is that the very poor are getting their news from any media. Internet access depends on having shelter, utilities, etc.

    I understand that the single most common factor driving women and children into poverty is divorce. I don’t see a lot of interest in changing that, aside from bandage-level demonizing of “deadbeat” non-custodial parents. The issue ought to be unmarried mothers, and why the courts decided it was moral, ethical, and legal to declare a marriage ended by financial ties enduring.

    Sharon,

    I understand your ire, that glossing over what poverty really means, and who is involved, has been a national pastime for too long. But I wonder if there is a distinction to be made, between social awareness and economic planning at the national level. On the one hand, economic growth (most folk sustain their income and expenses or improve them) versus impoverishment (not the literal becoming poor, but that most people lose income or suffer increased expenses). In that discussion, it is the people in the middle that will find their way to economic mobility and stability that will: a) stop growing the ranks of the poor; b) provide the revenue and more importantly the interest and opportunity to succor the poor; and c) insist on the direction of government to redress the problems of the poor and provide the revenue to keep society working.

    Your analysis of “Poor Mitt”‘s statements is accurate, and he likely meant exactly the meaning you attribute to him. I think he is smug and complacent, and has no ethics or allegiance to anything, much less personal honor or character. (Um, I don’t like him, ‘k?) He definitely follows B. Hussein Obama’s practice of dividing America into distinct classes to divide and manipulate voters. I also happen to disagree with him about the ability of the very poor to help enable an economic turnaround for much of America as well as for themselves.

    Since WWII, Americans have denigrated the part of the ‘informal economy’, the trading of reputations, honesty, goods, acts of neighbors, care of home and family, all for formal economic measures in dollars and hours spent for pay in dollars. And the informal economy is in much, much worse condition than we can tolerate. The social safety net really ought to be in the informal economy, that is no longer there for most Americans, let alone the poor (and rich and middle class) that need it. Very few people acknowledge or insist that the informal economic condition be redressed.

    I guess what I am saying is that Romney, like many others, uses dollars to measure everything including campaign rhetoric and ethics. That adds up to ‘corrupt’, at least morally, in my book.

  20. #20 Johanne
    February 3, 2012

    Sharon,
    I truly appreciated what you wrote about in this post. However, to say Mitt “never met any poor people” is ludicrous. Like DeeAnn, I know that being a Bishop and a Stake President in his church has given him intimate dealings with the care of the poor. The LDS church has one of the finest welfare systems in place anywhere in the world. Perhaps he does know a thing or two about how to “fix it.” That said, I would still never vote for him because I don’t like his overall political ideology (or his speaking blunders, or his stage presence) ;-)

  21. #21 John Wheeler
    February 3, 2012

    I have to disagree with your assessment of the middle class; it does include a large majority of Americans. The middle class consists of people who work for a living. The lower class is people who don’t work; the upper class is those who have others working for them.

    This is the useful class distinction; dividing up by income is less useful. People who work for a living have more interests in common with each other than they do with the other two classes.

  22. #22 Jo
    February 3, 2012

    Here is a concept. Working poor. Not all people who are poor do not work. Many of the poor in our nation are employed in low wage positions. Others do not have the benefits of full time employment or are working several jobs without benefits. Poverty is not defined by your work status or your work ethic – but by your income level. I never worked harder than when I was poor!
    I was below poverty line as a student and I worked an hourly part time position as well as a paid job at the university. I worked my ass off (yes, I said ass) and if I had not worked in a restaurant I would not have eaten many a day. Poverty sucks, no matter what the reason.
    Quite honestly, until you have been poor you honestly don’t know the fear that goes with the condition. What it boils down to is that a hungry malnourished child is a hungry malnourished child regardless of the parents activities.
    Mitt is wrong on this.
    Additionally, I have been known to let an F-bomb drop when trying to get the attention of one who does not seem to be paying attention and really should be as well as when I manage to explode hot marmalade on a tile floor while canning.
    Jo

  23. #23 Lauren
    February 4, 2012

    When I was raising my son alone after divorce during his infancy I was quite poor, even though working. At that time I couldn’t even get Medicaid for my son as I owned an auto worth over $2,000 (probably was worth $2,200,). During that time nothing threatened me more than the “welfare queens” having “numerous” children out of wedlock to increase their monthly payment. Did I love Laura Schlessinger in those days! Now that I’m in the top 20 – 25% income bracket, I can see how being so close to homelessness and a lifetime of poverty made me so threatened by those at my level and below. It took everything I had to hang on to the small amount I had, that I certainly didn’t want to share it with anyone less fortunate. It is so easy to invoke poor bashing, I believe, do to this concern for self-preservation.

    Now I’m much more compassionate for those who have less and cheerfully pay income taxes, some charity, etc. most of all I have a much softer place in my heart for the “poor.” (And for those who use the F word! ;) )

  24. #24 Stephen B.
    February 4, 2012

    I really don’t see *any* of the major candidates really caring, in a real way, about the poor. Certainly Gingrich and Santorum don’t.

    Obama? Yeah, he has the rhetoric, but seeing as he has kept following and even accelerated the policies of those before him, regarding waging war in the Mid East, using the sons and daughters of mainly poorer folk for fodder, all while continuing to support the massive bailout policies for the rich and continuing to support the massive printing press efforts of the Fed…. No, Obama fails too and rather spectacularly if you ask me.

    Personally, I’m voting for Ron Paul. Yes, I know of some of the stuff he has voiced in the past regarding marginalized people. True, I don’t suspect many of Sharon’s readers would agree with my decision, but I think that continuing a policy of an ever expanding government, trampling all of our rights, rich and poor, taking all our freedoms, to eat what we want, go where we want, and own what we want, does not bode well for anybody, rich or poor. This government has gotten ever larger, and more powerful. It’s become a tool of the 1 or 2, or 5 percent – whatever, and the rest of the population has suffered greatly as a result.

    But don’t worry too much about somebody like Paul winning. He won’t. What will happen is that we’ll get another president sanctioned and owned by the elite – for there will be little actual difference between President Romney or Obama, or Gingrich. The massive bailouts will continue, probably via Federal Reserve electronic money printing. Imperialistic wars waged on the backs of the US’, and the world’s poor will continue. Useless sound bites will continue to emanate from the White House press room too – only differing in flavor ever so slightly.

    The real problem here is a detached citizenry that feels completely dis-empowered at the hands of huge corporations and huge government. We’ve given up and we let the government get away with all this war, all this money printing, all this freedom taking, all this pitting one person against another, be it rich, poor, or whatever. We don’t live local lives anymore. We don’t know our local neighborhoods, or those who live in them, so we don’t care too much about our neighbors and let government dictate to us what we think of those around us. Instead, we watch TV, subconsiously giving in, more to the idea, that we are powerless, that somehow the government will save us still, or that huge corporations really aren’t all that bad, all while fearing what’s going on.

    Earlier this past week, the FBI, in Fitchburg, MA, started *chainsawing* an apartment door open…at 6:30AM, without warning. They burst in, made the occupant – a mother – lay down on the living room floor. The woman’s puppy urinated out of fear on that floor, and the woman was forced to lay on it. Her three year old daughter was SCREAMING for her in the other room, but the woman had to lay there because the FBI was looking for a drug house. The only thing is, the FBI had the WRONG apartment and took about 30 minutes to figure that out – all while the woman, puppy, and little girl were in terror.

    THAT is what allowing government to grow too big does for people, rich or poor. THAT is what a too powerful government, empowered by our lack of care, by letting It fight some misbegotten drug war, taking all our freedoms, has done to us. All the people of Fitchburg, indeed, all MA citizens, should be outraged that this happened. I mean, a CHAINSAW to gain entry? No announcing the search warrant first? Oh, I read that an agent simply gave the woman a note for the landlord as to where to send the bill for the replacement door.

    What would ANY of the major candidates do, to help stem the tide that has allowed the government to get away with stuff like that? Nothing – and we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s the citizenry’s job to check the government as it attempts those excesses.

    I could go on and on. As a person that works with kids from mainly poor families, I DO think government has a role to play, but it needs a huge refocusing that can only come from a re-involved, local, citizenry, actually paying attention. None of the guys likely to occupy the White House in early 2013 will make any real, positive, difference at all.

  25. #25 Stephen B.
    February 4, 2012

    Scienceblogs must have made their moderating software even more aggressive. None of my large posts are ever allowed through anymore. :-(

    Sharon, if you would see fit to delete this one and release the other I just posted :-)

  26. #26 Jim Thomerson
    February 4, 2012

    I think use of profanity or vulgarity downgrades the message. I avoid sites and posters who use a lot. When I hit my thumb with a hammer; however, that is another situation.

    I grew up working on a small family ranch. Under those circumstances we practiced frugality. One day, when I was maybe 14, my mother told me, out of the blue, “People think we are poor, but we have @25,000 in the bank.” I had never thought of us as being poor. Looking back on it, we did a lot of things that, I suppose, rich people would not do. We lived very much as Sharon advocates that people should live in the future.

  27. #27 vera
    February 4, 2012

    Well, Sharon, when I was getting a divorce, and being very ill, the (woman) lawyer I consulted warned me that the system is stacked in the disfavor of the middle class. She warned me that unless I was down to 2,000 dollars, I will be paying huge amounts of money for insurance as an uninsurable person, if I can get it at all; only if I lose most of what I have will I get help. This is what I later found. The small nest egg I had is almost all gone because of my disease and the predatory insurance rates I paid because I had no choice… and after that the deductibles, the 20% and other fees.

    I really have little empathy for liberal rants such as this one. The middle class has gotten screwed. This is not to say that being poor is a walk in the park. But ole Mitt was right, there is a safety net there for the poor, however imperfect; for the middle class, where is it?

  28. #28 Richard Eis
    February 6, 2012

    But ole Mitt was right, there is a safety net there for the poor, however imperfect; for the middle class, where is it?

    ?!?

    A safety-net is not a device for keeping you on the tight-rope.

  29. #29 Richard Eis
    February 6, 2012

    But ole Mitt was right, there is a safety net there for the poor, however imperfect; for the middle class, where is it?

    ?!?

    A safety-net is not a device for keeping you on the tight-rope.

  30. #30 Sharon Astyk
    February 6, 2012

    I’m not a liberal, Vera, I’m a leftist. That doesn’t mean it is easy to be working poor and lower middle class, but the statistics are very clear – you are way less likely to die if you are even marginally middle class. Your babies are way less likely to die. Now what is horrifying for everyone is that the health insurance situation drives the formerly middle class into poverty when they get sick – but that would be umm…a liberal/leftist argument in favor of something like universal health care.

  31. #31 Wow
    February 6, 2012

    “A safety-net is not a device for keeping you on the tight-rope.”

    But without a safety net, nobody goes on the tightrope.

    Therefore the poor will remain poor (or get poorer).

    But I suppose this is all according to plan, eh?

    PS what about Mitt’s own safety net? Have you looked at his medical insurance as a member of the house?

  32. #32 Wow
    February 6, 2012

    “I think use of profanity or vulgarity downgrades the message.”

    And I couldn’t give a flying fuck what you think, Jim.

  33. #33 Ewan R
    February 6, 2012

    But ole Mitt was right, there is a safety net there for the poor, however imperfect; for the middle class, where is it?

    Same place as it is for the poor. All this illustrates is that the bar is set abysmally low for where the safety net is – that you must fall into an unbearable mode of living to be saved by the safety net is illustrative of just how shitty life is for the poor (as illustrated here) – should probably leave you thinking “wow yeah, Romney is a dick” rather than bemoaning your lot – *if* things were better for the poor then *you* wouldn’t have had as far to fall before the safety net kicked in. It takes a certain amount of self absorbtion not to see this.

  34. #34 Nicole
    February 6, 2012

    If things are so great for the poor and their safety net, feel free to quit your job and go work part time at minimum wage. Oh… maybe middle class isn’t so bad?

    Make no mistake about — I’m tired of being part of the milked class, but not because I begrudge taxes for public transit and food stamps. I’m tired of being milked to companies like GE can pay no tax while complaining about high corporate tax rates and a convoluted tax code that they lobby to make more complex so they can manipulate it to their own benefit. And I’m tired of paying a higher tax rate than Romney because I suffer from the sin of having to work for my income.

    But I’ve been poor and this is still way better than checking to see if I can scrape up enough money to eat today.

  35. #35 dean
    February 6, 2012

    “Personally, I’m voting for Ron Paul.”

    Aaah yes, good ol’ loony tunes. The man
    *who shilled out his newsletter to racists and white supremicist groups and saw nothing wrong with it as long as he got paid
    *who believed (and apparently still defends) the notion that the government is putting tracking devices in our money
    * who believes that the gold standard is some type of magic and will save the economy if put back in place
    * is at the top of politicians for bringing pork money to his district in texas ($157 million in requests in 2011, just shy of $400 million in 2010)
    * believes the United States was linked to the killing of the Marines in Beirut

    There’s a lot more evidence that paul is nothing more than a paranoid loon. Indicating that he is somehow a man of principle is to ignore huge amounts of evidence to the contrary.

  36. #36 vera
    February 6, 2012

    Well, I don’t know where all you fluffy bunny leftists/liberals are living, to be so outraged on behalf of the poor. I am in a trailer park, surrounded by people who are struggling, and those whose incomes are on the level of “poor” and who get propane and electric and phone subsidies and health care subsidies, and can get into HUD housing in a pinch etc etc are damn sight better off than those here who are struggling to raise families while sorta hanging on in the middle class.

    I am not dealing with statistics, Sharon, I am dealing with what I see around me.

    As for politicians running for president, who the fuck cares? It makes no difference who gets elected; the real rulers are self-appointed. Wake up already. Isn’t the O debacle enough?

  37. #37 DW
    February 6, 2012

    Maybe, Vera, just maybe, some of the fluffy bunny leftist liberals have been poor and/or continue to be poor, too. You haven’t cornered the market there, sweetums.

  38. #38 vera
    February 6, 2012

    Oh crap. Now it’s me, huh? I am not poor. I still have savings. I was talking about my neighbors. And for the poor amongst us here, speak up. The middle classes need to hear from ya. Especially the fluffy bunnies.

  39. #39 Stephen B.
    February 6, 2012

    Dean,

    You do have links for all of that, no?

  40. #40 Ewan R
    February 7, 2012

    Vera – if it would make you feel any better you can sign over your savings to me, that way you’ll get all the awesome benefits of being truly poor and won’t have to be held back by your money.

    Just an option.

  41. #41 dean
    February 7, 2012

    You don’t know about paul’s allowing racists to use his newsletters? You apparently don’t pay attention.

    For a list of links to several of his positions start here:(not pasted as links in this post)
    crooksandliars.com/kenneth-quinnell/ron-pauls-racism-isnt-worst-thing

    The list of links to his positions is about 1/2 way down the article

    You can find one interesting discussion on the history of the racism in his newsletter here.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/President/2011/1229/Racist-newsletter-timeline-What-Ron-Paul-has-said

    along with some of his changing stories. You can also find this quote from Paul in his newsletter:

    The Marine angle comes from his “book”, where he says that the weapons used by the terrorists “The terrorists probably were aided by Iran and
    supplied with explosives sold to them by Israel, originating from the United States
    and paid for by American taxpayers”. you can find the book on-line at the nut-case von Mises site.

    There’s also his denial of evolution (from 2007: bold text my emphasis)
    Well, first i thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter,” he said. “I think it’s a theory…the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it as a theory. But I think the creator that i know, you know created us, every one of us and created the universe and the precise time and manner and all. I just don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side

    You need to do a little work stephen b. – you are free to support anyone you wish, just don’t pass off a hypocritical loon as a bastion of intelligence and integrity.

  42. #42 dean
    February 8, 2012

    stephen, I forgot to reference the recently revealed evidence that ron paul routinely chatted with leaders of the neo-Nazi group A3P and accepted financial support from people associated with stormfront.

    connections with racists and neo-nazis, hypocritical about so many things – sorry, rp isn’t my cup of tea.

  43. #43 Sesli Chat
    February 12, 2012

    Yes, that. Except I don’t think many minds will change. But at least Mitt is getting a ration in the media.