Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 24, 2008

Poor People are Idiots!

Filed under: View from the Bottom — Punchinello @ 11:00 am
Tags: , ,

I live in the ghetto. Okay, it’s not the really harsh ghetto where people get shot every evening, but it’s way down there at the bottom of the economic heap. I didn’t try to move here, I just ended up here, washed up on the shore after some miserable storms of circumstance. And, of course, there are a lot of other poor people living here too.

Alright, so not EVERY poor person is an idiot, but I’m looking at a general cross-section of poor people. I’ve got some really nice neighbors, but most of the folks here are strangers. There are old folks, living on what Social Security pretends is a liveable income. There are disabled folks, trying to get by as best they can. We’ve got nutcases, moms with a gaggle of kids, and every ethnic group you could imagine.

There are people who can’t speak English, trying to figure out how to get established in the mainstream. Then there are pepole who choose to screw up the language because they feel it makes them look cooler.

But out of all this crowd of stragglers, there’s a sort of consensus view of life in the rest of the world. Generally speaking, “those people” have it easy. They’re rich, “got good jobs,” have no problems, aren’t sick, they’re all beautiful, and they’re all lucky. That’s the big one: luck!

Anyone who isn’t stuck in the gutter is just lucky, if you ask around. They somehow bumped into a money pond, scooped up as much as they could, and snuck it back to their big mansions in their luxury cars. See, a lot of people around here are doing a bit of illegal entrepreneurial venturing. And indeed, they DO fall into a money pond!

Nobody reads much, but boy everyone sure does have that cable TV. Then there are the DVD games, entertainment systems, rented furniture, clothes, and jewelry. Funny thing is there aren’t many cars up on blocks like you might see in a neighborhood of houses. Maybe it’s because an apartment complex has someone keeping an eye on things.

Sometimes, when I’m bored, I’ll ask people about the coming elections. Or I’ll overhear excited conversations about who’s going to vote, how they’re going to vote, and that we should all get out there and vote. I’m curious, and I’ll listen, and it doesn’t take long to hear that Mr. Obama has a wildly large margin of popularity.

If I’m even more bored, I’ll ask, casually, how come whomever it is likes Mr. Obama. In all cases it’s because either he’s going to “change” everything, or it’s because those “miser’ble suns-a-bitches-Republicans have screwed us all totally.”

So I’ll ask people, every so often, to explain how Mr. Obama is going to change something. Or, I’ll ask what they’d like to have changed. Keep in mind that most of the folks in question either don’t work and are on public aid, or they have barely minimum-wage jobs. There are lots of food stamps, Medicare and/or Medicaid clients, and funds for plenty of help with utility bills. Rent varies, according to what tenants can pay, and there’s even a food pantry giving away free food.

Also keep in mind that because of massive stress, utter lack of interest in health and preventative medicine, and actual bad luck, there’s a larger than average percentage of people with real medical problems. Some of these came about through life choices, sometimes due to violence, and sometimes a difficult genetic makeup.

All these folks are being treated, getting medicine, getting transportation, being cared for, and living without flies buzzing around their open wounds. Nobody knows how that’s all taken care of, it just “happens.”

What should change? What else does everyone want? “Gimme this, gimme that, I need more, I wanna win the lottery,” what can change about that?

Nobody knows. It’s a mystery. But there sure are a lot of important feelings involved! Somehow, rich people shouldn’t be rich. They should be just like everybody else. Rich people should “learn what it’s like” being poor, stupid, jobless, and mindless. Rich people shouldn’t oughta have all that stuff! They should “gimme” some of that stuff.

Because the conversations are so idiotic, I don’t bother to ask about where would be the market for heroin or crack if there weren’t rich people. I don’t ask how the few who have jobs would continue working if there weren’t people with money. I don’t ask about where the cars come from, the cable system, the TVs, and all that jewelry.

Nah, that’d tax everyone’s brain too much. But by golly, Mr. Obama’s gonna change things! After all, “it can’t get any worse!” Worse? How bad really are things? Sure there are lots of people out of work, but they usually have skills and can’t find a job. What about people who have no skills, can’t read, barely can form a sensible sentence, and want to blurt out whatever dumbass jargon slang?

And what actually have those miser’ble-suns-a-bitches-the-Republicans done? “Well, they screwed up the economy, that’s for sure!” So I ask, how did they do that? Nobody knows, it’s a mystery.

Throughout history, and in particular modern history, one single thing has always made the difference between poverty and wealth: education. There’s no question at all that if you want a country to develop, improve living conditions, reduce health disasters, and live better, you have to educate the population.

But around here, plenty of people are proud of having dropped out. They don’t want to read, have no interest in books, libraries, or online information sources. Many of them can’t use a computer, but the kids who do know about computers can only play games or surf the net. Text-messaging is done in abbreviations that make no sense for any sort of business correpsondence whatsoever.

Nobody checks anything. Nobody looks for facts. Nobody even questions whatever the local “experts” have to say. They hear something on TV or by rumor or in the jungle grapevine, and accept it instantly, without question. Mr. Obama is “Da Man,” and he’s gonna change everything. But all that means is he’s gonna punish those lucky rich people, bring ’em down a peg or twelve, and make everybody just like us…poor.

These are all voters, too. They likely were registered through some sort of public-spirited “drive,” but fortunately most of them won’t vote. They don’t know where the polling place is located, and can’t understand the function of maps. Even so, with buses carting them to the polling places, lots of them WILL vote. They have no stake in the country, no stake in the economy, could care less about building a society, and they’re part of the democratic process.

Nobody has traveled, they’ve never been to a truly impoverished nation, and most of them haven’t the slightest concept of what it means to live in a cardboard box. The people from Mexico who DO have this life experience usually can’t speak English well enough to explain it.

And yet, these are the people who will control America’s destiny, to a greater or lesser degree. This is the black hole in the economic universe that’s sucking the country’s productivity dry. It’s a bottomless pit. No matter how much money the government rips out of everyone’s wallet, NONE of it will come out of the wallets of the poor people. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever to lose, nothing at stake, and no need for action or thought.

Only one thing would change any of this: Immediately put into place means-testing for all welfare programs across the board. Formulate a legitimate living wage, tied to an actual “basket of goods,” and provide that dollar amount. Make it just enough to survive, but not enough to afford cable TV.

On the supply site, remove personal income tax (and corporate income tax) and move to a value added tax system. That would recover profits from the illegal trade marketplace and make it fair to everyone as to how we’re going to finance the government. Tie welfare and family aid programs to education, even going so far as to link benefits to grade-point averages. And of course that would mean reinstituting actual grading in schools.

It’ll never happen.



  1. Once more, the parallels can be made between both “parties”. Where I came from, people will tell you that they’re not voting for Obama because ” He’s not a Christian… and this is a Christian country” or- ” That he is Muslim” ( I assume because of his name) or that he’s a “terrorist” or something else they’ve heard Mrs Palin screech out at the top of her lungs. They- just like many Obama voters- take what politicians say at face value. As I mentioned before, Mccain panders to the stupidest common denominator, and if he “suggests” that Obama is “possibly” such and such ( enter derogatory name here) that naturally this lower level base will take the bait and let their ancient bigoted hatred run hog-wild.

    But getting back to the subject, you nailed it as far as the cause. it is in fact education. I come from a family of teachers. My Mom, Grandmother, Grandad, and Great Great Grandparents were teachers.

    From their perspective, education has been fairly unevenly dispersed amongst different economic groups. Generations of kids were shoved through the bare-bones, bare-minimum requirement education system thrown together under the ghettos and slums as well as pocketed rural areas. I know because I went to such a school. Students didn’t care because Mom and Dad didn’t care… because their own parents also didn’t care as a result of a lasting legacy of poor education emphasis.

    The result is ignorance and lack of upward mobility, which in turn leads to elections like these, where the absolute worst is brought out amongst people who barely comprehend the world around them.

    Comment by bob — October 24, 2008 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  2. And many of those ignoramuses will be voters, charged with determining the future of the country.

    Comment by Punchinello — October 24, 2008 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

  3. That is what bound to happen in a democracy. At our hearts, we are still socialists, aren’t we?

    At least some form of social security exists in your place, back in my place, in spite of non-intervention by the Government and lack of food, some people still don’t want to work! The burden is passed on to the spouse or the kids. Such people ought to be taken to task. Because by the time they realize, it is often very late. And the Governments here promise free colour TV’s and such to come to power!!

    Destination Infinity

    Comment by Destination Infinity — October 27, 2008 @ 3:20 am | Reply

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