Friday, August 21, 2015

Quickies: The Richest Poor On Earth

     Kevin D. Williamson whacks us across the teeth with it:

     What is it, in terms of physical goods and services, that we wish to provide for the poor that they do not already have? Their lives often may not be very happy or stable, but the poor do have a great deal of stuff. Conservatives can be a little yahoo-ish on the subject, but do consider for a moment the inventory of the typical poor household in the United States: at least one car, often two or more, air conditioning, a couple of televisions with cable, DVD player, clothes washer and dryer, cellphones, etc. As Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield report: “The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs. Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable-TV bill as well as to put food on the table.”

     It’s a point I and other commentators have made many times before:

In America, “poverty” is a statistical artifact.

     No one in these United States, unless he be at the top of Mount McKinley, involuntarily lacks food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. The number of persons actively looking for such unfortunates, pantingly eager to thrust largesse upon them, makes genuine, survival-level “poverty” an impossibility in America.

     Yes, there is survival-level poverty in other lands. Whose responsibility are those persons? In the overwhelmingly most common case, they exist for a political reason: i.e., the suppression of the capitalist dynamic Williamson extols in his article. No doubt the political masters of those lands find their poor as useful a stick to beat “the rich” with as do our own mealy-mouthed, wholly insincere "progressive" purveyors of fake “compassion” exercised solely at the voting booth.

     Which is what makes the political use of “the poor” as a shibboleth so gratingly offensive that when a conversational adversary uses it, it takes all the self-restraint I’ve got not to grab him by the lapels (or whatever else might be handy), slam him against the nearest vertical surface, and scream into his face until he faints from pure terror. But then, I’ve been advised by my physician not to allow my blood pressure to get above 200 / 130, by my lawyer to refrain from casually committing major felonies in public, and by my parish pastor not to play around the edges of the Fifth Commandment (Catholic enumeration).

     Remember that the next time some “progressive” tries to use “the poor” in a political argument. (You could tell him about me instead, but doing the job yourself is much more satisfying.)

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