Can You Believe? An Attack on the Poor by Hal O’Leary

Can You Believe? An Attack on the Poor by Hal O’Leary

CAN YOU BELIEVE? An Attack on the Poor by Hal O’Leary.

Can You Believe? An Attack on the Poor by Hal O'Leary

Poor box. Photo attribution Julie Gentry

It is difficult to believe that the Republicans can still demand that rather than tax the unholy 1%, we should solve our economic insanity on the backs of the poor and what is left of the middle class.  The newest wrinkle to their ludicrous argument is that aid to the poor only diminishes the incentive to work.  This has got to be the most idiotic bit of hypocracy imaginable, to suggest that the unemployed are a bunch of freeloaders who don’t want to work, while at the same time, to deny those who are working at minimum wage jobs a much needed increase.  These people are losing ground.  The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.86 today when adjusted for inflation  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. This caannot continue. All of this, they suggest would be the right place to start in their drive to eliminate all entitlements. Let us examine a few of the facts that show why their arguments should fail to persuade.

Can they still believe that “trickle-down’ is still a viable solution? From the “top-down’ is what has produced this insane situation with an unsustainably wide gap between those who have and those who have not. From the “bottom-up’ is the proven way to go. It worked with the social reforms of FDR’s New Deal programs like the WPA and the CCC, which not only created jobs,but rebuilt the infrastructure and conserved the environment. If the truth be told, they should thank FDR for saving their precious capitalism which should have been allowed to expire, but instead. they have worked tirelessly to undo the social progress he instituted.

Democrat spending under Bill Clinton also worked to erase the deficit, only to have it explode under eight years of the de facto president Cheney’s administration, with all that military spending going directly into the pockets of the Military/Industrial/Complex which one of their own warned us about and Cheney, with the 1%, directly profited from.

Yet, I have read in editorials and heard it preached that as good a place to start as any to avoid disaster would be to cut entitlements for the 47% that Romney spoke of to feed the greed of the 1%. Let me cite, as an example, one program that would fall victim to such ill-advised thinking, the Food Stamp program.

With the food-stamp program providing more than 46 million Americans in the year 2010 with a diet just enough to meet their minimum nutritional needs, one would think that it was money well spent.

With the national disgrace of one in five of our children in poverty going to bed hungry, one would think Americans with any sense of empathy at all would demand an increased budget for such a program. But no! Many Americans, perhaps even a majority, find no fault with an editorial calling for cuts as a place to start. I can only think that they have not stopped to think, or that they have been misled by the hastened thinking reflected in such editorials. Perhaps we should examine our priorities with a new perspective.

In the year 2010 the food-stamp program alleviated just a little bit of the misery associated with the hunger, disease and death resulting from poverty, at a cost to the tax-payer of a whopping $65 billion. Big money no doubt. But in that same year we spent $119.4 billion for the war in Afghanistan. Informed and empathic citizens should realize that for the slaughter of 2,770 innocent Afghan civilians along with 323 American soldiers, we spent almost twice the amount we did on feeding our own hungry.

In trying to understand the thinking behind those calling for cuts in a program that provides some limited comfort and sustenance to so many of our neighbors, I have listened to all the arguments. “They’re too lazy to work.” (Most of them do work at minimum wage or less) “They are a drag on the economy.” (As if that $65 billion is not plowed back into the economy.) “It’s their own fault.” (Does that include the one in five children living in poverty?) “I wish my government would give me something for nothing instead of taking from me.”(My friend, you are free to join those free-loaders anytime you are willing to divest yourself of all the normal comforts you now enjoy.)

I fear that as a people, we are losing the inherent ability to empathize. That is the ability to feel “with” the other guy as opposed to the lesser sympathy which simply says we’re sorry “for” him. When, as a people, we can opt for spending almost twice as much for taking lives as we might be willing to spend for saving them, something is amiss. We seem to think no further than the lie that we are in Afghanistan to protect our freedoms while those very freedoms are being taken from us by our own government, which is controlled by the sociopaths and psychopaths that have taken us into an illegal war for no other reason than to add to their own ill-gotten and greed motivated gains.

Whether we support this illegal war, in ignorance or for greed, we are opting for death as opposed to life. Could it be that our obsession with wealth, along with that insane American notion of the “rugged individualist,” cause us to think that as an individual, and as a nation we need no other? My friends, we are “our brother’s keepers” whether we wish to be or not.

We are but one member of a Global Community which has every right to the good life that we would so selfishly claim for ourselves.

Perhaps we would do well to rethink our priorities with a different perspective.  I might suggest that a huge cut in the military might be as good a place as any to start to avoid the disaster.  The irony is that the Republican solutions offered to save us from disaster are the very ones to assure us of disaster.

View Comments (1)
  • Zibby Notsworth

    Rings like the tired, old “down with the rich and up with the poor Democrat Party screed”.

    Long on assertions “…From the “bottom-up’ is the proven way to go. It worked with the social reforms of FDR’s New Deal programs like the WPA and the CCC…de facto president Cheney’s administration…Democrat spending under Bill Clinton also worked to erase the deficit” and short on factual support. Yes, tax Tom Steyer, George Soros, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and those o-say-can-you-see-such-evil Koch Brothers until they cannot breathe. And let’s not forget Michael Bloomberg. Make ’em scream. Take at least 50%, yeah that’s the ticket. BTW that would be 50% of the unearned income on which they all subsist.


Hal O’Leary is an eighty-seven-year-old Secular Humanist who believes that it is only through the arts that one is afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University.

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