fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,
fidesquaerens
marta_bee

[politics] working vs. inner-city poor

I was going to blog about Gingrich's really tone-deaf comments about poverty and inner-city neighborhoods</a>. But sometimes the only appropriate response. Ergo: TDS and Larry Wilmore.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Newt Gingrich's Poverty Code
www.thedailyshow.com
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I will say this, briefly. I get what Gingrich is trying to say. If you're in a multigenerational poverty situation (so goes the thinking) and in that situation it's not the "working poor" but the fabled welfare queens who sit around waiting for their checks to roll in without looking for a job or working toward getting one, then the kids in those homes don't have a good work ethic modeled to them. So they need to learn that work ethic somewhere. At that age a little bit of money can make a big difference, and teaching kids the value of earning, paired up with the value of learning a budget, can be a powerful tool.

The problem is, the narrative just isn't true. If you want to talk no work ethic or understanding of the dollar, turn to Andover or Riverside [to my mind, the most upper-crust prep schools in NYC and Boston]. In my neighborhood, there is a lot of what Gingrich would recognize as inner-city poverty - primarily Hispanic or Soviet bloc, but it's still there. And I see the way these kids learn the value of a dollar, and the value of work. They are on welfare because the jobs available don't pay a living wage; but I see a way better work ethic among them than I do (say) at my Jesuit school.

I don't think I fully understood that until I lived in a relatively poor neighborhood and went to the supermarket, babysat, sat through mass alongside, etc. people living in these situations. I'm a grad student which means I'm not rich but I also have a livable wage and job security, and I live here because it's convenient to my school, not because I can't afford otherwise. So I do not completely live the experience. But I understand much more than I did five years ago. The prospect of electing an older white man who has never had that experience, at a time when so many people are unemployed, isn't exactly encouraging.

Not that we needed more proof. Anyone hear of the GOP proposal (just passed the Senate, IIRC) to require drug testing and a GED for people on unemployment. It's just so demeaning...
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