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31 / F / Straight / Seeing someone
Her journal posts
Jan 26, 2011
Did everyone watch the State of the Union? How about the GOP's response? I have a few thoughts...
There was a lot of "bootstrap" talk, by which I mean the championing of the average American to pull themselves up without the help of the government, and the negative repercussions of larger federal government. I am of two minds about this.
I've worked with state agencies, and treated a lot of people who live on social security and medicaid. I have seen this system abused. I know that it happens.
But I can't help it; I'm wary when a privileged white man tells me that people should be able to overcome poverty through sheer force of will. The fact is, if people could just "pull themselves up" on minimum wage in this country, they would. Oh, sure, there are a few rare counterexamples of people who work their way from poverty to middle income. But I think that we exist in a socioeconomic caste system that is awfully hard to traverse. Once you're down, it's hard not to stay down. I think it would be great if everyone could hold down a good job, live in a decent place, have reliable public transportation, have access to a real grocery store, and not have to live on handouts from the government. But the fact remains that many Americans live in slums, have no access to fresh food, have no way to get to a job (even if they could get a job) and have no reason to start a savings account (why open a bank account when you're living check to check? It makes more sense to buy cigarettes for your nephew so that you can stay with him when your lights get turned off). I'm not saying I think the government should support everyone. That's not feasible. But I am saying that it is awfully easy to lecture about the perseverance of the American spirit from a high horse on Capitol Hill.