Removing Options (1/10/12)

I think, if you live in a place where you walk out of your house, drive to work, and drive back home (or are driven to each place), it's pretty easy to think of impoverished people as a thing that only exists on your television (or perhaps online or at the movies). If you don't engage with them, see them, or remember your time as one of them, I can see why you might forget about them pretty easily. I'm thus not confused why people in various pockets of the country (and the world, but it's here that I'm writing about) find the concerns of those without means not to be particularly important. And I speak not of people who want to merely reform or change social aid – there are certainly valid points to be made about how it should be accomplished and how much we can currently afford – but people whose kneejerk reaction is simply, “Why should we bother to help them?”

So I get it. If you really don't have a clue about the poor, then it's still not very nice to think they should be ignored, but it's not exactly confusing to me.

In my view, every group of people deserves compassion, and discussions about how that compassion should be meted out are valuable. Do we simply require each citizen to give a portion of their income to those without means? Do we guarantee everyone a certain wage? Do we create an incentive program? How would these incentives work? Feel free to dive into these discussions below.

But what I think is unacceptable is the set of ideas that allows someone – whether common citizen or politician – to believe that we should rip the rug out from under all social aid without replacing it with something that will not kill people. Because the fact is, for the small percentage of freeloaders out there, there are plenty of folks who depend on aid for medication, who work long hours (like everyone else) to support their families, and who, if you take away their very thin safety net, they will be left without options. And a person without options is usually not a rational one.

My main point is this: let's have our debates about how to help. But we can't pretend that removing all help will do anything but make people suffer more than they already are. If you think we can provide them with a more viable and productive option, by all means, let us talk about that. But just telling the impoverished that they can go fuck themselves is straight cruelty, even if it doesn't surprise me.

Peace and love,
Justin PBG


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality