Monday, October 1, 2012

Tissue For The Issue

I usually keep my nose out of certain things. I tend to have vague, general opinions but I stay out of hearty discussion because most of the time I don't know enough to do so. Sadly, most of the time I don't care enough to research an issue.

And I think that's disappointing. I don't care? I don't care about what's going on across the U.S., or the world for that matter? I should care. I should want to know. I should have enough information on a subject to argue my point of view, to engage in discussion.

In an attempt to be more... educated? I'm now trying to read 1-3 news articles every morning during my commute. Two weeks ago, looking at Yahoo and MSN headlines, nothing caught my eye. Nothing jumped out as interesting. It was either Syria, Pakistan or the election. So I chose the one that directly affects me.

I spent the better part of a morning last week reading about the issues. Where Obama stands and where Romney stands on things that matter to me. Education, environment, taxes, poverty, environment, social security, etc. I think the only logical conclusion, for me, is that I'm even more confused than I was before. Sure I know whose position I agree with on certain matters but mostly I think I was just irritated.

Take poverty for instance. "Poverty conveys the impression of individuals and families struggling to afford basic sustenance, shelter and education." I read that and actually had to re-read it. That's how we're defining poverty? Ok. It went on to say that "A September 2011 study (Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010) commissioned by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the national poverty rate has risen to an astounding 15.1% (43.6 million), the highest since poverty rates were published in 1959." Source 

Every month I struggle to pay the basics. My rent is something I don't ever worry about solely for the fact that I have it paid directly from each check so that I don't have any shortage problems. But the other stuff? Lights, electric, gas, cable? Fair game for worrying. And you may be thinking, 'umm, cable is not a necessity'. And you're right, it's not. But internet is. It's 2012. We have online classes, voice-over-internet phone companies, online TV, etc. Can you really go through the day without it? Probably not. So yes, if that's how we're defining poverty then I guess I belong there. Because making ends meet month to month has become really effing difficult.

Candidate A says "I've said throughout the campaign my focus, my concern, my energy is going to be devoted to helping middle income people, all right? We have a safety net for the poor in, and if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that. And if there are people that are falling through the cracks I want to fix that.”

Candidate B says "Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.

Solely based on those two points, knowing nothing else, I'd go with B. It's true. Food stamps and public assistance are crutches. They are band-aids to economic injuries. How many times are we going to change the band-aid before we actually try to heal the wound?

/end rant


  1. I completely understand what you mean. The wife and I are barely getting by, but the point is that we're still getting by. We've never been in a position where homelessness was an answer, even if that means I had to work at McDonald's. Meanwhile, I've seen people go pick up their food stamps in a brand new Cadillac Escalade. My mom is a cashier at Safeway and she says people constantly use their government assistance on cigarettes and lotto tickets instead of food for their kids. Isn't that proof enough that the system isn't working?

  2. Hmmmm... what I don't like about candidate a's comments is how it's about "the middle class" ("us') and the poor ("them"). There's no inherent differences between middle class and poor - plenty of people jump between the two groups their whole lives. Acting like the "poor" are somehow inherently different from other groups is the first step in discrimination. "Oh, he/she is poor because he/she is lazy and undeserving, that would never happen to me,  I'm not one of THOSE people."

  3. My thoughts too. I thought we were past the "class" system?