Broken Promises: The Working Poor
Broken Promises: The Working Poor
This has been a miserable summer. The weather is breaking heat and humidity records, we have no more Harry Potter movies to anticipate, kids can no longer dream of being astronauts, and the politicians in DC seem particularly asshole-ish. To mangle a Jon Stewart bit, it's like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gets Drunk, Tells His Constituents to Go Fuck Themselves, and Blows up The Smithsonian."
This isn't a political blog - in fact, it's hard to tell the difference between the alleged parties these days. One Asshat looks just as moronic as another. I think, though, that there is something we can clear up, if we work together.
One of the greatest promises of our country is this: if you work hard, you will be secure. This is the basis of the American dream. This is what called most of our families here from other countries. This promise fuels our work ethic, our sense of pride and accomplishment, and the lessons we teach our children.
Right before our eyes, that promise is being broken.
Most people could care less about a debt ceiling that is already so obscene that we cannot imagine its volume. Most people just want jobs. Jobs that allow them to feed their families, hold their heads up, own their own homes, and contribute to our society as a whole.
In case you haven't been paying attention to what is really going on in DC, the people in this country who are really getting shafted by the cuts in government programs are the Working Poor. They are NOT, as many people seem to believe, made up exclusively of crackheads and people who hold up convenience stores. Sure, there are deadbeats, but the majority of the people who need support are the ones who are working their asses off and still losing their homes. These are people who work more than one job - they work more hours than most of us reading this blog, but they can't keep up with expenses because costs are going up and their wages are not. These are people who have no health insurance, and rely on state and federal programs so they can take their kids to the doctors.
These are people who have to decide which bill to pay - medicine, food, or utilities. And now we need to include the elderly - you know - the people who already spent a lifetime working based on the understanding that all the money they paid in to Social Security would provide for them after retirement. Pension plans? Most people lost the money they earned when their former employers went bankrupt/got refinanced/sold out/etc. Don't miss the important part - they money they earned - by working for 40 years, only to lose it because someone got greedy and/or cooked the books.
These are not people spending money in casinos, or buying $200 pairs of shoes. These are not people who choose between eating out at Red Robin or at Applebees. These are not even people who get to decide whether to buy two tubes of toothpaste if it's on sale, because they barely have enough money to buy one for their family. These are people who's souls are seared because their children go to bed hungry.
Before you tell me that I sound like a bleeding heart, or a liberal, or a socialist, or whatever term is fashionable to connote: "Tax and spend irresponsible reprobate", take a step back. If it weren't for the whole pacifism thing, I'd be a true Libertarian. I don't like anyone telling me how to live, especially elected officials who wouldn't know the Constitution if it grew fangs and bit them on the ass.
This debate has more to do with humanity than it does with political labels. This is no hypothetical. People are losing their homes and can't feed their kids. This is crisis time. Unemployment is a reality. People - regardless of education or experience or race or gender or religion - are losing their jobs every day. You could be next.
What kind of country do you want to live in? Because if America has become a country that disregards the fate of innocents in order to maintain an intransigent position on some kind of political theory, it's not a country I can be proud of. If we sit silently by, and allow these elected officials to make decisions that break the backs and hearts of the people who just want to make a decent living, then more shame is on us than on them.
Whether you agree with me or not, the time for passive behavior is over. Take a position. Research the primary facts to support it. And then demand that the men and women in Washington, DC fulfill their promise to represent their constituents.
Enough with the broken promises. We are better than that. Time to stand up and act like it.
**Please note that I wrote this blog prior to the Monday night addresses/commentaries/"news" coverage and other discussions regarding the debt ceiling crisis. You should take whatever parts of those developments into consideration before you finalize your position.