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1st World Problems

Seeing this over at Wide as the Waters I was struck by something I had read at the National Review a few years ago. Howie Carr loves this story, and I’m sure the figures haven’t changed a hell of a lot in the last 4 years, even with the recession.

I’m know we have some living in their cars, and stealing half eaten Big Mac’s out of dumpsters, but by and large, the definition of poor is really not appropriate. It seems that the definition of poor has become “having less than the guy in the middle”. Everyone below this line is poor and everyone above it is rich.

What gets me about the social programs designed to “help” the “poor” is I can’t figure out whether the point is to provide the things they actually need and can’t get or if the point is to provide all their basic needs so they can have everything the more financially endowed have.

Give me a paragraph and I’ll throw drug use in as well. In my mind, the social safety net should provide only needs that people can not afford themselves. If you can afford to buy non essential electronics, have cable/satellite, run your air conditioner and live in a reasonably maintained dwelling than you do not need my tax dollars to help you buy bread.

Now the drugs. Drugs being not in anyway essential to living, if you are currently defined as poor and can afford to spend money on (insert drug here, word has reached me that MJ goes for around $45 bucks an 1/8 oz. in today’s southern Maine economy) you also do not need my taxes to buy food and what-have-you. So I support drug testing for recipients of any sort of welfare. I’m currently not aware of anyway to test for non-essential and costly amenities, however when they develop a pee in the cup test for those, I’ll want them as well.

Going back to the video, I understand that it doesn’t depict the “poor” per say, but what it does do is put in perspective the fact that the “poor” in America are not comparatively poor when compared to nearly everyone else on earth. Our “first world” perspective is skewed in a way that makes our poor laughable by any reasonable standard. Having a place to live, clean water, food, TV, a car, heat and so on, does not a poor person make. Not having the amenities others have does not a poor person make. Labeling someone as poor, does not a poor person make.

I’m not even for these “help the poor” programs. People are much more willing to get on these programs (when they don’t need them) when its not their neighbor helping them out, but a government official. Assistance to the poor should be local, not national or state run and funded with forcibly obtained funds (taxes). To do otherwise is to ask for trouble and it breeds resentment when you stop on your way home from work and see the person ahead of you in the grocery line is making two separate transactions, one with food stamps for Ding Dongs, Twinkies, lobsters and chips with their food stamps, and one transaction for alcohol and tobacco with…. wait for it….

Cold hard cash.

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