Friday, July 11, 2014

Right-Wing Lies vs. New Deal Truth (part 1 of 10): "The poor have it easy!"

(According to many on the political right, this homeless person is living in the lap of luxury. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that most conservatives believe that low-income Americans have it "easy."

But we know from empirical research that low-income Americans have shorter lifespans than the well-to-do. For example, research from the Brookings Institute shows that "Life expectancy is rising for those at the top of the distribution of individuals ranked by alternative measures of socio-economic status, but it is stagnate or declining for those at the bottom" (see "Poor People's Lives Are Getting Shorter"). So, um, how is a shorter lifespan "easy"?

Also, anyone who has experience with poverty--either personally, or by working with low-income groups--knows that something like a major car repair can wipe out a poor person's finances. For example, if you're wealthy, a broken transmission is a minor inconvenience. If you're poor, the $2-3,000 repair bill is devastating, if not impossible. And, for many people, if they're out of a car they may soon be out of a job. Also, contrary to right-wing fantasies, the Obama Administration is not going to deliver a new transmission to your doorstep.

But facts & reality don't matter too much to the political right. What matters is that people like Bill O'Reilly say that poor Americans get a bunch of free stuff and have an easy life. The homeless get free mansions, the unemployed get free Corvettes, and low-income workers get free transmissions--personally delivered by President Obama. "It's a Marxist outrage!!"

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
New Deal policymakers didn't live in a fantasy bubble of paranoia & misinformation. Hence, they realized that being poor is no cakewalk. That's why they created jobs, health clinics, and school lunch programs for low-income Americans. What a shame that we don't have many New Deal-type policymakers today. They've been replaced with liars, charlatans, and a "rudderless bunch of idiots." And that's why Congress has a record low-approval rating, the poor have shorter lifespans, and the Koch brothers keep adding billions to their personal fortune.

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