February 4

Blaming the poor for rotten economy is stupid


The newspaper “Food Stamp Changeover” headline heralds a new low for American capitalism. The problem of poverty and food insecurity extends to a growing multitude.

Capitalists claim that the poor are to blame for their own economic misfortune. That’s a convenient stand for people who profit from the exploitation of others. Blaming the poor for a rotten economy is stupid. It’s a transparent rationalization by those who benefit from an unjust system.

Capitalism’s contradictions are a problem for many Americans who risk being sacrificed to the desires of an avaricious capitalist class. Most of us are but a plant closing, a health crisis or an outsourcing away from economic oblivion.

Yet Republicans, such as Eric Cantor and Paul LePage, want to slash aid programs because the assistance promotes dependency and abuse. It does promote dependency and abuse, that much is true, but not among poor people. The real dependents and abusers are giant corporations and fast-food gulags that won’t pay their workers a living wage, leaving society to pick up the tab.

Cutting food stamps makes no economic sense. Raising the minimum wage does. If we begrudge poor people subsidies that provide basic sustenance, why do we tolerate an economy that continually reproduces unemployment, underemployment and low-wage jobs? The best way to reduce or eliminate subsidies is not to make poor people hungry. It would be better to create jobs with wages that need no supplement.

Looked at this way, the real question we should be asking is not, “Are the poor deserving of food stamps”? Rather, we might ask, “Can capitalism produce jobs that pay well enough to afford all a life of dignity”? The evidence appears to support a strong yes to the first question and a resounding no to the second.

Christopher N. McKinnonAugusta
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