Being poor keeps getting easier

(Reuters) – Cable companies will offer high-speed Internet service to low-income families in the United States at around a fifth of the national average price… Families who qualify for free school lunches will be able to sign up for $9.95 a month high-speed Internet services from top cable providers.

Further, families eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches will be able to buy low-cost computers.  Specifically, households need at least one child that participates in the National School Lunch Program to be eligible for the reduced-cost high-speed Internet service.  The initiative is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to extend affordable broadband Internet access across the United States.

I think I can agree that this program is well-intentioned.  Unfortunately, the ideology behind it is more harmful than it is beneficial from my perspective.  I see at least two problems with a program like this.

First, as I have said in the past (see: Political Hokey-Pokey; Fair Enough?) being poor in America is far too comfortable and convenient (in relation to actual need, there are millions of people in the world that would kill for an opportunity to be poor in America).  There is no incentive to ever get out of poverty.  Programs exist to subsidize rent, utilities, food, and in some cases, transportation.  Granted, this does not appear to be a government (read: taxpayer) funded endeavor, but I think programs like this help lull people into a comfortability in poverty.  The fact that this is an unnecessary subsidy makes it worse.  This subsidy has nothing to do with basic needs.  Libraries and schools are all equipped with computers, the internet, and print references.  Any child with the desire to learn and achieve in school can do so without receiving discounted services.

Which leads me to the more significant problem a program like this helps stoke.  In response to the survey showing that “43 percent of households with annual incomes below $25,000 had broadband access at home, while 93 percent of households with incomes exceeding $100,000 had broadband” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “We think we’re going to move the needle on the broadband adoption gap“.

As this is being written, there is a growing sense of class antipathy afoot in this country.  The wealthy are being demonized and the perceived poor are bestowed victimhood.  The wealth gaps between the rich, middle-class and poor is emphasized.  The “distribution of wealth” is called unfair.

My concern raised in More taxes? because they can afford it is on the brink of realization.  It wont be long before goods and services are priced according to income.  The Connect to Compete initiative is just the camel’s nose under the tent a movement is looking for.  Soon I see other goods and services following suit with the government’s endorsement.  The Connect to Compete program is linked to government standards of poverty, and with it comes a certain amount of oversight, albeit negligible at this point.

Though I disagree to an extent, it is one thing to subsidize housing, food, and utilities since an argument can be made for survival.  But subsidizing non-essentials like the internet is a dangerous path to travel.

Comments

  1. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    What a stupid title. No offense, but blatantly stupid.

    And this…

    First, as I have said in the past (see: Political Hokey-Pokey; Fair Enough?) being poor in America is far too comfortable and convenient (in relation to actual need, there are millions of people in the world that would kill for an opportunity to be poor in America). There is no incentive to ever get out of poverty.

    …is incredibly stupid. Do you know how much a family of four can expect in cash assistance from the State of Michigan? $598 in cash, plus maybe $600 in foodstamps.

    The cheapest rent around here is about $500, and if you’re lucky, that’ll include a few utilities, but usually, it only includes water if it’s an apartment complex. So you still have to pay for non-included utilities, a car payment if applicable, insurance if applicable, miscellaneous items (e.g., soap, shampoo, bathroom tissue, clothes, etc…), and who knows what other expenses. So to suggest that being poor is easy is simply stupid.

    You’re totally out of touch with reality. And I know you’ll probably give me some line about non-profits like the Salvation Army, etc, but they don’t do as much as you think they do. You’re totally out of touch with reality, as is so often the case with Republicans.

    Try living poor sometime – and I mean dirt poor – and then talk about how easy of a life it is. In fact, you’ve contradicted yourself. You told me that when you and your wife first got together, you didn’t have a lot of money. So, John, if being poor is so easy, why did you bother to better yourself? Why not just ride so high on the hog and live off the State of Connecticut and the good graces of non-profits and companies catering to the poor?

    I guess you have a better work ethic than most of the poor in America….

    Get real, please. I have never been so offended by a post as I was with this one. Utterly stupid.

    • Ohhhh T,

      I was hoping someone would play the “poor me” card. Guess what, I’ve lived it. I know about section8, been there done that. I know about food stamps, been there done that, I know about walking into the town’s social services office to get on the Christmas program because I didn’t have the money for my kids, been there done that. You think $500 a month for rent is rough? How about where I am the average rent is $1200 a month. But wait, there’s more. When I was out of work for 2 years, back when unemployment was only 6 months, my mortgage was $1500 a month. And you got $600 in food stamps? Consider yourself lucky. I know what it’s like to not know if the kids were going to eat. I know what it’s like to have the bank serving you with forclosure and eviction notices. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!

      You think groceries and misc. items are expensive? You know why? because only suckers pay retail. My wife clips coupons and buys only on sale, and we have all name brand food. We havent paid for shampoo, soap, toothpaste, or toilet paper in 2 years now. Not because we’re special or republican, but because we do everything we can to make our bills, and if it means buying 6 Sunday papers for just the coupons, and the 2 hours it takes to map out the grocery list, so be it. We now pay $40 a week for groceries for a family of four and we have so much food we have to donate on a regular basis — not because we are such nice people, we just don’t have the space. And you know why??? Because we didn’t sit around waiting for the next government program. We busted our asses to take care of our family. I even offered to lay it all out for you, explain how easy it was to save tons of money, and guess what? You never got back to me.

      You need to get real. I saw what I was becomming when my father was helping us out. I got lazier and lazier. I just made the call to tell him what I needed and it was there. it wasn’t until someone gave it to me straight, that I was a friggin leach that it sank in that living with my hand out wasn’t actually living. It took someone telling it like it is to get me off the tit.

      Don’t you ever dare lecture me about hard times. You lived it for 25 years? Too long myfriend. Some people cry in their effing pillow, and others do something about it. Sam Kinnison had a bit about the starving people in Africa. “you live in a desert, food doesn’t grow here, its never gonna grow here. Move to where the food is!” If you cant find work that pays enough to make your ends without asking taxpayers to foot the rest, move to where the jobs are! Texas and North Dakota are booming with jobs. Move, and work. Maybe Michigan (which is run by demcrats and unions FOR DECADES, what does that tell you?!?!?!) isn’t the place to be.

      We weren’t satisfied with the life that welfare and hand-outs provided. There is more to life than just barely making it because government money only goes so far. There’s dignity and self-reliance. Government subsidies rob people of their dignity and self-worth. Your outlook on life is utterly stupid.

  2. Terrance H. says:

    Oh, and you can get the State to pay your rent if you apply for Section 8 housing, which has a waiting list of about two years….The most they’ll help with utilities is $700 a year.

    So, wake up. You don’t know what you’re talking about – at all. I actually lived it – for close to twenty-five years.

    And computers are a reality. They run everything. The Internet has taken over. It can be argued that in order to survive, to lift yourself up, you need the Internet. But I don’t really care about the program one way or the other. I just take issue with the rest of your post. The dismissal of what it means to be poor.

  3. Terrance, you’ve never been mor offended? Never?

    Brother, you need to get out. Try some of my stuff. I think John’s stuff is pretty straight forward and even tame compared to me.

    But, Terrance, you hit the nail on the head when you compared work ethics. Yes, I imagine John has a much better work ethic than many of the poor in this country.

    Did you know that immigrants to America are four times as likely than natural born citizens to become millionaires? It’s true, but why? I have a guess. They are told that America is the land of opportunity. Natural born, English-speaking American kids get to grow up here listening to folks make excuses for poor people.

    I’d prefer to tell kids that they can achieve things, but that they are going to have to work for it. If they don’t have the internet, they’ll have to walk to the library. But, if that seems too hard, then they are more than welcome to sit at home and not learn. Just, please… PLEASE don’t tell me they are unable to get what they need, if indeed the Internet is what they “need”.

    I agree with John. This kind of program (government or not) is borne of good intentions, but is also borne of a sick view of human nature. Giving people basic needs without expecting anything in return starts to wear away at their work ethic. That’s the point.

    And if we’re wrong, please explain generations of families on welfare. My description of what should be expected actually comes to pass.

    I have to ask, you say you were really poor for 25 years. Please tell me those weren’t your first 25 years of life. Because that’s liberals’ problem when looking at or thinking about poverty. If we’re talking about you growing up poor until you were 25, then we share the same story. We were young and had nothing. Then when we are about 25 or so, we’ve racked up some experience, and we begin to earn money. And the older we get, the more wealth we accumulate. Please tell me you’re talking about some other 25 years of your life.

  4. Terrance’s emotional reaction is why it is difficult to solve this issue. His emotional rather than rational response perpetuates the poverty he claims to oppose. Rather than make people uncomfortable in their poverty, Terrance makes them at ease by clothing his motives in an altruistic aura, but his ignorance about human nature is really pernicious.

    This ease in poverty gives people no reason to feed, clothe, buy the internet for themselves. He has fallen for the lie that there is virtue in being poor.

    I’d wager that his religious faith is secular humanism. He has replaced the sovereignty of God with the sovereign State. Instead of adhering to the “separation of Church and State” that secular humanists believe, he demands government force all of us to do our religious charitable duty to God to feed the poor. But, he doesn’t stop there. (When I say “he” I really mean people like him who think like him.) He demands they have a house they can’t afford, or have “affordable” internet, or a “living wage,” or a free education, or you name it. His god, the State, is more demanding than God Almight is. For God’s mandate is on the individual. Terrance’s god’s mandate is on the collective, but it’s oppression is more severely felt on the individual. God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. Terrance’s god’s yoke is oppressive.

    And I would wager that the reason why John did not live “high on the hog” was because he had virtue, while the poor who are living high on the hog, or willingly wallowing in their circumstances have none.

    Poor people can have virtue, but there is no inherent virtue in being poor.

  5. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    Guess what, I’ve lived it. I know about section8, been there done that. I know about food stamps, been there done that, I know about walking into the town’s social services office to get on the Christmas program because I didn’t have the money for my kids, been there done that.

    Have you forgotten what it feels like to be poor, if what you say is true? Or, are you just doing that rightwing posturing? I’d guess the latter, because what Republican wants to admit that what he knows about the hardships of the poor couldn’t fill so much as a thimble? And any Republican who indeed does know wouldn’t make such stupid statements.

    You think $500 a month for rent is rough? How about where I am the average rent is $1200 a month. But wait, there’s more. When I was out of work for 2 years, back when unemployment was only 6 months, my mortgage was $1500 a month. And you got $600 in food stamps? Consider yourself lucky. I know what it’s like to not know if the kids were going to eat. I know what it’s like to have the bank serving you with forclosure and eviction notices. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!

    I’m talking ghetto-living, John. Believe me, rent in the decent parts of town are much, much higher. But I’m pandering to the “bare essential” mindset of the Right. You don’t think people should have anymore than what they can provide for themselves, so I used the lowest possible rent you would expect to pay, even if it means endangering yourself and family.

    But never mind the rent in Michigan. You literally just contradicted yourself by alluding to the plight you and your family faced. So, tell me, John, how f***ing easy was it? Think you’d like to live it again?

    You say you were being lazy and getting help from your dad. O.K. That’s you. Ever consider that perhaps some people in poverty – perhaps most – don’t have a parent they can get money from? And without him, how easy would it have been, I wonder…..Not at all and you know it.

    We’ve had a debate before about the legitimacy behind your coupon clipping argument., and like I said then: Whether you want to believe it or not, everyone is not mentally capable of doing that. You say it’s easy, but maybe not to everyone. But aside from that, you can’t expect me to believe that you NEVER have to pay retail. I don’t buy that.

    I never got back to you because, fortunately, I don’t require such assistance anymore. I can afford to pay retail. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to save money. I would. Truth is, I simply forgot until you mentioned it just now.

    You’re totally out of touch. Sooner or later the Right needs to realize that their poor-bashing routine is as old as it is nauseating poppycock.

    If being poor is so damn easy, it’s a wonder why anyone would want to be rich.

    Conservative2Cents,

    I really don’t care what you have to say, because I’ve read your comments in the past and you don’t impress me as someone I should bother myself with.

    DogTags,

    You make about as much sense as a rutting chimp. You don’t solve the issue by bashing the poor,claiming that the solution is for them to simply “man-up.” That’s a piss poor argument and you know it.

    And don’t propose to guess anything about me. You don’t have to be a liberal, atheist, agnostic, or “secular humanist” to realize how much B.S. John’s argument truly is. It’s totally ridiculous on so many levels.

    If being poor is so easy, why is everyone yearning to be rich? Why not just stay poor and live it good?

    It’s upsetting when someone who lives in a reality-based community spoils your rightwing fun, isn’t it?

    • T

      I know, conservatives dont know what it’s like to struggle. Well, they know what it’s like for them, they have to have only 2 cars, or only one guest house. Only liberals know what true struggle is. Spare me.

      http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/appjudge14.html

      I had the pleasure of working with this man, Lubbie (pronounced: Loobie) Harper Jr. He was poorer than poor. He was 10X poorer than anyone you know, but he busted his butt to escape. This is why he is so harsh in the court room. He tolerates no nonsense from anyone. He comes down hard on people who try to play “poverty” or “poor black man” card. “How dare you bring that into this courtroom!” he used to say. With him there was no social excuse good enough to garner any sympathy because he’d been there and knows all it takes is the drive to get out. No one could use the excuse that they dont have any money, because if you were broke, he grew up broker, but was able to over come it with hard work, long hours, and determination.

      Liberals always run from the discussion when it is suggested they work harder or put in more effort. “No one knows what it’s like to be me!” So it doesn’t surprise me that you responded with personal attacks against me, then say you’re done with the discussion. I’m not surprised at all.

  6. Terrance H. says:

    You guys can say whatever you want. I’ve finished with this foolishness. I’m not going to be a part of this farce.

  7. You know what’s sad? Terrance doesn’t seem to understand that his compassion… (I have no reason to believe that he’s genuinely concerned about poor people) his compassion perpetuates poverty.

  8. Marshall Art says:

    “If being poor is so easy, why is everyone yearning to be rich? Why not just stay poor and live it good?”

    It’s the perception of what it takes to be rich that is the issue with this question. Those who actually stay poor and “live it good” do indeed yearn to be rich, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes, believing that the wealthy achieved their status by inheritance or chicanery. Actually, buying several newspapers in order to have access to more coupons that will save more than the cost of the newspapers is the type of thing many people WON’T do to save money that can be used more efficiently elsewhere. Buying used is another move where many people feel they deserve brand spankin’ in order to project a false image that massages their egos. Wealth takes smart work (not necessarily hard work) and more importantly, perseverance, discipline and self-denial. Most people won’t buy one less beer, much less pack a lunch instead of going to Mickey D’s.

  9. After all the whining by T., he never really addressed the issue of the free or low cost internet access. NO ONE needs internet access to survive. Everyone has access to a library. And that’s the problem – everyone wants everything in their own house.

    By the way, I spent much of my younger years in poverty – and lived in federal housing projects with my dad, brother and step-family. Not a bit fun, with all the gangs, and most of those kids are either still there or living as bums elsewhere. I decided to do something with my life and not live like that. I didn’t have money for college, but I did have the ability -as do the majority of young people – to join the military where I could learn a trade and earn some money and even earn the GI bill to pay for school later. Now don’t tell me that these gang-bangers and dope-heads couldn’t do the same instead of being gang-banger and dope-heads!

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