No Modesty Left At All

People keep saying the dead-tree format is over and done with but you can still learn so much from reading the newspaper.  Take for example this (for once) sensible editorial I chanced upon yesterday in the radical left-leaning Philadelphia Inquirer.  If you are "poor", ask yourself:  WWJD?  Be prepared to shape up in a hurry because He'd tell you something like this:

Our Lord Jesus: Are you a tween working 60 hours a week sticking things on pots while rats gnaw at you, just so you can get your dad out of debtor's prison?  No?  What you are is lounging about in your air-conditioned paradise with your cable tv, maybe even going to the public library and using the computer to get on the Internet there, and you're whinging away because you're "hungry".  If you're so hungry, why are you so fat?  Riddle me that one, Batman!  Your school (though I wouldn't let my kids go there) is free (for now, till we institute the voucher system) and your government pays for "much" of the tab of state and community colleges (if by "much" we include "ever decreasing amounts").  Why are you so dumb?  You can be as "poor" as you want and we won't even put you in debtor's prison!


You see, being poor used to be about really suffering in a hideous manner unto death. If the impoverished people are fat, have cars, and aren't in jail, the system is working pretty good for them.  But give the "poor" a little and they still aren't satisfied.  It's not enough to be a wage slave in a rat-free environment.**  They want equal opportunities, too!  But the whole point of success is to give your children unusually good opportunities. But no, the "poor" want to make it about the size of the gap, claiming that if the rich get richer, the poor should too.  That's just crazy talk!

Myself, I say it's time we solved this "poverty" problem, such as it is, once and for all.  Modesty will not serve; let us be bold in our proposals.  What few poor we do have should be fed an all organic, no hormones or antibiotics diet for three months to cleanse their systems, then humanely slaughtered on-site in old style, non-industrial abattoirs. We should not limit ourselves to just the more obvious, meatier cuts but strive for a whole human, nose to foot approach.  Many parts of the poor will pair well with a good pinot noir, and there is nothing like poor heart - tender, amazing, not funky like liver, and poor trotters make great tacos.  Even if it weren't respectful to the poor to practice nose-to-foot eating, the ecological benefits alone make it a wise choice for the environmentally conscious eater -- feeding multiple mouths with one whole animal and all its edible parts is much more efficient and less tolling on our environment than processing multiple animals to feed only a few mouths, which is what we do when limiting ourselves to eating only a single part.  You know, like chicken nuggets.  Which I hear, make the "poor" so fat, but also our wallets, so what are you going to do.


**Well, I did hear today about a transport authority worker stuck in a booth all day who has to dodge rats running around his feet so, technically, I guess we haven't quite achieved "wage slave in a rat-free environment" yet.  So close!

10 responses so far

  • The Nerd says:

    "If you're so hungry, why are you so fat?" I wish I had been him in life, so that I could finally have the unshakable certainty that I know everything better than the people who actually experience those very things. Unearned righteous indignation - all the cool kids are doing it.

  • Crystal Voodoo says:

    I like the allusion to the Jonathan Swift essay, A Modest Proposal. It's one of my favorite pieces of his.

  • greg says:

    To solve the poverty problem once and for all, there is an interesting solution you may like to know about. It sounds absurd at first, but if you are patient enough to look at the details, it starts to look like a pretty good idea from a purely rational standpoint. And yes as usual it has some crackpots that adhere to it and give it a bad name, plus plenty of vilification from the propaganda machine which serves the 1%. But.

    It's called variously the mincome, guaranteed income, or basic income (wikipedia). It has been endorsed by many authorities including Friedman. It has been tested on a modest scale experimentally (the mincome experiment in bc for instance)

    The most basic essential feature is to eliminate means testing for social support. Means testing is literally paying people to be poor so it produces a lot of incentive problems, plus that the support can be revoked without adequate warning etc. has a lot of rules attached to it etc. produces a lot of harm.

    So basically you give social support to everyone, a negative flat tax basically. Like say $1500 a month. Obviously the money has to come from the population in the first place so it may seem pointless to take it away only to promptly give it back but it actually makes a lot of sense for the reasons mentioned above. And since it is garaunteed, you don't loose too much control over your money if you are not poor.

    Oh but the loafers!~ the slackerzors! it would be disastrouzors! Actually, no. That's where the experiments that have been done come in. The employment rate only goes down a couple percent, and the excess time is spent on things like childcare which also have plenty of societal value.

    Oh and tax the rich more. Just while we are here.

  • greg says:

    So yes, in case it's not immediately apparent to anyone, that would completely wipe out poverty, homelessness etc. practically overnight while providing more freedom for many people. So there's one good solution. And although the naive, apparent cost of the system looks astronomical, you would increase the taxes on the wealthier people so that they end up paying back the $1500 again. Net result is that the total payout only goes up towards the lower income end of the scale. Oh and another thing to remember is that the american government already pays like 600 bucks a month on average per capita on social support, much of that I guess on the poor (although that may by no means be a safe assumption as EI and other benefits for more wealthy people etc. tend to be much higher amounts due to the higher political power of the middle and upper class) and much of that would be replaced, offsetting the cost.

    Plus, subtract the cost of poverty, the crime it causes etc. from the figure.

  • A. Marina Fournier says:

    Ah, Dean Swift--I didn't realize you were still with us!

    Have you any recipes for these delicacies, as you did for the Irish children?

  • quixote says:

    About that Swiftian solution... ewwwww. But uncomfortably close to what really happens, minus the salt and pepper, as people are used up to benefit other people with more power.

    Re the mincome, there was an article detailing Canada's experience with a pilot project. About that reduction in tangential costs, one hard number was 8.5% fewer hospital visits. Less stress = less disease, fewer accidents = smaller hospital bills. (I mean, duh, right?) That's a few hundred dollars' worth of the mincome saved per person right there.

    One fascinating piece of psychology in the article is that nobody even studied the outcomes before closing down the "failed" program. Somebody went through the old records now and found out it was actually a roaring success. But, at the time, when the money is actually being paid out, the desperate desire to dump on the poor takes precedence over evidence.

  • thebewilderness says:

    I have thought for some time that the basic strategy the Republican Party has been pursuing in Congress is to dismantle the safety net so the poor people die off and then everyone left in America will be rich. Easy peasy.

    • thebewilderness says:

      They soylent green approach is even better, where better means creepier than a politician would be willing to admit in public which is a very high bar.

  • Kea says:

    Nah, even the dumbest 1%ers know they need slaves to create wealth. Soylent Green had it right: just kill the old and the sick and give it to the slaves as a protein source, so they can keep working.

    • Zuska says:

      This is true. No 1%er wants to scrub toilets. And no 1%er wants to assemble iPads in a closed off factory town in China while living in a dormitory with nets strung around it to catch the would-be suicides. Poor people are useful, much more useful than the middle class. The middle class agitates for things like a living wage and health insurance and reasonable college tuition and clean water and environmental regulations because they have just barely enough extra time, energy, and money to have the luxury of doing so. The middle class must therefore be crushed out of existence. Which is why unions are evil, and everyone must be taught to vote to protect the interests of the people they are not, but imagine they one day will be.

      Once everyone is so poor they're just scrambling to try to find enough to eat to stay alive, or are locked in production facilities, the only problem the 1%ers will have is keeping their gated communities secure enough from the raging violence outside of them.