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Posts Tagged ‘Working Poor’

How Did We Allow MTV To Stop Playing Music? And Other Sad Things Going Through My Head

Today I was watching Portlandia’s newest episode, “Take Back MTV.”  In it, two characters played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, discover that MTV no longer play’s music videos and instead is being run by a bunch of tweens obsessed with reality shows like, Teen Mom.  Google it.  I refuse to link it from my blog.  Anyway, strategizing, they decide to take MTV back to its original form.  You  know?  Playing “music videos” and talking about “music” and “artists?”  With the support of all major public radio funders (which was hilarious), and the help of past VJ’s, Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren and Matt Pinfield (the loud, bald guy), the goal of putting the music back into MTV, was set.

Spoiler alert:  After a successful coup d’état by Fred, Carrie and the old school MTV VJs, an older gent wakes up to find on this television this amazing and historical occurrence, from the comfort of his living room couch,…to only fall back to sleep.

I tend to complain about MTV myself.  Geez, it’s not what it used to be!  I mean, aside from watching Nev on Catfish religiously (what can I say? I find him incredibly smart and handsome!!!) the whole channel is such a waste.  But the reaction the guy on the couch gives on Portlandia…a reaction of “who cares?”, is the same reaction I picture from your typical person who hates politics and would rather not participate in any civic duty or local action.

Take the last week for example.  All over Facebook and Twitter you had “those” people complain when they got their paycheck last week and noticed that it was shorter than previous months.  “That Obama is taking my money!”  is all I heard.  Except that this was not the case at all.  Had they been paying attention to the politics they so despise, they would have realized that we’ve always had this thing called a “payroll tax” which is deducted from our checks each pay period to pay for Social Security.  However, in 2010, President Obama signed off on reducing the amount of this payroll tax through the tax bill, by two percentage points so that the working middle class would have some change left over each month, to pay for stuff, so that in turn, would stimulate the economy and get things going again.  But people don’t get that.  They just think it’s something that was just thrown at them (or taken from them)

Instead, what they should be concerned about is that like every other year since the President has been in office, the Republican party has been doing something we all like to call, “obstructionism.”  In the case of the fiscal cliff, in order to save stuff like, unemployment benefits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and surviving the Dairy Cliff, among other things, the payroll tax was allowed to expire, thus raising the the payroll tax back to 6.2% instead of 4.2%.

Imagine if the President was allowed to keep everything he wanted on the table?

Yes, many other things were saved because of the fiscal deal…but despite all of that, many are still very upset about the payroll tax and the $1000 that will be taken from them this coming year.  I mean it’s a cable bill for crying out loud!!!

Yes, the President could have fought harder…he had the leverage like many progressives have said, some continuing to say that the guy is just not a closer when it comes to negotiations.  The President may have also given up enough leverage as he counters GOP BS in two months when we have to endure this torture again with the debt ceiling debate.

But think about it?  President Obama and the Democrats are putting policy on the table to help the working poor, the middle class and the 99% who don’t make a gazillion dollars, and the Republican’s are saying no to everything so we’re having to compromise and yet we still have some working poor, middle class and 99%ers defending the Republican party and their obstructionism?

Does this make any sense to you?

When will American’s finally wake up to the BS?  Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are spewing misconceptions about everything to the very people that these policies are affecting and yet people don’t think for themselves.

American’s remind me of the guy waking up in the middle of Portlandia’s MTV takeover.  He awakes to find the original VJs back to what is right in the world, with music being played and awesomeness being shown, to only go back to sleep because, you know what?  Who cares?

This attitude of complacency is what allows our leaders and lobbyists to take advantage of our communities across the country.  Until American’s begin to think critically, understand what is really going on and fight back, there will continue to be injustices…including your hard earned cash being used to pay for something your Congressman prefers rather than you putting food on the table.

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Poor People: The Cause of America’s Eventual Demise and Why We Should Drug Test ALL OF THEM!

January 13, 2012 1 comment

Lately, I have been reading some disturbing things on my Facebook timeline, posts and comments by people I rarely talk to, yet wonder if I should continue following considering they have such a questionable outlook on what is really going on with domestic issues here in the United States.  Years ago, it would have been a random chain email (remember those?) from hard right conservatives, but in the last three years there has been a surge of “chain emails” disguised in updates on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media tools — specifically from “friends” I would never consider “hard right,” and publicly declaring their affirmation for what they post…which in my opinion is absolutely false.

The issue I am talking about is welfare and public services and all the misconceptions that come along with the issue.  I was utterly disappointed with the magnitude of comments I was seeing on certain posts, one in particular was a discussion on last year’s failed attempt by Florida Governor, Rick Scott, who signed a welfare drug measure in which all recipients would be forced to get drug tested before receiving services.  I find the array of diverse comments intriguing because, had they done their research, they would have known that 1) this measure was struck down as unconstitutional and 2) poor people are not responsible for the economic failures of this country, especially those recieving public assistance.  (Fair and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has provided five myths of welfare you can read here)

Honestly, if I’d heard this discussion prior to just of a few weeks ago, I would have just ignored these people and moved on.  Why proceed with a conversation that you can’t convince the other side that they’re spewing false information?  However, today I am unable to ignore the topic because I am becoming more and more concerned knowing that these comments are no longer coming from just “bottom-dwellers” (that’s what I call a person who uses anecdotal evidence to make generalizations. I’m a liberal elitist so I’m allowed to label people) but from people we legitimize as prospective presidential frontrunners in today’s presidentital election.

Take New Gingrich, for example who just last month during his “surge” stated the following:

“Start with the following two facts: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”

If you don’t gasp out loud after hearing this, then stop reading this blog…like right now.  Seriously, Newt?  I can see this coming from the average joe at my office who would agree with this statement whole-heartedly, but a presidential candidate who was once the most influential person in Congress?  Believe me, I have very little interest in what Newt has ever had to say, but when you’re trying to become the leader of the free world and engage the working poor, you really think you’re going to get their support this way?  It’s not tough love, it’s a false generalization of a disenfranchised community and a long history of income inequality and racism.

The fact is that this particular comment is like many others provided by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Scott.  Just last week, another GOP presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, told a mostly white audience he doesn’t want to ‘make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.

While there are those within the general population who declare these affirmations to be accurate, I would like to say that not only are they wrong, but they’re also misleading others and making it extremely difficult to shift the conversation to adequately reforming the social services system and instead reinforcing stereotypes that are inappropriate and utterly false.

Yes, poor kids in poor neighborhoods should learn what it means to have good work ethic, but so should every other child in the country, but Gingrich’s theory that no money equals no morals is utter nonesense. Furthermore, let me throw this out there as well.  The poor should not be held responsible for the ills of a nation in a time of economic downturn.  The working poor should not be your scapegoat when you are trying to find “resolve” to your own personal financial strife.  Instead, what we should be focusing on are the overall issues attributing to this downfall and how they affect the entire nation.  The poor are not the culprits.

There is income inequality in this country.  Bottom line.

I get sick to my stomach when I hear people try to explain to me this idea that we live in a utopia and that racism and income inequality no longer exists and that people should suck it up and just work.  “If I could do it, they can too!” is what I hear on a daily basis.  Class warfare? Blasphemy!  Well, it is class warfare and if you, who represent the working poor and s0-called “middle class” defend the likes of the top 1% by demeaning those who have to utilize social welfare, then you are the problem.

I say this with so much angst because I feel that I have to constantly repeat myself because people do not seem to get that racism and income inequality continue to exist and until we admit this weakness in our country, our economic trials will continue.  No one uses racism and inequality as an excuse not to work, it’s a reality.

Last night, I watched an hour of CSPAN in which a panel discussed poverty in America.  The panel were obviously to my left of center, the usual such as Tavis Smiley, Cornell West, and Michael Moore.  The panel I find to be important figures in our society, but I don’t always agree with them on everything — except for poverty in America.  As someone who has experience in consumer protection and has seen countless families face foreclosure and be overwhelmed in debt, I could relate to exactly what they were saying.  Things like, “poverty is color-coated” and “boot on the neck of people of color” were things that were said and all important because they are true.  Most importantly, however was Roger Clay, from Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland who said that after researching unemployment rates the last 40 years, the unemployment rate in African American communities have never been lower than today’s 8% except for one time.  On average, African American communities have seen a 16.7% unemployment rate, the worst in three decades.  The lack of jobs in this country is astounding, but it’s also been an incredible disservice  to communities of color, who continue to see an ongoing struggle, yet our leaders do very little to bring this issue to the forefront.  According to Forbes contributor Joel Kotkin, even the middle class in groups of color are deteriorating.  “White households may have lost 16% of their net worth in recent years, but African-Americans have lost 53%, and Latinos 66%.”  This is the reality, yet we have people around us constantly attacking the poor as if they’re to blame.  Think about this.  The top 400 riches people in this country have the wealth of 150,000,000 people in the bottom income bracket…combined.  COMBINED!  How can you condemn the poor for needing to use public services when there is an obvious problem of income inequality in this country?

The following diagram clearly shows the average income per family, by income group.  If you’ve read this far, more than likely you’re not part of the 1% #justsayin

When people like those on my Facebook timeline post “facts” about how wonderful it would be to drug test welfare recipients, I’d like to ask them why they think we should test “those” people when it’s CEO’s and Wall Street we keep bailing out.  Riddle me that.


What is sad about this whole argument is that it’s usually those who are the “working poor” who defend the top 1%.  How is it that people like myself, struggling to make ends meet, would protect the rich as if it’s a noble cause all the while blaming the poor for what is taking place in this country today?

Why?

The only thing I can think of and I agree with others that have taken on this theory as well is that American’s still believe wholeheartedly that if they work hard enough, they too will become rich one day.  They too will someday get to be a part of that “American Dream” as we now know it.  And when you have people like Mitt Romney, for example, telling us that we’re “envious” of his wealth and President Obama and his supporters should stop attacking millionaires and billionaires like Mr. Romney, we have reached a low point in our country’s debate on income inequality and instead conforming to this idea that oligarchy is ok.

Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and the  legacy he left behind, after his tragic death in 1968.  His life was taken too soon and as he accomplished so much for civil and human rights, income inequality and poverty were at the forefront of his next battle, a battle that still remains today.

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

— MLK Jr.

Concerns about the welfare of our people is today just as much an issue as it was when Dr. King walked the earth and as a nation, we need to have a sense of urgency and realize that these inequalities exist and are a major threat to our democracy.  The future of the nation is at stake and unless we engage in a serious debate, to improve the lives of the poor all across the country, we will fail miserably.  But before we can do that, we…as a people, need to come to the understanding that the poor are not to blame.  The blame goes to those who we have allowed to take the power from us, the power to believe that anything is possible and that the “real” American Dream can exist.