I have to admit that I don’t understand the “I am the 99%” shtick coming out of OWS. If these people are saying that 99% of the country is poor, with only 1% holding the wealth, perhaps I don’t understand poverty as well as I should.
But in a peculiar way, those non-starving, non-homeless, non-refugee young people playing at being poor in cities across America have a point. They represent some very specific — and sad — types of poverty.
To begin with, there’s the sense of poverty created by utterly ludicrous expectations. We promised these kids that they were all “good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it!, that everyone would like them.” We promised them that they were all number one, and that they would never need to make any actual effort to achieve that blue ribbon status. We taught them, through MTV and computer games, that a 3 minute attention span is sufficiently long to be awesomely cool and win the game. And, God help us, we taught them that a Womyn’s Studies, or Africana Studies, or GLBT Studies, or Oppressed People’s degree from some big name university would assure them the kind of job that would enable them to pay off $25,000 or $100,000 or even $250,000 in student loans. We, the older generation, created this wealth of stupidity.
These young people also suffer from a vast intellectual and moral poverty. One of the things that shines through when we interview the people taking to the streets is that so many are woefully ignorant, and that they wallow in a sea of relativism that allows for no morality other than that gained by intense navel gazing. They are the antithesis of the original American revolutionaries, whose leaders were men of exceptional erudition and thoughtfulness, and whose followers knew at the very least their Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress. Revolutionaries of old were shaped by philosophy, known science, literature, practical life experience, and a deep sense of morality and justice. Today’s little park piddlers are shaped by an aching sense of unfairness, a terrible fear of human-kind (that would be the AGW shtick), and a morality shaped by Oprah and whichever fabulously rich Hollywood Leftist happens to grab the microphone on any given day.
These self-styled 99%-ers are not poor, not by any known standard, either today or in the history of the world. They are intellectually and emotionally bereft, but otherwise awash in material benefits.
The fact that these posers aren’t poor, as poverty has traditionally been understood, does not mean that there aren’t poor people in America. New immigrants are poor, although America quickly absorbs them and propels their children and grandchildren into the working and middle class. Elderly people whose life savings have been destroyed by the Democrat economy are poor, and deserve our help. Those who suffer from profound physical or mentally disabilities, through birth or injury, may experience great poverty, and they too deserve our help. Those are traditional kinds of poverty and, true to Jesus’ word, we will always have these people with us.
Lastly, there is a unique kind of poverty, one that could only occur in America. I know about this poverty because someone close to me dwells among these poor (although she is not quite of them), and reports back faithfully. These are not people who are poor in the old-fashioned way. They were not deprived of opportunities due to class distinctions, because we do not have a European-style class-based society. Although most are profoundly ignorant, all had available to them the basics of an American public school education. Living in the modern age, their lives have not been blighted by epidemic diseases (polio, rheumatic fever, mumps, measles, small pox, etc.), nor have their family structures been decimated by the mortality that ripped through the pre-modern world, leaving large numbers of children as half or full orphans.
What these people are is the self-inflicted poor.
She finishes strong and well. Finish with her. And do pass this on.
It’s brilliantly to the point.