Today, the answer seems both more modest and more challenging: if we want to reduce poverty, we have to stop doing the things that make people poor and keep them that way. Stop underpaying people for the jobs they do. Stop treating working people as potential criminals and let them have the right to organize for better wages and working conditions.
Stop the institutional harassment of those who turn to the government for help or find themselves destitute in the streets. Maybe, as so many Americans seem to believe today, we can't afford the kinds of public programs that would genuinely alleviate poverty -- though I would argue otherwise. But at least we should decide, as a bare minimum principle, to stop kicking people when they're down. (Barbara Ehrenreich, “How America turned poverty into a crime,” Salon, 9 August 2011)
The Coming Explosion...
When the number and desperation of people at the bottom of the economic ladder reach critical mass, there will be a revolution in this country that will put all others to shame. We are armed to the teeth, and there aren't anywhere near enough police and national guard to quell mass riots, nor is there any assurance that our demonized and demoralized public authorities would be willing to shoot down people by the hundreds or thousands. They might just join in and turn those guns on their exploiters.
Think it can't happen here? Think that Americans in the 21st century will quietly queue up in bread lines as they did in the 1930s?
The thin veneer of civilization is wearing very very thin. Time for those in power to get serious about improving the lot of everyday people, or ignore same at their dire peril. (michaelira)
Re: Think it can't happen here? Think that Americans in the 21st century will quietly queue up in bread lines as they did in the 1930s?
Yes, this is what some of us think, as:
Economic depressions are motivated internal sacrifices which often kill more people than wars do. Cartoons prior to and during depressions often show sinful, greedy people being sacrificed on altars, and the depressed nation becomes paralyzed politically, unable to take action to reverse the economic downturn. Just as depressed individuals experience little conscious anger--feeling they "deserve to be punished"--so too nations in depressions are characterized by "introverted" foreign policy moods, start fewer military expeditions and are less concerned with foreign affairs. The feeling during depressions is "I should be killed" for my wishes rather than "I want to kill others." Depressions are economic anorexias, where people starve themselves to avoid being eaten up by the Dragon Mother, the maternal vulture of infancy. The nation begins to look for a Phallic Leader with whom they can merge and regain their failed potency and who can protect them against their growing delusional fears of a persecutory mommy. (Lloyd DeMause, Emotional Life of Nations)
Why do you think it'll be different this time around? I'm genuinely curious.