Skip to main content

Wanting more for the working poor

 2013 is the year many Americans discovered the crisis of the working poor. It turns out it’s also the crisis of the welfare poor. That’s tough for us: Americans notoriously hate welfare, unless it’s called something else and/or benefits us personally. We think it’s for slackers and moochers and people who won’t pull their weight.
So we’re not sure how to handle the fact that a quarter of people who have jobs today make so little money that they also receive some form of public assistance, or welfare – a proportion that’s much higher in some of the fastest growing sectors of the workforce. Or that 60 percent of able-bodied adult food-stamp recipients are employed. (“Poverty nation,” Joan Walsh,

- - - - -


There are two aspects that have come together.  One is punitive Calvinism which I have been writing about for years. The other is the lefts denigration of work. There was a time when work working for fast food places was smeared not because of its pay but because it was beneath the poor.  It infuriated working class tax payers.

Now the long term unemployed and underemployed and the Republican war on the working poor has shifted the equation.  The idea that the new populism will change the balance in favor of welfare is very unlikely.

Re: There was a time when work working for fast food places was smeared not because of its pay but because it was beneath the poor.  It infuriated working class tax payers.
Fast food is beneath people. Speed repetition — what a waste of life! And people who find this objectionable aren't being braked by punitive Calvinism — a belief system — but because they're out of families who've only evolved so much over the millenniums that they still only conditionally love their kids. Kids out of these kinds of families, kids who have parents that still so much need love themselves that they expect their kids to devote themselves to them, begin to feel abandoned if in life they let themselves have too many good things. The prosperous postwar years were leading many to feel this abandonment, and so they willed in awful leaders who were going to push them back into dependency so they could feel like good, loyal, unspoiled children and closer to their parents again. 
America's problem has been for a long time that it is just flooded by many of Europeans least loved. Lars Von Trier has said that, and he's right. Those nations that are more actively supporting all their people aren't that way because they're more homogenous. They're that way because they're out of more loving strains of humanity, with each generation improving on the love given to the next. Go to a liberal part of New York and watch parents with their children. Listening, engaging, supporting -- and you're seeing children receive even more love than their still fairly well-loved parents did. You're seeing evolution. Now go somewhere else, and watch -- and you're seeing children existing as a sop for depression or the like. You're seeing people who will come to see themselves as bad and who will view enlightened progressives as probably doing Satan's work. It's not an ideology thing, but a brain thing. Owing to crappy childhoods, their brains developed less ideally and much differently.
I think that Americans are going to work their way into believing they deserve a living wage. But this will occur only because they're in sync, in fidelity, to regressive parental/ancestor attitudes. It'll come, along with increased homophobia, racism, and suspicion of outsiders. We're probably 30 years away from a time when American society improves out of progressives leading the way and pulling everyone along with them. Another 1960s, that is.  


Popular posts from this blog

Conversation about "Black Panther" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · February 16 at 9:31pm So, Black Panther: it's a pleasure to watch and to think about. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Creed, in which Ryan Coogler turns the Rocky franchise into a powerful, personal, and critical experience. Black Panther is the rare superhero film in which the worldbuilding is very satisfying—coherent and dramatic in itself, like a bit of history rather than a jerry-rigged contraption. And the action itself has an intellectual and political resonance that's rare for any kind of movie. Like many action movies of any sort, there's plenty of exposition, and some of the early parts seem like pretexts for high-speed tumult (though it's realized cleverly); but when the drama kicks into high gear, it's shudderingly intense—and that very intensity packs an idea of its own.…/the-passionate-politics-of-blac… The Passionate Politics of "Black Panther" Many films …