Punishing The Poor
Conservative presidential hopeful Mitt Romney frequently defends himself against the accusation that he is just too wealthy to understand what common folk are going through in these economic hard times. Indeed, the quarter billion dollar man does seem to be insensitive to people who are struggling financially. This is the man that says that he doesn’t care about poor people because they already have plenty of safety nets, the same safety nets that he wants to cut if given the opportunity. He has advocated for the automobile industry to go bankrupt and let the nation’s economy run the risk of losing way more than a million jobs.
Mitt Romney once said that people should be allowed to lose their houses so that deep pocket investors could buy them and make even more huge profits. He says that if high school graduates want to go to college or start a business in these tough times they should borrow the money from their parents, the same parents that he says should lose their jobs and lose their houses. Even though he was responsible for putting together a semi universal healthcare package for Massachusetts, he would prefer to deny the same package for the nation and wants to leave the insurance market alone so corporations can continue to make profits and deny people coverage in their time of need. This is the man who said corporations are people too.
Mr. Romney often defends himself with the retort that he’s simply not going to apologize for his father’s success and his detractors are simply practicing the politics of envy. The assumption is that his opponents just don’t like rich people or the successful. But that’s just a less than clever ruse to hide the fact that he really doesn’t have the capacity to understand what it really means for the average joe to struggle in order to make ends meet.
Mr. Romney doesn’t have to apologize for his father’s success or his grandfather’s success or even his own. Being financially successful isn’t an automatic handicap that prevents compassion towards people who are less fortunate. Being rich doesn’t seem to impede Warren Buffet’s ability to understand what others are going through. Being successful doesn’t seem to keep George Clooney from understanding the plight of people who are not successful. So the argument that Mitt Romney has to apologize for being rich and successful or has to apologize for being the son of somebody who was rich and successful just doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s not an excuse for being out of touch and totally deaf to people who need help.
In a roundabout way, Mr. Romney says that he shouldn’t be punished for being rich. I could not agree more. Being rich and successful is a blessing that should not be shunned, envied, or discouraged. Being successful and wealthy is a reward for somebody’s hard work. Being rich should never be used as an excuse to reject anyone. But at the same time, being poor or a business failure shouldn’t be seen as a reason to punish people either.
The direction our social economic culture is going we are moving away from a model that is better suited to assure that even the most humble of us will have opportunities to be lifted out of poverty to a model where people have to be wealthy and successful in order to have any security that they will not suffer undue hardship if things take a turn for the worse. These days, a visit to the doctor’s office could detect an anomaly that will be forever used to deny future healthcare insurance coverage under the justification that it is a pre existing condition. Government grants that would help people better afford college are being threatened by budget cuts meant to give everybody tax cuts and most people understand that when there is talk about tax cuts for everyone, the wealthy will benefit the most.
Mitt Romney sounds like the type of man that would be more prompt to reward the wealthy with even more wealth than help the poor with little or no wealth. As President, he would focus his energy on giving people more of an incentive to be wealthy and successful, as if being wealthy and successful isn’t its own reward. The more people make, the less they are required to contribute in order to help others who are not successful. The less somebody makes the less help they should receive from the social collective. Mr. Romney doesn’t want to do anything to encourage anyone, to give anybody the impression, that if they don’t have the resources to get ahead on their own merit that there would still be opportunities available for them.
In that respect, Mr. Romney advocates punishing people for being poor. If you get sick and don’t have the proper healthcare coverage, that’s just too bad and so sad. If you lose your job and don’t have enough money saved for all those rainy days you have to go through in order to find another job, you should lose your house so that somebody with the winds of success in their sails can take advantage of your hard luck. These are the things that Mr. Romney have said, not because he is rich, but because he really has no interest in doing anything that would help people who are stumbling and don’t have the resources to get through their troubles without some kind of assistance.
Mr. Romney might want to dismiss his political opponents as nothing but haters because he’s wealthy. But the fact that he dismisses people concerns with such contempt only reinforces the belief that he could not care less about what these people are feeling and their fears. As far as he’s concerned, he has nothing to apologize for. It all boils down to the fact that what he really cares about is making sure that the people who are successful will continue to enjoy their success. Success will be rewarded. But on the flipside, being poor will be punished.
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