Conservatives and the Poor: That Which Very Serious People Shall Not Discuss

Reverend Jim Wallis points out the obvious about the conservative opposition to SNAP (food stamps; boldface mine):

You see, for many House conservatives this isn’t really about SNAP, but about their opposition to the idea that as a society we have the responsibility to care for each other, even during the hard times or when resources are few. Conservatives know their ideas for privatizing Social Security or cutting funding to Medicare and Medicaid are politically unpopular, but their ideology of individualism that borders on social Darwinism remains unchanged. SNAP is the perfect target for them. The image of what it does and whom it serves has been widely distorted by the media, while the people who benefit from it have little influence in the halls of Congress and pose little risk to the political careers of Republican members.

Meanwhile Andrew O’Hehir piles on some more (boldface mine):

American conservatives love to attack anyone who raises the issue of worsening economic inequality for waging “class war.” Their compulsion to keep repeating that phrase is revealing in itself; it’s like the serial killer in a movie who can’t help returning to the scene of the crime. Because the only class war being waged in 21st-century America is the relentless, all-fronts struggle conducted by the rich against the poor…

This extended class war has been an extraordinary success, and through the long lens of history it looks less like a series of disconnected events than a coordinated campaign to drive the bottom one-fifth – or one-third, or one-half – of the population into lives of endless drudgery and political apathy, while maximizing corporate profits and concentrating both wealth and power in a tiny oligarchy at the top of the pyramid….

In this case, I think we must take the unusual step of taking politicians at their word, and realizing that congressional Republicans mean what they say. Cutting government benefits like food stamps that directly help poor people, and reinforcing the notion that healthcare is an expensive privilege attached to full-time work, rather than a basic right available to all, are central elements of contemporary conservative ideology. Indeed, anything that drives down wages and compels ordinary people to work more for less is objectively a good thing, from the point of view of the Republican Party’s corporate overlords, with or without the convenient excuse of shaving a few pennies off the federal deficit…

Their vision of social peace is entirely different: The vast majority of the population laboring constantly for flat or declining wages and minimal social benefits, masked somewhat by falling prices for food, clothing and electronic gizmos, and buoyed up by the mythological notion that any one of them, at any time, may suddenly ascend to the empyrean heights of the glittering 1 percent.

Except for those rare occasions when the mask slips so badly that our supine political press corps is forced to report on it (e.g., Romney’s 47 percent remarks), conservatives are never confronted on this. They are never directly asked if they think children should go hungry, if this how a just and ordered society should function.

Yet another failure of governance by our press corps.

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8 Responses to Conservatives and the Poor: That Which Very Serious People Shall Not Discuss

  1. Lee Coddens says:

    Absolutely true – and make no mistake about it:
    This equally applies to those Americans who vote for, agree with, “share”, repost or otherwise reinforce the destructive, anti-Christian, soul-less, hate-filled ideology of the modern Republican Party and it’s Tea Party bastard stepchildren.
    And no one (except we few, we happy few, we band of radical progressives) ever confronts them.
    Make no mistake about. We do not confront them in order to “change minds” or cause them to “see the light”: there is no cure for sociopathy
    We do so to role model to encourage good people to get off their hands and open their mouths and expose these soul-sucking vampires for the corrosive, divisive sociopaths that they are.
    If some are offended, so be it.
    I believe the choice is between a few hurt feelings and the destruction of modern society.

  2. John Danley says:

    Schadenfreude trumps sustainability. As in health care, the kinematics of revenue are valued more than the quality of care.

    “Give me your hungry, your tired your poor … I’ll piss on ’em
    that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says.
    Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ’em to death
    and get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard” — Lou Reed

  3. Clonal Antibody says:

    The first attack on food stamps came, not from a Republican, but rather from a Democratic President and Democratic Congress – Food Stamp Act Amendments Statement on Signing H.R. 4057 Into Law.

    also will provide a series of new measures to reduce error and fraud. These amendments are needed chiefly because inflation in food prices has boosted program costs well above the ceiling on program spending contained in the 1977 act …………I am also pleased that the Congress has included several antifraud provisions the administration has recommended.

    • Kristen from MA says:

      And your point is?

      We are still in the middle of a recession (for the average person; the rich have recovered quite nicely) with high unemployment and stagnant wages. It’s not the (D) party that’s trying to cut food stamps.

    • givemeabreak says:

      Nice try, asshole:

      Administration proposals enacted by Congress have tightened and simplified administration, imposed tough penalties for fraud, and reduced or terminated benefits for higher income households. At the same time the administration’s proposal to eliminate the requirement that households buy their food stamps has brought several million new participants into the program who had previously been eligible for food stamps, but had simply been unable to afford them. Many of these people are the elderly and rural poor, whose participation rate has historically been very low.

      It would be callous and shortsighted to cut food stamp benefits, which now average a modest 33ў per person per meal, because the program is reaching larger numbers of the poorest households and because food prices have risen so alarmingly. While this administration is committed to controlling Federal expenditures, we will do so within a budget of compassion that recognizes the fundamental importance of food assistance to our Nation’s poorest families.”

      There can be no question that these families are poor. More than half of the households receiving food stamps have gross annual incomes under $3,600. Because of the critical importance of continued food assistance to these households, I have asked Congress to lift the spending cap for future fiscal years, and to provide the funding that will be needed to avoid cutting benefits in fiscal years 1980 and 1981.

      Were you hoping no one would click the link and actually read the whole thing?

  4. coloncancercommunity says:

    These people are criminals. And I agree – there is no cure for being sociopath. Unfortunately, there is also no cure for apathy. The combination is deadly.

  5. ERose says:

    I am beyond sick of hearing about how this is all the media’s fault, that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen if the media were doing their jobs.
    Obviously there is a legit discussion to be had here, but the following are key to understand, both when considering issues like SNAP in terms of distorted narratives and in terms of challenging politicians:
    Let’s say you decide you’re going to tell the stories of real SNAP users to avoid that distortion.
    – It takes an unbelievable amount of work to even identify a real SNAP recipient. You could spend a whole week doing nothing but looking with no results. The chances are in the 90 percent range that if you find someone using SNAP, they will refuse to appear in a story and either way you’ve just spent a week with nothing to show for it. Editors and publishers usually don’t like that.
    – Even if you manage to pull this story off exactly the way you hoped, you will still spend a week fielding calls from people who read your story and *still* believe what they always did about food stamps and the people who use them and would like to scream at you for your “liberal bias.” Because the media’s liberal bias is a well-entrenched narrative for a large swath of America. If you’re unlucky, they’ll call your publisher to yell too, and every piece of your work for the next six months will be subject to scrutiny and watering down.
    – In the meantime, you still have to allow politicians their explanations for their actions in office and there is no place in most stories for you to list all but the most blatant lies. Even if you called them lies, which you really can’t do, there’s a good shot he’d face no consequences and in the meantime, stories like the one on SNAP recipients would not receive the consideration they deserve because readers will dismiss you or your publication as having an agenda. Ditto questions that can too easily be read as confrontational in tone. Heck, if you aren’t careful, you could end up in a libel suit trying to prove that calling a mistake a lie wasn’t actual malice.

    True though I believe your main point to be, I do notice that blanket condemnation of “the media’ often lacks an understanding of the full context of how the mechanics of the job, the extensive case law surrounding the field and the fact that society has its notions about the media sometimes interact to limit a journalist’s ability to cover issues as they would prefer. Plus, the assumption that everyone would listen if only a journalist would speak correctly is flattering, but not as true as journalists would like.

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