pparently, poor people aren’t really deserving of sympathy until their ribcages are showing and their eye-sockets have swallowed their eyes.

Of course, that’s a subjective interpretation of the Gramm comment. You maybe right, you may be wrong; nobody knows what was in Gramm’s mind when he said it.

When I read the comment, it’s a little more sympathetic to Gramm. By my read, he’s not saying the poor don’t have problems, but let’s all be glad that starvation isn’t one of them.

(snips a load of prose which depended on Mr. Wise’s subjective interpretation of the Gramm statement.)

Most of us have seen late-night infomercials seeking charitable contributions to bring running water and vaccinations to the globe’s poorest inhabitants.

Acknowledging that the US poor are not poor by world standards is simply a statement of a fact. It COULD imply denialism of their problems, but does not prove that allegation.

If the median income is well above your own, you will be priced out of the market for opportunities; as such, even if you are objectively richer than someone in another country, the life you will be able to carve out for yourself in the place you actually live will be far removed from the mainstream there.

I think we can all agree with that.

They don’t seem satisfied with the kind of wealth that certainly dwarfs the wealth of the so-called rich in less wealthy nations, but yet they have the temerity to lecture poor people about gratitude?

Well, I think it human nature to not want to be forced to pay for benefits that you yourself don’t receive. I would comment here that most “elites” are significant donors to charitable causes, so the “selfishness” allegation rings a little hollow. It’s not that they’re selfish; they do, however, tend to want to make their own decisions about who is the beneficiary of their largesse.

One of the more prominent tendencies within the modern culture of cruelty is to chastise the poor for possessing any material items remotely connected to middle-class normalcy, as if somehow the possession of refrigerators, microwaves or televisions demonstrates that the poor in America aren’t really suffering.

I disagree. When I hear this “chastisement of the poor” is not because they own appliances or even computers (kids need them for school, after all) but when they are seen carrying designer handbags or dressing their children in expensive licensed NBA jerseys.

However, I find this bit of pearl-clutching odd. Regardless of what “side” you are on politically, there are always things that an individual doesn’t want their taxes to pay for. Most conservatives prefer a modest social benefits structure, and get a bit grouchy when they think benefits are too rich. Liberals, as long as I’ve lived, have groused about their taxes paying for the military; I suspect these days they’d love to withhold funds from ICE.

Is it really so odd for people to have opinions on where their tax money goes?

Most poor people do not remain poor for long periods, but rather, slip into poverty after a layoff, medical emergency or temporary economic downturn. If a family finds itself transitionally poor and having to turn temporarily to SNAP benefits after the layoff of a parent, it’s not as if the computer, the car or the Xbox they had before the layoff should be expected to disappear.

This is the one area which there is consensus, pretty much, among all Americans — — that shit happens, and there ought to be a safety net to catch them when they do. The debate is not over the existence of the safety net, but it’s duration and largesse.

Unless one wishes to suggest that upon a layoff one should pawn everything in one’s possession before turning to the very government benefits for which one’s taxes previously paid during periods of employment, expressing shock at the gadgetry of the poorest among us is absurd.

Tales of food stamp abuse have been legion for generations….

Well, yes. Remember above, when I spoke about the designer handbags and NBA jerseys? Well, the moment when people like you and I, who are not on public assistance, SEE the people who are on PA with the handbags; in the grocery checkout line, when they’re using their SNAP cards.

The amount withdrawn in Vegas, Hawaii and St. Thomas combined amounts to less than five hundredths of one percent (0.045) of all state benefits.

Fair point. It’s perfectly reasonable to put these “transgressions” in perspective, financially speaking. (I’ve personally never been overly concerned that the system was being gamed in that manner; I think a larger and more signfiicant level of fraud would be individuals who perform pricey personal services and get paid in cash in order to keep their benefits. But, that’s a hard one to police.

The right has constructed a powerful narrative about the poor and programmatic efforts to assist them: it is a narrative that is entirely false, bigoted and intended to pit working class Americans against one another, thereby drawing attention from the much larger problems of income and wealth inequality, and tax policy intended to benefit only the richest among us.

Overstated. People who pay taxes have a right to know where their money is going, and that it’s being used properly. Simple.

Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.