If Republicans don’t want to be known as the party that hates the poor, they really need to stop having people from their side of the political debate make comments showcasing their utter disdain for the poor.
Normally I would give some kind of introduction to Ben Stein’s comments mocking their ridiculousness, but the ignorance that lies within them speaks for itself.
“My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals. Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance. Above all, and counted in the preceding list, psychological problems cause people to be unemployed, have poor or no work habits, and enter and stay in poverty.
Yes, the government designates many tens of millions as poor, but they almost always have indoor plumbing, which my mother did not have in her small town in the Catskills, and they are super nourished as opposed to mal-nourished. They get food stamps. They get free medical care. They get vouchers for many of the needs of life.”
He also said that the poor might stop sabotaging themselves if, “Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles.”
The absolute ignorance found within his comments is appalling. He completely discounts how the environment in which we are raised has a profound influence on how we turn out as individuals. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s met someone with children, someone reprehensible, and all I can think of is how those children probably have no chance to ever be something because of who their parents are. Sure, some people become exceptions to the rule, but most follow the same (or similar) paths as how they were raised.
Then there’s his premise that because the poor had it worse in the past, suddenly they should be happy for what they have now. That’s like saying, ‘Well, you could be starving in Africa, so you shouldn’t complain that you only have bread and water to live off of.’
Just because things were worse at some point in our history doesn’t mean they’re “better” now. Poverty is judged by society today, not society decades ago.
Our average life expectancy at the time of our nation’s birth was around 35 years – does that now mean that someone dying at the age of 40 means they lived to a ripe old age?
Stein showed just how narrow-minded and ignorant many conservatives can be about the poor, and how short-sighted and foolish their beliefs are. You can’t get much more out of touch and hateful than that.
But hey, that’s the Republican party – they define ignorance.