The following is a note I sent to an acquaintance “on the way to being an e-mail friend.” Normally we send e-mails about books, authors, etc. My acquaintance is incredibly well read, especially in the era of “the beats” and has shared some stories about the likes of Kerouac, Kesey, et. al. and the poets of that era. The topic veered in the direction of sociology and economics. The below is a somewhat edited version:

I don’t have questions about welfare to individuals (whatever skimming and gaming the system goes on doesn’t amount to a hill of beans and people do what they need to do to survive); I have questions about lack of care into the plight (growing bigger everyday) of the poor and why they must resort to such behavior and remain stuck in it.

Studies have been done; solutions have been offered, but endemic and systemic greed (lobbyists, legislators and huge money to vote for legislation to keep money in the hands of the 1%) rules the day.

Studies have shown that there is little fraud and that the racist myth of the black “welfare queens,” is exactly that, a scapegoating myth conjured by a racist power structure.

The reality is that the poor in America are for the most part “rural and white,” and guess where drug abuse is helping to finish off what poverty doesn’t. Yup — the poor towns in rural America. And, of course, there is the perennial/perpetual Horatio Alger’s myth coined in a phrase attributed to Steinbeck but written by some Canadian academic: “The poor believe they are but one misfortune away from being millionaires.”

The deck is stacked and the poor still don’t get it — in despair, they put their hope on dope.

And desperate young blacks on the west and south side of Chicago die from bullets shot from guns brought in from nearby Indiana and the President points a race-bating finger at it and the scared, white, working class base cheers and whites and blacks are pitted against each other while the ever-wealthier citizens of the new Gilded Age laugh all the way to the bank.

I have questions about federal and state aid to the biggest (by far) welfare recipients: multi-national corporations who bleed taxes from anemic budgets where tax revenue is down because Republican legislatures keep voting that way under the illusion that citizens keep more money for themselves so they can buy the products of all the corporations relocating to the state — corporations who will be hiring people thus reducing unemployment and increasing income.

Michigan is now a giveaway state living under the leadership of Republicans who believe falsely that if they give away the farm in credits and tax subsidies, the corporations will flock to such fertile ground. Wrong. Sure corporations want tax breaks but studies have shown that employees of corporations want good schools and a well-maintained infrastructure so they can get around the state in their free time and the corporations want good roads for their eighteen-wheelers to move the products.

Guess what? Betsy DeVos has been doing her best for years to take down public education in Michigan and the state ranks dead last in infrastructure maintenance. A recent poll listed Michigan somewhere in the mid-twenties in quality of K-12 public education, which is better than I would have thought only because we hear so much about the destruction of public education in metro Detroit, a truly abominable example of targeting low-income minority districts with charter schools, school vouchers and school choice for residents who have no choice but to continue to send their children to rundown public schools.

Now, would you like me to tell you how I really feel about this? 🙂


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