Viewer Mail for 10/3/16
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Hello Andy, I'm happy to see your show on TV and hear a voice of reason. :)
So I met up with a cousin I hadn't seen in a while (he is a conservative Republican, college educated, evangelical); and he tried to tell me that the cycles of poverty that happen in inner city poor neighborhoods is caused by Democrats giving handouts to the poor.
His reasons: "Well, if you look it up almost off of those neighborhoods are Democrat, it's a fact," "They think they are doing them a favor but they are really just holding them down," etc.
My reply was that maybe those neighborhoods are Democrat because the citizens won't vote for the victim-blaming Republicans; that Republican gerrymandering and minority discrimination helped create those inner city poor neighborhoods; that pockets of poverty are all over the USA, not just the inner city; and that poverty is an extremely complex problem that exists all over the world and has existed forever.
He just shook his head like I didn't understand... and I felt the same way about him.
I'm from a working class background and my whole life I've heard these kinds of errors in reasoning. I've often thought that working class folks blame the poor for "milking the system" because that is the only abuse of government funds that they see. They are struggling to get by, then they see a neighbor at the store using food stamps and think, "That's unfair, why should they get my tax dollars?" And some of that is true, some folks do try to milk the system.
But taking unfair advantage of government funds happens in all levels of society. Just to name a few, middle class folks bought houses they couldn't afford then went into bankruptcy/foreclosure to get out of the debt and Wall Street billionaires manipulated rules to get rich-which triggered the housing market bubble/crash.
Huge corporations find ways (bankruptcy and creating sub-corporations) to dump their pensions on the government. Some nursing homes charge $10k-$20k a month to house seniors (which seems exorbitant, but they know medicare will pay for it).
Defense contractors have billion-dollar contracts so we have have the biggest military the world has ever seen. How many are getting filthy rich off those contracts? Manufacturing jobs are moved to poorer countries so corporations can pay low wages and not have to follow environmental regulations.
The government funds used to cover these costs is way more than they pay in food stamps/welfare; which I think is about 10% of the federal budget.
Anyway, it would be interesting to see a show with this as the topic. I was so frustrated with the conversation but I don't think he really heard what I had to say, I think he just thinks I'm sadly misguided and I think the same about him.
Editor's Note: Andy Rapp will respond to this viewer mail on our October 4 episode.
Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.