In a previous post I began discussing the “culture of dependency,” a term used by a CNN writer to discredit social programs and infer that people on these programs are addicted to poverty. This series explores the ignorance of that thought and exposes the truth about America’s culture of dependency: that it is not created because people access (or abuse) these programs, but by the fact that they most have no choice but to utilize these programs at some point in their lives.
In the last post in this series I discussed how the inefficiencies of social programs create a trap of poverty not because everyone who utilizes them is trying to live off the system, but because the programs do not actually offer a platform for which people can actually elevate or restore their lives to a normal (I use that word very loosely) standing.
The Trap is created because a lifestyle of poverty is reactive and driven by the need to survive. It is no easy psychological task for an individual to deal with the many emotions of depression, despair, embarrassment, anxiety, and fear that come with living on the edge of destitution.
When a person is not sure how they will feed their family from day to day or keep a roof over their family’s head from month to month, it isn’t so simple to imagine going back to school or signing up for a training program. The sheer stress can be overwhelming. And the longer a person remains in poverty and/or the deeper they fall into it, the more they are fundamentally an morally changed.
It becomes survival of the fittest and it is in the nature of all living things to fight for their survival. This mentality makes a person self-centered. The world only matters as it relates to them and those in their close circle. They begin to see all others as opportunities or oppositions. That I when we begin to see people try to cheat the system. That is when we see people so devoid of compassion that they would hustle anyone near them to get one step ahead of their situation.
The other side of The Trap is created by those who are not living in poverty and those who will never come close to it. Those individuals with their callous judgments and ignorant evaluations of a lifestyle they do not know, do not want to know, and, for some, will never know. Those individuals who formulate the programs and out of fear of having to care for someone beyond their own selfish desires and ruthless drive to secure their own station in life will reduce the opportunities of those beneath them.
In truth, the wealthier and most successful Americans have gotten where they are by using the same mentality of those poor people they criticize. It is survival of the fittest with better weapons. Look at the 2% of Americans who make 10 times more than the working people who are taxed exponentially more on their income. Look at the ones with the resources to amass a fortune and hide it away in offshore banks and untaxable investment funds. Look at those who increase the costs of their products in response to the demand to offer better healthcare options to their minimum wage workers. Look at those who exploit the illegal immigrants with less than minim wage pay for dangerous and/or intensive labor. How are they any better than the girl who doesn’t report her live-in boyfriend so that she can maintain her benefits and add extra income to her household. How are they any better than the person receiving unemployment and working “under the table” so they do not have to report the extra income and have the benefits reduced. How are they any better than the person selling their food stamps or their child’s social security number for cash. It’s colors different but it’s the same outfit.
My point is that to eliminate this trap one side has got to actually use their influence to create a system that offers more than a net for homelessness and starvation and the other side has to reserve and use some energy towards building for the long term and not just one day at a time. Both are easier said than done. But neither will be accomplished if we waste time complaining to the mountain instead of climbing it.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man