Typically, I avoid political issues on here, but this morning I had a discussion with a Republican coworker that has me fired up. I'm registered as a Democrat in the state of DE. Is it the perfect party? No, but my values, morals, beliefs, etc. are about as far from conservative as Ann Coulter is from rational.
Anyway, the discussion started around the little rubber charity bracelets (think liveSTRONG). Republican Coworker (call her RC) was bitching about how much money the US spend on AIDS in Africa when we have so many domestic issues. This led to bitching about how much money we've spent on Katrina victims. In her view, RC thinks that all "those people" had the chance to get out of there and it's "their fault" that they were in New Orleans when the shit hit the fan.
Direct quote: "You give those people welfare money, insurance money, any charity; they'll just go spend it on porn, drugs... crime is all they're good for. Look at me: I don't spend any of the government's money, I'm self sufficient, why should my money go to the criminals?!.... My parents [who by the way put her through college and own a beach house] lost everything in a fire once, and they didn't go begging!! Everyone has the chance to pull themselves up by the bootstraps - there are no excuses." Her arguments continued along these lines. Typical bullshit you hear from advantaged, priveleged (typically white) people.
What I tried (and failed to get across) to explain to her was the systematic injustice imposed on the less fortunate portion of the US (and world) population. That sure, she's worked hard for everything she has, but she also was given every opportunity. Sure her parents had a housefire, but they could also afford homeowner's insurance that would cover it in the long run. They had savings that covered them in the short term. This was met by her argument that "plenty of people come from nothing and become wealthy and successful!" That is just plain bullshit. Those VERY, VERY few that come from nothing are used as anti-scapegoats by the truly advantaged to hide the real issues plaguing the lower classes. She complains that they aren't disadvantaged because they can get limitless housing and welfare and increase their state-funded income by "having another child.... Why not say 'You get no more welfare if you aren't actively pursuing employment, and if you are on welfare you can't have any more kids?'"
This bullshit makes me sick because it's so difficult to quantify the hurdles the lower classes have to clear to make it in this world. It's hard because it's less about blatent disadvantages and more about unfair advantages given to the upper classes. The tax breaks and social networks that let the rich get richer make the chasm even wider. And it's hard to explain this to priveleged people because if you were to tax them at the same rate as the rest of the population, they feel like you are stealing from them. As RC said, "well, there's nothing I can do about [the tax breaks to the rich]." Yet here she is saying we should kill welfare and anything that helps improve the situation of the poor in this country.
This article about the Duke lacrosse players who are accused of raping a stripper really pushed me over the top: www.nytimes.com/2006/10/16/sports/sportsspecial1/16duke.html. These pricks think the world owes them everything because that's all they've ever gotten from mom and dad. I don't know if they are guilty or not; it's just as possible that the stripper made the whole thing up thinking it was her lottery ticket.
The real issue to me is more that these douchebags are bitching about their future being ruined. Fuck that. First off, they will be fine because their families and their whole social network will still be there to tell them they can do no wrong. But more importantly, when will they realize they should be held accountable simply for putting themselves in a questionable situation in the first place?? THEY WERE BINGE DRINKING AND HIRING STRIPPERS. Now typically I support both of those activities, combined or separate. But they are going to a prestigious university on scholarship (that could have gone to a smart, non-athletic, poor kid displaced from New Orleans during Katrina). If they want the high level of advantage, should they not be held to an equivalently high standard?