Friday, April 20, 2012


Yesterday, Dr. Cornel West and Travis Smiley appeared on the Morning Joe Show on MSNBC.   The discussion was of the class of poor in America that has fallen between the economic cracks and the 22% of American children that are born into and living in poverty.  They made the point that the poor are either ignored or blamed for the economic crisis that the United States is now facing.  

Social programs for the poor are being targeted for cuts as a means of bringing our budget under control.   The Republicans would do away with MEDICAID, food stamps, Aide to Dependent Children, support for women’s health clinics and financial support for public schools in the poorest neighborhoods. 

To compound this problem Democratic legislators are not vocal against or openly defiant in opposition of the cuts.  

Dr. West and Mr. Smiley are adamant that the social support network not only be maintained, but increased, in order to assist this demographic to move into the middle class and become self supporting.

The problem is real, but the answer is not as simple as maintaining and increasing social programs for the poor – though this surely needs to be done.

Being among the poorest in America is a self-fulfilling prophecy.   The days are long gone that a high school graduate, much less a high school drop-out, could make a living wage in a factory or mill.  All jobs today that pay a living wage require some degree of education beyond the high school level.  

Children from the poorest neighborhoods and rural communities are often in unstable home environments; environments void of education enrichments, and a parent or parents that do not value, or are unable to contribute to, the education of their children.   Many of these children are street wise and pose problems in school.  

The reputation of these lower performing public schools tend not to attract, in most cases, the best and the brightest teachers and administrators.  Many of the students in these schools are socially deficient and some are outright dangerous.  The conditions in most of these schools are substandard and school boards and parents tend to be unsupportive of teachers and administrators.   It is a lose-lose situation for teachers.

The following is a clip posted by a student in a village school in Alaska.   As you can see these schools can pose a difficult environment for teachers and administrators.  This clip takes a minute or two to load and the first half minute is bizarre before you see the school scene, but it is an eye opener and worth viewing to the end.

I will not go into, on this post, the problems faced by the classroom teachers in the difficult venues; and I will note that there are many qualified and dedicated women and men who choose to serve these young people despite the hardships.

But the fact remains; without education beyond the high school level, the parents and the children of these parents are destine to remain on and require social programs to survive. 

If we are to solve the self-sustaining culture of the poor, we must have extensive social programs for poor parents that will include training for the parents, child care and comprehensive and well funded preschool, elementary and high school curriculums aimed specifically at the cultural and social environment of the student.   

Education is the only answer to lift people from the role of poverty.  

Poor people did not cause or bring about the economic decline; this was the results of rich people willing to increase their wealth at any cost.   When attempting to repair the economy the cause must be acknowledged and dealt with.   For Republicans, blaming the poor and cutting social programs amounts to a smoke and mirror attempt to divert attention from their complicity and to avoid breaking their social contract with the rich.

the Ol’Buzzard


  1. Ol Buzzard,

    I seen this in the Air Force - If you didn't have great test scores you didn't get the best jobs. Today, there is nothing more important than a education. It hurts me to see an adult black male in his thirties waiting on people at a Subway. And, all of the green/grunt labor jobs have went to the Hispanics - concrete, grass, dry-wall, roofing, all of it is Hispanic. Here in Indianapolis we are a major Fed-Ex hub -And, that generated a huge number of warehouses (Amazon, O'Reillly Auto Parts, and others) - $9 an hour in a hot concrete box.
    Yet, the Asians and the Hispanics have most of the jobs. Some say they have a stronger work ethic - I will buy that.
    As to the GOP and the poor - When have you EVER heard a Republican talk about doing something to help people other than cut taxes (and poor programs to do so)? They see people programs as a drag on the treasury and frustrating their efforts to give bigger tax cuts to their wealthy patrons so that they might be able to contribute even more bribe money to their campaign coffers.


  2. Education would go a long way to answering part of the problem. A long way. The poor have been and will continue to be silenced, but it's not that they ever did have a voice. If you grab yourself a voice and you're poor, more than likely you're end up in prison.
    Part of me tends to think it is all beyond change or help. However, the old idealistic part of me still holds out hope that somehow the poor will find a way to become empowered because no one wants to help the poor, and only the poor can help the poor. Lost cause? I hope not.

  3. It certainly appears that a well educated population is the last thing the people in power want.

  4. Susan, in times past, educating slaves got you in real trouble with the law.
    Ol'Buzzard, your blog post should go viral. You have described perfectly in very few words exactly what is needed to break the poor out of the cycle. There was a study done in one of our Saskatchewan cities back in the late 60's, early 70's about families who had been on welfare since losing their farms in the 30's. They did not have the skills you and I take for granted to cope in the real world. They had lost them all - one comment was it took both parents all their efforts just to get the kids to school.

  5. The terribly sick irony of this story is that fundamentalist/evangelical Christians proclaim that 'This is a Christian nation!' Christian? As in reflecting the ideals of Jesus??

    When did Jesus give a high-five to the rich and greedy? When did Jesus dishonor the poor? When did Jesus take money from the rich to be silenced?

    The right-wing fundamentalists are far, far from the teachings of Jesus as you can get! Charlatans all! Hypocrites!


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."