Lazy Poor People choosing not to work…

This is a response I wrote to David Sirota’s blog, posted on the site InTheseTimes.com

The Lazy-Jobless Myth is a blame-the-victim mindset that enables us to think we’re better than other people and also releases us from any responsibility we might have to help someone else.  After all, it’s the victim’s own fault, he/she made that “choice,” so it would actually be better if I didn’t intervene…

It’s a lot like the woman who is pretty and open with her sexuality who is blamed for being raped–the implication is that women don’t have the right to be sexually assertive, that if a woman is sexual or sexy, a man has a right to attack her. Yet no one blames a man who is suicidal for being murdered, i.e., “He asked for it. He said he wanted to die, so of course someone killed him.”  The notion is ridiculous because we’ve decided that murder is wrong, but also because we have empathy for the victim–as long as the victim is a man or a person with money.

Similarly, blaming the unemployed results from two ideas.  One is that we are better because we have more money than you.  (Just like saying, we are better because we go to the bathroom differently.)  We congratulate ourselves for having worked so hard and earned our success and make ourselves feel even better by comparing ourselves with others who we’ve decide are obviously inferior.  We have empathy for the billionaire who complains he/she (not so many female billionaires, but I’ll be politically correct anyhow) has to pay taxes.  We’re sorry for the corporation that fails, or is required to pay a fine.  We’re worried that wealthy heirs will have to pay taxes on their inheritance.  Perhaps that second villa in Italy won’t have a new tennis court built behind it after all.  And we’re concerned about this, about the monies wealthy people will lose if they pay higher taxes, but we stress and we strain at the thought of a single mom living in a poor, inner city neighborhood perhaps getting an extra $50 in welfare benefits.  The billions of dollars per year we lose by not taxing the rich and by allowing corporations to outsource labor to third world countries doesn’t concern us because just as we think a man can be open about his sexuality we think the rich hoard all the money.  Essentially, we think the rich are superior, and, therefore, should have more freedom.

But also, as with the woman who’s not allowed to be sexual (while men are allowed sexuality), the concept suggests that poor people should not be allowed to choose what type of work they do. Maybe some who are unemployed are reluctant to take on certain jobs because the salary is too low, because they are in need of benefits not provided by the job or because they know they won’t fit into that work environment or that they simply aren’t suited to that type of work.  I’ve certainly turned down jobs because I knew I’d fail, that the work wasn’t right for me and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure or to work at a job that would result in damage to my self-esteem.

Rush Limbaugh, who earns nearly 60 million per year, will never have to work at a fast food restaurant with a micromanaging supervisor standing over his shoulder criticizing his every move and with customers sneering at him and making rude remarks, nor will he find himself coming home after a long day of being told he was stupid, can’t do anything right by customers, managers or coworkers only to view a tiny paycheck that won’t pay the rent.

The fact remains that most of us do not want to work under demoralizing, dangerous or self-damaging conditions, but we’ve allowed big business to be deregulated so that security precautions are not always followed and so that employers can overwork and underpay their employees.  Large corporations are even taking life insurance policies out on their employees (They call it “peasant insurance.”  Yes, that’s right, I said “peasant.”)  So many companies actually benefit from their employees’ deaths.  If that’s not an incentive to work your employees to death and not provide them with health care benefits, then what is?

Most of us do not want to work under poor conditions (just as most men do not want to be prevented from expressing their own sexuality) but we will condemn others to do so when we’ve defined those others as inferior to us.

Ah, but this blog is, once again, all for naught.  Is there anybody out there?  Does anyone care?

I think the answer lies in what we’re seeing happen to this country.

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4 thoughts on “Lazy Poor People choosing not to work…

    1. You are enabling hate. Your e-mail suggests an allegiance to Jesus. Go back and read the Christian Bible which clearly states that we should give without asking questions, i.e., without judging (“Judge not or ye will be judged”), without attachment to our material possessions.

      Jesus, whom you claim to love, would be very disappointed by your comment. Since Jesus himself was homeless, how would you have treated him if he’d approached you on the street? There’s another biblical story of Abraham who takes in two wanderers, invites them into his house and serves them. He doesn’t judge them, doesn’t accuse them of being lazy, doesn’t ask them why they’re hungry or thirsty. Instead he treats them with dignity, respect and compassion. He later finds out these were no ordinary homeless vagrants but, in fact, were angels sent by God to test him. Because he shows them kindness, Abraham is rewarded by God.

      However, when a rich man asks Jesus if he can follow him, Jesus tells him to just give up everything and travel with him. But the rich man can’t bear to give up his material possessions and live like Jesus did, just wandering like a homeless man, unattached to material things, so he is unable to follow Jesus. That is why the Christian Bible states, “It is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than it is to stick a camel through the eye of a needle.” The wealthy are spoiled. They are so attached to their material possessions that they’ll allow poor people to suffer needlessly. It is amazing how much excess wealth exists here in the U.S. and just sits in bank accounts, in houses unoccupied, while there are people who have nothing. Why can’t we share? Why are the wealthy so afraid to part with even a small portion of wealth that they don’t even use, that they don’t even need, to help the poor.

      And, of course, there is the other famous story of the rich man who goes straight to hell–not for murder, theft or any obvious crime, but only for ignoring, yes ignoring, the homeless beggar who sat outside his door. “Let me at least come back and warn my rich friends and relatives,” he pleads. But God is ruthless. “They have been warned. All throughout history they’ve been warned. But they continue not to care for the poor.” The rich keep hoarding their wealth. In fact, obtaining wealth, greed, is an addiction for those people. They’re never happy no matter how rich they get.

      Okay, this comment is turning into another blog. Guess I’ll have to write one…

  1. Right on PromoteU.
    One thing I have always said is that their is a difference between work ethic and slave ethic. In today’s world business’s have almost no respect for their workers. Workers are just a tool to be used up and tossed aside. Why work hard?? Slaves worked hard and that is what American business wants these days..Slaves..

    1. Yes, and what a lot of employers don’t realize is that they can increase productivity and attract better workers if they pay their employees better and treat them better. The fact that that doesn’t matter to many employers indicates that they’re just looking for power over people, not to save money, as they often suggest.

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