During this presidential election we’ve often heard Republican frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson use terms like lazy, dependent, and plantation to describe poor blacks in America. Right-wing conservatives like Carson believe that becoming impoverished is more often then not driven by a lack of motivation to help oneself only made worse by government aid/entitlements. He argues that government aid will disencentivize the individual from going out to find work and make them “lazy”. He argues that its the intent of the Democrats and their liberal policies to keep African Americans “on the plantation” and what that they need to do is “lift themselves up by the bootstraps” and go get a job.
A key factor missing in Dr. Carson’s overly simplistic viewpoint is that– while not impossible- it is often very difficult for many of the poor to find work because of environmental circumstances that don’t always provide for healthy social networking or good schools and/or job opportunities. Moreover, to assume that most people just want to sit around and feel useless, that they don’t want to work and feel good about themselves defies common sense. In contrast to Carson and his conservative ilk, liberals attribute the growing levels of poverty to factors such as a poor economy, lack of affordable housing, and lack of good schools and resources necessary for teaching and developing basic skills required to at a minimum apply for employment. They also point to the corporate corruption and ethical misconduct that often takes advantage of the poor, uninformed, and unsuspecting. Hence, they argue the poor deserve public aid to assist them as they move forward to break free of the social and educational boundaries of poverty.
America isn’t a third world country. We must do what it can to provide fair and just opportunities to the poor and disenfranchised. If this means government assistance in one form or other to help those in need with things like cost of living expenses to help them get by and feed their families as they look for work, or to help assist with fees for night classes for those who are motivated enough to educate themselves – so be it. While it behooves us to be firm enough to refuse and weed out those who want to take advantage of the system, we must continue to look out for those who are willing and want to contribute. I would ask Dr. Carson to consider this issue from both a moral and pragmatic view- isn’t the right thing to do to help as many individuals as we can who are trying to survive with hopes of one day living the American dream? Moreover, would it not make more sense for a healthier and more productive society to help the poor and not leave them behind.
How can Ben Carson or any any human being with compassion support taking away food and benefits from children, women, and yes even working people who are teetering on poverty. At the present time, despite the turnaround in the economy after the Bush recession, the country still does not have enough jobs for everyone who conservatives maintain need to “lift themselves by the bootstraps” especially the impoverished who lack training and education. President Obama has made a concerted effort to address the job problem with infrastructure programs, working with manufacturing companies on job training programs, and investment in education despite continuous obstruction from the Republicans. Moreover, he is holding accountable those U.S. corporations making billions in profits that continue to outsource jobs overseas. In the meantime, if it were not for the government helping the jobless, the poor, where would they turn. The poor are not just a business or conglomerate group which can be dismissed as a non-profit generating, non-productive sector of society that we are unfortunately stuck with. These are fellow Americans, fellow human beings, real people – for whom we should show some concern for and responsibility.