Thursday, July 12, 2018

Don’t Blame Your Neighbors, Blame The People In Power

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The impulse to blame poor people for their poverty comes from the human trait of wanting to punish others for their perceived failures. When someone has reached a bad place in their life, like drug addiction or prison, there’s a less forgiving side of us that wants to blame only the person, while ignoring all outside circumstances. So when people apply this punitive logic to the poor, they feel justified in not having sympathy for the unfortunate people they’re condemning. Because in their minds, the poor have inflicted their situation on themselves.

This is why even among people who are financially struggling, and are aware that they’ve been cheated by powerful forces, there’s a resentment towards the people who are even poorer than themselves. As people become more desperate, many of them are essentially blaming their neighbors. They suspect that those slightly below them in society are not doing their share of the work, and they resent having the work they do go towards funding government benefits for these people.
It’s a dynamic of conflict between the lower classes, where people feel that the others on the bottom aren’t helping improve the situation. And if anyone reading has developed this kind of attitude towards the poor-which everyone is susceptible to-I’d like to remind them that this is the mindset the ruling elites want people to have.
We know this because in all the countries where economic inequality has increased during recent decades, people have gotten less sympathetic for the poor. Harvard sociology expert Jonathan J.B. Mijs has come to this conclusion, having noted in a recent article how polls showing animosity towards the poor have correlated with the rise in poverty.
Division between oppressed people has obvious benefits for the people in power, and that’s why the powerful have worked to turn people against the poor. All evidence has shown that corporate media outlets avoid covering poverty, a blank space for the actual experiences of the poor that’s filled in with language from pundits like “trailer trash” and “moochers.”
Blaming poverty on the poor has been a habit since the start of developed society, and it’s always been based in that impulse to judge someone without looking at the bigger picture. There are so many variables in each person’s life, and so many ways the system works against most people’s interests, that this view of poverty falls apart under any honest scrutiny. In the United States, only 31% of the poor are able-bodied people who don’t work, with the rest either being children, elderly, disabled, or employed without a living wage.
And are those 31% really choosing to keep themselves in that situation, or are they being kept down by other factors, like depressionmental illness, or lack of access to any job that doesn’t require long hours for slave-level pay? Poor people’s situations are always more complex than it appears on the surface, and classifying them as failures won’t negate the countless forces beyond their control that impact their lives. But the centers of power don’t want us to think of these nuances, because then the people might unite, get angry at the right people, and focus all of our energy on defeating corporate power.
So take whatever resentment towards your fellow citizens that the people in power want to feed within you, and turn it towards the Orwellian global oligarchy that’s robbing us all of a full human experience. Whether or not you agree with my viewthat socialism is the solution to poverty, our government has become an openly despotic presence that’s controlled by corporations, and I’ve talked with libertarians and conservatives who agree that this situation needs to be dealt with. Don’t be mad at the people who’ve been hurt by our system of government. Be mad at the system.

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