Monday, February 12, 2007

The Richification of America’s Poor

It is a well-established fact that the poorest of America’s poor is wealthy when compared to the poor of most other countries. But that fact is lost on liberals who depend on the poor for their political survival. The constant redefinition of “poor” is the very foundation from where they derive their power.

In the thirty-one years between 1973 and 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us that the percentage of people in America living in poverty “grew” from 11.1% to 12.7%. Did that mean that the billions of dollars spent on raising people from the depths of poverty has been wasted? Nope. It just means that the liberal egghead bureaucrats have done a great job of raising the poverty level each year to make sure a sufficient number of citizens fail to clear the limbo bar of prosperity.

Senator Ted Kennedy likes to refer to those “poor” as people who “go to bed hungry each night”. He and his fellow liberal legislators fail to understand the basic principle of algebra that says that if you define the bottom ten percent of your population as “poor”, then about ten percent of your population will always be, uhm, poor. Duh.

Let’s look at some facts about America’s poor that the think tank Hoover Institute uncovered.

Half of all households under the poverty level has cable television and at least two television sets. A fourth of them own a personal computer. Most of them own a vcr or dvd player.

Friends of mine who teach school tell me of students on free lunch programs wearing hundred-dollar designer tennis shoes and sporting fully-loaded iPods and GameBoys.

Half a century of Great Society reforms has bred a generation of sponges that take pride in beating the system while living in a luxury that the richest citizens of most third-world countries could only dream of.

How do we stop such abuses while still providing an adequate safety net for those who are truly needy? I think the answer lies in the numeration of the luxuries of those receiving aid. I propose a simple plan. With a little tweaking, it just might work.

In my plan, certain “luxuries” would be denied to those receiving federal aid. Simply put, if you are receiving food stamps or Medicaid or welfare payments, there are some things that you simply cannot buy.

For example, nobody receiving federal aid could subscribe to cable tv. Period. Cable providers would be required to submit a list of their subscribers to federal agencies who would match them against lists of recipients of certain federal programs. A letter would be sent to all households that match. They’d be given a simple choice: tv or federal money. You can’t have both.

Same for cellular phones. You want a phone? Give up your monthly check.

It wouldn’t have to stop there. Why should they be able to rent movies? No Blockbuster or Netflix memberships for these people. If they want to watch a movie, they can relinquish their government subsidy.

Magazines? Nope. There is no need for the poor to read TV Guide, Reader’s Digest, Playboy, National Inquirer. None of them. In my system they could have their choice: magazines or a check from the government. But not both.

Things like magazine subscriptions and cable service and Blockbuster membership — those would be easy to enforce. But heck, I honestly believe that the technology exists to prevent individual purchases, too.

Purchases of any shoes over fifty dollars would be off-limits to welfare recipients, if I had my way. The same goes for ice cream, grocery store bakeries, fine deli meats, and sugar-ladened breakfast cereal. And certainly no alcohol or tobacco products.

Entire stores would be off their list. They wouldn’t be able to buy anything from Starbucks, Crate & Barrel, or any department store fancier than JC Penney’s.

I think it’d be a good idea to force at least 80% of their purchases to come from Wal-Mart. Well, maybe Wal-Mart and Target.

Please understand that I believe in a capitalistic society where everybody should be buy what they want to and shop where it suits them. It’s not my intent to actually deny anybody any freedom. But when you accept federal money, you need to check your capitalism at the door.

I think everybody should have a right to buy all the fine things in life. I just don’t want them to do it with my money.

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