The Rich, The Poor, & The Homeless

The Occupy movement brought some attention to the topic of socioeconomic inequality, but was so unorganized and undirected that it lost steam and the focus it arguably never had. They were right though. The 1% make out like bandits while the 99% toil with their feet in the mud. This six and a half minute video does a really good job of illustrating that fact:

What makes me angry isn’t that some people are rich while others are comparatively poor. It’s that here, in the land of milk and honey, the home of the free and the brave, there are people without homes and children who go to bed starving 3 or 4 nights a week. Meanwhile quiet aristocrats and despots of the modern age, the top 1%, enjoy their fancy foods, expensive clothing, massive mansions and their fat bank accounts and assets. Fine, whatever – keep the food, clothes, and excessive living situations, but for the love of god send your banks accounts to fat camp. A fraction of that wealth could feed hundreds of hungry mouths. Spare enough so that the poor can have the basics at least.

Of course, there’s the argument that the poor and homeless are lazy, abuse substances, or are street youths who foolishly ran away. Well, that’s true, mostly. A lot of homeless people are drug addicts or have severe mental conditions (so on and so forth) that prohibit them from functioning normally in society. But where are their families and why couldn’t they help? It’s no secret that wealthy families have sons and daughters who routinely abuse substances too – the only difference is that these druggies go home to eat on porcelain and sleep on plush, while their poor counterparts are doomed to dig in trash and lie in leaves. Is it any merit of the rich man’s boy that he might eventually get clean in an expensive rehab facility somewhere in a paradise get-away? Is it any fault of the poor man’s boy that he would never have that chance?

The topic’s much more complicated than it seems at first, and for me it quickly becomes a philosophical dialogue distanced from the more practical, probably helpful, details.

But regardless of what anyone has or hasn’t earned, does or doesn’t deserve, should or shouldn’t have or give – don’t you think sometimes it’s better to be generous, understanding, forgiving and kind when you’re in a position of power, rather than “right” about the issue of desert and entitled to your keep?



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