Saturday, February 14, 2009

Without Data

In the discussion of our own state budget, the topic of the 1998 national welfare reform - called Personal Responsibility and Opportunity or something like that - came up at work. For those of you not following daily, the people "at work" are social workers and psychologists and thoroughgoing liberals. A woman bemoaned how much worse things were for the poor, and how little the government, especially under Bush, cared for the disadvantaged. I feigned puzzlement and asked what was worse. I received anger: "Look around you! What does it take?" Miffed, but uncomfortable dueling with the unarmed, I tried to keep my voice even, though it doubtless had a bite. "It resulted in fewer poor people. Especially children. More especially children of single mothers. And most especially African-Americans. That's not just a conservative POV. Those are the numbers."

Most present did not believe that it even could be so, and two thought it offensive that conservatives even tried to rationalise such horrors by pretending it was better for the poor to be abandoned.

Maybe where you live it's different. But it's people like this - with graduate degrees, every one of them - who keep me postliberal in spite of the general mediocrity of Republicans. We simply cannot allow such people to be in charge of us.

6 comments:

Retriever said...

My sympathies. I'll never forget almost being fired when, as the Protestant chaplain of a Catholic agency, leading a teen religious retreat (for the 95% African American and Hispanic kids in care because of abuse,neglect, delinquency or serious emotional disorders), I dared to recommend in the presentation on "relationships" that they should absolutely, positively try not to get pregnant and have children before they were married. I had been expectd to give the usual pointless lecture on abstinence to a snickering audience that already knew more about various sexual activities than most of the adults present, but the administration hammered me for being "culturally insensitive". I explained that I had not said that the kids there (most of them from single parent homes, never married parents) were awful, just that raising kids is hard work and people do better with a helpmate, and that kids tend to prefer to have both parents available to them. This was deemed way too conservative. I was only saved by a tough old nun defending me on the grounds of my youth and inexperience, who secretly agreed with me, and who secretly taught the exact same thing to her charges.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

And what a kindness those good folk were doing by not mentioning that strategy to the poor, eh?

Bitter accusation: they do not love the poor. They love themselves loving the poor.

Retriever said...

Agree. Sorry to rant at such length, but it is still a pet peeve of mine. Only now I live around the limousine liberals. I always ask myself: who are they friends with, who do they have cookouts with, go to church with, visit, joke with. If they aren't friends (real friends) with any poor people, I don't listen to what they say about the poor.

It's really just the Emperor Has No Clothes. Life is very hard for all of us, but it's worse for people with chaotic family systems, who don't finish school, etc. We do people no kindness by flattering them.

Imagine if, in Basic Training, the drill sergeant told them: Man, you are the best soldiers I have ever seen, and you each have such interesting and different ways of approaching the enemy, I wouldn't presume to change your customs, don't want to restrict your diversity by bossing you or training you or pushing you until you can do as you're told. No, that would be cruel.

We all know what would happen to the soldiers with such a celebration of differences. They would be cruelly killed by the enemy in short order because they were not prepared for the struggle.

bs king said...

I always forget people like this exist. Flip to cancer research, they're much more rational. My current workplace is a pretty nice blend of "I don't care what party comes up with the idea I'd just like our economy not to crash please" mixed in with "If I'm doing better, the poor will probably be doing better too."

Every time I get too liberal, I'm going to read this and remind myself of why the Democrats can be so damn annoying.

Jonathan said...

Bethany, that's a great idea.

This story reminded me of the woman who watched "An Inconvenient Truth" and then was trying to convince me that sea levels would rise 100 feet in 10 years.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

bs king - remember my situation is extreme. Use only in the emergency of actually becoming a progressive. This medicine is too strong for something sensible like remaining a centrist or trying to find a common ground.

Retriever -your analogy is particularly apropos with my fourth son in boot camp at present.