Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was living in poverty…or so the U.S. government would have us believe.
When I was first married, and had one child…when both of us worked part-time for minimum wage…we were supposedly poor. We had food assistance and WIC. We also had two cars (albeit old ones), a home (we rented a mobile home), food to eat, clothes to wear, a TV, a microwave, dishwasher, cable TV, and central air. Most of this was propped up by creative use of student loans (living expenses, you see).
Since then, I’ve traveled some, both within the U.S, and Mexico, Cuba, a few other countries.
I’ve now seen what true poverty is – and I’ve never seen the like inside the United States of America.
The current hot topic is the crash of the financial system, and the accompanying enormous loss of wealth that has recently occurred. Many people have seen most of their savings lost, the value of their home plummet, their job disappear, perhaps even the loss of their home.
But is that poverty?
Influenced by a fellow blogger whom I admire (H/T Solomon), I’ve been reading a book called “Cairo to Damascus”. In it is a description of true poverty. Have a look (my emphasis).
Yusef said after a while, “I would like to show you a bit of the real Egypt – something that most journalists never see. Will you come with me? The place is not far from here.”
I agreed. Walking, we say many sights common to Cairo. In the first instance it was a barefooted girl perhaps ten years old, dressed in rags. Her individual toes were invisible because of grime that had caked all over her – it had even worked its way into her matted hair. Her face haunted me. There were black blotches on it – and only as she came nearer did I realize that these were masses of flies feeding on festering open sores. She was holding aloft what seemed to be a doll. Then we saw that the doll was actually an infant – perhaps one or two years old, probably alive, although we could not see it breathing, or hear it cry as babies do when roughly handled. The tiny infant was in tatters, one mass of filth from head to toe. Its closed lids were slits of raw, inflamed skin, the usual result of trachoma. The girl was now squealing in a shrill voice, hopping from one pedestrian to another, begging.
“Is the baby dead or alive?” I asked Yusef.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Only Allah knows. If it is not dead, it will die before long. The garbage wagons pick up many of them every morning…
At Aishash el Tourgoman thousands of agonized men, women, and children stared at me in living death. Their hovels were built of earth, or of rotted wood creaking on tottering foundations. They were dark caves, and the earthen floor was lined with dried dung. People slept here, with no blanked under or over them. The odor of death and disease was everywhere…There were no windowpanes, no curtains, no doors, and no electricity. Children huddled about their mothers, too sick of too feeble to play. Scrawny chickens, dogs, cats moved in and out of hovels, feeding and dropping around the family. On a dungheap with a donkey standing as immobile as death itself, dwarfed and diseased children moved about.
One would be very hard-pressed to find any one person living like this (if you can call it living) in the United States, let alone thousands of them. Yet there is one candidate for POTUS, along with many of the hacks in his party, who would have you believe that you are poor, and that he and the government are your salvation from your situation.
America, you are not poor. You are wealthy beyond the wildest imaginings of the millions of truly poor in the world.
So rather than complain that you won’t be able to flip your house for a fast profit; that you’ll have to shut off the cable and maybe the cell phone to make your house payment; that you might have to live in rental for a while…give thanks for what you DO have. There are MANY who have NOTHING.
One further point on the promise of government saving you from poverty…
Once upon a time, quite long ago, there was a war widow who was suffering deprivation due to the loss of her husband. There was a petition in the U.S. Congress to set aside some money to help her and those like her.
This was back when people still knew, and cared, what the Constitution contained.
One congressman stood before the assembly, and reminded them thusly (my epmhasis):
“We have rights, as individuals, to give as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money.” (David S. Crockett, U.S. House of Representatives, 1828…yes, THE Davy Crockett)
Being so reminded, the appropriation request was denied. The poor widow was turned away. Mr. Crockett then supported this widow with his own money.
Ladies and gentlemen, there has not been a relevant change in the Constitution since 1828. Congress still has no right to appropriate your money to give it away to the needy. But you, individually, still have the right, obligation, and privilege of doing it yourself.
Be blessed, and grateful, and generous.
To take them [the words ‘general welfare” – GdB] in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. — James Madison
“On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” — Thomas Jefferson