All This … And Freedom Too

“A hungry man is not a free man.” – -Adlai Stevenson

Now there’s a quaint notion, how old-school can you get? We (or at least our fearless leaders) knnow better now — hunger is now ennobling, and it is clearly better to be free of the trap of food, shelter and health care, provided when needed in a society that takes care of people. No decent person would choose such degradation! After all, what could be better than dignified starvation and noble suffering, while gnawing on our own bootstraps?


Republican Gov. Mike Pence says not giving food to the unemployed will ‘ennoble’ them
Daily Kos * Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 01:42 PM PST
He’s really embiggened his state with his bombulant performance. I’m not sure lower-income Americans are going to be able to survive all the “ennobling” things Republicans are doing for them. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker already explained how preventing Americans from obtaining live-saving health insurance will help them “live the American Dream” [see article below]; now fellow Republican governor and do-gooder Mike Pence wants to further “ennoble” state residents by cutting off their food stamps.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced last month that beginning in 2015, it would no longer request a waiver to the federal work requirement for certain people who use the SNAP program. Up to 65,000 single Hoosiers could lose food stamp benefits unless they are working 20 hours a week or attending job training.
Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Pence argued that 50,000 people had joined the Indiana workforce since 2008 so it was time to return to a “core principle” of welfare reform. […]
“I’m someone that believes there’s nothing more ennobling to a person than a job,” Pence insisted. “And to make sure that able-bodied adults without dependants at home know that here in the state of Indiana, we want to partner with them in their success.”
There is at least one problem with this, which is that there are vastly more unemployed people in the Midwest than there are available jobs; Pence’s policy is that Indiana will be staging the Hunger Games, and the losers don’t get food anymore because they just didn’t try hard enough. There’s also the usual problems of skill mismatches, distance from available jobs, whether any part-time job will pay enough to cover the cost of getting to that part-time job, whether the state will actually have a “job training” program for all of these people to enter, what will happen after they’ve been “job trained” for jobs that still aren’t there because that was the whole problem all along, and all the other problems that render Full State Employment or Piss Off a more complex proposition than simply telling people to go out and get themselves Ennobled. And speaking of ennobling Americans, I can think of quite a few things more ennobling to a person than having a job.
—Not having to eat garbage out of trash cans. That’s pretty ennobling.
—Being able to save what little money you have to keep a roof over your head, rather than having to live under a snowy bus stop bench so that you can afford people-food instead of trashcan-food, thus in turn enabling you to also own clothes and take showers in accordance with what are needed in order to land an ennobling job in any sector of the economy in which either clothing or showers are required.
—Knowing you live in a society that does not force you to eat out of trash cans because a more wealthy man thought treating you worse than anyone else had been willing to treat you might boost his own chances of ennobling himself via a presidential run.
To paraphrase Pence, who had by this point lapsed into cliches, you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can not give him that fish and just keep the damn fish. This will teach him a lesson about not being able to find a fish in an economy that has far fewer fish than people looking for fish, and the poor man will be ennobled when he realizes, scrounging through a dumpster behind a fish restaurant, that you knew how the math was going to work out on that one the whole time.

“He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have.” –Don Juan Manuel

And come to think of it, our elites are showering us with a shitload of admiration these days; they can’t say enough about how wonderful we exceptional Americans are. A suspicious person might wonder why.


Gov. Scott Walker: Refusing health care to low-income Americans helps them ‘live the American dream’
Daily Kos * Fri Nov 14, 2014 at 09:48 AM PST
I don’t know what anti-healthcare conservatives suppose the “American Dream” to be, but I’ve yet to see one aspire to it themselves:
Defending his fellow Republican governors’ decision to block Medicaid expansion in their states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday suggested that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people “live the American Dream” because they won’t be “dependent on the American government.”
Denying health coverage to any low-income American would run afoul of living the American Dream primarily because of the living part, of course. Denying the Medicaid expansion is expected to kill thousands of Americans outright, and it’s difficult to live the “American Dream” as a plastic bag of burnt cinders tossed very respectfully to your next-of-kin.

No “American Dream” I am familiar with involves being plunged into sudden bankruptcy by the slightest of accidents; I have never heard a child say when I grow up, I am going to get a medically treated condition but then not be able to treat it because my employer does not cover that.
“Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. […]
Particularly able-bodied adults without children, and screw the rest of them. If you are poor and have a child you are out of luck, and had best hope your janitorial job will allow you to raise young Timmy in the mop bucket while you go about your shift; if you are poor and not able-bodied the American Dream dictates you suck it up, self-amputate whichever of your limbs is giving you the trouble using plastic utensils procured from the nearest fast-food restaurant, and apply for a job at that restaurant as soon as you have cauterized the wound on their industrial grill.
I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”
Ideologically, it’s a wonderful approach. Ideologically, it would be ideal if poor Americans rode unicorns to their fancy Wall Street jobs and got health insurance from the ghost of Ronald Reagan himself, who would smile as he helped them fill out the forms and would then quickly send them off to Jesus Christ to be processed. The chasm between ideologically and practicality is wide, and at the bottom is a slow-moving river of Not Really Giving A Shit. If you are so determined to find an ideological solution to poor Americans dying from preventable diseases and not-poor Americans always one hospital visit away from becoming destitute, it is a clear announcement that the great vast sweep of those Americans and their problems is not concerning enough to bother with a non-ideological solution. Which would be, of course, the crux of the problem here.
I suspect what Gov. Scott Walker really means is that denying healthcare coverage to low-income Americans is necessary for his own American Dream, which is to be a respected and powerful member of a government that would do such things. The American Dream for Scott Walker means rising to a position where you can tell The Poor that they do not really need health care, and if they did need health care they should have thought of that before becoming Poor. The American Dream for Scott Walker is being able to sit in a very nice office and opine on how all of the Americans who are not governors should be happy to die for the cause of Scott Walker’s personal ideology, because we are all in this together, you and I, and if you are not willing to be buried in a pauper’s grave in order to provide a slight boost to Scott Walker’s planned run for the presidency then you are not really a part of the Scott Walker team, now, are you. You should consider your diabetes or heart disease or sick child from a more ideological perspective, and I am sure then you will be able to appreciate how your existence runs afoul of Scott Walker’s American Dream.


About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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6 Responses to All This … And Freedom Too

  1. Makes you wonder if any of these conservatives ever read Charles Dickens. I can imagine some of these lines in the mouth of Ebenezer Scrooge and some of his other vulture capitalists.

    • My guess is they’re so wrapped up in Ain Rand and Milton Friedman that they’ve never gotten round to Dickens. Besides, he occasionally gets all maudlin and sentimental in describing the suffering of the poor, so they’d likely give his work short shrift. Thanks for your comment. – Linda

  2. carolahand says:

    These are the same sentiments that have been voiced since the early settlement days in the 1600s in U.S., and England before then. I often wonder if cruelty and mean-spiritedness are cultural, genetic, or some type of physiologically-based truncated reasoning capability.

    • Such excellent questions, Carol! Now if only I had answers … To me, much of it might seem to stem from Calvinism, but perhaps Calvin just supplied a rationale for cruelty, selfishness and contempt, allowing adherents to feel sure they have ‘earned’ their good fortune, and that the misfortunes of others must also be deserved. Maybe the devastation of the Black Death weakened people’s … faith? … in the ability of the community to help those in need.

      Or perhaps it’s all simpler than that. Our western culture is so materialistic, with money and possessions the primary measure of our value, and virtue too? If we give anything away, then we will feel diminished, we will be “worth” less. You note this is how we express monetary wealth, that so-and-so is “worth millions”. We SAY we admire generosity and compassion, but I don’t know of a television series called Who Wants To Be a Humanitarian.

      And yet, people are often kind, and willing to help one another. Maybe we’re all just crazy and complex. Crazy, anyway. Okay, not you probably, you seem sane enough. Me?… not so much. Thanks for commenting. – Linda

      • carolahand says:

        I love your sense of humor, Linda. I wonder how many people would watch a TV show called – “I want to be a humanitarian 🙂 – to give away money to be “worthless” …

        But you are right, people are often kind, yet in my experience it’s frequently the people who have the least in terms of material possessions or money who are the most generous.

        (I’m not sure about being “sane,” though.)

        • Perhaps the poor are more aware of real need than those with a comfortable life? They’ve been there, so it’s harder to turn away from the suffering of others. For many of us, true deprivation is pretty remote from our experience, and too many folks seem to lack the empathy or imagination to realize what it is to be cold and hungry and without hope.

          And maybe those with little don’t feel they have so much to lose? I know that makes no sense! Logically, if you have plenty, and the expectation that you will have enough for the foreseeable future, you would surely be MORE willing to give some of your things away. But somehow, we don’t see that. Maybe having too much makes you tend to be preoccupied with stuff, to the point that people and their needs become somehow less visible, less meaningful to you than your stuff is. I just don’t know about humans! Having too little food, shelter, purpose or power is obviously never good … but it looks like having too much is not good for us either.

          As for sanity .. I’m hardly the ideal judge. Thanks again for your kind words. – Linda

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