In 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau, about 45 million people were living in poverty. At the same time, big corporations like General Motors continue to bring in millions of dollars in profits – $278 million in 2014, according to Standard & Poor – while paying zero taxes. That’s right, while millions of Americans are living under the poverty line, struggling to survive, major corporations are reaping the benefits of loopholes and policies put in place by special interest lobbyists. This figure should disturb you, as it does me, because when the focus of the government and its policies is on the benefit of those with the most economic power, the system is very clearly broken. Yet, those responsible have somehow managed to avoid any real blame by shifting the focus to those who have no power at all: the poor.
Though this issue seems to be fairly well-known, even to those ignorant of day-to-day politics, nothing is being done about it. In our “elect-the-next-idiot” stupor, we seem to have forgotten just how badly we were betrayed by our blessed politicians in the past.
Many people, those politicians very much included, love to blame the poor for our economic woes, but how does this make even one ounce of sense? The simple answer is that it doesn’t and that this is an explanation given by someone in power as a distraction from his or her own wrongdoing. The long answer is that these people – the politicians, bankers and corporatists – seek to protect their seats of influence by any means necessary, including the ludicrous claim that the poor are somehow responsible for our societal and economic fractures.
It’s absolutely obvious, to anyone with a brain, that those at the top are liable for the problems they’ve created; yet, we continue to listen to asinine claims like Bill O’Reilly’s that, “True poverty is being driven by personal behavior, not an unfair economic system.” This sort of claim ignores not only a broken system, but blames the poor for their own poverty – and by extension – for causing economic strife due to their leeching off of the government.
As author Iain Banks puts it, “I mean, your society’s broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich, powerful people who caused it? No, let’s blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don’t even have the vote. Yeah, it must be their fucking fault.”
Let’s stop blaming those who have done nothing and start pressuring those who have done it all, and, in turn, keep the wealthy from using the poor as their scapegoat. After all, as Gandhi once said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”