Keeping thy poor poor
This country thrives on keeping the lines and boundaries between classes bold and drawn. In class the other day Mitch pointed out that the Jews in Venice had very few options to survive within the society. They could not own property and many, like Shylock chose to become a money lender. This reminded me of many things in our own society. Whether we want to admit it or not this country keeps the poor poor and the rich rich. During the Reagan years funding was cut for many of our countries social services such as food stamps and mental institutions, causing homelessness and packed jails. Why packed jails? Well, imagine a mentally ill person wandering the street because he/she has no where else to go. He/she gets picked up by the police and sent to jail for the night.
When crime rises in the inner city of many states politicians spout that more law enforcement is needed, when that is the last thing that will fix the problem. Education is the tool we should be using. Why do people enter into a life of crime or robbery? There is no hope for them in anything else. If our country could give them that hope, maybe they would take full advantage, but we don't.
Over spring break I participated in a program where I was homeless for a day. I learned so much about the subject. Many of the men and women in these places have been convicted of a felony. They could have been convicted twenty years ago, but it is still something they have to mention in a job interview. How likely is it that they will get hired with that on their record and make more than minimum wage? Very slim. These people have changed and grown since their crime days and just want to live in peace and quiet, but no one will hire. It is a way to keep the poor poor and not to give second chances. What would the rich be without the poor? There is something to be said about that. We all say we want poverty to end, but is that really true? If that were true then wouldn't minimum wage become a livable wage? On average, if a person wants a small apartment and has kids to support, on minimum wage they would have to work at least 75 hours a week. Who can physically do that? We give the poor a list of options that don't necessarily work and punish them once they take these options saying they could have done more, like Shylock who has only one option for work.