« Public Project Presentations | Main | For Love or For Money, That is the Question »

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.

Comments

I think Kirby hit on a very keen issue. The rich need the poor to maintain their sumptous lifestyles. With The Merchant of Venice and Taming of the Shrew, this trend can be seen merely upon reading the cast list; one is given the name of a man, which is followed by the names of his servants. If poverty was eliminated, who's names would fill these ranks? Who would serve the rich?

Several centuries later, our rich still have "trains" following them...they are just much less visible. The rich still have the network of poor who will serve for little. They have someone to raise and prepare food for them, someone to pump their sewage for them, someone to do all their dirty work for pay. We LIKE having someone there to prepare our fastfood sandwich...and we don't want to have to pay them a lot to do it.

But I have to challange Kirby on one point. She briefly mentions that, "Education is the tool we should be using." Everybody wants everybody to be educated. The question is: if everyone is educated, who will make our Big Mac? If everyone passes through the ivy walls of college, who is going to come out on the other side, take up a spatula or a shovel, and pump our sewage or flip our burgers? (I use "our" to indicate middle-upper class society). The problem lies in that we want some to remain poor (Kirby focused specifically on released criminals) to provide these services. You may say otherwise, but everytime you purchase that super cheap Big Mac, you are speaking otherwise.

The roles in society assigned not only between man and women but between the rich and the poor also. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing. And now this breach is bigger than at the times of the Great Depression. One explanation of it is a tendency for the rich to marry each other.

There is another theory though. The rich tender to gather with, living by, networking with, lending money to, and helping to get jobs by promoting the rich. It seems that the rich make all kind of barriers to eliminate communication with the poor and maintain the distance.

Being a student of Carlson School of Management, I keep hearing that networking is one of the most important factors for getting a good job. Another factor is the superior outfit. The one you supposed to wear on the job interview should be made of a high-quality fabric. The jacket should not be too long or too short; as well as it shouldn’t be too tight or too wide. There are guidelines on the shoe wear as well. The whole outfit usually costs three to four hundred bucks. Fro women it is even more expensive and harder to find. How many homeless can afford this type of investment? Everything matters on the interview, including excellent credit history. Even private information is not private. One late payment on the credit card can hurt the whole credit history for up to seven years. How many students right out of school have incredible credit history? And can the expensive outfit make anybody smart or hardworking? I doubt. What do you think?