Our Poor Versus Theirs

Conservatives are fond of comparing America’s poor to Third-World poor, intending the comparison to “prove” that there is no “real” poverty in America, since America’s poor live better than the Third-World poor.

But most Americans do not judge themselves by Third-World standards, and do not accept the comparison. It is in fact no great feat and no great honor to simply be better than the worst. In any case, poverty is relative to the prevailing conditions in a nation.

Ironically, however, conservatives in general–and Republicans in particular–are doing what they can to create Third-World conditions in America, and they are making great headway.

Conservatives reduce or remove social programs that help protect the living standards of all citizens, programs intended to prevent minor or temporary setbacks from becoming permanent family disasters.

The conservative destruction of labor unions diminishes any power that working people have to ensure a living wage, and protections that they have against abuses of their employers.

The tort reform urged or imposed by conservatives reduces the scope and even the possibility of citizens’ redress against malfeasance and malpractice by employers or service providers.

Privatization, a core conservative program, puts public money and public services into private hands, where public scrutiny and direction are not possible, and with no increase in efficiency or efficacy.

Conservative tax reform favors the already-wealthy at the expense of the working people who actually produce the wealth.

Concentrations of wealth become concentrations of political power, reducing the power of ordinary citizens to act on their own behalf, or to have any effect when they can act.

A class of essentially itinerant corporate executives are allowed to set and demand huge salaries, with no real regard for their competence, nor punishment for poor performance.

Political candidates are drawn from a privileged elite, by a privileged elite, to serve the privileged elite.

News media are owned by a conservative privileged elite, and operated to serve conservative political, economic and social goals.

Deregulation, another favorite conservative program, is applied to all of the aforementioned activities, allowing all manner of greed, incompetence, and malfeasance to run rampant.

And, in case economic, political, and social conditions stimulate any citizens to disapprove, spying on citizens is expanded.

All of these activities are bringing Third-World conditions to America.

So, in the end, a comparison of our society to Third-World societies does have some validity: it defines conservatives’ goals.

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