gall and gumption

Friday, June 01, 2007

More and Less

Atrios had a link to this scary image of adjustable mortgage resets. Then I went looking about the rest of this blog, it's called The Big Picture and there are lots of interesting things there.

But whenever I visit the subject of money as I wander around the Tubes, I come across this problem:

You know, suppose I had lots of money. I don't have lots of money though of course compared to the ones who make a dollar a day I'm rolling in the stuff. But even supposing I had lots of money, and even supposing I worked for 14 hours a day for it. I get paid for 7-9 hours of work a day and then when I get home I do an hour or so of unpaid work (except lately when the Notebooks have been stalled). So let's imagine all the things that would keep me awake when I had lots of money, all the things I could find to be dissatisfied about.

Let me tell you the last thing on that list. No, it's not even on the list. It's like here we are (pretend we are ants) and we are standing on the bottom of the list and we are looking down over the edge of it down, down, down, at a heap of useless psychic garbage that even I can't fabricate a worry out of, and what is that little thing twinkling there?

Here we go: Whether someone who has not worked as hard as I have deserves a handout. It's worse than that: I'm all for it.

When I worry, I worry about old men getting mugged because they don't have a safe place to sleep. I worry about some single mother and her kids spending its first night in a homeless shelter. I worry about people who are afraid all the time because they might lose their crap job and have nothing, who can't get sick because they can't get insurance, or who did get sick anyway and now bill collectors are calling them at work, about people who depend on their cars to go to work because they can't live close enough to their crummy service job, and they don't get paid enough to fix the car and pay the rent. I worry about all the dogs whose owners left them at the side of the road because they couldn't afford to keep them.

I don't worry about whether the homeless man might have got a free handout somewhere along the line while I was working. One day I met a panhandler, he was young and goodlooking still, and had clearly been living a life of gay sexual adventuring and somehow he had gotten sick and he didn't have any money and he was in terrible shape, he'd just been kicked out of the hospital. He asked me for some money for something to eat. "I won't spend it on lobster or anything," he said. I gave him a couple dollars and wished he could have lobster if he liked it so much. I couldn't afford to give him a lobster dinner, but if he begged his way to one what was it to me? I would have been happy for the guy. But (I know I have said this before) there is an attitude in this country whereby the poor deserve their povery and deserve to pay more for it and be punished in addition by this sort of contempt. I mean, how hard is it to grasp that the first step to doing people (the poor, minorities, etc.) injustice is to slander them? And what a failure of imagination it is not to understand that most poor people are working people.

I just do not understand how such bestial meanness ever came to seem like a reasonable moral position for anyone in the richest nation in the world to take towards its own poor. I know there are vast tracts of the country where this is considered reasonable. It's one reason why I feel like a complete alien here sometimes. Whenever I come across someone expressing this view I react with instant revulsion and, oddly, a vague feeling of shame.

So no, thank you, I think I'll just hold on to my tinker's toss, my rat's ass, my flying fuck, and my two shits.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger L7 said...

Just as well you don't have anything, then. You would make a terrible Republican. Commie!

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Kia said...

Hey, you making fun of my ass-

At 1:33 PM, Blogger L7 said...

Oh. You took your little tinker's toss to that Treasures in the Attic show, did you?

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Kia said...

They wouldn't even give me a good cahoot for it.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger buckner said...

Here in Venice you aften see people sitting near the edge of the street, prostrate, holding up a ragged paper Coke cup or an old hat, their eyes fixed on the ground. Usually it's an old woman wearing a shawl over her head, rocking slowly up and down as people pass by. These women always appear in the same place each day---they've marked out their territory. Today however, when I was walking home from the market, I saw a young guy with a backpack, apparently healthy, slouched again a well with his hand outstretched, staring confidently at people as they passed. I have to say, I couldn't help asking myself what they hell he was doing there.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Kia said...

But you know, Buckner, I remember in England in the bad old Thatcher days you'd see all sorts of healthy young people, some of them obviously from middle-class backgrounds, "living rough." There were simply no jobs to be had in those days, one of the effect of the Iron Lady bringing the country to heel, at least in terms of what they thought they had a right to expect from government "Nothing, and you'll like it too!" I wonder how the economy is doing in your part of the world.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger buckner said...

I think people here are are doing marginally well, at best. From what I understand Italians took a big hit with the introduction of the Euro. The equalization of the ecomomy across Europe basically meant that everyone was forced to catch up with the northern countries. Prices here almost doubled, but wages remained the same (surprise!) I think middle-class (and poor) Italians are now feeling the hangover from that party. When you go over to Mestre on the mainland, were the working people live, things are pretty grubby and nobody seems to be living prosperously. When I was walking around there last week (looking for discount stores) I wandered by a building that I took to be the local labor union office and noticed a lot of people standing around outside, maybe unemployed and looking for work. But I don't think that guy in Venice was one of those. He seemed too confident in his manner, like it was a choice. However, my response was an immediate one, and I realized later prehaps premature. For all I know the guy was mentally ill.

p.s. We were making fun of your ass-ets in that other post, not this one.


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