8 thoughts on “Blaming the Poor

  1. Lest people think my criticism of our governor, and my lauding of Bryant is just another “business as usual” appeal for more handouts, let me be as unequivocal as I can be, “it is not!!”

    While I’m guessing that my reasons for citing the failure of public assistance and welfare programs would certainly be different than my friends on the right, I would concur that “giving a man a fish” doesn’t work—we need to “teach the man how to fish.”

    Bryant is a big proponent of raising aspirations, which I noted in my blog post. He also is touting a massive nationwide focus on entrepreneurship and small business creation. In poor communities (and in rural communities in Maine!), he believes that even if this doesn’t create large numbers of entrepreneurs, it will create in young people an “entrepreneurial, can-do, glass is half full, let’s figure-out-what-we-are-for mind-set.”

    And this is the key point and where I believe those on the right, the left, and in the middle can come together—around the belief that empowerment, rather than entitlement is what we need to transform lives and help people rise up out of poverty.

    Read the book!!

    • Excellent Jimmy..I love it. Seems the whole country is in an uproar over a sick America. How can we turn all this griping and blaming into something productive to create positive change. I don’t know, but it’s a good question, I think.

      • I’ll read the book..I want a copy of your book as well. How can I order it?

        I live in Texas where we are surrounded by illegal immigrants. Just one of America’s many current issues. It’s a hard call. It would take massive power to stop it..Once they are here, they often slip through…work for less, etc…It’s hard to come up with a solution. What, do you look at a 10 year old and say, “go back home”. Many are saying yes, send them back, but it’s more complicated than that. I don’t have the answers.

        We need strong “American committed” leadership to address America’s homeland problems. That’s all I know. By the way, I am opinionated but am not a writer..lol.

        • Carrie,

          I love to hear from old friends from back in the day. Thanks for your comment.

          There are a host of issues related to what’s happening on our southern border with Mexico. One of them is neoliberalism, a term that hardly anyone seems to be paying much attention to. I’m no expert on the subject, but to live in these times and not know what neoliberalism is leaves you in the dark when jobs disappear, governments wage endless wars in far-away lands, and hometowns crumble before our eyes. It’s what frames my final essay in the new book, “Goin’ Back,” about Lisbon Falls. It was the last essay I wrote for the book and the hardest one to write.

          If you don’t know the work and writing of Charles Bowden, he’s a great place to start, in getting oriented around Mexico’s drug cartels, narco-capitalism, the fallout from all of this, which is that people want to escape this charnel house, or “house of death.”

          Another book about the so-called “war on drugs” (which is a lie) is “Narcoland” by Anabel Hernández. Unfortunately, none of this information is coming to us via either the left or right-wing media organs in the U.S.

        • I’ll shoot you an email with ordering info for the book, Carrie. Thanks for asking. I’m very excited about it, as it’s the best writing I’ve done and the most honest and personal.

  2. I think your last line, “Read the Book!” before one reacts is the key to this blog.

    What is confusing to me is that Governor LePage constantly brings up the abuse/homelessness that he suffered as a child yet the cuts in programs for the poor appears to be at the top of his list.

    I do believe that “raising aspirations” is the key and it must start with our young people who are from poor homes and it must start before birth.

    Parenting programs, involvement in library literacy programs, proper healthcare etc., an education or vocation etc. could be made available. I know we have all heard the phrase about giving a hand up not a hand out.

    I guess the main pt. I want to make and I think about this all of the time, is I never want to assume that I know a person’s exact situation. I try not to label anyone by what I am told about them or what the current political view is on a group.

    I think as people and as a nation we need to start going more with “our gut” and really look at people and see them…not what we think we see or what someone else tells us we see. It is frustrating to see how much communication and the natural art of simply talking to someone with respect and care has broken down.

    Thank you Jim for being brave enough to write this article. Bravery brings about change I believe.

    By the way I just finished Jim’s new book of essays and stories entitled, The Perfect Number. It is a fast and interesting read.

    • Great points, Sally.

      Raising aspirations is truly the key. Yes, there’s so much data about early education, and how much needs to happen before kids even start school and prior to that. No wonder so many struggle—they get to the starting line already at a disadvantage.

      It is about “giving a hand up not a hand out.”

      Not sure how “brave” I am. Some things need to be said, talked about, and as a writer, I feel a responsibility to write about some of this. Too bad there weren’t more options to do more investigative work for newspapers and other publications as a freelancer—oh for another Maine Times in our state!

  3. I recently looked a Border Patrol position in the Allagash. Oddly, it said that “Spanish” was a big plus to anyone wanting to get hired for that position. Mexicans everywhere, literally everywhere, is the fruit of NAFTA. We took away their livings in Mexico and replaced it with our corporate structures, then get angry at them for coming here looking for work. And as for lower wages and the complete lack of insurance/retirement/FICA the employer isn’t paying, wasn’t that the goal of NAFTA’s corporate backers in the first place–to create a class of workers who would break the backs of our unions and pension systems, huge corporate costs, by their desperate willingness to work for less?

    My nephew works in construction and has mixed opinions of this, but noted this as well: the illegals stick together. If one is at the side of the road working on a broken truck, others will be there in minutes to help him. If one of us anglos is at the side of the road, we’re on our own.

    Last word on our use/abuse of illegal immigrants: Victor Davis Hanson wrote about the gross immorality of using these workers until they are broken men and then telling them to go back to Mexico in his book Mexifornia. His thoughts on the subject are well worth reading.

    Horatio Alger. Has anyone actually read any of his books? Just like Darwin, everyone claims to know what he wrote, but no one has actually read his books. Alger’s characters NEVER make it by pulling up their bootstraps. They always make it by becoming the best corporate toadies they can until the big bosses or owners recognize their innate talents (that is, willingness to sell themselves out heart, soul and mind for another’s profit) and arrange a marriage with the owner’s daughter or somesuch.

    Which points out the biggest problem in what you describe, and the biggest problem with the poor: no one is free, no one is independent, no one is self-reliant, no one is wealthy so long as he relies on a paycheck from another man. The obverse of that coin, though, is that freedom is dangerous and failure can be disastrous, so we Americans have willingly taken the yoke that was offered over a century ago to accept a paycheck in exchange for true freedom, or the true wealth of owning one’s one shop or trade.

    Gatto, baby. John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education. It’s all there if the reader is willing to take the time and carefully consider the implications of every sentence he writes.

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