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Sun Aug 18, 2013, 07:59 PM

Cross-post: Poverty's Reality and Red Wagon Fiction

[font color=green]Note: The following column by Carol Morgan provides a response to the town hall meetings that U. S. Representative Randy Neugebauer (Regressive) has held in his district that includes Lubbock, Plainview and Abilene. Neugebauer brought along his little red wagon to Tuesday’s town hall meeting in Plainview to hold questions from the audience as well as to make a point.[/font]

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“We’ve allowed many people to get in due to need, and others temporarily when they needed some help,” he explained. “But many of those who were supposed in be in there temporarily got too comfortable, and stayed aboard with the help of Congress. Now we are at the point where there are just too many people riding inside the wagon and too few of us pulling.” (Neugebauer)

The column by Carol Morgan:

Check the media and internet forums. You’re certain to overdose on a heaping portion of raw, cruel, uninformed and biased attitudes toward poverty and the poor. These quintessential stereotypes have persisted since the early 1980’s, when greed gradually began taking up residence within America. Fast forward to the millennium, and you see the GOP resurrecting the welfare queen trope, but this time, she’s all dressed up in some new rhetoric.

Twisting and condensing complex socio-economic concepts into brief clever memes so they can effectively whip their base into an evangelical frenzy, the Conservatives employ inflammatory phrases like “Welfare is slavery” or worse, they characterize America’s safety net as “Uncle Sam’s Plantation”.

Case in point: This last week, the constituents of District 19 saw our Congressman drag his little red wagon from Lubbock to Plainview to Abilene. His “listening sessions” were a show and tell, dog and pony, snake oil and medicine show full of misinformation and outright lies to a room full of low information voters.

It’s hard to believe that no attendee called him out on his mistakes and blatant fabrications.

Too many freeloaders are filling the wagon, he said, creating a heavy burden for the taxpayers forced to carry them. Did the audience know that only 12% of our budget goes toward safety net programs?

He even referred to our growing deficit. News flash—Congressman! The deficit is shrinking quite nicely! Just this week, it was reported that the Federal deficit is down 37.6%.

How is it that the GOP can continue to spin myths, urban legends, and flaunt outrageous errors in the face of real facts and face-to-face with their constituents?

It’s because of us…

Low-information-uninformed voters continue to elect empathy-challenged individuals to make our policies. Those above the poverty line continue to believe AND perpetuate stereotypes and second-third-fourth-hand fictions about food stamp recipients who drive Cadillacs, carry designer handbags and cell phones.

In the minds of the injudiciously judgmental, there is an unspoken dress code for the poor, in order to be evaluated as legitimately needy.

I’ve heard those stories. I’ll bet you’ve heard them too. They’re filled with dangerous assumptions and judgments. The stories vilify the poor and they elevate us to the role of a hypercritical omnipotent being, who is magically familiar with each individual’s situation.

In truth, we don’t know the individual in the check-out lane in front of us; nor do we know their story. Perhaps the holder of that EBT card at whom we’re scowling has a severely handicapped child or perhaps they’re seriously ill themselves. Maybe they are shopping for an elderly parent.

That nice purse, designer jeans, or expensive shoes they’re wearing? It might have been something they purchased long before they lost their job or got sick. It might have been a gift from someone. And their children? Perhaps they were born before the job loss or debilitating illness? There’s no return policy on children you can no longer afford, you know...

Here’s the real truth: Bad things can happen to good people.

Unfortunately, we never grant the benefit of the doubt to anyone, until it happens to us. The next “toss of the dice” in life’s gamble might be your own sickness, your job loss, or your accident. Empathy is difficult for the lucky. Other people’s hardships should be a gentle reminder that hard work doesn’t guarantee a lifetime free of trouble.

In reality, most regular Joes and Janes are only three paychecks away from sinking into poverty ourselves.

Not many politicians, or even average citizens, know the day-in-day-out miseries of poverty. Few are personally acquainted with even a single individual who suffers from lack. They don’t know senior citizens on SNAP; they’ve yet to meet a single mother utilizing the WIC program for her infant, or a family lucky enough to get a Section 8 Housing Voucher.

I have a surplus of personal stories about the poor in Lubbock County. I worked with them (and FOR them) in my time as a teacher and counselor. Perhaps someday, I’ll write a book about those experiences. Everything I know about life, I learned from Lubbock’s poor and their children. I worked in many schools; all were east of University Avenue. I worked in the downtown areas of O.L. Slaton before it was a magnet school, in deep East Lubbock as a counselor at Alderson, in the barrios of North Lubbock as a counselor at Cavazos and finally, as a career counselor at Lubbock High School.

I was a frequent and welcome visitor in student’s homes; in the neighborhoods known as Little Mexico, the trees of Butler Park, and Chocolate City of East David Ave. I’ve been in homes without electricity in Guadalupe, in glorified sheds with dirt floors near the airport, homes where meals and heat came from the same tiny charcoal grill, and dingy transient motels that were the temporary shelters of the marginally homeless.

I even visited a van in the parking lot of a church in North Overton.

During those years, not a single family I dealt with was complacent. They weren’t content or satisfied to live in those conditions. They wanted out, but they were so far down, they saw no way out of their wretchedness. Many parents worked two and three jobs, along with their measly safety net pittance, and they still couldn’t make it from paycheck to paycheck. There was always some chaotic event (a baby’s illness, a husband’s injury, a car breaks down, a family member in jail, sister got pregnant) that disrupted the thin stability they’d established.

Before our Congressman and our Texas legislators refer to the poor as dead weight in the little red wagon, I challenge them to visit these places of despair in Lubbock. It’s not pleasant or pretty; it’s a daily struggle for survival. If you don’t starve, if you don’t develop a chronic illness from lack of healthcare, you could suffer a permanent disabling injury in a hazardous occupation, or you could be a victim of a drive-by or you might be locked up for a petty charge you didn’t commit. Your only crime might be the lack of funds to hire an adequate defense attorney. The poor learn quickly; there is no such reality as justice for all. It’s only justice for some.

They are so many possible pitfalls and struggles in the life of the poor, one day after another of complications and problems. No wonder Langston Hughes said, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

The little red wagon politicians should be deeply ashamed of their uninformed and pejorative metaphor for the poor. They should be more ashamed of their “punish, punish, and punish some more” attitudes, like drug-testing for assistance or unemployment, like Paul Ryan’s idea that if an individual has $2000 in savings or a car worth more than $5000, they should be ineligible for food stamps or Pat Buchanan who claimed you’re not really poor if you have a refrigerator.

In the eyes of the pompous Conservatives, being poor is a character defect; a criminal offense.

It’s no wonder the poor are desensitized to punishment. The generational poor have been castigated with great regularity since the day they were born. Most simply give up and stop trying; just surrender and fulfill other people's expectations.

Congressman Neugebauer was right about one thing in his road show across District 19.

It’s true there are a lot of people in that little red wagon. There are Americans who don’t need to be there and they’re making it hard to pull. But, with regards to the occupants, it’s a case of mistaken identity.

Tell us more, Congressman Neugebauer, tell us again about these makers and takers...

Could the real occupants of the little red wagon be our politicians who’ve enriched themselves to the detriment of their constituents?

Could some of those weighty passengers be the military-industrial complex that makes up one-third of the Federal Budget?

Is there a weight limit in the wagon for the energy corporations who made record profits, while receiving government subsidies at the same time?

Could some of those passengers in the little red wagon be your campaign donors?

Some of us aren’t fooled so easily, Sir.


Carol Morgan is a career counselor, writer, speaker, former Democratic candidate for the Texas House and the award-winning author of Of Tapestry, Time and Tears, a historical fiction about the 1947 Partition of India. Follow her on Twitter @CounselorCarol1, on Facebook: CarolMorgan1 and her writer’s blog at http//:www.carolmorgan.org


[font color=green]Another home run by Carol![/font]

Cross-posted from Good Reads forum.

10 replies, 1390 views

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Reply Cross-post: Poverty's Reality and Red Wagon Fiction (Original post)
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 OP
Downwinder Aug 2013 #1
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 #4
mbperrin Aug 2013 #8
DhhD Aug 2013 #2
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 #5
malokvale77 Aug 2013 #3
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 #6
mbperrin Aug 2013 #7
LineLineNew Reply !
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 #9
mbperrin Aug 2013 #10

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 08:19 PM

1. I was not aware that Randy had ever pulled anything heavier than a string.

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Response to Downwinder (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 11:21 PM

4. At the risk of getting this message hidden,

the only thing I could imagine Randy pulling is his pud.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 12:21 AM

8. Yes, his tiny little hands would be able to grasp that toothpick.

Now, can he get an erection? Only when thinking about abusing poor people, I bet.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 08:31 PM

2. Thanks for this story. We should all care about and for those less fortunate.

Caring, kindness and help our fellow man, was what we were taught when I was growing up. What has happened to America? Greed, deceit and scapegoating.

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Response to DhhD (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 11:24 PM

5. You are welcome, DhhD.

I was raised with similar values from my parents. While I cannot classify Carol Morgan as a prolific writer because she only posts one or two blogs per week, it's the quality of the writing and the topics that she addresses that sets her apart.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 09:40 PM

3. Very good read

This is a subject that doesn't get near enough attention.

Thank you for posting this TT.

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Response to malokvale77 (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 18, 2013, 11:28 PM

6. You are also welcome malokvale.

It's almost shocking to believe that two of the greatest liberal bloggers (Carol Morgan and Dr. Brian Carr) in the state are at Lubbock. There are also some very insightful comments from the liberal bloggers there. I guess when people are in a sea of red as they are in Lubbock, they learn how to defend their beliefs and develop cogent arguments.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 12:19 AM

7. The stupid bastard is channeling 1990s Phil Gramm!


The insufferable Phil Gramm likes to talk about people riding in the wagon while others do all the pulling.

And if my name was Nuggetbutt, I'd go easy on ridiculing other people.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 12:42 AM

9. !

You've been on a roll with your snarky comments lately--are the in-service days getting to you? BTW, what age students are you teaching? It might provide me and the remainder of the readers some perspective.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #9)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 09:37 PM

10. I teach high school seniors in economics and government.

Hey, if in-service doesn't raise your snark count, you ain't livin'!

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