The poor Poor

I was talking to a few kids here at Yale about the situation in the Gulf, specifically New Orleans. We all agreed that the response from the national, or federal, government was much too slow. One of the guys had a friend who was able to get out before the storm, and then on Wednesday said to the family, “Okay guys, where do you want to live.” Everyone who had some savings is in the process of starting a new life somewhere other than the Gulf or Mississippi Delta. For those that have insurance, it will take months, if not years for them to ‘cash in’ or receive their money because insurance agents have to go to each and every home and appraise it (or what’s left of it). Since NO is under water, that is impossible right now. We went on talking about those left in the city, and as we all know, the people who were left in the city were the poor. The people unable to leave for economic reasons.

I wonder if the tax brakes helped them back in 2000/2001? And I wonder how many people are beginning to realize that there are some very, very poor people in the US. They aren't bad people. They don't choose to be poor. And that this isn't their fault, that the inequalities that this country has fostered has 'created' (and I use that loosely) this. We have let them down for years and years and years, and to 'blame' them for looting or being trapped or whatever it may be or thought is viewing the situation incorrectly. These are real people with real feelings. They aren’t all bad people who some how are receiving justice. No, they are the victims of a situation. Victims of those who want to keep their wealth for themselves. Victims of the few and the powerful, those who control the wealth.

There always was, is, and will be the debate of who holds power? Many people say it’s the politicians. Others say it is the military. Others say it’s those who control the wealth and money. Of course there isn’t once single answer. The politicians are powerless without (in the US and Europe) being elected and having character traits that are appealing to the masses. And once elected, they are powerless without the support of the military. The military is powerless without funding and organization and some sort of infrastructure that the politicians are able to provide. But the answer that I always side with is it is the wealthy, those who control the wealth that are the most powerful. And there is plenty of history to back it up (the classic example is who controlled the land and water routes between Europe and the Middle East with India and China). The wealth are able to acquire the means of not only luxury, but also necessity. If something ‘breaks’ or is unable to be used, for the wealthy they can quickly acquire a new item of better or equal value. They can afford the cars. They can afford more than the necessities and begin to acquire items that are as necessary (an extra mirror here, vase here, and summer home there). They are able to buy the people they want elected by donation, and dinners, and special events where they can talk to those with political power... there is a reason lobbyist make so much money. Why firms lobby on the Hill and spend so much money. Because the can, they can ‘hire’ the politicians to protect their interests. Be it acquiring mining rights in Idaho or getting a sweet heart deal to build a skyscraper in New York or more their head quarters to Chicago (Goldman Saks and Boeing respectively). And by saving that much money, but burden must be placed some where else. On the masses. And when we buy a home, we don’t get the sweetheart deal because, ala, we are just one of many. If we don’t want to move there, someone else will.

So it is, in the end, the poorest who suffer. It’s just that we don’t see it, or more likely, we choose to ignore it every day. And when a situation like this occurs in the Gulf, it’s thrown in our face and we are forced to realize that this is what it is. And we can either say “they deserve it” or we can say “they are the real victims of society and we should help them not only today, but everyday.”

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