Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Yesterday, I suggested that the Bush policy of taxing the poor more to lower taxes on the rich makes sense --- if you think that the rich are the people who, by their actions, have demonstrated that they have more use for the money.

Of course, I don't think they really believe that. I do think it's transparent, open class warfare. But one of the reasons it finds purchase is that some of the comfortably well-off, whose taxes Dubya and Co. propose to lower, seem to be a bit clueless about what the lives of many of their fellow citizens are like.

For example, let's just do a quick compare and contrast between this:

The most amazing part of this last week was seeing my hometown through an immigrant's eyes, wide amazed eyes. Everything that she saw and asked me about I saw anew from her eyes. It has been quite an experience so far. ...

What has struck me the most are her observations of our wealth, something we take for granted every minute of every day of every week. Most of us live our lives thinking nothing of the choices we make. A new car? No problem. A new home? We'll go to the bank tomorrow. Should we eat out or make dinner at home?

and this:

As chief operating officer of the Greater Boston Food Bank, Carol Tienken is used to sad stories. Lately, though, the food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Massachusetts that rely on her supplies have been reporting an unusual twist: They're seeing more demand from the well-heeled. "One woman who used to work for a food pantry now [is] a client," says Tienken. "She drives up in her Volvo, and she's on the other end, asking for food."

Such stories aren't uncommon. In Phoenix, St. Mary's Food Bank is accommodating scores of laid-off Continental Airlines workers. In Atlanta, former WorldCom employees are frequenting local food banks. ...

As they always have, food banks continue to serve primarily the working poor. But it appears that laid off workers, after months of fruitless job-searching, are exhausting their unemployment benefits and pushing food-relief demand to highs not seen for at least a decade. ...

For example, "Roswell [and Alpharetta] are upper-income suburbs of Atlanta," says Barbara Duffy, executive director of North Fulton Community Charities. "But we have seen dramatic growth in need -- we see 80 to 100 families a day" -- up 40% since January.

I don't mean to suggest that the author of the first piece (Sean-Paul Kelly, writing on his generally interesting blog The Agonist) is either callous or insincere. But the way he can write in apparent ignorance of the degree of hunger in this country says something about us, and whatever it is (increasing class stratification? willful blindness? unwillingness to confront our real circumstances?), it can't be good...


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