Poverty Is Not Genetic

By | Oct 15, 2008

Last month, John LaBruzzo, a member of the Louisiana State Legislature, put for the idea of paying women on public assistance $1,000 to have their tubes tied. He also recommended putting forth programs to pay those who are affluent to have more children.

You see, Rep. LaBruzzo seems to think that poverty is genetic. That the reason there are families with multiple generations on welfare is because those persons are somehow genetically inferior, and if we just discourage them from breeding, we’ll somehow cure poverty.

What Rep. LaBruzzo wants is an easy way out. He wants to point a finger at poor people and say, “Look, none of this is our fault. They’re poor because they’re meant to be poor. They’re genetically inferior, and if we stop them from breeding, and we encourage rich people to have more children, eventually no one will be poor any more.”

What Rep. LaBruzzo and those like him want is to abdicate all responsibility for the poor in our society. They want to ignore the effects of decades…no…centuries of economic oppression, of social oppression, and of racism. The much vaunted hype of the classless society in America is a myth. While it may be somewhat easier in America for someone to move between classes, there still exists substantial barriers to overcome, and the poor know that better than anyone else.

The poor in our society have poorer education. Just walk into any inner city school and look around. The poor have poorer living conditions and poorer nutrition. And children raised in these poor conditions grow up with the idea that there is no way to escape the misery that they live in. They never see anything else confined in their ghettos, except maybe on TV, and to them, that is just a fantasy.

The way out of poverty is not the responsibility of the poor, but of the affluent. It is in our hands as voters and taxpayers. It is up to us to change the pervasive oppression in our society.

We must advocate and work for change. Advocate and work for living wages for lower-skilled jobs. Advocate and work for better schools, and not just in our pristine suburb neighborhoods. Advocate and work to discourage high school drop-outs. Advocate and work for integrated housing, so that the poor are not isolated in ghettos where there seems no hope of ever having a different life.

We must advocate and we must work for change. We….Us….those who already have more. We are the ones that will make a difference.

Put out your hand and help someone up instead of expecting everyone to pull themselves up ala’ the mythic Horatio Alger. Don’t just sit there and wonder what you should do. Get involved. Make a difference.

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