Did you ever wonder why otherwise nice and decent people in your congregation have their eyes glaze over at the mere mention of poverty in America? Last week, for example, the Census Bureau relased its annual report indicating 37 million Americans are living in poverty.
Maybe it’s not that they don’t care; it’s just that they believe they know better than you. Ater all, there are smart people such as Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation to set things straight. Check out this example, Heritage’s “Heritage In Focus: Poverty in America: Rhetoric vs. Reality.”
Oy! Where to begin?
Rector, whose cred comes from playing “a crucial role in drafting welfare reform legislation in the 1990’s,” makes essentially four points:
1. The poor, they’re not really poor; they have lots of cool stuff. (This is an oldie and long discredited baddie. So what if people living in the sweltering inner city have air conditioners? Who knows where they came from? Were they second hand? Discarded but usable? Is an air conditioner ipso facto evidence of affluence?)
2. The poor just need to work full time and get married, but the welfare system rewards non-work and non-marriage (Geez, Bob, and here you played a crucial role in drafting welfare reform in the 1990’s? Nice work, dude. Dis yourself. When Charles Murray wrote a whole book about this hypothesis in the 1980’s, and every social scientist and their cousin debunked his sloppy work, Murray later sniffed in the pages of The Public Interest that there was a place for “speculative” work such as his. No matter. Within a few years, Heritage trumpeted this garbage as stuff “everybody knows.”)
3. It’s the illegal aliens who pump up the numbers. Let’s just remove them. (Errr… to what, concentration camps? And what about the folks who employ these people at what you tacitly acknowledge are poverty wages? Or do you not want to go there?)
4. Poor kids are bigger than average GI’s who fought in World War II. (So what if, say, food stamps really have made a difference? Bigger kids mean no more poverty? Anyway, just who are you talking about? Kids whose ancestors may have been, well, bred by others? Where are you going, Bob?)