“Poor People Were Everywhere”

The tax bill is going to pass. Nothing is going to stop it. An already unequal society will be even more unequal. People who suffer now will suffer more. People who luxuriate will find even more ways to hoard cash. The Cayman Islands. I’ve heard that place is passé.

The Tax Cuts are going to pass. The government is going to give money to wealthy people and corporations.
Tax cuts have never paid for themselves. None of the past tax cuts. Not in any of the state experiments such as in Kansas. So instead, government is left with a hole in its budget that needs to either be filled with raised taxes or cut programs. Guess which one happens?
So the government starts cutting Social Security, Healthcare, and programs for the poor. In other words, it gives money to the rich and takes it from the poor. Reverse Robin Hood.

Since before we were born as the United States, we have been influenced by the English class system, imported straight from the Old World. There is a dirty secret to the English class system. It always had a small number of people at the top, a few people in the middle, and a huge supply at the bottom.

Our society in the United States is becoming more and more like the triangle. The Tax Bill will only hasten the triangle. We want the diamond.

The result of this old European class system is an overabundance of poor people.

In fact, the way Nancy Isenberg describes it in her book, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, you could practically feel the poor people crawling all over you like cockroaches. They had to build prisons, stockades, and finally colonies to ship their poor people off to.

If there had been no New World to release the pressure valve on the old English class system, these “people of low character” were going to overwhelm the continent. They were all poor white people in England and the rest of the Old World then, so the only characteristic the English could pick out about their burgeoning problem with poor people was that these people were lazy.

They weren’t. They just could not escape poverty. Just like it can be nearly impossible to escape poverty today.

They passed a law in 1547 that allowed the English government to brand the poor with a V on their chests, apparently for vagrancy, although there is no record this law was ever used. It does show the attitude of the English toward the poor.

Isenberg writes,

“Seeing the indigent as wastrels, as the dregs of society, was certainly nothing new. The English had waged a war against the poor, especially vagrants and vagabonds, for generations. A series of laws in the fourteenth century led to a concerted campaign to root out this wretched “mother of all vice.” By the sixteenth century, harsh laws and punishments were fixed in place.” (pg. 21)

The English were never going to legislate their poverty away. Instead, it was going to fester and foul their society until even their gates could not keep the filth away. In overpopulated Britain, the world was said to “groaneth under her inhabitants (pg. 29).” But what really vexed Englanders? Too many people or an insufficient economic system to support the people who lived in the country?

Poverty is contagious. Conservatives tell you it is because poor people are idle, sinful, and immoral. They tell you poor people have a “culture of poverty.” But my family was a conservative, fundamentalist Christian family with six children. Yet we all fell into “a culture of poverty.”

Why six children? Because we were Mormon, and according to our religion, God says you are supposed to be fruitful and multiply. It was not because my mother was a loose slut. All of her children were born to the same man, in wedlock.

I can’t even count how many times a conservative has called my mother a whore and asked how many men fathered her children before I had a chance to describe why she had six children. If she had done it because she was a Puritan wife, which she practically was, I think she still would have been called a slut a million times.

Do you know what happened to her children, anyway? Despite the fact my parents did not spare the rod, preached the word of the Lord, and didn’t let us go trick-or-treating, my parents still raised a whole slew of children involved with juvenile justice for criminal behavior. Theft, truancy, even stealing a car.

Even the children who did well academically were stunted. I describe that in this piece:

But conservatives want to believe poverty happens because people are bad or black or boozers. I am here to tell anyone who will listen that poverty causes poverty.

The very condition of being in a state where your basic needs are not met leads your brain and your body to dysfunction. There is science to prove it.

When this country is crawling with poor people, maybe someone will find this essay. Then, they can find, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, suggesting the English and Irish of the time consume their poor children since they were otherwise a burden to the State. This was written in 1729. Still, the British Isles had not drained away all of their poor.

Worse, the United States tied its class system to racism permanently. Now, there is an endless struggle between race and class for attention to problems that cannot be solved except simultaneously. But the twin problems can be used as a constant wedge for conflict.

Listen to me — now — what is it? 2100? 2158? I know it is not 2017, because no one listened to me in my lifetime. You are overrun with poverty because poverty causes poverty. The only way to create smart, healthy contributing human beings is to invest in every aspect of their being.

What the United States does instead causes crime, trauma, violence, and deprivation. These lead to a downward spiral. Poverty creates more poverty. An English class system that generates more and more poor people. This is what you are doing. It is the very formula for idiocracy. If you want a society of zombies, a society of the poor, keep going like you’re going.

The United States is becoming much more ridiculously triangle-shaped like a third world nation. The Great Experiment was always a myth, but it was a good one while it lasted. We would be a diamond. A few people could make it big, a huge number would achieve the middle class American dream, and a small number would be poor.

From 1976–77, I was living with the FLDS polygamist cult. In 1982, I went to foster care. From these traumas, a thousand more would launch.

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Deborah Megivern

Deborah Megivern

From 1976–77, I was living with the FLDS polygamist cult. In 1982, I went to foster care. From these traumas, a thousand more would launch.

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