If poverty = thief, being black = easy mark

I stay at 8.3 on the anger scale re America’s commitment to (re)producing inequality. The NY Times pushed me to 9.5 with this piece on disparities in life expectancies: A woman in affluent Fairfax County in Virginia  can expect to live to be 85. In broke-as-hell McDowell County in West Virginia, she’ll get to 73.

DAMN, DAMM, DAMN! The public policy implications?

“As lawmakers contemplate changes to government programs — like nudging up the Social Security retirement age or changing its cost-of-living adjustment — they are confronted with the potential unfairness to those who die considerably earlier.”

Potential? If I were editing this story, this is where I’d put WC. Word choice. Because no.

The money quote, courtesy of U of MD prof Michael Reisch, borrowed from his 2013 Senate testimony cheerfully titled: “Dying Young: Why Your Social and Economic Status May Be a Death Sentence in America.”

“Poverty is also a thief. Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life itself.”

Here’s a link to Reisch’s testimony, which is just more Florida Evans-making.

Even more striking is that 91% of African Americans will experience poverty at some point in their lives.

Damn X 3. I am hoping that the time right after college when my phone got cut off counts as my poverty experience. Even if I’m in that lucky 9 percent, there will be survivor’s guilt.

In ways big and small and innumerable, the message is clear: If you are poor or black, and God have mercy on you if you are both, your life does not matter. The relative quality of your existence is of no consequence and the duration has no import.

The reminders are frequent enough to send you reeling. Exhibit A: The mean-spirited legislation that sailed through the Republican-controlled Tennessee House last week, forbidding public schools to send home any information on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

In Memphis, the overwhelming majority of public school students qualify for free or reduced lunch – which almost certainly makes them and their families the target audience for Obamacare, but the House doesn’t even want them to know about it. (BTW: The deadline to sign up is March 31.)

The brazen disregard for poor people’s lives is stunning, disgusting and common.


One thought on “If poverty = thief, being black = easy mark

  1. My brain can’t decide between crying and screaming. I sort of look like a little kid who just watched her cat get run over.

    There aren’t enough “damn”s in all of North America for me right now.

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