Editor’s Note: This is part one of “Where Would I Fit Into Romney-Ryan’s New Economy?” series of being part of the 47% that Mitt Romney said he doesn’t “worry” about, and of the Americans Ryan has called “moochers.” This series is an invitation to break the wall that often separates participants into passive audience or active actor. We will see how it goes.
Hispanic Heritage Month has come and gone again like past years and depending where you live you would hardly know it. This year is to be different. After seeing the Castro brothers at the Democratic National Convention, as a Hispanic, seeing them take center stage, our moment as a community has finally turned a corner.
The creation myths in America often provide a glimpse into a circumstantial account of people and events during a historical event. Our judgments concerning these myths, big or little, depend on the feelings the things arouse in us. How we judge a myth depends how we frame it, this is only because the myth is associated already with a feeling. We are bound to these narratives because they describe our existence in this country.
Given this this considered the Decade of the Hispanic, it is no surprise after the convention the Latino community were abuzz there was excitement as the Castro brothers became the conventionâ€™s darlings and overnight media sensation.
However, we are also limited how we view the world. The impact of associative connections on personal perception tended to overestimate the correlation between things when they are not. Hence the stupidity of our opinions and judgments on the value of other personsâ€™ conditions or ideals.
Short of genius a rich man cannot even imagine poverty. — Charles Peguy
This was quickly demonstrated once Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded video was made public. During a May 17 fundraiser the GOP presidential nominee told attendees that 47% of Americansâ€”those who back President Obamaâ€”are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.”
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That thatâ€™s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter whatâ€¦These are people who pay no income tax.”
With the U.S. facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, communities of color are suffering a major set back. Mitt Romney is not only disingenuous, but after reading the full transcript flies in the face of pure logic â€“ irrational, illogical and counter-intuitive. He argues he doesnâ€™t need them to win, and the country doesnâ€™t need them in order to succeed. I take issue because I fall in that 47%. What that message comes across to me, we can be discarded like trash.
Romney also went on to address his audience that he would have a better chance of winning if his parents were from south of the border. I will addressed in a future post.
We often hear from pundits and experts about what poverty is and how to fix it, but rarely do we hear from those who are experiencing poverty themselves.
In many ways, my story isn’t unique. I’ve met so many folks that have gone through a near-bankruptcy, business betrayal, and divorce. It matters little if it was all in a span of a year or three or ten. I think what’s important is not so much the turning points themselves, but the aftermath. How we learn, digest, integrate, rebuild in that in-between time to use the lessons and wake-up calls fruitfully.
Since the I started blogging, I’ve always wanted my writing to matter, to be relevant. I’m not entirely motivated to speak about the past. The beauty and freedom of blogging is writing about the here and now in the here and now.
Looking back, I was fortunate enough to have so much go so wrong. As I look back and see exactly where it started, it wasn’t one exact event, it happened in waves. I was stripped of everything I thought significant and I was stripped of being a know-it-all.
Like it or not, we are all affected by our environment. Poverty is an unhappy scene; and we’re not talking about the presence or absence of one or two niceties. Living hand to mouth is much more complex and all-encompassing than not being able to afford one or two amenities that might make life a bit more enjoyable.
A SUDDENLY ELUSIVE LIFE
For my short time here in Austin, I was bringing home a very average paycheck, but it was a salary. It was not minimum wage. It was pretty okay. Floyd Mayweather Jr. called money “nothing but comfort,” and it is true. For that period of time I can honestly say was the most comfortable of my life. I actually had money that I could do something with — go out, buy clothes, buy gifts, saveâ€¦live. Absent is the constant fear and shame and worry and self-loathing that can potentially accompany a lower income lifestyle.
Friend: Howâ€™s your spouse?
Economist: Relative to what? –An Unknown Pundit
This quip reflects the tendency economists use to measure almost everything. Thatâ€™s an important part of what Iâ€™m writing here. That must always be considered: the context of our culture. After all, poverty, which is a â€œlack of wealth or material comfort,â€ is a relative standard. Relative to what others have, to what is required to do or acquire certain things; relative to how others see poverty; relative to what it means to live and survive without having money.
Everyone might agree that any one without the physical means to sustain normal life is absolutely impoverished, but in this country rhetoric and our value system is to demonize the poor and worship the affluentâ€”it is very hard to be poor.
When you are beset by these wrongsâ€¦well, you barely admit to yourself, let alone anyone else. When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t stop too long to marvel at the misery of it. That’s not sensible. You do what you have to do. From moment to moment, and from day-to-day. Thatâ€™s all there is to do. You try not to become so weary that you think of giving up as more comfortable than continuing to fight. Nevertheless, you keep your eyes focused on the next step, and you donâ€™t give yourself time to wallow.
After all, inspiration doesn’t pay the bills.