Nobody likes to talk about poverty, have you noticed?
We’re all either in the middle class or about to be tossed out, except for the 1%, who are presumably safe in their gated communities.
New poverty figures are coming out from the Census Bureau and it looks as if one out of three of us are either poor or near poverty (one or two paychecks away)—the greatest number of poor people in this country in fifty years.
And here’s the question: how much is enough?
You’ve heard the quote (I’m paraphrasing): It’s not that we don’t have enough, but that we won’t share.
I listened to “Radio Lab” this past weekend (my almost favorite program), and the talk was about animals’ brains. Monkeys were placed in three different environments: rich, average, and poor. When their brains were studied (not by killing, I pray—by looking at them in a machine), the average monkeys (i.e. the middle class) had 20-30% more neural connections than the poor monkeys. They had bushier brains—busy expanding, learning, enjoying. When the rich monkeys were measured, their brains were no bushier than the average monkeys. And when poor monkeys were moved into an average environment (read, not worried about survival and with time for fun), their brains grew bushier in four weeks.
The lesson I took away is that we can be happy with enough—a sufficiency—and we’re no happier with more.
Why don’t we want to share?
Cornell West says nobody talks about poverty because poor people don’t vote in the numbers the entitled do, and poor people don’t contribute to campaigns.
The Republicans want to take government out of the safety net business and return care of the needy to private hands. Take a look at how we share now and see if you think this would work.