One of my pet peeves is when people complain about poor people buying things they don’t need. Now this is a different argument from someone buying an item in place of not feeding their kids or something. It is amoral not to feed your kids no matter how much money you make, as long as you actually have even that much money and aren’t starving. I am talking about when you see a commenter on TV complaining that we don’t need a safety net in our society because a couple people in the lower economic bracket have a decent TV.
Because someone is struggling, should they be stripped of what small earthly pleasures they do have? Don’t get me wrong, I find a good deal of what is on TV to be garbage, especially the news. But it is not for me to say what another person should be enjoying, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. If someone is working a shitty soul crushing job, is a TV or whatever else gives them a couple hours of escapism from the daily grind too much to ask?
What if someone is unemployed, but has a TV or some other item for pleasure? I can assure you that most people that are on unemployment would rather have some kind of work that brings them a sense of purpose and more money than unemployment does. And even if not, so what? Minimum wage jobs in this country don’t pay a living wage, and I am willing to bet the house that nearly all of them are complete soul destroyers. So you are willing to tell people to go break their backs, still not be able to pay their bills, and when they get home, no pleasure for them?!!!
I was recently in Australia. Minimum wage there was 17 dollars an hour. You could actually live on that. Even if you had to stock shelves all day at least you can provide.
Because here is the other side of this story. In Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, he talks about how you can’t have poor people going to jail for minor offenses, while rich people get off for robbing millions while working at Wall Street. You can have one or the other, but you can’t have both. To have both creates a dystopia.
Google extravagant purchases by rich people. You will find all kinds of ridiculous purchases that are unjustifiable when so many people are struggling. I just read that Nicholas Cage paid 250,000 dollars for a dinosaur skull! He deserves that, but someone on welfare doesn’t deserve even a TV? Someone that works for Walmart stocking shelves should suck it up and sell their TV if they can’t pay their heating bill, while a CEO buys a yacht? This makes no sense.
You only get one life. I don’t believe everything could or should be equal. However, inequality has gotten so far out of whack that it has crossed the border into the realm of the absurd. Should everyone not get some kind of small pleasure in this world?
I have been lucky. Through sheer luck I have gotten to travel all over the world. Yet, I know that some people can’t even afford a car, or even a bus pass. My point is not to stop others from traveling, or even from buying a mansion or a yacht. It is just that we should have a system that allows even the worst off amongst us to be able to have some bare minimum level of enjoyment in this life. It is the only one they are ever going to have. Good societies have a safety net that allows people to only fall so far. It doesn’t make everyone equal. It only tells everyone that their life is important, that they have a stake in the game. Hard work will be rewarded, but if you start out life behind, or ill fortune befalls you, the rest of us are not going to let you slide into oblivion if there is anything we can do about it.