2006-06-01 / News

Musings

By Robert Morton-Ranney

The illegal immigration question is a subset of a

larger issue that even fewer people want to hear about.

What are we going to do about the poor, this tiger issue that even fewer people want to hear about.

What are we going to do about the poor, this time?

"The poor you will always have with you," somebody or other once said.

And, man, was he right. They're everywhere. And they're here. And, apparently, even more of them want to come here.

Why? Conventional wisdom says that the poor here are richer than the poor in other countries, so it's good to be poor here.

Well. Sort of.

Why is it a lot of people don't want them to come here? Seemingly because they worry that more names will be added to our welfare rolls, and take advantage of our entitlement programs.

And why is that a problem? Because being poor is bad.

That is, it's good to be poor here, if you're going to be poor.

But it's bad to be poor. Especially if you're here.

Got it?

Of course, there are poor people in every country, and so many of them are living in truly appalling conditions. Think Africa. Think Asia. Visualize mud huts and emaciated cows.

However, those poor are Somewhere Else. That gives us a two-fer. On the one hand, if we're in the mood to watch ourselves being generous, we can send them 75 cents a day and feel like we're "doing" something.

On the other hand, we can also blame Somebody Else for the fact that they exist in the first place.

We can blame the leadership in place there. We can say they're greedy and they don't care about their own people, or they're too interested in fighting civil wars and don't care about their own people, or they're not paying enough attention to economic conditions and don't care about their own people.

Or, and here's the biggy, they don't believe in democracy. Which only proves that they don't care about their own people.

Yes, it can be very satisfying thinking about the poor Somewhere Else.

But the poor here? That's a little more complicated. If we were run by a dictatorship, we could blame the dictator (in which case I wouldn't be allowed to write this, and would have to settle for complaining to my friends by candlelight.)

If we were run by an oligarchy, a small group of families and businesses all getting together to decide how to slice up the pie, then we could blame them. (In which case I wouldn't be allowed to write this for any newspaper they controlled, and would have to settle for sending self-righteous e-mails to my friends.)

But this is the U.S. of A. And we want to believe that we are run by, well, US. You and me and 350 million of our closest friends.

If that were true, then who would we blame for the poor?

Hey, wait a minute. We could blame them!

Yeah.

Now, what can we say? Um, let's say . . . they let's say . . . they're lazy. Claim they have no moral fiber. No character. Yeah, that should help quite a bit.

After all, everybody knows that nobody with a decent bank account ever committed murder, or larceny, or even adultery.

People with money never engage in child pornography, or molest their children. They're not drug addicts or alcoholics, and they never suffer from STDs.

And, nobody who inherits money is ever unproductive. Right?

Besides, if the poor don't want to be poor, let them get jobs.

Actually, come to think of that, they could come in handy. After

all, who would be willing to do things we don't want to do, for less pay than we'd want for anything? People who have a lot less than we do to start with.

One person's desperation is another person's advantage..

And since we're going to pay them less than we'd ever accept, they'll stay poor and they'll still be there for us to use next time!

This could work really well.

Of course, it is too bad that 40 million Americans don't have health care. (Lately, I've wondered, does that include the 11 million illegal immigrants or is it really 51 million uninsured?) Time will tell whether Son of Salt Lake pulls off his Did-I-MentionI-Want-To-Be-President-Plan in The Commonwealth.

So, what are we going to do about the poor?

Let's just do what we've been doing for illegal immigrants all these years.

Let's pretend they're not here. Yup, that should take care of it.

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