The incessant string of GOP debates reached a new low in South Carolina. Looking to boost his bomb throwing credentials, Newt Gingrich chose to talk down to moderator Juan Williams for raising a perfectly legitimate question that many people would like to have addressed. Why is it that throughout this primary process there have been condescending and insulting overtones towards minorities, immigrants and the poor in general?
Refer to Santorums Iowa statement about not wanting to improve the lives of black people, or as he tried to suggest blah people, through welfare. A week later Newt was volunteering to share his genius insight with the NAACP. Saying “the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps”. Both statements are thoroughly laden with prejudiced assumptions. They presume mostly black people are on welfare, which is false. They assume that people on welfare don’t work, which is false. They suggest that people on welfare don’t even have the desire to work, also false.
Part of the Gingrich plan to uplift the poor is to layoff some of the working poor, school janitors, and then have the poor kids clean up after the more privileged kids. Where does this conservative idea come from, that firing public sector workers would somehow improve America’s job situation? Taking people out of the work force for the apparent sin of working for the public sector in such vainglorious cash cow positions as custodian and putting them out on the street and at the back of the very long line for private sector jobs seems like the exact opposite of creating jobs.
Mr Gingrich who can we turn to replace these fat cat mop pushers? Why, look to the children of course.
Part time jobs for kids are great; they earn some money, learn a skill, and learn responsibility. It may in fact be a worthwhile idea to have kids randomly chosen to contribute to the upkeep of their school or perhaps take part in Obama’s America Serves program. But Newt is not suggesting that all kids clean up their schools. Newt suggests we look to the children of the poor; children who, according to Newt, have “no habits of working and nobody around them who works”.
Putting the false assumptions of this statement aside, lets consider what other lessons might be garnered from such a program. In addition to the highly marketable skills of toilet scrubbing and floor buffing, marketable at least until you reach adulthood in Newts America, might it also teach impressionable poor kids that their natural place is in servitude to the wealthy kids? Could it teach the wealthy kids, who like their impoverished counterparts have done absolutely nothing to earn their position, that the mess they make is the responsibility of poor people to take care of?
Like many a conservative proposal, Newts ‘make the poor do it’ plan raises far more questions than it provides answers.
What happens to the adults with families and mortgages who lose their jobs?
How does this program save money if it just divides the former employees salary amongst twenty kids?
How does Newt think such a program would play out on the social structure of our schools?
Does he honestly believe that cleaning up after their peers will instill these children with pride?
Does he think these children’s noble endeavor will be treated as a noble endeavor by the same American school kids who have bullied their peers into suicides and school shootings for dressing poorly, being over weight or having the audacity of being openly homosexual?
What is he thinking?