Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
The root of the problem is, of course, poverty – or more precisely, poor people. There are just too many of them, and their numbers continue to multiply. You can’t pick up a daily paper of tune in to CNN without discovering that a new segment of society has been shoved into the ranks of the needy by a system that won’t grease the skids of the trickle-down job creators.
America is the land of opportunity, the land of plenty. We have an image to uphold. Poor people tarnish that image; they are, frankly, an embarrassment. And their natures are changing. The traditional poor were easier to cope with – they inhabited poor places, fit into socio-economic cubbyholes, and generally followed documented behavior patterns. They could be identified and labeled; they could be lamented, but ignored.
The new class of needy – call it the nouveau poor – is a different ilk. These people wantonly cut across established habitats, cubbyholes and patterns. They may be those who used to get by as one-income families or social security recipients. They may be someone whose job was downsized or outsourced by a turnaround artist. And they don’t know how to be poor properly. We could tell the old poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, confident that they couldn’t do so until they had stolen some boots. But the nouveau poor are demanding; they somehow think those the system has blessed with wealth should help those it hasn’t.
Through various wars on property, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunch programs and other fuzzy-headed social programs, we have attempted to feed, clothe, educate and employ – to break the time-honored cycle of poverty, even to enable the poor to gain a piece of the American Dream. Bad. We need fewer poor people certainly, but not at the expense of spreading the wealth which is, after all, finite (unless you work for Goldman Sachs). And such programs threaten our greater need to produce delicately balanced budgets, to maintain this nation’s military supremacy, and to free our job creators from the burden of taxation.
A well-coiffed urban trendsetter walking her Lhasa Apso along Park Avenue in New York City inadvertently provided the solution to this societal dilemma. As she passed a bag lady lazily reclining in the door of a quite fashionable address, she pulled the cellphone from her ear and said to her companion: “I wish they would just go away.”
Simplicity. Why don’t we ask poor people to go away? We very politely say: “All Americans must make sacrifices to keep this country great. For the good of this country we all love, would you please leave?” What patriot could refuse?
Naturally, we must allow our tired, poor, huddled masses to depart with dignity. A nice going away party. And special parting gifts – little American flags to remember us by and Mitt Romney bobble-heads, perhaps.
But precious few poor people are patriots, you say. Too many of them are concerned with their own well-being (or lack of it) to care deeply about this country. That dooms your proposal, you conclude.
Wrong. For those who are motivated more by greed than by patriotism, we’ll cough up some cash. The initial outlay will make the Tea Party blanch, but it is a one-time expenditure with none of the return trips to the piggy bank associated with liberal social tinkering.
It’s a workable plan, and I put it on the table without preconditions. (Read my patriotic lips.) Patriot that I am, however, when asked to leave, I’m holding out for the cash.