The ‘I’ve-got-mine’ attitude

A Nov. 8 letter (“Obama and the middle class”) from a Washington, W.Va., resident represented the “I’ve got mine, dump the others” mentality that permeates extreme right-wing “thinking” these days. While most of her letter was pure Fox drivel (I dared criticize her hero, Bill O’Reilly) one of her complaints requires a brief response in keeping with the season when (as Charles Dickens observed in December 1848) “Want is keenly felt and Abundance rejoices.”

The writer said that I “mentioned six separate programs” and “only defended … SNAP.” So what? The necessity for SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) applies equally to other programs like TANF, WIC, HEAP, as well as to an extension of unemployment insurance benefits to 1.3 million Americans who (due to Congressional inaction) face cutoffs after Dec. 28. Yes, the amount of assistance that these programs provide “is minimal and not enough to remove its participants from poverty or dependency” (a working family of four receives about $6.90 per-day for food), but they are vital for survival because there are roughly four unemployed persons for every available job in the nation. Corporations making record profits refuse to pay workers a living wage, and well-intentioned charities simply can’t take up the slack. As Dickens said, “At this Festive Season of the year … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some provision for the poor and destitute who suffer greatly at the present time.” Even in this “what’s-in-it-for-me?” age, we call it being “civilized”!

If the letter writer wants to see less “dependency” upon government assistance (that many workers have already paid for when working) she might request that her representatives – who made an average salary of $174,000 for working only 126 days in 2013 – spend less time futilely trying to sabotage “Obamacare” and more time creating those “jobs” they promised in 2010. Happy Holidays!

Fred O’Neill