Alternate Realities

Monday, I posted about the seeming (destructive) human need to distinguish between “us and them.” It bears noting that those categories aren’t confined to nationality, ethnicity and religion;  back in October, I commented on the tendency of the “haves” to dehumanize the “have-nots”–

If there is a staple of human politics, it is the tendency to demonize the “other.” Gays, Jews, African-Americans, Muslims, non-Ayrans– the identity of the marginalized may change, but the political and psychological need to draw a distinction between those who are righteous and “deserving” and those who are not seemingly remains constant.

These days, demonizing racial or religious minority groups is publicly frowned upon (although privately indulged), but blaming the poor for their poverty is seen as analysis rather than bigotry.

A recent Pew poll confirms that observation.

Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents categorized as ‘most financially secure’ said “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”

If anything confirms the ability of the well-to-do to live in a reality of their own construction, the belief that poor people “have it easy” should do it. These respondents have never met Alice or encountered my students who are working two jobs and going into debt in order to get an education that they hope will help them earn their way out of poverty.

To make matters worse,

Financial security is strongly correlated with nearly every measure of political engagement. For example, in 2014, almost all of the most financially secure Americans (94%) said they were registered to vote, while only about half (54%) of the least financially secure were registered. And although 2014 voting records are not yet available, pre-election estimates suggest that 63% of the most financially secure were “likely voters” last year, compared with just 20% of the least financially secure.

The people who are least acquainted with reality are choosing our lawmakers. Explains a lot.


  1. Only people who have never seen a friend TRY to get help could think it is easy. If you are a single person, unable to work, Health issues…. Help is VERY hard to come by. I have not had to deal with this myself but have watched others struggle. It is AWFUL. The system in place mostly seems to want them to shut up, go away and die… Quickly if possible.
    ” Quit bothering us. ” is the message they receive. Easy Help? HAHAHAHAHA. Try it.

  2. When I look at developments, both now and earlier, I can’t help but believe there are factors operative over which we have no control. It doesn’t make intellectual sense that an educated man like Romney would make a statement as he did about the 47%. It has to be more than education if it fails to eradicate the ‘meanness’ out of a person. Certainly, Scalia and Uncle Thomas are highly educated and very intelligent. Still they strive to the detriment of their fellow man. So where does that leave us?

    Simply put: the bread ain’t done.

  3. Democrats are credited by most with being more skilled using social media. So how does the party reach the financially insecure? What % of them are ‘blessed’ with a device so they can be educated and encouraged to vote.

  4. Wayne:

    Poor people often “live” in a few places, or they may frequently move between a series of semi-permanent places. Not all of these moves or houses may be squared with the BMV or Beth White’s office.

    After Charlie White’s conviction for voting (casting one ballot in one election), poor people should get the message to stay the heck away from polling places. Between Voter ID and the Charlie White case (and who knows how many more such cases they have planned), the ALEC folks are doing a great job of voter suppression.

  5. America, in fact all civilization, was built on three foundations. Earthly matter, labor, and energy. As all animal life’s ability to labor is just another method to use our only energy source, the sun, to do work, labor is just a consequence of energy. So, not surprisingly, all we are about is a fortunate arrangement of the ingredients is the universe – matter, energy and spacetime.

    Humanity also benefited from another stroke of luck, an arrangement of earthly matter and solar energy, that allowed us to communicate and think.
    And by the gift of life, evolution, we tried various arrangements to see what worked best over the long run for our species. Culture.

    As we were a relatively sparce species, a cultural arrangement that worked best for us was the legal concept of ownership. The cultures that invented it soon took over the cultures trying other ideas and pretty soon the world was owned by those who played that particular game well. Arguably that benefitted us through the centuries but led inexorably to the present overcrowded unsustainable population using more than our allocation of matter, energy and spacetime for comfort rather than purpose. Primarily the comfort of those who played the ownership game well.

    Oh well. Evolution empowers us to move on both physically and culturally. So two alternatives will be tried and one will prove to be the superior adaptation to this anthropogenic environment. The Anthropocene Era is upon us.

    Adaptation #1 will be drastic population reduction. As life requires of itself resisting that good night with everything we have, this adaptation can only be accomplished by the few imposing it on the many. Of course those who played the ownership game well already feel entitled by their concept of God, so they are confident that their privilege will be extended into the Anthropocene.

    Alternative #2 is to do enough more with enough less to make overcrowding sustainable. Undoubtedly this will also nudge us somewhat away from comfort back towards purpose.

    Our near future will be the juxtaposition of the two alternatives. And eventually the winner, probably a combination of the two alternatives, will define ongoing culture among those who on go.

    This brings us back to, Sheila, the lawyers, who the human race relies in for cultural arrangements. The ball is in your court. Please do your job by helping the rest of us figure out how to navigate the Anthropocene least traumatically.

    And the rest of you Americans. Your job is to vote early and often for the lawyers least damaging to the future.

    Us science geeks have done what we can. Both to create and solve problems for the rest if youse. Good night.

  6. Charley White was a LAWYER! He knew damn good and well he was committing voter fraud, and he SHOULD be in jail! When he signed up to run (for both offices) he signed an affidavit that all the statements (including his current address) included were true. And the guy who took it upon himself to ‘get to the bottom of it’ was Todd ‘only republicans need apply’ Rokita. They went to Wabash together, and so Rokita made sure his ‘findings’ were unavailable before the election. So White was ELECTED SOS even though it was MORE THAN LIKELY he had committed voter fraud. There is NO correlation between the disenfranchisement by the State of Indiana of legitimate voters and what Charlie White did, you’re daft. What the voter ID law accomplished was to PREVENT other than republican voters from getting into the registered voter database. It used to be your signature was all you needed. You signed the roll. Period. Now, knowing that poor people (who usually vote other than republican) have a harder time getting ID, AND since Indiana is ‘purging’ it’s voter rolls using just a list of names of voters registered anywhere in the US whether there is any other matching info or not, is something Charlie White was all for.

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