Bullying the unemployed

There’s a comment I came across in a Quora thread on long-term unemployment that almost perfectly summarizes why there’s such an overpowering positive feedback loop of socioeconomic inequality in England and the United States:

Most people don’t want to give something to someone who really needs it. Desperation reeks and makes people believe you are a “bad investment” even if you are not.

This is an extremely important point that goes almost universally ignored in the mainstream Angl0-American world. The greed, cronyism, and self-dealing motivating it are universal human sins, but their expression is ever so much starker and more shameless in the US and England than it is elsewhere in the West or in many non-Western societies. This bigoted reflex to kick a man while he’s down, or at the very least pretend that he doesn’t exist, is easy to miss precisely because it’s so pervasive: housecats recognize water because they find it jarring and repulsive, but fish don’t.

This is probably one of the three or five most evil vices in Anglo-American society. In any functionally center-left society, there’s peer pressure to suppress any such urge to shut out the marginalized in order to give what they need to the privileged, because doing so is considered rather indecent. The same is true in many archconservative family- or clan-based societies. In the UK, variants of these impulses have given Scotland modestly center-left politics, especially on fiscal policy, in contrast to England’s modestly center-right politics as a country and the viciously center-right crypto-Randroid politics of London and the wealthier parts of the Home Counties in recent decades (partially offset by the Old Labor politics of the post-industrial North). Stateside, we have all these reactionary fuckwads who loudly pride themselves on their own hospitality while foaming at the mouth about shiftless beaners and darkies are on food stamps, or, as they prefer to call it, “my tax dollars.” These same reactionaries, in spirit if not also in stated confession, are exceptionally prone to turn without notice from hail-fellow-well-met hosts to vindictive belligerents over minor slights, such as a woman becoming pregnant under circumstances they deem inappropriate, and justify it on the basis of their hospitality having been abused by the unworthy. They’re common among the sort of people who bray about how charity isn’t really charity if it is coerced at gunpoint by the government, as though this makes public assistance (reliable, equitably distributed forms of assistance to the poor) less valid than private charity (unreliable, often capriciously denied on the basis of religious tests and other shows of loyalty).

England got that way through enclosure and related aristocratic asshattery. The United States got it even worse as a result of four hundred years of indenture, slavery, Jim Crow, and war on drugs. It is absolutely not just the Community that gets the ongoing blowback from these social controls; the poor, the troubled, the marginal, and the eccentric of all races get hammered. The entire system selects for psychopathy.

This is why Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, and the like score free stuff worth amounts of money that you and I cannot fathom while we can’t get our applications past the screening algorithm on In-n-Out’s “careers” portal. God forbid you’re cold-homeless and maybe a touch mentally ill while trying to navigate this hellscape. Combine this privilege-centrifuging with the idiosyncratically American expectation that everyone be sunny all the goddamn time, and we’re screwed. Actually giving the unpolished poors a hand up would be a huge buzzkill, apparently. We dare not show mercy to those who have wearied of these capricious dogshit social conventions but still want to better themselves and be productive, upstanding members of society.

Sometimes an RCMP occupation sounds like our only hope. Tommy Douglas, pray for us, if you can still stand the thought of it all.


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