Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Problem Chlyde has a beautiful post on the view that poor people shouldn't have nice things. I connect it to the idea that you should have a horrible life unless you were perfectly moral and never did anything wrong in your life. "Wrong" is pretty loose here- it can be anything from owning a television to only working eight hours a day instead of 18. It's the sort of attitude that ends with people lecturing small children on the virtues of hard work because they asked for some chips.

I think really we should stop hewing to the whole idea that basic rights like food, shelter, health care, etc, should be doled out based on how moral we think people are. That's why they are called rights. People inherently deserve food, water, shelter, health care. We don't starve the very worst, the dregs of society- the psychopaths who have killed and raped and maimed. We don't force them to freeze in the cold.

We understand that to have a civilized society, we need to guarantee certain things even to the worst people. So why the hysteria if we see a poor person with a cell phone slightly nicer than we think they should have? Why the OMG, HOW DARE SHE HAVE SHELTER GIVEN TO HER IF SHE REPRODUCED IN A WAY I DON'T AGREE WITH? We have more moral outrage over seeing a woman put 2 for $5 bacon wrapped steak fillets in her cart than we do over the war in Afghanistan and the flooding in Pakistan.

When we have a society, people have rights. That means that poor people can have entertainment and beauty in their lives, people can work hours that allow them to have lives not just a living, and yes, families can be started, and children cherished even if the conditions aren't perfect. We just need to stop being assholes.

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