Today in Paul Ryan Is Terrible

In case you've just awoken from a coma and your first priority was to check Shakesville to see what's going on in the political news (excellent priorities, by the way; good for you!), last month, an old tape surfaced (care of Mother Jones) of Mitt Romney saying that 47% of USians are garbage (that's a paraphrase, but a fair one).

Now some similar remarks of Paul Ryan's have been unearthed, although Romney has an even dimmer view (by 17%) of USians than his running mate:
"Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state," Ryan said. "Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers."
Everything about this is terrible and gross.

The thing I find most extraordinary about this Us vs. Them stuff about which the two shitbirds on the Republican ticket keep yapping is how it ignores the reality that a hell of a lot of USians do not view opportunities to pursue and achieve success and a robust safety net as mutually exclusive objectives. The best case scenario for most of us is lots of opportunity to try, and lots of support if we fail.

But fuckos like Romney and Ryan, with their undiluted privilege and illusions of what "working hard" really means, at least for most of the people in this country, don't understand and/or don't care that "the American Dream" is not achievable exclusively through hard work. Not for everyone. Because not all jobs/skills are valued in the same way.

You can become a millionaire many times over "harvesting" failing companies for profit, but not so much if, say, you work for one of the non-profit charities that people like Romney and Ryan think should replace government welfare programs. Most non-profit workers will work long and hard and diligently for entire careers without ever getting rich—sometimes without healthcare benefits; sometimes without even a livable wage.

In the Romney/Ryan paradigm of Us vs. Them, the Takers vs. the Makers, the concept of "the working poor" does not exist. These dudes—whose lives have been dictated by inherent privilege and family connections, which we're not meant to note while admiring their shiny bootstraps—believe quite firmly, and without seemingly a trace of irony or compunction, that one gets what one deserves in life. And if you don't have enough, it's just because you're not working hard enough.

Now, I don't feel inclined to get into a whole Marxist discussion about the means of production here, but what these insufferable, vainglorious, classist captains of self-aggrandizing bullshit seem never to grasp, or possibly just acknowledge, is that if you want to live in a capitalist society that gives you the opportunity to get nasty rich, then we can't all be wealthy. And if you want to be the kind of person who doesn't pump your own gas, or make your own sandwiches, or clean your own house, or manicure your own fingernails, or drain your own dog's anal glands, or build your own car elevator, then there are going to have to be people who fill all those jobs.

And most of those professional, hard-working people will put in at least 40 hours a week, or more, and even still, many of them won't be given healthcare benefits, and many of them won't earn enough money to feed a family, and many of them won't be able to save as much as they'll need for their retirement.

People who honorably dedicate their time, energy, and talents to jobs that might not pay well are indeed entitled to something—to not work their whole lives only to find themselves poverty-stricken, or hungry, or homeless after one small (or not small) medical crisis. And if we're not going to ensure that every job comes with a livable wage, access to affordable healthcare, and retirement benefits, then we've got to provide a robust and well-funded social safety net.

I don't think that's asking for much, in exchange for a lifetime of providing service to their chosen vocation.

Though I grant it's certainly easier to sneer and scream BOOTSTRAPS! and carelessly assert that people who don't have everything they need are just lazy. Takers. People who don't take personal responsibility, who don't care for their lives. That's so much easier than empathy, and certainly easier than accountability—easier, and less uncomfortable, than reflecting upon how maybe it wasn't just hard work that catapulted you within steps of the Oval Office, that maybe there are people who actually work harder, but still can't afford a bus ticket to D.C.

Funny how the Grand Advocates of Hard Work are always the ones making the easy arguments.

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