Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2004 / 28 Teves, 5764
Stretching the poor
What do you do when you don't have as much of something as you need? One of the things you can do
is stretch it out to make it last as long as it can.
That is what the political left is doing with the poor. A lot of noise is made about how we are "running
out" of this or that natural resource almost always falsely but the real problem of the left is that they are
running out of the poor, who serve as a justification of the left's drive to extend their power over all the rest of
Not only is the average real income per person rising in the bottom 20 percent of the income
distribution, people seldom stay in the bottom brackets for more than a few years. Over the course of their
lifetimes, most of those same people are in the top 20 percent at one time or other.
What is the left to do when they find themselves running out of the poor? They must stretch the poor to
make them last even if that requires stretching the truth.
First of all, the left cannot let the public know that most of the people in the lower income brackets are
just passing through, instead of being stuck there for life. Moreover, the statistics presented to the public
cannot be in terms of real income per person, because that is rising, which undermines the left's vision.
Instead, the liberal media must restrict themselves to discussing family income or household income
statistics, because families and households are getting smaller over the years. That conceals the rise in
income per person.
Another tried and proven method for spinning the facts to fit the vision is to focus on some wholly
atypical example and keep hammering away at it until it seems to be the norm. A five-pages-long article in the
January 18th issue of the New York Times Magazine goes that route.
The subject of this huge expenditure of ink is a woman who has held a string of low-paying jobs and
encountered the kinds of problems in her life that not having much money can bring. As a leap of faith, let us
assume that the New York Times is telling the truth about the facts. What does this one woman's story prove in
a country of more than a quarter of a billion people?
The Times story gets around that problem by simply declaring her to be like "millions at the bottom of
the labor force" who are part of "the hidden America." This unsubstantiated assertion is crucial to the
point that they are trying to make. But what if your faith can't leap that far?
First of all, most of the people at the bottom of the labor force are young and this is a middle-aged
woman with grown children. There are undoubtedly individuals who, for one reason or another, have not
moved up over the years, but transforming these exceptions into the rule is part of the magic of left-wing
If we needed any more evidence that this story is in the spin cycle, it is the Times reporter's blaming
other people for not solving this woman's problems for her. For example, "if the factory had just let Caroline
work day shifts, her problem would have disappeared."
The reporter refers to employers sarcastically as "untouchable" and declares: "Wages and hours are
set by the marketplace and you cannot expect magnanimity from the marketplace." Or a straight story from
the New York Times.
What does "magnanimity" mean in this context, except having somebody else pay for what this woman
wants? If she goes from the night shift to the day shift, somebody else is going to have to go from the day shift
to the night shift.
Other people notably the taxpayers have already paid for her in terms of subsidized housing,
government-provided dentures, and job training. Moreover, she has also helped herself to more than $10,000
of other people's money by running up credit card debts that she avoided paying by declaring bankruptcy. But
it is never enough.
Nothing is easier than for third parties to think up things that can be done at somebody else's expense.
That is what the agenda of the left largely consists of.
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