Are you ready to eat cake?
Like the rest, or at least 99.9%, of the country, I was appalled and offended when I watched the video tape of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser telling his super-wealthy benefactors that half the country thinks they are entitled to food and healthcare and housing and that he didn't care about them. I was incensed that he would describe half of Americans as not being willing to take personal responsibility and care about their lives.
Yeah, that's offensive, all right. It's also completely unsurprising. Come on, be honest. Did you really think that Mitt Romney felt any other way about those of us who don't make they kind of money he makes?
What was most offensive to me in that video was the guy asking the question.
The guy is off-camera so we don't see him. But he sounds young. He sounds white. He sounds VERY ... how shall I say it? Entitled?
Here's the question he asked that prompted Romney's "Let the eat cake" statement:
I know that Mitt Romney is out there and that he feels the way he does. What struck me is that there are so many others like him out there that feel the same way. That event in the videotape was a room full of people who feel that they shouldn't have to participate in a society that builds a safety net so that NONE of our citizens falls through. Since our country was founded, we've been a nation that cares for ALL of it's citizens. We don't ask the elderly or the sick or the destitute to "take care of yourself". We say, "Here's a helping hand, let's see if we can get you back on your feet again." We say, "Here's a place to live. Here's medicine for your sickness. Here is food."For the past three years, all everybody's been told is, "don't worry, we'll take care of you." How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections to convince everybody "you've got to take care of yourself"?
In the world where the rich prick that asked Romney the question lives, anyone who gets help from the government, especially anyone who supports President Obama, is a parasite on his jugular vein, leeching away his hard-earned money. There's no thought that part of the bargain for being lucky enough to be American is that you give back some so that those who are less fortunate can be given a shot at a decent life, to get on their feet, to be given a chance to live with a little dignity.
During the primary campaign, Rick Santorum stepped in the same pile of steaming dog shit that Romney did at that fundraiser. He told a crowd, "I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families."
He later claimed he said "blah", not "black". Here's what I wrote about my experience as a leech upon the wealthy elites in America in my piece "I was born a poor blah child":
Ah, yes. The Blah People. As it turns out, I myself was born a poor blah child.This is the Grand American Bargain in action. This is how it's supposed to work and how it DOES work for most of the 47-48% that Romney says feel "entitled" to healthcare and housing and food. It's how we have always operated as a society because we are a compassionate and caring country.
My mother was 16 when she got pregnant with me. Taking calculus and German in high school she dropped out, ignored her priest’s suggestion that she give me up for adoption and become a nun, and went on to raise me and my brother. By the time I was eight, she had gotten her GED and was attending Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A single mom with two young boys, we struggled. She worked a few hours a week at the local K-Mart but there wasn’t a hell of a lot of time for her to work. She had college classes to attend, studying, and, of course, two sons to raise.
So, yeah, we were Blah People. We got food stamps. My mom got welfare checks. We even got those charity Christmas gifts delivered to our door because we got on someone’s list somewhere. My mom was young, gifted, and blah.
My mom didn’t need a job at that moment. What she needed was some help so that she could finish her education and move up in the world. Welfare and food stamps were what allowed that to happen.
By the time she passed away at the tragically young age of 55, she had become a well-paid executive at Chrysler and retired early with a handsome pension. In her life, she easily repaid in taxes every cent (and then some) of the welfare she had received.
She didn’t look at welfare as “other people’s money”. She looked at it as a ladder to a new life. And it was.
At least we have been. This election marks the first time when the wealthy elite have felt emboldened enough to speak their minds about how they feel about the rest of us and now they have one of their own running for president.
It's an interesting word: "entitlement". Romney and his cohort throw it around very casually as if only others feel "entitled". But, when you drill down to the core of their worldview, it is THEM that feel "entitled". They feel entitled to reap the benefits of this unique society without having to contribute anything back to the system that allows them to accumulate so much wealth. They feel entitled to do whatever they wish to enrich themselves with no concern for the devastating impact that will have on others whether it's offshoring their jobs or denying them the basic needs of life -- housing, healthcare and food.
And now they feel entitled, it appears, to run the country by putting one of their own in the Oval Office.
We have a choice in just under two months. We can choose a path that respects and reveres the Grand American Bargain.
Or we can eat cake.
Cross-posted from Eclectablog.