After three days of Republicans fluffing their “we pulled ourselves up from the 10th floor to the top floor with gumption, entrepreneurial spirit, and a little help from Daddy and the Social Security Administration” ticket, it’s nice to see someone point out a glaring truth: there’s risk, and then there’s RISK.
In the clip above, one of Harris-Perry’s guests suggested that class mobility, which everyone on the panel agreed was a unique advantage the United States has (or had) over other countries, is enabled by public schools, low-cost health care…
And then Business Week columnist Monica Mehta broke in: “Which is enabled by taking risks.”
Harris-Perry (who later, unnecessarily, I’d say, apologized) went off:
What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No. There is a huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness.
The safety net for rich douchebags (and I’m looking at you, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney) is made of kevlar and lined with down pillows. For everyone else, the grid is a little wider and harder to hang on to.
All the pluck and can-do spirit in the world isn’t going to take someone from poverty to wealth without an infrastructure that supports education and prevents discrimination, and allows the poorest to meet their basic needs. And those are the very things today’s Republican Party are looking to obliterate.
And as for the poor being undeserving? Let’s take the wayback machine to 1988, and let Reverend Jackson weigh in:
Most poor people are not lazy. They are not black. They are not brown. They are mostly White and female and young. But whether White, Black or Brown, a hungry baby’s belly turned inside out is the same color — color it pain; color it hurt; color it agony.
Most poor people are not on welfare. Some of them are illiterate and can’t read the want-ad sections. And when they can, they can’t find a job that matches the address. They work hard everyday.
I know. I live amongst them. I’m one of them. I know they work. I’m a witness. They catch the early bus. They work every day.
They raise other people’s children. They work everyday.
They clean the streets. They work everyday. They drive dangerous cabs. They work everyday. They change the beds you slept in in these hotels last night and can’t get a union contract. They work everyday.
No, no, they are not lazy! Someone must defend them because it’s right, and they cannot speak for themselves. They work in hospitals. I know they do. They wipe the bodies of those who are sick with fever and pain. They empty their bedpans. They clean out their commodes. No job is beneath them, and yet when they get sick they cannot lie in the bed they made up every day. America, that is not right. We are a better Nation than that. We are a better Nation than that.
Are we? That is what November 6th is about.