Home | About | Donate

‘People In Poverty Do Work’: What Paul Ryan Misunderstands About Poverty


‘People In Poverty Do Work’: What Paul Ryan Misunderstands About Poverty

Stephanie Land

This country has a penchant for plans to end poverty that do nothing to actually help families struggling to make ends meet.


Well said - demonizing the poor is essential in extremist politics.


Too bad Ryan will never 'stoop so low' as to read this excellent, concise critique of his policies. It would also be appropriate to point out that congress-critters work fewer hours, with far better pay and benefits that the vast majority of the population. Of course, he doesn't even try to understand the nightmare of poverty.


Ryan has never known anything about poverty other than what he sees out the window of the motor vehicle he is riding in. All Ryan's budgets are a smoke and mirrors act to fool the uninformed; however, Ryan's budgets are designed to create poverty.


Sort of, but this is an issue about which middle classers clearly have little grasp. The US shipped out a massive number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, creating a massive surplus of job-ready people who are desperate for any job at any wage -- grateful for the chance to replace you for less than you are paid. The middle class began railing against unions back in the 1980s, and most have been phased out or neutered.

The poor and the low-income are two distinct categories today. This is post-welfare America, and we don't know how to discuss the differences between low income and no income, much less how much income an American must have to be considered a legitimate human being, therefore part of the discussion.

Not everyone can work, and we don't have jobs for all -- and there is no welfare to fall back on. (TANF is not an entitlement. It's a short-term job program, only for those with children.) The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 jobless people who still have the means to pursue one -- home address, phone, etc. Well, what do middle classers think happens to those who are left out? We had virtually ended severe poverty in the US by the 1970s, then reversed course in the 1990s. The number of Americans in poverty has actually soared since then, and we shrug our shoulders.

Low income people are fortunate enough to have jobs. The very poor don't. We politely applaud low wage workers, only to utterly turn our backs on them when they get pushed out of their jobs.


Please note that it is Democrats -- specifically, the Clinton wing -- not Republicans, who targeted the poor, ending welfare and taking the first steps to end Social Security, targeting the disabled. This created a hell of a poverty crisis that liberals still ignore (or deny?).

What do you think we should do with those who can't work (health, etc.), and those for whom there are no jobs? Can middle classers even grasp what that means? We already tried decades of merely calling for job creation. We're 20 years deep into a hell of a war on the poor that has torn apart countless families, destroyed/ended so many lives.


I also survived on a freelance writer salary and received intermittent child support payments and $86 a month (for just over a year) in Food Stamps. So I am well-aware of the struggles faced by single parents and the poor.

There is an advantageous to the entity that takes the first strike. Similarly, there is an advantage to the entity that sets up the language frame or premise under debate. (George Lakoff raised my consciousness on how this works.)

With that being said, to speak of what Mr. Ryan wishes to do to eliminate programs that lend assistance to those in need leaves out where he also wishes to lavish funds: on the rich.

Few souls are as callous as Paul Ryan. If someone from the 1% asked him to return with the heart of a liberal, Progressive, Feminist, or Wiccan... I don't think he'd blink before fulfilling the assignment.

Therefore, this type of analysis only touches HALF of the equation. More evidence can be found in all of the programs the despicable governor Scott Walker cut in order to make funds available to Business Interests.

These are dangerous sociopaths down to the last of them:

"With his recently released poverty plan, the Speaker called for ending 11 antipoverty programs—including housing assistance, food assistance, and child care—and combining them into a single block grant (the preferred approach under welfare reform).

:Ryan claims he is focused on moving people into full-time work—the surest way to get people out of poverty, he says. And it’s true—full-time jobs that pay well and provide benefits are indeed the best path to get out of poverty."

There are 2 individuals who define what Ryan promotes foremost and believes in:

  1. Grover Norquist and his intention to make government small enough to be drowned in a bathtub

  2. Ebenezer Scrooge who blamed the poor for being poor until a certain ghost apprised him of the spiritual facts of human existence.

I wish there were more ghosts on duty to deliver this message!


What Paul Ryan misunderstands about work:

What Work Is Really For

Is Work Necessary?

In Praise of Idleness
by Bertrand Russell


Perhaps someone here can help.

Probably a couple of years ago now, on NPR, I heard a woman being interviewed about a book she'd written discussing her experiences with poverty. She and, I believe, her husband were educated, but a couple of bad decisions and a bad economy had them living hand to mouth. I think she was selling plasma for cash, but I can't recall.

Anyway, she said something that I do rememeber, talking about the perception of the poor as lazy, "If 100 people apply for 2 job openings, that doesn't make 98 of them lazy."

I've always liked that.

I wanted to read the book, but neglected to write it down so of course I forgot the author and title. When will I learn? Anyone know who that woman is, or the book? Ifigure someone here is more likely to have read it than most places I could ask.


Hey there, not Republicans, who targeted the poor. Did you just wake-up? Does Paul Ryan ring a bell? Are you a real person? Read Paul Ryan's budgets, his favorite target is beating up the poor. Ryan's budget beliefs put simply is, if we make the poor's lives dreadful, there lives will be better. I guess you bought the smoke and mirrors, word spinning BS.


The notion that poverty is a punishment for laziness and work ethic deficiencies has been around for a long time. One book, not current, that explores this idea in depth and with good historical context is "Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self Made Man" by Garry Wills.

People who hold this view feel smug and superior when they express scorn for the poor and who take the position that they brought it on themselves are often willing and even eager to accept help if they find themselves in economic trouble and are somehow able to believe that this doesn't put them in the same class as those they have been openly despising.

The attitude reminds me what a friend of mine said about free speech, that people believe in it when they want to shoot their mouths but not so much when it requires them to listen to things said that they don't like hearing. The same seems to be true of the proverbial "free lunch."


Hello, I have a feeling DHFabian is not a real person. The same responses keep coming up to different news articles, also DHFabian never seems to respond back to a comment in a back in forth manner, strange. Anyways, good points. Also, It is not a easy gig to live in poverty. Is not laziness a part of human nature? look at the animal world, their not all jumping up and down all the time. This nose to the grindstone thing is conditioning, maybe? Who created this whole rat race deal? I believe it was the hippie movement that introduced jumping off the rat wheel. In Hawaii, things get done on Hawaiian time.we get to it when we get to it bradda. Anyways, Peace.


What's disturbing to me about Paul Ryan is not a lack of understanding on his part, but rather,
my impression that he seems to make the decision to Go Dark despite understanding full well what he is doing.


Republicans like Ryan really just want to turn most people into low-paid wage slaves. He and his ilk have the same mindset of an oppressive scrooge who does everything they can to enslave his workers.


Paul Ryan is not about understanding or misunderstanding. He has a world view and the facts just don't matter. Same as Bill Clinton when he implemented this policy, but it's even worse now. Where are the jobs that welfare recipients are supposed to fill, let alone the tens of thousands of skilled and experienced workers laid off over the past 20 years?


The New Democrat Clinton dismantled welfare becasue he needed to emulate the Republicans who were winning elections with their callous rhetoric at all levels. The Democrats, before they moved to the right, were losing elections at all levels. In short, Clinton's "end welfare as we know it" along wit his "hang'em high" crime bill were done becasue he would have been voted out in the next election. It worked. Clinton was easily re-elected in 1996.

So for you to characterize the Democrats as some kind of architect of the idea of callousness toward the poor is to be barking up entirely the wrong tree. The Democrats had tried appeal to compassion and better angels of the "middle-class's" nature from the 1960s through the 1980s, and they were thoroughly trounced by the - are you old enough to remember McGovern? Mondale? Dukakas? So they did the rational thing - if you cant beat'em, join'em and adopted the vile Republican worldview. And, in turn, the Republicans were simply following the lead of the "middle class" - the phrase always just being laden with code-language imagery of conservative white right-wing suburbanites.

So in short, the problem has always been the overarching hyper-individualistic, callous culture of the dominant white Anglo-Saxon demographic USA, interrupted temporarily only by its most serious economic collapses like the Great Depression. Political parties have always just been going along with it - which what they do in a representative democracy, right?


I live in Ryan's district, but have never voted for the SOB. Not once, in my 40 years of living in his district, have the Democrats ran an attractive candidate against him--which helps explains why he continues to win. Now the whole country suffers from that failure!


Yes indeed - but i always include Democrats in extremist politics.


I fear increasing minimum wage does not help. Fast food restaurants now have kiosks instead of people. In Seattle restaurants are closing because they can't maintain higher wages. This does not help. I would like to see factory jobs come back.


Welcome to the dogma-driven, fact- and analysis-free world of the Republican party, where erroneous assumptions and myths are treated as unassailable facts and racial and economic bias drive the agenda.