Enjoying the Culture of Poverty

Via Gerard. Christopher Orlet writes in the American Spectator:

If you move to a new rental every six months, yanking your kids out of school after school, and if you do drugs in front of your children, and sell your food stamps for cash, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you are 20 years old, living with your grandmother, with no interest in ever getting a job, or getting married, or doing much of anything, chances are you are part of that culture. If you do not have a kitchen table, but you do have a big flat screen TV, and when the social worker comes to visit someone yells, “The social worker is here, go get the light bulb,” then chances are you are part of that culture.

When I moved into the inner-city, I hoped to gain some insight and understanding of the poor and their situation. Two years later I left feeling the situation is intractable. Everything the professional uplifters do for the poor is but pruning the branches, instead of hacking at the roots of the problem. For the underclass to escape the culture of poverty they would have to cease doing most if not all of the above, and I don’t see that happening.

Besides, as I have written before, too many of the underclass enjoy the culture of poverty. They would feel horribly out of place in a tony subdivision where they would have to work to make a house and car payment, instead of drinking beer all day on the stoop ― they don’t even have stoops in the suburbs. They would have to cut their lawns and keep the trash and noise to a minimum. What fun is that? In the inner-city you can do whatever the hell you want. You can even shoot somebody, and chances are no one will rat you out, because that is the code of the inner-city streets, and people there hate the cops more than they hate the drug dealers.

My broken-record recurring chorus about Architects and Medicators grew out of an understanding that when the miscreant appears in front of the magistrate to determine guilt vs. innocence, and to receive his sentence, what we are seeing is not an instance of the errant appearing before the validating mechanism and then getting properly straightened out. What we are seeing is a collision between two different and contrary value systems — neither of which runs into any real trouble prior to impact. Just like planets, you might say. And this is why the meeting will likely be repeated not too far off into the future. The meeting is the real cause of the trouble. And the value systems have to do with feeling versus thinking — therefore, with instant gratification versus delayed.

In the land from which the convict comes, it is “right” not to pay your child support. Not, I hasten to add, a right — that is not the point. The point is, it is the desire that makes behavior proper. Wants before needs. You get a job if you want to. Make your car payment if you want to. Or act drunken and disorderly in public if you want to. Such a community ultimately becomes blighted, because mankind’s achievements are mostly connected to delayed gratification. But people adapt. They become entrenched further and further into the Architect-thinker-delayed-gratification way of living life, once they’ve made that initial choice, or they become entrenched further and further to the Medicator-feeler do-what-everyone-else-is-doing want-it-now-now-now way of living life if they’ve made the other.

Each community works according to an economic system. One of those economic systems has to do with helping other people do, or get, things before you can do, or get, what you want. The other economic system has to do with just demanding stuff; therefore, not very often building or fixing anything. Can you guess which is which.

“Drinking beer all day long on the stoop,” by the way, is literally medicating. Such people are, ironically, fastidious and perfectionist custodians of their own emotional state, if of nothing else in life. In the moment.

I would add many more bullet points to Mr. Orlet’s list. Softer ones, since I think those are the important ones; people who haven’t given it much thought, just starting to be seduced into the Medicator lifestyle. I would invade suburbia with my own list. If you voted Obama/Biden in 2012, or if you have a bumper sticker on your car saying so. If you had your school-age son “diagnosed” and strung him out on medication so he can “succeed in school.” If your kids send text messages at the dinner table, or if you don’t have any kind of dinner table, and don’t see anything wrong with not having one. If your spouse, and your kids, are essentially just bored and boring roommates.

Or if you are one of the kids — if you can score straight A’s on the latest test by “studying,” but know you possess little to nothing of the actual conceptual command, and wouldn’t be able to earn a passing grade 48 hours afterward…and don’t care. You’re part of it. If your first impulse, finding out something exists that you want, is to go clamoring to momma or someone else to get it for you. Pondering, not what you can do to earn it, but the who & where & when & how to do your begging, how sweetly to bat your eyelashes. Those are the signs. That’s enjoying the culture of poverty.

Not building things, not fixing things. Harassing your fellow citizens about their “carbon emissions” or what not, as opposed to helping them, servicing them, soothing them, becoming a part of their efforts.

Neither “planet” runs into real trouble before the collision. But there is a difference: Only one, in perfect isolation from the other, exists in a self-sustaining cycle. Ultimately, it’s a choice between the symbiotic and the parasitic.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Rotten Chestnuts.

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