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My appearance in PRESS. Part III (continued from part II )

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    Transcript (continued from Part II)
    _______________________

    Texas: Don't people's attitudes toward poverty tend reflect the polarization of American public life that we see in other spheres, from foreign affairs to gay marriage to abortion? Do you have any comment on this general fading of the "reasonable middle?"

    I ask because I myself notice that my conservative acquaintances tend to be unaware of the challenges that the poor face. They make me angry. But at the same time, I get pretty disgusted with people who have (or father) not one but two or three or four kids by the time they're 20 with no family structure or means to support them. And while I realize that's not the only picture of poverty in the U.S., it does happen. Way too much.

    E Epler: Yes, the political polarization reflects polarization in the society at large, I agree. I found that both liberals who hold societal institutions responsible and conservatives who hold individuals responsible are partly right. Each has a bundle of pieces to the jigsaw puzzle. But because the problems of poverty interact and magnify one another, both sides need to sit down at the table and assemble all their pieces to get the full picture. Do I think this will happen? Not in this election year.

    _______________________

    Rockville, Md.: I am taking offense to the comments about single mothers.
    I am the single mom of an 18-month-old boy and we are just fine. I work a 12-hour day and come home to find him as well-adjusted as any other child.
    Sure, the money issue is there, but it's not paramount to our lives. It is simply making do with what you have and using your resources as best you can. Who can fault a mother for that?
    The problem of affordable housing is a difficult one, but for any single parent, unmarried person, senior or family living on a low or single income. For that, someone should be asking developers what they are doing about it? That should be part of their commitment to the community they work and live in.
    As a single mother, my struggles are no different and no worse than anyone else's. Stop singling us out.

    E Epler: As I said, I was raised (very successfully, I think) by a fabulous single mother. But she also had financial resources. In the book I write about single mothers who are doing well against great odds, and when you live in poor housing that exacerbates your kid's asthma, when you can't get a car loan at a decent interest rate, when the neighborhood schools are lousy, and when you work a low-paying job, you have to be absolutely fabulous to make a good life for your children. Many do, and they ought to get the Congressional Medal of Honor, in my view. Many others, though, can't be superhuman.

    _______________________

    Washington, D.C.: Can you explore the reason for the bashing the poor get if they attempt even a modicum of escape from the burdens they face everyday: they're criticized if they watch cable, etc. It just seems like we treat the poor as if they had some type of moral leprosy that we can catch and lash out accordingly.

    E Epler: It seems to me that the American Dream attaches moral weight to poverty. If we believe that this is a land of opportunity that can be seized by anyone who works hard, then those who don't prosper must not work hard--or must not be talented. That leads to an association of poverty with immorality.

    I encountered quite a few poor people who internalized this view and thought of themselves as lazy, even while holding down demanding jobs and navigating through the labyrinth of problems they faced every day.

    _______________________

    E Epler: I see that our time is up. I enjoyed talking with all of you, and I'm glad there's so much interest in the subject. I hope those of you who read "The Working Poor: Invisible in America" will keep thinking and talking about this huge problem of ours.

    Thanks for taking the time to communicate. Farewell.

    _______________________

    Leave a comment:


  • E.
    started a topic My appearance in PRESS. Part III (continued from part II )

    My appearance in PRESS. Part III (continued from part II )

    Transcript (continued from Part II)
    _______________________

    Texas: Don't people's attitudes toward poverty tend reflect the polarization of American public life that we see in other spheres, from foreign affairs to gay marriage to abortion? Do you have any comment on this general fading of the "reasonable middle?"

    I ask because I myself notice that my conservative acquaintances tend to be unaware of the challenges that the poor face. They make me angry. But at the same time, I get pretty disgusted with people who have (or father) not one but two or three or four kids by the time they're 20 with no family structure or means to support them. And while I realize that's not the only picture of poverty in the U.S., it does happen. Way too much.

    E Epler: Yes, the political polarization reflects polarization in the society at large, I agree. I found that both liberals who hold societal institutions responsible and conservatives who hold individuals responsible are partly right. Each has a bundle of pieces to the jigsaw puzzle. But because the problems of poverty interact and magnify one another, both sides need to sit down at the table and assemble all their pieces to get the full picture. Do I think this will happen? Not in this election year.

    _______________________

    Rockville, Md.: I am taking offense to the comments about single mothers.
    I am the single mom of an 18-month-old boy and we are just fine. I work a 12-hour day and come home to find him as well-adjusted as any other child.
    Sure, the money issue is there, but it's not paramount to our lives. It is simply making do with what you have and using your resources as best you can. Who can fault a mother for that?
    The problem of affordable housing is a difficult one, but for any single parent, unmarried person, senior or family living on a low or single income. For that, someone should be asking developers what they are doing about it? That should be part of their commitment to the community they work and live in.
    As a single mother, my struggles are no different and no worse than anyone else's. Stop singling us out.

    E Epler: As I said, I was raised (very successfully, I think) by a fabulous single mother. But she also had financial resources. In the book I write about single mothers who are doing well against great odds, and when you live in poor housing that exacerbates your kid's asthma, when you can't get a car loan at a decent interest rate, when the neighborhood schools are lousy, and when you work a low-paying job, you have to be absolutely fabulous to make a good life for your children. Many do, and they ought to get the Congressional Medal of Honor, in my view. Many others, though, can't be superhuman.

    _______________________

    Washington, D.C.: Can you explore the reason for the bashing the poor get if they attempt even a modicum of escape from the burdens they face everyday: they're criticized if they watch cable, etc. It just seems like we treat the poor as if they had some type of moral leprosy that we can catch and lash out accordingly.

    E Epler: It seems to me that the American Dream attaches moral weight to poverty. If we believe that this is a land of opportunity that can be seized by anyone who works hard, then those who don't prosper must not work hard--or must not be talented. That leads to an association of poverty with immorality.

    I encountered quite a few poor people who internalized this view and thought of themselves as lazy, even while holding down demanding jobs and navigating through the labyrinth of problems they faced every day.

    _______________________

    E Epler: I see that our time is up. I enjoyed talking with all of you, and I'm glad there's so much interest in the subject. I hope those of you who read "The Working Poor: Invisible in America" will keep thinking and talking about this huge problem of ours.

    Thanks for taking the time to communicate. Farewell.

    _______________________
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