Due to unfortunately not heeding a hint about concentration of power so clear that it shows up in Americas Finest News Source, it is still considered to be important what people like Paul Ryan think about things. Taking advantage of that position, Ryan has been holding hearings in the house of representatives, the subject of which has been poverty. In an unexpected twist, Tianna Gaines-Turner (an actual poor person) testified at the hearing held this past Thursday.
A House GOP rep from Indiana, Todd Rokita, made a remark about government spending on the poor to her, one which he thought was a Reductio Ad Absurdum. What she said in response is basically being treated as Prog Soundbite Gold — which is why the link preceding these words goes to Think Progress. After she agrees with what the rep saw as absurd, this exchange followed:
He followed up saying, “But the cycle of dependency would certainly still be there which you also don’t like… The cycle of dependency, you wouldn’t be independent.”
“I’m independent now on the program,” Gaines-Turner told him. “You’re independent on this?” Rokita asked.
“Yes, I consider myself to be very independent. I work just as hard as anybody in this room,” Gaines-Turner replied. “I’m very independent.”
I’d say in terms of hard work if anything Tianna was being way too modest. With the exception of if a janitor for the building had wandered in during the hearing, it is safe to say that she was the only one in the room that provides a useful service. Yet though I sympathize with her situation, I’m admittedly puzzled of her meaning of independence. While I don’t subscribe to the myth of everyone being nothing more than an island unto themselves, and see cooperation as a vital and necessary part of society, I would not define a condition of needing assistance as being independent, whether the aid were administered by the state or not. Needing the generosity of others to survive seems to me rather on its face synonymous with depending on them, with dependence. To be independent, in my view, is to not have such constraint due to need.
There is a fear I now have that this may be misinterpreted. I do not mean to denigrate her or anyone else for merely needing help. I know this position well, as I’m only caught up on my rent & about to get my car fixed because of the generosity of friends & followers. If I were at that hearing then it would’ve had two poor people participating instead of one. What I seek about her side of this is understanding, as her use of term honestly sounds alien to me.
Todd, on the other hand I have no such care about. He does not deserve mercy.
A brief search on Mr Rokita shows he voted in support of a bill that would effectively ram through Keystone XL and any other cross border oil & gas pipeline projects, in total ignorance & unconcern about the use of eminent domain to steal land for the oil industry. He also voted in favor of the “farm bill” that was notable for maintaining extensive subsidies to agribusiness while cutting the SNAP program*, and was a Yea vote on the National Defense Authorization Act despite $600,000,000,000 being cartoonishly shameless overkill for any sane concept of “defense” — but no doubt lucrative to arms manufacturers. It appears that the “dependence” Todd rails against is A-OK for Monsanto, oil companies, and Boeing, as is usually the case with politicians who drag out that cliche.
The problem here goes further than Todd however, he’s just a symptom of the constant misdiagnosis of who takes & who makes. The contradictions of capitalism the reality versus capitalism the myth shine with the extensive state backing of wealth, meanwhile use of revolt insurance is a mass thing and people like Tianna find that employment isn’t enough to feed her kids. I strongly doubt this is coincidence.
(* – To be fair, so did Bernie Sanders…)