A Christmas Gift to Those Who Struggle With Low Income

by on December 23, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Joni Halpern

Picture it.  Decorations everywhere.  A beautiful tree twinkling in the background.  A bright and cheerful tablecloth. Sparkling silverware.  Shiny plates. Candlelight winking off crystal. And best of all, a table groaning with your favorite holiday foods and all the trimmings.

Oh, wait.  That’s someone else’s Christmas.  The one America is preparing for low-income people  is different.

For people of inadequate means, we have a gift that keeps on giving.  It is a gift that will take them far and help them realize the American Dream they have desired for so long.  The American People writ large generously give them this gift so they can finally rise from the ranks of inadequacy and join those of us gathered around a Christmas table like the one described above.

Our gift to low-income people this year, compliments of the current administration, but really engineered by bipartisan Congresses of yore, is the shimmering, ever-valuable mantle of Personal Responsibility.  Yes, you read it right. Person Responsibility. That racing engine of ambition, drive, and tenacity that will not be defeated by any force on earth, not even War or a Great Recession.

Personal Responsibility is about having the pride to stand before your helping of ramen noodles on Christmas Day and thank your fellow Americans for the opportunity to yearn for a full stomach.  It is shedding tears at the signs of want in your children – the dry hair, the broken fingernails, the lethargy, the depression – and looking upon these signs as an opportunity for your children to prove their mettle and make something of their lives.

A sense of Personal Responsibility is what every successful American has developed to succeed in life.  Look at Warren Buffet’s son, Peter. Clearly a success story. He writes songs that no one sings, he oversees a philanthropy he started with a gift from his dad, he goes around the country talking about how the real price for living the way we do is that we are killing people.  Look at his brother, Howard. When he was 28, he started farming on land his dad bought for him in 1977 for almost $800,000. Howard had to pay his own rent, though. He worked that 1,500-acre farm so that later, ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland, the corporate agriculture giants, chose him to sit on their Board of Directors.

Those Buffet boys took responsibility for turning every mouthful of nutritious food, every minute of high-quality education, every second of access to rich investors into something better for themselves. Even in the face of such success, Peter writes songs about the tragedy of human trafficking.

Thanks to all of us real Americans, today’s low-income child will have an even more intensely valuable gift of Personal Responsibility.  Now his family may be among the millions cut from federal food stamps by Sonny Perdue’s new rules. This child might become homeless because of Ben Carson’s new Section 8 housing regulations.  If his parents lose their low-wage jobs, this child could join the fortunate and growing ranks of people living on less than $2 a day. Don’t thank Sonny or Ben. Thank us, the American People, who will get out in the streets for a lot of issues, but not for the poor.  It would be un-American to deprive low-wage individuals and families of the chance to reckon with their own role in causing their poverty.

Our hope as the American People – which low-income folks may join someday when they have accepted personal responsibility – is that they will look upon their ramen noodles and otherwise barren Christmas table (provided they have a residence and a table) as an opportunity to explore the resilience of their own character.

To low-income Americans, we say:  Dig deep. Don’t despair. Remember that every mouthful of noodles is a step closer to your own farm and philanthropy.

Merry Christmas!  From all of us real Americans to all of you.

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