As though Mitt Romney hasn’t heard enough about his gaffe dismissing the 47% of the people in this country as chronically poor and lazy to boot (and therefore not worth his time), there has come to light another comment from the same talk that has caused ripples in the press. The man does seem to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease! He also claimed in the same speech at the infamous Republican fund-raiser that “95 percent of life is set up for you if you’re born in this country.” The story reported in Mother Jones and picked up by Huff Post goes on to note:
If 95 percent of life is set up in this country, however, it certainly doesn’t reach 95 percent of the people. The U.S. poverty rate has hovered at or near 15 percent for the past few years. Moreover, the same 15 percent of the population is not constantly poor. In fact, recent research suggests that only 15 percent of Americans will not experience some type of economic insecurity in their lives. . . .
Fully 85 percent of Americans by age 60 will have experienced unemployment, sharply lower income, poverty or the use of welfare for at least a year of their adult lives, according to a 2012 longitudinal analysis by Mark R. Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley professor of social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis.
In a word this man just doesn’t get it. If he really believes what he is saying and isn’t just telling people with fat wallets what he thinks they want to hear, then he lives in a golden-gated community somewhere removed from the world around him watching his wife’s horses go through their paces; he is simply unaware of what is going on in the real world. Indeed, he is so out of touch with the realities of this country one begins to wonder if he suffers from dementia. He certainly isn’t presidential material — even if he were more astute when it comes to foreign affairs where has shown himself astonishingly inept.
It is tiresome to repeat what is clear to anyone whose mind isn’t closed, but the poor in this country are not a static group. As suggested in the quote above it is ever-changing and it includes some of our friends and neighbors. If it doesn’t at present it may very well in the not-too-distant future. Note the comment in the quote above — only 15% of the people in this country will NOT experience “some type of economic insecurity in their lives.” Think about that while reading Mitt’s comments about how 95% of the people in this country can make it as he did. And, of course, he would have us believe he made it on his own. He and his ilk remind me of what the wags used to say about George W. Bush: he was born on third base convinced he had hit a triple!
This is a remarkable country, but the Horatio Alger myth has become just that. If you aren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth — as Romney assuredly was — then chances are better than even that you won’t make it rich. And if you don’t make it you may end up hoping your government will help you out, as well it should. Because the vast majority of those in need sincerely need our help. As a fellow blogger who works with struggling people on a daily basis said in this regard,
Using our homeless families we help as an example, out of about 200 families we helped during the last year, 84% had employment. The remaining 16% were employable, but the economy limited their hiring opportunities. These 84% are teachers, teacher assistants, nursing assistants, bus-drivers, retail and restaurant workers, etc. Their median family wage is $9.00 an hour. It should be noted, in my area, a living wage for a single person is $9.67 per hour while a living wage for a one adult family with one child is $17.68 per hour. These people are making less than is needed to support housing, utilities and food for their family. What we do is help them climb the ladder to self-sufficiency. What we have found is lack of education is key to their circumstances. So is lack of health care. They are living beneath paycheck to paycheck, meaning the check is not covering the bills. Yet, they work hard and are not irresponsible.
The poor are assuredly not the lazy bums wealthy people like Mitt Romney would make them out to be. But aside from that, given Romney’s proclivity for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time the truly astonishing thing to me is that the race for the presidency at this point is neck and neck. Aren’t people paying attention? Barack Obama isn’t perfect, heaven knows. But at least he lives in the same world you and I live in and that’s rather important, it seems to me. I just don’t get it. Nor does Mitt Romney, even though he somehow manages to persevere even with his mouth full of his own feet.