Monday, 5 September 2011

I'm Afraid of Americans

Not all of you, of course.  Some of you, I absolutely love, and you know who you are. :)

Jon Stewart for President

Others don't know how much I love them...Jon Stewart being one of them. I figure that he doesn't need to know that I make "I love Jon Stewart" my Facebook status from time to time, just because he's so awesome.  If he decided to run for US President in 2012, I'd throw a rally from here, just to show him that even though even though we can't vote, there's a whole lot of us up here in Canada that would if we could, just because of stuff like this: (Click on the "August 18th" show and watch the first segment)

(This is a Canadian link; I can't link to the clip through Comedy Central. If you're outside of Canada you should automatically be taken to the Comedy Central site, but if you're not...go to and look for the first segment of the August 18th episode of "The Daily Show")

 For those not inclined to watch the clip, it's...bone-chilling. Don't get  me wrong, it's full of Stewart's dark humour and razor's-edge wit. But  it's all about how right-wing politicians and the media that typically  offer them the most support (mainly FOX media outlets) tend to view and describe people who use social assistance in America.

And the clips they use of the media people and the politicians are not  one bit funny.

 Social Assistance and Class Warfare

Here are some of the "yuck" moments Stewart found in the recent  media about attitudes toward people on social assistance:

  •  People on welfare being compared to scavenging animals that will just  keep wanting something for nothing if you continue to feed them.

  •  People on social assistance being called "parasites"

  •  Blanket accusations that people on social assistance just want to take "the easy way out", not wanting to end their "free ride" and pay their taxes.

  •  Implication that people living in poverty (less than $22 000 income a year for a family of four) actually *aren't* poor because they have a refrigerator

  • Warren Buffett called a socialist because he suggested that millionaires in the US be required to pay more tax.

I remember discussions that I had on an internet forum a couple of years back with people who were opposed to social assistance programs. I was surprised then at the responses I got when brought up the issue of people with disabilities who can't work, or can't work enough, to support themselves. The one that leaps to mind is "Churches or volunteers should take care of them," because I remember shaking my head and thinking, "There's no use in even continuing this conversation."  It's hard enough to get paid services to ensure care nowadays.

Hateful Attitudes

The anti-social assistance rhetoric seems to have gotten even more hateful in the last couple of years, and it scares me.  It exists in Canada, too.  I remember being shocked when Ontario Premier Mike Harris suggested that people who live on the street choose to be homeless. But that seems tame in comparison to what I hear from the likes of Ann Coulter and her cronies these days.

I'm scared for my friends with disabilities in the US that don't have any choice but to rely on assistance programs to stay alive. I'm tired of seeing them punished and degraded because people that they had nothing to do with abuse the social assistance system.  There will always be people that abuse the social assistance system. It doesn't mean that all the people that use it have to be painted as potential criminals.

I'm *really* tired of the US villianizing its most financially vulnerable citizens as it tries  to balance its books on their backs.  Canada needs to ask itself tough questions about this issue as well.

If our countries were to be judged solely on how we treat those who are least able to care for themselves, how would we fare?

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