November 8, 2014

From this Friday's Real Time Overtime segment, Bill Maher and his panel were asked a question on the topic of poverty and Maher's guest, author and activist Linda Tirado did one of the better jobs I've seen of describing the way the Randites like Rep. Paul Ryan want to tackle the problem.

MAHER: What do you think the poor in this country really need? Money? You write him back yourself, because that's a hell of a question there.

TIRANDO: But I'm going to say this. What we need more than anything is to look at us and say thank you instead of fuck you.

MAHER: Yeah, boy.

TIRANDO: It comes down to, you can ask me what I need. You can ask me what I want. There's 45 million of us. There is no easy answer. The answer is to start saying, oh my god, there's 45 million of you, how did we screw it up this bad? That's the answer. So what do we actually need? I don't know.

Leadership that actually pays attention, has actual solutions, possibly a cultural shift, at least for working values.

MAHER: More than like a few. The number of people who actually talk about the poor I can name on less than one hand. He's one of them. […] Warren. Sen. Warren is another one. Kucinich.

COSTAS: Now Paul Ryan has as well. (crosstalk)

MAHER: Paul Ryan?!?

COSTA: So Paul Ryan loses in 2012 and he takes this huge poverty tour in 2013 trying to change his profile. He's trying to get the party moving in that direction. I'm not saying if it's going to be successful or not, but he's certainly talking about it.

TIRANDO: But look, Paul Ryan's got the opportunity grant, right? And that's essentially life coaching for poor people, which is fantastic if you're one of the minority of poor people who need life coaching, but sweetheart, I'm busy at work and I don't have time to go to a resume class.

SANDERS: In all due respect to Paul Ryan, he is chairman of the budget committee which made massive cuts to Medicaid and food stamps and in program after program that low income people desperately need.

Giving lip service to the problem and actually wanting to try to solve it are two very different things and as Bernie rightfully pointed out, Republicans have been solidly against anything that would assure those working in the service industries are earning a living wage or to make sure those living in poverty aren't starving on the streets.

Costa wondered why the Democrats didn't make a bigger issue of the minimum wage during the midterm elections and we had everyone talking about Ebola and ISIS instead. I'd place that blame squarely on the corporate media's lap. (Which magically fell off of their radar as soon as the elections were over. Imagine that. Mission accomplished Fox "news.")

We're going to get to look forward to more of the pundits on cable television pretending we should take Paul Ryan and his ilk seriously on the issue of poverty over the next two years just as Costa just did here. Sadly most of those segments won't include someone as articulate on the topic as Tirando or Sanders to inject some reality back into the conversation.


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