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Conservatives Must Stop Poverty Shaming

The rich are the cause of all our problems, not the poor

Walter Rhein
Sep 18 · 6 min read
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Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

I’m having a very hard time being courteous to conservatives lately. Every day it seems like I stumble across an inaccurate and offensive right-wing meme designed to shame people living in poverty.

For some reason, conservatives are hyper-focused on programs like welfare. However, they inexplicably disregard the massive trillion dollar bailouts, subsidies and tax breaks routinely handed over to the rich.

If you sit down with a calculator and look at the budget of our nation, it’s easy to see that it’s the rich that are robbing us, not the poor. It’s time to develop a sense of compassion for people going through a tough time and place blame where it’s due.

The incessant anti-poverty propaganda

What is going on in our society is the oldest scam in history. A person robs you and then they blame somebody else to divert attention.

Personally, I think police dramas are partially to blame for how easy it is to fleece the American public of every dime that they’ll earn in the course of their lifetime. In television dramas, the villain always admits wrongdoing when presented with the evidence. The voting public has been trained to expect this kind of confession. Although this is satisfying to watch, it never happens in real life.

In real life, the villains deny. They keep denying and blaming others so incessantly and loudly that it becomes easier to pretend you believe them so you can finally have some peace and quiet. The problem is that about 49% of our population has been cowed into complicity.

The first boot drops

Yesterday I was visiting a cousin who leans conservative. Lately I’ve felt I’ve been making progress with him because Trump’s incessant lying and incompetence have become so blatant that even staunch conservatives can no longer ignore it.

We were discussing Social Security. Now that I’m 45, the people in my peer group are starting to take Social Security a little more seriously. It’s still on the horizon, but it’s a lot closer now than it was when I was 18. It’s also abundantly clear that I’m going to need that money.

It’s mine!

The fact that Republicans have shamelessly tried to rob us of it for my whole life disqualifies them from ever receiving my vote.

I’d rather have the money

“Well,” my cousin said, “if they take Social Security away it will prove me right.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve always said we’re never going to get it, if they take it I’ll be right.”

“I’d rather have the money.”

“Yeah, but if I can’t have the money, I’d at least like to be right.”

What the heck kind of attitude is that? It’s defeatist. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s prideful.

It’s like he believes there’s just nothing he can do, the Republicans are going to take his money. Oh-well, he’s still going to vote for them after all. It’s as if not voting for them can’t even enter his thought process.

What’s wrong with you man! Don’t just lay down and take it like a coward! Scream!

“Aren’t you one of those second amendment guys?”


“Isn’t theft of property an instance of a government becoming tyrannical?”

He went quiet.

It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The second boot drops

“Well,” my cousin continued, getting himself back on track, “it’d almost be worth it to lose Social Security if it meant all those lazy people who game the system wouldn’t be allowed to get government funding anymore.”

I had to stop and look him in the face. He couldn’t meet my gaze.

I realized his statement represented the pinnacle of conservative programming. They are so hyper-focused on their hatred for people living in poverty that they don’t even acknowledge the trillions of dollars pilfered by the rich every year.

“Welfare is pennies compared to the money corporations and the top 1% get.” I said. “Why does it infuriate you to see a family in need take a nickel when a billionaire playboy with a pedophile island runs off with a million dollars?”

“Well, why shouldn’t we stop them both?”

“That’s like focusing on a bloody nose when you‘re suffering from arterial bleeding. It’s insanity! Your focus is completely distorted. What is wrong with you? Are you insane? Seriously, are you insane?”

Are they insane?

The part that drives me nuts is that conservatives spend more on their hate campaign against people living in poverty than it would cost to actually abolish poverty.

You see, they want people living in poverty. They need people living in poverty.

Then they turn around and claim that they are devout followers of Jesus. For some reason, conservatives always overlook that Jesus spent his whole life talking about how we should help out people who live in poverty.

Don’t take my word for it, pick up a Bible, go to any random passage where Jesus is talking. It will be about helping out people who live in poverty. That’s all he ever says!

What happens if we cut Welfare?

If we cut Welfare people will suffer. What are we supposed to do about the elderly? What are we supposed to do about the disabled? What are we supposed to do about at-risk children? Just let them all die? Is that the conservative end game?

Let them die?

I wish conservatives would just come right out and say that they want to kill those people. Instead, they say they want to cut the programs that keep those people alive like that’s anything better. They want to cut the programs that allow human beings to live with a shred of dignity.

They like to say they are “pro-life” but conservatives attack the health and wellbeing of people in need every chance that they get.

They always rig the numbers

If you do a Google search on the budget you’ll find a never ending stream of hysterical articles that misrepresent the cost of the social safety net programs that save lives.

Keep in mind that in most assessments, something between two-thirds and three-fourths of social safety net funds go to some kind of healthcare cost. This does not represent an influx of income that is handed over to impoverished people. It is just an accounting of payments. Because of pharmaceutical price fixing and other inflated costs, social safety net programs represent another area where the rich can exploit the poor to their own gain. All that poor people are left with is the blame.

It’s a massive shell game, as always, the rich divert money to themselves.

The poor are not to blame for this. They’re being scapegoated. Infuriated pundits heap scorn upon them and take payments for doing so. Why is this so hard to perceive?

Basically, conservatives like nothing better than to topple over wheelchairs, kick the disabled elderly in the face and stomach, and steal their wallets. All this is done as they clutch their Bibles and praise Jesus and the military.

Class warfare

“I’d rather lose my own Social Security than to see programs that help the poor.”

“What is wrong with you?”

“The poor are lazy.”

“Rich people are criminals.”

“You can’t generalize about the rich!”

“But you just generalized about the poor!”

Make no mistake, a class war isn’t coming, it’s raging! It is a war financed by the wicked powerful against the defenseless weak. They’ve been waging it forever. They’ve been stealing from us forever. They’re never going to stop stealing.

It has to stop

We can no longer afford to be cowed into complicity. We have to stand up to them. They’ve evolved from a squeaky wheel that gets the grease to a standing nail that needs to be hammered.

The dirty little secret is that there is enough in the world for everyone to live comfortably. People living in poverty aren’t the ones that have stolen the fruits of our labor. If they had, they’d no longer be impoverished. It’s the people with warehouses filled with bloodstained cash that are at fault.

Why is this not obvious? Why is this so hard to understand?

Do not let conservatives deflect the conversation and try to blame the poor. Do not stop screaming. They’ll never fall silent, that isn’t an outcome we can hope for. All that’s left is to lift our collective voice in order to drown them out. We can’t have peace, so let the noise, at least, be ours.

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Walter Rhein

Written by

Small press writer with Perseid Press, Burning Bulb Publishing, and Harren Press. I have a web page about Peru at

An Injustice!

A new intersectional publication, geared towards voices, values, and identities!

Walter Rhein

Written by

Small press writer with Perseid Press, Burning Bulb Publishing, and Harren Press. I have a web page about Peru at

An Injustice!

A new intersectional publication, geared towards voices, values, and identities!

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