Changing Attitudes Toward the Less Wealthy
A Russian writer wrote that in Russia, there are two kinds of people: Smart and mean; and stupid and kind. In America the situation is fairly more complex. There are plenty of stupid and mean people, such as the majority of skinheads, gangsters and Nascar Republicans; and there are also smart and kind people, such as Carter, Clinton, Obama and a number of extraordinary individuals whom I had the honor to know personally.
The problem with poverty in the West is not the poverty itself. Very few people in the West are actually starving. The problem is how the people seen as poor and their children get treated and what it does to them. And seeing warm, compassionate, generous people being treated like utter trash - and made to believe that they are utter trash - by people who have no similar conscience or considerations should be and is a cause for anger.
Far be it from me to claim that the poor are good and that the wealthy are bad. There are just as many poor bastards as there are rich bastards, and there are plenty of wealthy people who have fine personal qualities. A far greater problem than immoralization of wealth in the West by some on the far Left is abuse against the less wealthy and their children by many others.
In a college prep school that I attended on a full scholarship, there were a number of students from "that" side of town. What I discovered to my shock, after having had contact with them in adulthood, was that even those among these students who had been athletic stars in school still felt like they were trash. The administration was thoroughly well-intentioned and believed that they were giving these students a way to a better life; but they had no control over how the students behaved toward them and the messages that the students directly or implicitly sent. An effort that came from the best of intentions was sabotaged by the beliefs that were held by the student body; and a number of these people developed major problems that have remained with them.
These problems can be seen in all sorts of people, including ones in whom one would expect them the least. SG, who came from the punk side of town and is now a CEO of a California computer company, had a very turbulent journey that is documented on the Internet by his posts as "Mr. Bitter" and "The Crow" - a journey that included gang brutality, suicide attempts, and many close calls with death. SS, recognized in her youth as a poetess, had been raped, had her children stolen by her relatives, and had lived a hellish existence for many years. I've had friends from "that" side of town who had been shot, stabbed, jumped or gang-raped by gangs; and instead of respect what they got was demonization and criminalization from other people and mind-suffocating idiocy from authorities and mental health. Once again, the problem there was not and is not poverty itself; but rather the treatment that comes to people from such situations.
The good news is that this treatment does not require vast outlays of resources - or any outlays of resources - to correct. Changing the way in which the poorer people get treated does not require billions of dollars in taxpayer or private money; attitude change can be accomplished pretty much for free. The more accepting the world is of people from such backgrounds, the more it gets in contributions by these people; which, given what they have seen and what they have had to do to survive in such settings, contains a vast amount of wisdom that can be of use in all sorts of pursuits and a perspective that's necessary and complementary to what people without such experience would normally believe.
So instead of a vast welfare program, of much greater necessity is an effort to correct attitudes toward the less wealthy. It is not poverty that hurts them the most; it is how they are seen and treated that does them the most lasting damage. And an effort to correct these attitudes would do more for these people than would classic welfare. Indeed it would empower them to overcome these situations and find a way to a better life, while imparting to the world the wisdom, knowledge and strength that they have as a result of their experiences.