Speaking at Georgetown University on Tuesday, President Obama blamed the media for feeding misconceptions about poor people and their plight. “I have to say, if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it’s a constant menu. They will find folks that make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re all like, ‘I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obamaphone’ or whatever. That becomes a narrative that gets worked up.”
Hmm, usually Fox News finds those people at your rallies, Mr. President. Anyway…
Obama, addressing the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty, said that the idea that America’s poor are “sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving” came largely from media outlets like Fox News. “Very rarely,” he said, “do you hear an interview with a waitress, which is much more typical, who is raising two kids and doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.”
Raising two kids as a single mom on a waitress’ wages qualifies as “doing everything right?” Point taken, but part of the reason we see so much poverty in this country is because we glorify the struggle. No offense to single moms stretching their paychecks – you deserve abundant respect – but let’s not act as if that is a perfectly valid family choice. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s not the problem. The problem is that we’re so scared of hurting anyone’s feelings that we can’t point out the obvious truth. Thus, millions of young women think there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to become a single mother. Nothing wrong with expecting a low wage McJob to cover all the bills. Nothing wrong with a lifetime filled with checks from the government.
The problem isn’t Fox News. Very few Americans are so far removed from the struggle that they believe the “Obamaphone” crowd accurately represents all poor people. The problem is that no one wants to admit that life is what you make of it. Getting rich isn’t about hard work so much as it is about making good decisions. None of this is magic. You get out of it what you put in. Liberals and feminists have made it a morality issue; it has nothing to do with morality. Every decision has consequences. Some decisions lead to poverty. Others lead to wealth. Liberals like Obama don’t want to believe it’s that simple, but it’s a lot closer to reality than the Blame the White Man story they peddle.
The real shame of it is that Obama knows better. You don’t get to be president of the United States by chance. He made history through a series of decisions that led him to his ultimate destiny. Sure, he might easily have failed, but chances are slim that he would have failed so badly he wound up on the dole. His life was assured success – not because he was blessed with charisma and good looks, but because he refused to settle for anything less.
If we agree that poverty is a bad outcome, then we must stop pretending that the decisions that lead to poverty are valid ones. Poor people may or may not be sitting around waiting for their government phones, but in the vast majority of cases they are poor due to their own bad choices in life. That’s not a judgment call. That’s a fact.