Kicking Them While They’re Down

When you come across something so absurd that your mind rebels against it, you have two choices: laugh or punch someone in the face. My latest laugh/punch moment? A pair of proposed bills that casually, and blatantly, lay out just how much folks hate the poors.

Turns out, it’s a lot.

House Bill 27 would charge well-off, regular people (who don’t smell like sadness and fried food) five cents a month to fund services for the deaf. Then we have House Bill 28, which would charge poor people up to two bucks a month to fund services for the deaf.

Forty times more. That’s what someone using a prepaid cellphone would pay under the original version of the bills.

The two bills are offered up by state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, but I’m not trying to single her out. This feels like the kind of legislation pretty much any callous statehouse could come up with; I’m not sure she warrants special criticism here or that it really matters who sponsored the measures.

If you set aside your indignation, it’s funny. We have a certain loathing for the poor in America, even as we pay lip service to helping them. We act like we resent their failures, but really, they just speak to our secret fears of failing and joining them. To try to reassure ourselves that we’ll never join them, we look for reasons why poverty is their fault.

I don’t know that we owe anyone a handout or a hand up, but I do know that digging the hole deeper is a shitty way to ensure that the people trying to climb out of it stay right where they are. It’s tough to escape poverty when buying the same stuff costs you more than it costs people who are better off. You start with less, and the little you have doesn’t go as far.

Legislature, y’all can do better. At the very least, split the bills up! Put some filler in between the two of them. Make this two-dollar F-U seem a little less blatant, y’know?

Nobody says you have to like the poors. Just try not to do anything to stack the deck any further against people who can’t afford a full deck in the first place. Rig the game, and they’ll just keep on sitting there, being poor. Who wants that?


About Jared Kendall

A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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