I get a little existential panic when I go to planetariums, but for real nausea I think about the artificiality of poor neighborhoods in America.
What most people don’t want to realize is that in a poor neighborhood, the entire economy is funded by the government. Sure, you get a couple of Korean grocers who set up shop; and there’s lots of doctors, and labs, and SSI/immigration lawyers; and check cashing joints, and pizzerias, and Rite-Aids, and bars, and Walmarts. But all of these businesses get paid government money, once removed. Rightey loves to complain that welfare moms get paid to be lazy, but it seems obvious to me that they’re paying her in order to pay everyone else.
If the government put the Korean grocer on a state salary to operate a store on 63rd and MLK, the American public’s eyeballs would explode, but that is exactly what is happening anyway. And if the government sent a liquor store owner a monthly check to offer St. Ides at affordable prices, there’d be riots. But that’s what’s up.
I haven’t looked through the financials, but I can say with confidence that all of the revenue generated by Popeye’s chicken is a wealth transfer from the U.S. government.
Someone might say that the solution is the welfare john needs to get a job to pay for his own damn liquor and Korean groceries, which is true, but the point here is that if he had a job he wouldn’t stay in that neighborhood. Popeye’s would collapse. Therein lies the problem.
I am not saying the system inadvertently reinforces this kind of poverty (am I?); I am observing that it is completely impossible to restructure the way poverty is handled in America because so many millions of people depend on it working this way. There are a number of possible great solutions, I guess, but the economic disruption for the 25 years it would take for everyone affected to reorganize, find new jobs, etc, would be catastrophic. Think of what happened when steel left Bethlehem or cars left Detroit, and multiply that on a massive scale, all at once.
America is a welfare state, just not everyone knows it yet.
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