For those of you who don’t care about my political views, you should skip this post.
I’ve never been a fan of Newt Gingrich. When I lived in his district, I voted against him at every opportunity. So it’s with no surprise that I see that he’s now denigrating poor kids:
Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday.
I was one of those poor kids. I watched my parents show up every Monday, and they stayed all day. They worked hard. They also made a couple of mistakes along the way, and they got unlucky. I watched my dad work 80 hours per week as an EMT so that he could try to make enough money for our family, and I saw what happened when he hurt his back on the job. Although my parents worked hard and showed up every Monday, I still had free lunches in school. I started earning money when I was 10 by shoveling snow. I started babysitting when I got a bit older. According to my Social Security statement, my first on-the-books job came when I was 13, a hot and sweaty summer spent whacking weeds at the local water treatment plant1. When college time came, my parents couldn’t help, and I got through my degrees with a combination of scholarships, grants, student loans, and jobs.
I grew up poor, and I still got a good work ethic from my parents. I worked my way through college. I still work hard today. And I’m deeply offended that you would try to tell me that I had no-one around me who showed me the importance of showing up to work on Monday because my parents weren’t rich. Through a lot of hard work, and also some luck, I was able to get to where I am today. I have a great job which pays me a salary such that I’m now paying back into the system that gave me those free lunches and subsidized loans, and still leaves enough left over for me to do things like buy a house and a Mercedes.
And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. Apparently Newt Gingrich, with his oh-so-extensive experience in being part of the working poor, doesn’t realize this. Gingrich doesn’t know anything about what it’s like to work his way out of that kind of situation, but he spouts off about it as if it’s just a work ethic that keeps the working poor from succeeding.
- In fact, I’ve still got a scar on my face from that summer. ↩