#1459 Disability Is Not Merely Physical or Mental But Is Also Social (Transcript)

Air Date 12/8/2021

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[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we shall take a look at the state of disability rights, and re-examine what we thought we knew about what it means to be disabled in a society that is not built to accommodate various physical and mental disabilities. Clips today are from The Zero Hour, Off-Kilter, Srsly Wrong, and DownStream, with additional members-only clips from Srsly Wrong and DownStream.

Rebecca Vallas on Disability Rights - The Ongoing Struggle Part 1 - The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow - Air Date 8-7-21

[00:00:27] RJ ESKOW - HOST, THE ZERO HOUR: I know you mentioned before we began recording that we just had a birthday of the Americans with disabilities act if I'm recalling our conversation correctly.

And so why don't we start with that? When was the ADA passed? What were its basic goals? How are we doing.

[00:00:43] REBECCA VALLAS: Yeah. Th the Americans with disabilities act, RJ, the ADA, as it's often called is it it's almost approached cliche levels in American culture. Everyone knows what the ADA is. Everyone's heard of it, but a lot of people assume that because we've had the ADA for 30 years and running at this point, it was signed into law by George W.

Bush in 1990. And actually it was a, it was really a bipartisan victory at, at the time. A lot, a lot of people say, oh, well, we've got the ADA. So didn't, we. That disability rights problem. Don't we just have equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in the U S at this point, because of the ADA.

And I've got some news for your listeners interviewers, the ADA was huge, huge, huge landmark legislation, obviously in terms of taking a leap frog set of steps forward for our society. And it was intended to create equal opportunity and access. For people with disabilities in the United States of America.

However, we are still in a place where we don't have full disability rights and disability justice, and the goals underpinning the enactment and assigning of the ADA more than 30 years ago, have still not been achieved here in the United States. There are other key pieces of legislation that are also really, I think, important to mention, and it don't get nearly as much attention as the ADA.

One of those is known. 5 0, 4 of the rehabilitation act. Another incredibly important piece of disability, civil rights legislation. Folks may actually be a little more familiar with section 5 0 4 these days because of the film Crip camp, which brought to light a lot of that history. And in particular, an incredible disability rights leader, Judy human, who features prominently in that Oscar winning film.

Telling the story of some of how it came to be and the disability sit-ins that, that brought about that important piece of legislation. There's also another important law called the individuals with disabilities education act, Ida huge In terms of educational access because it wasn't that long ago that in the United States, people with disabilities were largely segregated and warehoused in institutions rather than being integrated into our community.

And that was true, including in schools where students with disabilities were not mainstreamed until fairly recently within us history. So all of this right is, is the the set of victories and a set of progress that we celebrate every year. In, in July when we. The Americans with disabilities act anniversary.

But, but really at, and this is, this is where I'm going to come back to for, I think the rest of our conversation what's really important is that we not rest on our laurels, check the box and say, great. We did that disability rights thing because the status quo is still not acceptable, more anywhere approaching equal rights and equal access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities and the COVID pandemic, which disproportionately yes.

Disabled people and, and seniors, it harder than almost anyone has been such a stark reminder of how far we still have to.

[00:03:50] RJ ESKOW - HOST, THE ZERO HOUR: You know, that's really well said, Rebecca, and in a sense I was thinking, as you were speaking about the parallels between the civil rights act of 1965 and the ADA and associated legislation in that they began a process, a sort of evolutionary process, which is not only legal.

And and legislative, but is also social and cultural and so on. So for example, when the civil rights act was passed, we didn't fully understand the nature of racism as much as we do now. We, and many of us have much more to learn. We didn't understand the variety and nature of groups that were having their civil rights suppressed and we've broadened our understanding of that.

And in some sense, I feel it's the same way with the disabled, that while the visibly physically disabled or critically important group whose rights need to be fought for that, the population of the disabled in this country is. Much broader than people realize much more varied than people realize and struggling with many more barriers than people originally realized ramps access ramps are, for example, are critically important, but that's the beginning of the process.

It's not the end of the process. And even those mapping adequately installed in enough places. So we need to understand all the ways, a hearing loss and vision loss and cognitive losses. And, you know, emotional problems and so on factor into it.

[00:05:23] REBECCA VALLAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's, that's really, I think the significance of the breadth of the definition of disability in the Americans with disabilities act, which is not just about physical disabilities, that image of the person in a wheelchair, right.

Is what most people often picture. And it's, it also is what dominates media depictions and portrayals of disability, but disability and the disability community are not a homogenous group. About, about one in four Americans are considered to have disabilities under that ADA definition. So this is it's, it's an incredibly large and and heterogeneous group.

And, and it includes many other disability types beyond physical disabilities, mental Cognitive, as you mentioned, sensory and, and many people experienced multiple types of disabilities, right. And, and are not defined by just one. One, one specific disability category, another category though, and this is where this particular anniversary of the Americans with disabilities act has, has made a little bit of history.

Chronic illness is and I am a person who lives with chronic illness. So this is fairly personal for me. And also I'm someone who identifies as a member of the disability community, through living with disabling chronic illness. Chronic illness has often been, not viewed as part of the disability community and in many people's minds because it's often invisible.

You might see me on the street, right. And you don't see me moving around in a wheelchair or using crutches. Bye. You're not going to look at me and go, man. She looks like those one in four people with disabilities. The same is true for people who are now experiencing long haul quote unquote long haul COVID symptoms.

And this is an, a growing set of individuals in this country. We still don't have a great handle on how many people are, are going to be impacted at the end of the day by long haul COVID symptoms, but an increasing number of people who did not recover fully and are now. Played with, with long-term health conditions and problems and limitations as a result of having been impacted by COVID are now making up a population of people called COVID long haulers.

I put that in scare quotes because it's a term that is now being used to define this group. And, and those individuals. Per president Biden in his speech, in front of the white house on the last week, on the day that marked the signing of the Americans with disabilities act into law over 30 years ago, he announced that COVID long haulers are now going to be considered having as having a disability.

Federal civil rights was, and that is a really significant announcement given that those individuals, and again, their ranks are growing by the day. And we don't have a good handle on quite how many people that's going to be at at, at the end of all of this. Those individuals now are going to be afforded rights and protections.

And, and, and the. For example, the the right to request workplace accommodations, if, if that's important for them to be able to stay attached to the workforce. And, and we'll start to see in the coming weeks and months ahead, what the significance is for COVID long haulers in being able to access federal rights and disability protections, like other individuals who previously have been considered to have disabilities under federal law.

And so that was a pretty significant announcement from president Biden last week. And really another reminder that, you know, we have the largest influx of new entrance to the disability community happening right now. In, in this COVID pandemic in modern history and, and it is really changing the national conversation that we're having about disability and the disability community and disability rights and justice in ways that advocates like me are hoping start to help us chart a course towards finally realizing.

The goals of the ADA more than 30 years.

The ongoing fight for disability economic justice, over thirty years after the ADA Part 1 - OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas - Air Date 9-10-21

[00:09:05] REBECCA VALLAS - HOST, OFF-KILTER: You brought up intersectionality and, in so many ways, that isn't how disability has generally been talked about in the decades leading up to this moment that we find ourselves in now. Some have described the disability community and its leadership of prior years as pale, stale and male. Some people have said it's been a lot of white dudes in wheelchairs. But you and other leaders in this moment are increasingly centering race in a conversation about disability justice, along with class. Talk a little bit about the importance of having the conversation that way, and some of what you're seeking to do by shifting that conversation in that narrative.

[00:09:49] REP AYANNA PRESSLEY: Well, I think that the fact of the matter is that people do not live in a big checked boxes. You know, as a voter, it has always really stoked my ire that policymakers and elected officials would often single issue a constituency and come to you in the hopes of earning your support by speaking to that one big issue that they deemed the most relevant to you.

And it gives policymakers a pass. It does a disservice to the reality of our lived experience, which is that we don't live in these big checked boxes. We live in complexity. We live in intersectionality. We live in nuance. And you know, I've been doing work for a decade plus to dismantle the school-to-confinement pipeline, which disproportionately has impacted, or is bore by Black and Brown students and increasingly the criminalization of Black girls.

But there was a part of that narrative that was not being amplified enough. And that was the disparate number of students with disabilities who were experiencing greater discipline, suspension, and being on a pathway to confinement or incarceration. And you know, the disability community in America has faced systemic disenfranchisement in the form of what I would characterize as policy violence for generations. It's been happening in public. But it has often been ignored, sidelined, marginalized. Whether you're talking about from unconscionable barriers to healthcare, to income limits for those seeking accessible housing, to barriers to marry who you love, or whether you're talking about disparate impact on school discipline.

So when we find ourselves in the midst of a so-called national reckoning on racial injustice, you know, this is the the inflection point to that disability justice must be part of that intersectional conversation. And we have to affirm that Black disabled lives matter. When half of those murdered by police have a disability, we know that our systems are deeply broken. And so together we have to legislate healing and justice and accountability in the same way that we have seen hurt and harm legislated, resulting in these inequities and these disparities. And so it all begins with honest conversation about where we stand and then intentional legislation has to follow.

[00:12:23] REBECCA VALLAS - HOST, OFF-KILTER: What do you see as the significance of this moment when it comes to these kinds of very real opportunities that the disability community has been seeking in many cases for decades?

[00:12:35] REP AYANNA PRESSLEY: That's right. And you know, I wanna again thank those advocates and those everyday folks who have quite literally laid their bodies on the line time and time again, affirming their own dignity in the face of many indignities, and seeking to have their humanity seen and affirmed fully. Their work has been so critical. Your work has been so critical. And it's really a testament to the power of representation and the power of organizing.

Everyone speaks about how the pandemic has laid bare these inequities and disparities. I know that's true in the Commonwealth and across the nation. We've experienced so many deep and painful losses and we fought back against deadly and discriminatory policies that would limit access to care for people with disabilities.

Every time we have been able to alleviate the suffering, to mitigate a hardship, to advance the humanity, the dignity and the rights of the disability community, it's because of the power of organizing and the strength of the movement.

And so our work isn't over. You know, in this critical moment where the people have given Democrats the White House, the Senate, the House, I think we have both the majority and we have a mandate. We have the majority and we have a mandate. And the Democrats having the House, the Senate and the White House and being in the majority, it must be more than a talking point. This is the moment to advance critical long overdue policy change.

And I reject the pundits' false binary choices. Having served on a municipal body before I was elected to Congress, served on the city council for eight years, and I was often confronted with these false binary budgetary choices. You know, it's $400 billion for home and community-based services and critical SSI reform. It's housing justice that centers the disability community and free public transit that is accessible.

In this moment we have to be bold, and that means rejecting these false binary choices. I don't believe that there is a deficit of resource, but there is a deficit of empathy. And I don't believe that anyone is voiceless, but I do believe that there are many people that are unheard. And so I'm just going to continue to set this table and set many chairs at it to ensure that more voices are heard and that collective amplification results in systemic transformative change.

Disability Justice (w Lateef McLeod) Part 1 - Srsly Wrong - Air Date 11-23-21

[00:15:08] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: One of the things that I've found interesting when doing reading for this episode is that disability justice poses this really interesting tension between the logic of capitalism, which considers people as basically useful commodities based on their ability to generate profit, the tension between that and wholeness, which recognizes people as whole beings who aren't defined by their productivity but instead by their community, their personhood, passion, love, and all the things that make us human. So how does capitalism reject the wholeness of human beings and how does disability justice critique capitalism?

[00:15:43] LATEEF MCLEOD: Capitalism desires everyone in the laboring class to work, to be productive, for those that have capital. As a result, those who cannot labor and produce it a satisfactory way to the capitalist will get labeled as less worthy. This is the predicament that many people with disabilities find themselves. The disability community still has a high unemployment rate, even with the ADA that should have officially ended employment discrimination for people with disabilities. This is at a time when our society has the assistive technology and the accommodations to allow people with disabilities to do many jobs. So we need to ask ourselves why that is.

In Marta Russell and Ravi Malhotra's 2002 article entitled Capitalism and Disability in the Socialist Register, it states that employers are not willing to take on the non-standard cost to hire people with disabilities and do not want to deviate from the normal mode of production. It also says later in the article that corporations find it more profitable to have people with disabilities in nursing homes than living independently in the community. Disability Justice critiques the systematic de-valuing of disabled people by specifically stating with the fifth principle of Disability Justice, of recognizing the wholeness. That every disabled person is a whole human being and should be treated and respected as such.

Of course, the third principle of Disability Justice is having an anti-capitalist politics, that he actively rejects the normative levels of productivity that capitalism requires. So as it stands now, true liberation for disabled people will necessitate the abolishment of capitalism.

[00:17:35] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: Disability Justice as a movement was founded on the rejection of more mainstream currents and the disability rights movement. What do you see as the problem with the mainstream disability rights movement, and how did the Disability Justice movement come into being in response to that?

[00:17:51] LATEEF MCLEOD: So Disability Justice was formed by disability activists who saw issues not being addressed by the mainstream disability rights movement because of issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia, and wanted to create a movement that would be more inclusive of all disabled people. Because as you seen from history, the leaders of the original disability rights movement was mostly white. History also do not have adequately highlight people of color who were in the disability rights movement.

Like people do not know about Brad Lomax, who is a Black Panther, and got the party to support the 504 Sit-in demonstrations in San Francisco with food and supplies. So the activists that originally formed the Disability Justice practices wanted a more intersectional analysis when it came to the movement.

So this original collective hatched out the original framework of Disability Justice in the Bay Area during the mid 2000s, and they included some renowned thinkers such as Patty Berne, Leroy Moore, Stacy Milbern Park, Eli Clare, Mia Mingus, and Sebastian Margaret. They saw Disability Justice as the next step of disability rights and developed the ten Disability Justice principles. Later the artists' collective of Sins Invalid organized the first Disability Justice primer, which explained in concise language the political project.

[00:19:23] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: Something that is interesting to me about Disability Justice in particular is how there's so much diversity within disability itself. Like a person who is unable to walk and a person who is unable to see have really different experiences of disability, for example. So there's many different iterations of disability. How do you think these differences shape Disability Justice as a political theory and practice? It seems to me the logic of navigating these differences connects to some of the ten principles of Disability Justice.

[00:19:52] LATEEF MCLEOD: Yes, of course, absolutely. Even the original disability rights movement had to collaborate with a diverse amount of people with disabilities, with many different forms of impairment, and had to negotiate on a set of demands on society that will benefit the whole community. The diverseness of the disability community was also central to the formation of the Disability Justice movement as well. We see with the seventh disability justice principle that being committed to cross disability solidarity is core to the practice to be inclusive of every facet of the disability community and building this movement. It is really a mentality of none of us are free until we all are free.

The ongoing fight for disability economic justice, over thirty years after the ADA Part 2 - OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas - Air Date 9-10-21

[00:20:37] REBECCA VALLAS - HOST, OFF-KILTER: Who is part of the US disability community, and what counts as a disability? How do we define that? The statistic that one in four Americans are people with disabilities gets thrown around, but help us understand a little bit about who we're talking about here and why it's so important how we define disability and who's included.

[00:21:00] REBECCA COKLEY: This is Cokley again. I think the beautiful thing about the ADA is that it's not a checklist. It talks about any mental -- a person who has experienced a mental or physical impairment which impacts activities of daily living, a history or a record of such impairment. And so the beautiful thing about that is it can be different, those activities of daily living can mean different things for different people.

I've sat down with activists from other movements who've said things like, well, I have depression, but I don't consider it a disability. And they meant it really from sort of an internalized hierarchy of disability sense, meaning that they didn't feel that because they didn't need a mobility device or they didn't use braille or other accommodations, that their depression was not on par with what they were witnessing in the disability rights movement. And I remember saying to people like, so does it impact what you wear? And this person looked at me and said, I've been wearing -- and this is pre pandemic, so I need to make that clarification because we're in a different time now -- but she had said, I wear soft, I've worn nothing but soft pants for the last two weeks. I was like, all right. And I was like, does it impact what you eat? And she said my significant other can tell when I'm depressed, because I'll order a five pound bag of gummy bears and I'll munch off of it for a couple of weeks. And I said, does it impact how you engage with your loved ones? And showed me her phone, and she had had about 25 missed calls from her mom. And was like, Hey, yeah, so I'm not taking my mom's calls right now because my mom's calling me about finding a new therapist. I haven't found one yet. Okay. And I really wanted to jump up and ring a bell and say, we have a winner! And I said, those are all activities of daily life, and they impact you as an activist in the spaces you inhabit. And so yes, you are part of the community.

You know, I had a conversation today with someone that I've known for most of my entire life. And they said to me, you know, I just now realized that I have a learning disability. And they're like, I'm in my sixties and I've never talked about it. And they worked tangentially connected to disability, but they're like, would I be a poser? Would I be a faker? Or would I be accepted if I came out now? And what I said to him is what I say on Twitter anytime somebody discloses to me, which is: Welcome to the community! We've been waiting for you. Our community is infinitely stronger and better and more prepared for the fights ahead because of your very presence.

And I think for so many people with disabilities, even if they haven't invited us in -- to use a phrase that David Johns uses instead of coming out -- if they haven't invited us into their truth, there is this feeling that disability continues to be something that's shameful. And to instead welcome people and talk about it from the assets that it brings.

And I want to be really clear that that doesn't mean that -- and this plays into the conversation around social model and medical model -- that disability is all sunshine and like dancing flowers from the nineties because it's not.

You know, I think a lot of times people look at me as a little person and see my dwarfism as my most quote unquote disabling condition, but they don't realize that it's my migraines that'll keep me in bed for a day or days. And that if you offered me a magic wand, which I have been offered to cure my dwarfism, and I am very quick to decline. But if you told me that X procedure would wipe my migraines, I would cut in front of lines. I would pay the little person hard to cut in front of everybody to wipe my headaches out because of the impact that they have on my life.

But I do think it's a very important conversation. It's a powerful conversation. I mean, the definition of disability is big enough to include the kids in Flint, Michigan who are 4,000 days out without clean drinking water. They're big enough to include Black women with postpartum depression that don't receive equitable post maternal health care.

And it's big enough to include the 10 million people who are newly disabled as a result of long haul COVID and that's a powerful thing.

[00:25:01] MIA IVES-RUBLEE: It is really important that people with invisible disabilities are learning more about why it is important for them to really on your own become more inquisitive about the disability community. The media has to be much more open and appropriate and really allowing people to learn about both those of us with visible and invisible disabilities.

But when we talk about 60 million disabled people in the US, 1 billion people around the world, a very large percentage of those people have invisible disabilities. So I want to say that to me, it's one of the critical issues that you can't legislate. We need more investments to be able to have the disability community be talking more to people with invisible disabilities, learning about why they were afraid to disclose, recognizing that there is a broader community out there for them. So I need to say that.

Now, as far as home and community community-based services are concerned, obviously let's first say what that means. So I, as I mentioned a couple of times before, had polio. But I also use a motorized wheelchair. And I am also unable to go to the bathroom by myself. And I'm unable to get dressed and undressed by myself. And I'm unable to cook my meals and do the dishes and all of those things. Home and community-based services enable a person like myself to be able to hire someone who can help me do all these things as well as also if you need support at the work site.

And there are many different programs around the United States, which is part of the problem, many different Medicaid programs, many different ways of becoming eligible.

But the bottom line is there is not enough money that's been invested into enabling even people who are on Medicaid to be able to get the services they need.

The Biden administration has really been pushing forward on putting $400 billion into home and community-based services, which is very important. It would get rid of waiting lists, allow people not to have to move into nursing homes, get people out of nursing homes. Although home and community-based services is only a part of what's needed in getting people out of nursing homes, because we also need people to be able to have affordable housing and that's a whole additional discussion.

But I think we're all pushing for legislation that will enable people to get the support they need to live in the community. And it can be very, very expensive to pay for personal assistance services, which is why they need to be able to get additional funding from the federal government so that workers are getting paid the wages that they deserve.

And for me, it goes beyond wages and benefits. I think one of the really critical problems is people do not respect and value people who are doing this type of work. It is seen as demeaning work. It is seen even frequently by the people doing the work as something that they can't speak up about a lot: helping somebody going to the bathroom, helping somebody get dressed and undressed, helping somebody eat. These are things that in the United States, we don't like to discuss. Everybody goes to the bathroom, but nobody wants to talk about people that need help going to the bathroom.

And I think really when we look at home and community-based services as a critical issue, we've got to get the average person to understand they someday may need this. They know people today that may need it. People who are unable to get it are winding up in segregated, restricted environments or in their homes. And other people are being -- I call it indentured servitude -- when there is an expectation that a family member will provide unpaid personal assistance services for a child or a sibling or a spouse, because they should too also be able to pay for their work.

The Capitalist War Being Waged on Disabled People w Ellen Clifford - Downstream - Air Date 11-22-21

[00:29:14] ELLEN CLIFFORD: So I think most of what most people think they know about disability is actually wrong. So for disabled people who are politicized and part of the disabled people's movement for us disabilities, actually the oppression that people living with impairments or illness there's or differences experience.

So it's an oppression that society imposes on top of the existing pain or distress. My already live with, I think it's a mistake to think that what we call the social model of disability, which draws a difference between disability, which as I said, we see as oppression and impairment and illness.

It's a mistake to see the social model as denying pain and distress. I mean, that's a criticism that some people make. What it essentially is, is a tool for social change. Through the social model of disability, people with a wide variety of illnesses, impairments that could be sensory blindness mental distress, learning difficulties, autism, et cetera.

All of us can unite under. Umbrella of being disabled and being oppressed by society. And through that we can therefore collectivize and fight for social change. So the social model of disability is a very empowering concept. And I do think it's not a moral issue for me. I don't think that progressive who don't engage with the social, modular, bad people.

We know that the, the, the ideas that are dominant in society at any one time. All the ideas of the ruling class, they're there to divide the working class and, and keep us exploited and weak. The dominant idea of disability in society is one whereby we're seen as essentially burdens on society where objects of pity a disability is then a matter of personal tragedy.

Whereas for politicized disabled people, disability is an intensely political issue. And it's also one for collectively.

[00:31:07] MICHAEL WALKER - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: Hmm, I suppose the political element and where this might differ from people's previous or the more conventional understanding of disability is that one could be on the conventional understanding born disabled.

If you were born disabled in Britain in 2010, that's similar to being born disabled and some other time and place. Whereas on the social model, you could be born with an impairment. So you can be born not being able to see your or hear or, or walk, but you only become disabled because of how a social structure makes those impacts.

Hold you back in life. Is that is, that is that's very impressive. Yes. I wasn't trying to show off. Let's talk about disability as personal tragedy, because something you talk about in your book is how the conventional way of talking about disability is to say, oh, what a pity that these vulnerable people are like this what we have to do is come forward with charitable attitudes and charitable policies.

And help them out. And you don't like that way of talking about disability. Could you, could you explain that?

[00:32:07] ELLEN CLIFFORD: That way of looking at disability really locates the problem of disability inside the individual, rather than looking at the socioeconomic structures, which actually oppress people with impairments and illnesses.

It's not inevitable that people with impairments and illnesses, and as I've said, there's a wide variety of those. It's not inevitable that we should be excluded from society. Capitalism under capitalism with its rampant ideology of individualism. People believe that if you cannot survive on your own, you can't earn your own living.

Then it's inevitable. You will be marginalized and excluded from our position as disabled activists. What we're saying is this isn't inevitable at all. There can be different choices that are made. There can be different ways of organizing society ones that are built upon interdependent. Then collectivity through cooperation rather than competition.

And we actually would actually believe that that's a way that the humans can actually, all humans can, can flourish.

[00:33:06] MICHAEL WALKER - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: Is this a, a speculative thing or something that you can point to historical examples of other people who are, or impairments, which makes someone disabled in capitalist society, which have not made people disabled in, in other times.


[00:33:21] ELLEN CLIFFORD: even within, under capitalism itself, you can point to examples. So actually I think people, people think of disability as something static because people link it to what was seen as bodily or mental deficits. But actually, like you say, being disabled, that the process of being excluded from society that, that changes who, who is covered by that changes.

So it's actually now much harder for. Disabled people to be in employment. Now that we've got a customer service sector in Britain, whereas when it was manual industry, it was actually easier. Interestingly, for disabled people to be in employment and the meth that was, you know, that, that we had under under Thatcher after Thatcher, the idea that Hatcher tried to, you know, fix the unemployment figures by putting people on in capacity.

And then you had under John major's government under new labor. They came about this myth. And I I'm sure it is a myth that there were large numbers of people who were owning capacity, who could actually work. They were. Supposedly fit for work, but actually research has proven that rather than that being the case, what actually in the case of incapacity masking unemployment, that was the idea around that was used to justify welfare reform.

What we actually now understand through research is that it's actually employment. Mosques disability. So someone might not even experience oppression because of having an impairment or illness until they become unemployed and then try to take another job. And they then realize that there are all these other reasons, these, that barriers to employment in a previous job, they might have fit it in.

But when they're trying to get a new job, they suddenly realize that actually there's no place for them to go where they can fit in. They then become disabled. Whereas. Previously.

The ongoing fight for disability economic justice, over thirty years after the ADA Part 3 - OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas - Air Date 9-10-21

[00:35:14] REBECCA VALLAS - HOST, OFF-KILTER: Mia, I'd love to bring you in next because another huge push that's going on right now in the context of that same debate, the Build Back Better debate, relates to income assistance for disabled people who are unable to do substantial work. And that comes in the form of a debate around a long-forgotten part of our social security system that's known as SSI or Supplemental Security Income. This is a program that you've been advocating to improve as well as have lived experience of relying on. Talk a little bit about how that is showing up in the current debate as well.

[00:35:52] MIA IVES-RUBLEE: Yeah, this is Mia. You know, SSI was essential for me growing up. I remember as I was leaving high school and just wondering -- I unfortunately didn't have the same great sort of people to look up to when I was growing up. I didn't have family adults around me who were also disabled. So I didn't know what it would look like to have a job as a disabled person.

And I knew that I had to go and get an education in order to even have a chance of getting employed because there was no way that I was going to be able to work at the local ice cream shop or go work at a specific retail place, just due to the fact that I was in a wheelchair, and I knew the landscape of how people viewed me and my abilities. And being able to get SSI allowed me to have a chance at finding a career and getting to where I am today. It helped to springboard me. And the program, unfortunately, while it's been so essential for so many low income disabled people, it's not enough, unfortunately. And as you were saying, it's been languishing. The rates that people are receiving benefits is literally below the poverty line. And I remember when I was getting it back in the early 2000s or the mid two thousands, I was getting about 600, a little over $600 a month. And now individuals receive about $794. And that doesn't even cover the average rent in any of the states across the country. And this is a program that is supposed to help keep people off the streets. And, and it's been the main driver to keep disabled people out of poverty, but they also, unfortunately, because it's been languishing for so long, has kept disabled people in poverty.

So the talks right now are a couple of a variety of different changes that individuals would like to see that would actually help expand the program, make sure that it actually keeps the promises that it was meant to keep, which was to keep disabled people out of poverty. And that includes increasing the maximum payment to at least the poverty line. We're not asking for a lot. It's literally to get people at the poverty line.

Being able to allow people to actually save some money so that maybe they can eventually get out of poverty is another big issue. I remember on SSI being so vigilant about my accounts, making sure that I didn't go over the savings allotment. And so right now the current asset limit is $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a couple. And that means that an individual could lose their benefits if they go above that.

And so many people, particularly now during the pandemic, during economic insecure times, they tell people to save, but how can you save if you're not allowed to on this program that's been essential, that helps individuals not only have an income, but also access Medicaid, because single individuals who need health insurance don't qualify for Medicaid unless they're on SSI. And that's just an essential thing. And if they lose the SSI benefits they are at risk of losing their Medicaid.

So that's another area that's very specific and that we would like to at least raise the asset limit if not get rid of it.

And then another part of it that conversation is getting rid of in-kind assistance provision. So right now individuals who are on the program, if they received any assistance, whether it's a bag of groceries, if it's a couch to sleep on, can put an individual at risk for losing their current benefits. And so we want to try and get rid of that. And in part, because it restricts disabled people's ability to get married, which a lot of people don't understand is actually, we don't have marriage equality because of specific programs that hinder us from being able to have a partner, have a family member that has income that is helping us.

Disability Justice (w Lateef McLeod) Part 2 - Srsly Wrong - Air Date 11-23-21

[00:40:50] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: I wanted to start with a big question on the subject of Disability Justice, how does society let down people with disabilities and what sort of society where you're looking to build? What is the utopian vision of disability justice?

[00:41:03] LATEEF MCLEOD: Well, we must first acknowledge that for a long time western society and culture did not want anything to do with people with disabilities. We see this within the 19th century, many American cities passed a series of ugly laws that barred people with disabilities from many public streets and places. You can read more about these laws in the book entitled Ugly Laws by Susan Schweik. It was also the time when the eugenics movement was in full swing and doctors were actively sterilizing people with disabilities because they wanted to eradicate them from the gene pool. Finally, it was a time when people with disabilities were locked away in institutions where they were neglected and abused. It took the disability rights movement starting in the 60s and 70s to change these trends.

The disability rights movement led to the passing of the American Disabilities Act that made public places accessible and the Olmsted Supreme court, which gave people with disabilities the rights to live in the public and not in institutions. We need to build a society that is fully accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. An utopian vision, we can strive towards this, where people with disabilities are getting their needs met reliably, like their personal care needs, their medical needs, public accessibility needs, and transportation needs. So as a result, they can more easily integrate in the communities that they live in.

We need to build societies that embrace people with disabilities fully for who they are instead of ostracizing and isolating them. People with disabilities should lead the way in envisioning that more accessible future and should be the ones to come up with the key strategies to make that happen. We also need to critique, dismantle, abolish, and eradicate all forms of ableism we see in society and in ourselves. This will be a great challenge, because ableism is so engrained in society, but we need to have an anti-ableist stance and say firmly, this is not acceptable behavior in society.

[00:43:22] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: And how can radical left politics be strengthened by the integration of Disability Justice ideas? In addition to the ethical drive to include everyone, is there a pragmatic benefit to trying to integrate these ideas?

[00:43:36] LATEEF MCLEOD: Disability Justice ideas are already being used in Disability Justice organizing. I was recently at a comrade resiliency workshop put on by the Autonomous University of Political Education and during the workshop they reference the work of Disability Justice scholars Mia Mingus and Leah Lakshmi Samarasinha. Mia Mingus' article Pods and Pod Mapping Worksheet was the main document we used to learn how to create community pods in our own lives, that includes people we are accountable to and rely on. This skill is important.

We live in capitalist modernity, which isolates and alienates most of us in our little silos, especially those of us with disabilities. So it makes sense that people with disabilities would develop new ways to build community. Also, as Samarasinha explains in her book, Care Work, we in the disability community need to develop novel ways to care for each other too. This will be more important as we go through more ecological crises.

We have been talking about precisely this in the theater collective that I am a part of called Sins Invalid. We produce a theater production addressing people with disabilities concerns with the climate crisis called We Love Like Barnacles: Crip Lives in Climate Chaos. I think you can still see the performance online. Check the Sins Invalid website. We are expressing ideas that liberatory movements needs to think about and address. So the radical left can definitely benefit by the integration of Disability Justice ideas.

[00:45:22] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: The process of increasing accessibility for people with disabilities can feel complex and open-ended because needs are so variable. There's not a one size fits all way to do accessibility for everyone. It requires a ongoing process. So I wanted to ask what can able-bodied people who want to be good accomplices to Disabled Justice and disabled comrades and neighbors participate in to make spaces and groups more accessible for everyone?

[00:45:47] LATEEF MCLEOD: The first thing an able-body ally needs to do to be good comrades to the disability community is to listen to us as we explain our access needs and our visions as we strategize and organize for a better future. Left organizations can learn from organizations like Sins Invalid and other Disability Justice activist on how to make their organizing more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities.

[00:46:14] SHAWN VULLIEZ - CO-HOST, SRSLY WRONG PODCAST: And the other side of this, privilege has this incredible effect of making oppressors a bit oblivious and sometimes brutal as a result of their privilege. So I wanted to ask also, what sort of things do people outside of disabled communities do sometimes it maybe comes from a place of meaning well, but could be cringy, patronizing or unwelcome? What should allies not do?

[00:46:35] LATEEF MCLEOD: Well, people outside the disability community have a tendency to patronize people with disabilities and underestimate their capabilities. That happens across disabilities identities. I have been in many instances where people have seen me and underestimate my intelligence and capabilities until they talk to me and learn I have multiple degrees.

Then there is the other side of the spectrum, when people get to know me, they think they know what my life is but still have a lot of misconceptions. The best thing for allies to do is to be in constant conversation with people with disabilities and what is the best way to treat and relate to each other. If people follow the lead of people with disabilities, we can make things more accessible together and do it right.

Why Are All The Baddies Disabled w Amanda Leduc - DownStream - Air Date 11-25-21

[00:47:24] ASH SARKAR - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: What are the patterns in these wonder tales in terms of the representation of disability? What are the patterns that you identified?

[00:47:32] AMANDA LEDUC: Well, there's two really main patterns. The first and foremost one being disability as a marker, as we've talked about of villainry, right? So someone who is evil is depicted in a fairytale as looking a very particular way.

And even as I say this, I am aware that we are looking at different ways of storytelling now. So I think about, you know, the story of Rumpelstiltskin. He is depicted as being a quote unquote, ugly, hunchedback dwarf. And you know, there are political retellings now that tell the story from the perspective of Rumpelstiltskin, who is having to cater to this spoiled woman and this spoiled king, but in the original version of the tale, you have this villain, who is this sort of inciting force against the innocent, good looking, beautiful princess and the king.

And then you also have someone like we talked about with the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" where disability is a punishment that's visited on him, and he needs to learn how to behave in order for the disability to be taken away. Another tale that sort of follows that framework is an older tale called "The Maiden Without Hands" by the Brothers Grimm. And that was collected in the Grimm's Fairy and Folktales. And it's about a woman who has her hands cut off by the devil. And she goes out into the world and subsists on the charity of others and meets a king and falls in love. And they have a child and then she is banished by the King's mother-in-law and she walks through the forest for seven years and meets angels and is taken care of, and by virtue of her faith, has her hands grow back at the end of the tale. And we can look at this, one of the things that we often understand when we're reading a fairytale is that we know it's fictional from beginning to end. But within that, fairytales set up this very clear idea of who triumphs in society and who does not. There's this very real idea of the arc of a fairytale being that the protagonist starts out and they experienced trials and tribulations and challenges, but then they triumph in the end and they get a happy ending. And the happy ending usually involves some sort of beauty or some sort of eradication of disability or eradication of ugliness. If people are ugly at the end of a story, whether physically or internally, they're punished for it in a certain way.

You look at something like this, the fairytale of Cinderella, right? In one of the German versions of the story, the stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by birds at the end of the tale as punishment for how they treated Cinderella. So --

[00:50:08] ASH SARKAR - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: They didn't put that in the Disney film!

[00:50:09] AMANDA LEDUC: No, no! Surprisingly enough, it didn't end up in the Disney film. And again, you've got that trope where someone is behaving badly. So they have disability, in this case, blindness visited upon them as a reward or a punishment rather for their bad behavior. And we can look at that and say, oh, well, those are just fairytales. Those are just stories that we tell the kids. But the point is that they are stories that we tell to children. And this sets up a very clear expectation on the part of kids for who is good and who is bad in the world. If you tell --

[00:50:45] ASH SARKAR - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: I really want to get sort of follow this point on, because there is this wonderful interweaving of your own childhood experiences, your interaction with medical institutions regarding your own disability. And then also how fairytales work. And there was this one sentence -- let me see if I can remember it properly -- it was, "My brain has been opened up and the offending particles removed, a process, which is entirely scientific and also magical." And I just thought that that was where the memoir and the literary criticism overlap in your writing for me was like really spectacular in some ways, but also like very, very moving.

And so I want to ask you about the specific role of transformation, magical transformation in one details and fairytales and in myth, and the specific ways in which that relates to disability. And then how did that make you feel as a child? The idea that there are magical interventions, which sort the right and the good into the right and the good bodies, and the bad and the wicked into the bad and the wicked bodies?

[00:51:50] AMANDA LEDUC: Oh that's a loaded question. I mean, for me as a young child, I had a cyst in the center of my brain. So when I was four, almost five, I had surgery to take it out. And the cyst at the time had been -- I was limping more so even than I do now, and my foot was turned inward, and the idea was that the cyst would be removed and it would help to straighten my foot, and so I could walk with less pain and walk, you know, quote unquote, normally, whatever that means. And to someone writing 500 years ago, writing a fairytale, that would have been inconceivable, this idea that you get to the advancement of surgery and medicine and all these things and get to this point where you can actually open people's bodies up and take things out. It's just magical.

So on some level it was magical, right? Because it meant that my body changed in response to something that was visited upon it.

But the idea, the more insidious idea behind that is that yes, of course you want someone to walk without pain. And that was certainly a guiding force for me and my own surgeries. But then also there's this other more insidious idea that we want bodies to look a certain way. We want people to walk a certain way and to be a certain way so that they're not ostracized and they're not made fun of, right?

And that is something that I think people often don't stop to question when they think about the idea of disability and cures and that sort of thing. Everyone just automatically thinks oh, well, obviously you want to be cured of syndrome X or this disability or that disability, you want to be cured because otherwise, life could be quite terrible, life can be quite hard.

And what people don't understand or don't really stop to realize and think about is that disability can be hard because of the way that the world is built to exclude disability, to make it difficult, to live in a disabled body. So I think, and this is something that back when fairytales were being written initially in the 17th and 18th centuries, people weren't thinking on that level of the way that we build society and how disability is in many ways, a function of the way that society is built to keep certain people out.

And I think just the focus and the limelight, if you will, especially over the last two centuries has been on bodies that move a very particular way to the exclusion of other bodies. Because it becomes easier for society to function when you only have to consider and think about one particular kind of body, and you just don't spend any energy thinking about bodies that may look different or may move otherwise.

So that's why I think in many ways you have fairytales where the happy ending includes a magical intervention or a magical transformation where someone is made to look normal.

I think that's the world that everybody's looking towards and striving towards. And we can see this not only in disability, but in other aspects of marginalization as well. There's a real push for people to move a certain way and look a certain way.

One of the things that I think about a lot, especially in the course of the pandemic is this idea of wellness, and how there's this increased focus on wellness as a result of the pandemic. But nine times out of 10, your essay or article about wellness that's going to appear online is going to have probably a woman, in many cases a white woman, who is thin, wearing a nice pair of yoga pants.

[00:55:15] ASH SARKAR - HOST, DOWNSTREAM: I always think of like a white woman running down the the beach and I go, lady, what are you running from?

[00:55:22] AMANDA LEDUC: Right. Like, it's very subtle in some ways, and not subtle to other people who look at it and see how they don't fit into that. And I just think it's something that we really, really need to question, especially now. I think the pandemic has really given us an opportunity to rethink how we build and structure the world that we live in.

Summary 12-8-21

[00:55:42] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with the zero hour speaking with Rebecca Vallas about the current state of the ADA and disability rights in America off kilter looked at the intersectionality of disability, certainly wrong explored the origins of disability discrimination and the disability justice movement.

Off-kilter discussed invisible and less recognized disabilities and the nature of home. Downstream explains the social oppression that accompanies physical and mental disability. And off-kilter dove into the insufficiency of SSI benefits and the immorality of extremely low savings camps. That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips, including surgically wrong, performing a skit to demonstrate the benefits of inclusive Oregon.

And downstream discussing the ways that disability and facial differences are used as markers for evil and punishment in the fairytales that have helped create our standards and norms in society. To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly into your new members, only podcast feed that you will receive.

Sign up to support the show at Best of the Left dot com slash support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds, a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions asked and now we'll hear from you.

Human nature - David from Los Angeles

[00:57:06] VOICEMAILER: DAVID FROM LA: Hi, Jay, this is David from west Los Angeles. I've been listening to your show for about seven or eight years, even though I infrequently agree with the perspective that the left. I know it's healthy to understand the arguments for alternative views. I'd like to bring up a factor that the left often omits when proposing things such as defending the police or providing additional wealth transfers to the core.

And that is human nature. We all logically propose changes in society by assuming it to work much like a formula in which you basically change a few variables, like government policies, tax structures, et cetera, in order to come out with better outcomes while this is true, the world is a complex place and we can rarely reliably predict the outcomes.

However, if one omits or minimizes a very significant. Unreliable outcomes become all too common. The main factor that most people leave out, but the left is far more guilty of is human nature humans, especially when relatively idle or comfortable always have a tendency to creep into some of the various human vices, especially greed last wrath and slaw.

Although individuals may possibly sustain themselves at a healthy, enlightened behavioral level. For some time, it is less likely that their children or children's children will. This element of decay is an undeniable force of human and organizational behavior. Given enough time, every human entity in the past has dramatically suffered from.

To counterbalance this negative effect. It is imperative that there'd be some tension in society, some danger zones that people need to be aware of and try to avoid. I'm not advocating that we create and maintain some artificial tensions and danger zones because natural laws and natural life already provide an abundance of risks to mitigate.

We do need to kind of blend the extremely sharp edges of some of the more hazardous dangerous, but it is imprudent to soften them too much. If we try to overly protect individuals from these dangers, we run the very real risk of eliminating the corrective effect of the natural forest. That work to keep people alert and safe.

And if we try to overprotect, we suffer the negative effects of starting a downward spiral of inadvertently lessening societies, natural awareness and defensive response against such dangerous resulting in the unintended consequence of enabling more people to be. To fall victim to them, given this negative feedback effect, we could end up with a larger problem than what we started with.

So if the police do not enforce anti shoplifting laws, more people will want to shoplift. If police do not remove homeless encampments, then more people will opt to live in the streets because it's much cheaper and there are fewer rules. Similarly, if welfare payments are too generous, then people will have less of an incentive to better their situation.

The left shouldn't live in this fairytale world, where if we tell people to work, they will work. Or if we tell people to behave, they will behave. People need to be exposed to risks and consequences in the real world. Thanks for listening. And I look forward to your response. Take care, buddy.

Final comments on the Christian moralizing of economics and poverty

[01:00:21] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1. Or write me a message to Jay at Best of the Left dot com.

So we just heard from David. I want to start by saying, I really appreciate the call. It's obviously a good faith effort for cross political understanding, which is severely lacking these days. I try to do a fair amount of that myself and I will also start by saying that I think that the left and right, or, or at least David and I are not as far apart as he seems to think that said we did have a good laugh when he got to the topic of houseless.

It's great to have someone call in and start by saying that the left doesn't understand human nature. And then go on to argue that some presumably statistically significant number of people would opt to be without permanent shelter, if not for the cops harassing them. So I'll get to that in a couple of minutes, but first a little bit of context.

So David brought up a few of the seven deadly sins. And I don't think it's reading too much between the lines to guess that he and I may come from different theological backgrounds. I never attended a single Sunday service growing up. So I wouldn't even think to begin a discussion of public policy with a list of sins.

That's just not where I'm coming from. I don't know David's background, but in any case he did bring up the sins, greed, lost RAF and Slav, but that's. We still don't start from dramatically different positions. I grew up in this country too, and had the values of Christianity driven into me through any number of side doors without ever having to attend church.

If you tested me, I might even have been able to list the seventh sentence. So like most. I grew up assuming a lot of the worst of people, like not individuals who I met, but people as a whole. And this is what I mean when I say that David and I aren't starting from dramatically different places. We both probably started our education with this extremely negative view.

Of humanity, which I would argue comes from Christianity. Now I reject the idea that conservatives have a better grasp of human nature and that the left is living in some sort of fairy tale world in which people always do what's right for themselves in society. The difference is that conservatives don't seem to have as easy of a time updating their knowledge when new information becomes available.

Because they are often working with this sort of passed down folk wisdom and theological teachings, which originated over a thousand years ago. You know, I mean the seven deadly sins aren't in the Bible, but they were invented by ascetic monks in the desert sometime in the three hundreds of the common era, but the left on the other hand, Still starts with that same baseline as I described, like we just absorb it through osmosis from the Zeit Geist of Christian conservative thinking in America, but then tends to be more open to the ideas, that large parts of what we were taught.

Turn out to be wrong. And how could you even blame those ascetic monks for being wrong? I'm sure they were doing their best. They took, you know, real solid stabs at understanding human nature and they never could have run a trial of a universal, basic income to see if people got more slothful or more industrial.

And then aside from taking their best guesses about human nature, without the benefit of the scientific method, they described aspects of human nature as sinful and put them into moralistic terms. And I think that deserves to be scrutinized. I don't think I'm going to have time to do that topic real justice today, but I'll, I'll touch on it a little bit, but first, so back to David and his list of reasons why we need a strong police funding and weak social safety net.

I think that starting a conversation about public policy and human nature through the lens of the seven deadly sins is going to naturally put a person in the mindset of assuming that the worst instincts of the population need to be curbed by the influence of the state. But I mean, of course it's not the beginning of the conversation that puts that idea in people's minds.

It is. Hundreds and hundreds of years of teaching that get drilled into people from bef you know, before they can think straight and no one knows they're doing it. This is what structural thinking is. We, we pass on culture without effort. It just happens. It's the ocean. We swim in the alternate perspective.

And the one that I subscribed to is two. Predict the worst of people, but to actually experiment open-mindedly and find out exactly how people actually act in response to policy changes. Don't, let's take the last point first generous welfare payments. There's the idea as David sort of described that the left wants to give away lots of money because we just assume that things will go.

In reality, the idea of a universal basic income, like the most generous welfare system you can imagine is being tested thoroughly on small populations and has been for decades, nearly all with surprisingly positive results, like results. So positive that the people who thought the results would be positive, were surprised at how positive they were.

Isn't. So it doesn't just reduce extreme poverty to essentially zero. The first goal, it often also reduces stress, makes people happier, physical and mental health improves so that there are fewer doctor visits. It makes people more interested in starting a business. Generally has no effect on employment.

So people don't suddenly quit their job. And high school graduation rates improve. And I assure you that is not a comprehensive list. That's just the things that I could pull together quickly. So we run these tests, we get the evidence, understand more deeply some of the nuances of human nature. And yet the argument from conservatives is still, well, it must disincentivize work because I don't know.

It must slothfulness. That's not an irrational assumption. Given the teachings, we've all received from Christianity through the years, either directly or through osmosis, but it is irrational to continue to believe that in the face of new and overwhelming evidence. You know, one of the quirky and irrational things about humans is that we have a much higher opinion of ourselves van of others.

So when surveys are done about UBI and people are asked what they would do with a thousand dollars a month and what they think other people would do. With a thousand dollars a month. The overwhelming response is that they, the person speaking would use the money wisely, but that everyone else would squander it, quit their jobs, play video games all day.

That sort of thing. It turns out that when you put it to a test on surprisingly people are more correct about themselves. Then they are about others. Okay. Now there's the claim from David that more people would opt to be houseless if not for the police, clearing them out of their encampments. And I really don't.

I don't want. Too much discussion on this because it seems sort of silly on its face. But I do think that it's a great example of conservative versus progressive thinking in what I dug skate park politics. After the idea that it's better to build a skate park than to cover all public spaces in hostile architecture to keep the skaters away.

So in David's vision, we can help reduce houselessness by disincentivizing being without shelter. Through policing as though being without shelter. Isn't enough of a disincentive. Whereas the progressive perspective or at least one of them that was detailed back in our recent episode, number 1455 on the topic explained that giving people homes first as a pathway to employment and stability is the single most effective way to reduce houselessness.

And in places like Helsinki, Finland, where they implemented this policy, there is. No, one's sleeping on the street. So people aren't opting to sleep on the street anyway, and no policing is necessary. And not only that, it's also cheaper now as for David's idea of the need for tension in society. We agree that there's no need for artificial tension as life provides enough already, but where we differ, and this is sort of the dividing line between progressives and conservatives on a essentially all economic issues like this.

Is what the appropriate line is, where should the baseline be? Progressive's argue. It should be higher. Can service tend to argue it should be lower. So while we agree that there's no need for artificial tension in life, what David May not agree with is that poverty is an artificial tension that we are choosing to impose on ourselves because we could wipe it out, but we choose not to.

Do partly to the greed of the wealthy. You can't ignore that, but also to the kind of deeply held. Evidently unfounded concerns that people like David have about human nature, his concerns that, you know, it's a nice idea to wipe out poverty by giving people money, but actually that'll make things worse in the long run.

At the very least, he says, what I find really interesting about David's Kobo is how much it is an exact mirror image of what the left. And literally what I said about intergenerational wealth. Really recently. I'm not sure if David was responding to that because I don't know when his call came in, versus when I said it.

But, you know, he says that people living in an overly protected world may be able to live in a healthy sort of enlightened level for some time, but the children and their grandchildren likely won't. It just it's like word for word. What I said about the children of the wealthy, not too long ago, if I just wanted to like brush up my bona Fides on my understanding of human nature, I would point you to that.

I said the children of the wealthy, like the wealthy might be fine. You know, they worked for that money and they might still have some grasp on reality, but the children and grandchildren of the wealthy they're screwed, they're not going to know how to exist in the world. That is exactly what David is saying.

About the poor and how they will end up being like unable to cope with reality or, you know, the children and the grandchildren of the previously impoverished will live, you know, such lavish or at least such protected lives that they won't be able to handle that life. Which frankly, to me just sounds like the middle-class.

I was making the argument about the children of the wealthy, but as David making that argument about the upper middle-class and the middle-class, and maybe even the like lower middle-class, are they all living too cushy of a life because they have enough intergenerational wealth to not be like scraping along the edge of the oblivion of extreme.

I don't know, you gotta have some tension in life, but I'm not sure exactly where that line is for David. Where does David want that line to be? Does he think that things are now. Would he be willing to go a little bit higher, but he's worried we'd go too much higher. I'm not sure. I don't think we're anywhere near in danger of going too high and making life too cushy for people to precipitate the end of civilization.

But therein lies the conflict. The other thing I'd be interested in hearing from David is his perspective on inherited wealth and its impact on the wealthy and society. I mean, generally conservatives are dead set against taxing the rich, but echo exactly what David was saying about the poor. They claimed that taking money away from the rich would disincentivize the rich at the same time.

They say they're giving money to the poor, which has been shown endlessly to improve not only the lives of the poor, but society and the economy as a whole, they argue that is waste and disincentivizes. The poor, as we've seen, this is not true in economic terms when we run tests. So I would argue that this is a remnant of the moralistic framework that Christian teaching injects into this conversation unnecessarily.

So. Seven sins, moralistic view of humanity as your frame. And then you try to understand economics and human nature through it. And you will come to exactly the kinds of logical sounding yet wrong conclusions that so many people. Why would giving money to the rich act as an incentive, but giving money to the poor would be a disincentive.

The only way that makes sense is through a moral lens in which the poor are already seen as immoral, and the rich are already seen as moral, their disparate wealth is all the proof that many need to see that giving to the rich is a moral and prudent investment. As a society while giving to the poor is just throwing good money after bad and allowing them to wallow in their slothfulness and be an even greater drag on society.

And they can say all of this. Evidence free mind you, but they can say all of this and keep their conscience is clear because they think they're simply talking about the immutable dynamics of human nature that we figured out 1700 years ago. It's nothing personal. They'll say you're not acting sinful because there's something particularly wrong with you.

They say it's just the nature of fallen, fallible humans to fall prey, to the lure of sin. So we're here to help you get out of poverty. They say, by taking away your financial support, you know, we're here to help you get a home by harassing you while you sleep on the street. We're the good guys. They say the people who want to just give you money seem nice.

Sure. But what they don't realize is that they'll just make things worse. Or so I assume I haven't actually looked at the evidence. As always keep the comments coming in at 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1. Or by emailing me to J at Best of left.com. That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening.

Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic, Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Scott for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together and. Discussing the seven deadly sins with me. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism, segments, graphic designing web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting.

And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at Best of left.com/support through our patriarchs. Or from right inside the apple podcast app membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes. In addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player.

So coming to you from far outside, the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from Best of the Left dot com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2021-12-08 22:32:31 -0500
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