Former governor Mitt Romney said he "dhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifoesn't care about the poor" because there is a safety net, leading many conservatives befuddled and fuming and their liberal counterparts silently giggling. No doubt about it, the presidential wannabe stirred up a hornets' nest with those comments. Why?
Was it because he wasn't quick on his feet? Yes. Was it because liberals will use those comments in a commercial that undoubtedly will take his words out of context? No doubt about it. Democrats will run commercials showing him say he "doesn't care about the poor" without showing the parts that show him talking about the "safety net."
But this isn't what got him riled up. If there was anything which the Republican frontrunner showed any passion about, it was his unequivocal support for "free market capitalism" and his [professed] belief that the government should get out of the way because that free market will eventually correct itself. Obama's alleged support for the socially democratic system will prove, in Romney's eyes, to be the failure that it supposedly is proving to be in Europe.
And in fact, his [professed] belief in this largely free and unfettered market is believable. He was a businessman who made lots of money investing with other people's money, and reorganizing financially troubled businesses into profitable businesses.
This latest statement concerning the poor, however, exposes the ugly truth about that unfettered market's downside - that unfettered market capitalism has not, does not, and will not eliminate class distinctions between the rich, poor, and middle class. The rich will always be rich (unless of course someone was so stupid so as to bet their entire life savings and income on a single game of poker) and the poor will always be poor, even if they are working 40 + hour weeks (because they could never earn enough to pay for college) without some assistance from the government. If there was no minimum wage (let alone one indexed to cost-of-living adjustments), rent control, food stamps, subsidized housing, or child support there would be no way for the poor to raise themselves up by their bootstraps.
The only group who can bounce around are those who form our middle class - the "heart of America" according to Mitt Romney. They alone could lose their status in the middle class if jobs disappear or if government offers them less in subsidies (like cuts in education forcing municipalities to raise property taxes). They can also work their way up by taking night classes after work or by furthering their education by entering law school.
Mitt Romney knows that the poor need the safety net and he acknowledged, albeit without emotion, that it may need to be adjusted or modified in some way because it in fact isn't enough to help them get through life. The conservatives are mad because he basically conceded their argument to the president and the Democrats. No, Mitt Romney said. Unfettered capitalism does not help the poor. Score one for the president.
And he made himself look bad by suggesting that it is perfectly fine by him, provided of course, that there is "a safety net."