This one’s dedicated to Deaf Gahan and his merry band of local Democratic Party sycophants: “America Can’t Fix Poverty Until It Stops Hating Poor People.”

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Pay no attention to what Jeff Gahan and Adam Dickey’s local Democrats say.

Rather, take note of what they don’t/won’t say … and moreover, what they’re doing (public housing hostile takeover) and not doing (adhering to their presumed political party’s own platform).

It’s world class hypocrisy, right here in Anchor City. They can pray in the Church of Pretend Disney all day long, but the stench remains. 

America Can’t Fix Poverty Until It Stops Hating Poor People, by John A. Powell and Arthur Brooks (CityLab)

A bipartisan plea to stop “othering” those living on the economic margins.

“Hell is other people,” famously wrote the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre at the close of his 1943 play No Exit. While for Sartre this was a philosophically sophisticated point, in America today it has become simply the way we increasingly treat people at the margins of our society. We see whole groups of people as unlike ourselves—as the undesirable “other.”

Many different kinds of people have been harmfully “othered” throughout our country’s history, and the plights of these groups have received well-deserved attention and focus. But there is one group that we systematically other today—with hugely damaging consequences—while hardly even realizing that we are doing it. Those people are Americans living in poverty.

Research consistently finds that Americans exhibit a disturbing level of antipathy towards those on the economic margins. In a 2001 word-association study, researchers from Kansas State and Rice Universities asked subjects to rate how well a variety of words described different social groups. Compared to their ratings of middle-class people, and given no information except economic status, the average subject described poor people as 39 percent more “unpleasant,” 95 percent more “unmotivated,” and twice as “dirty.”

In another 2002 study, researchers from Princeton, UCLA, and Lawrence University asked students and adults to gauge society’s views toward several often-stereotyped groups. Other out-groups were demeaned as either incompetent but personally warm, or unfriendly but competent; only the poor were consistently classified as both unfriendly and incompetent. Americans, it seems, have a uniquely low opinion of poor people: We offer them neither our empathy nor our respect.

This antipathy is not the result of comfortable Americans having to endure constant exposure to the poor. On the contrary, a sharp uptick in socioeconomic stratification and segregation has been widely documented across the right and left, from Charles Murray to Robert Putnam. For growing percentages of middle- and upper-class Americans, interactions with poor and working-class people are very rare. Well-to-do Americans have almost no meaningful cultural contact with anyone from economically marginalized communities—from struggling inner cities to decaying suburbs to depressed rural counties.

One might surmise this separation is the result of the widespread negative attitudes about people in poverty. But there is good reason to believe the causality also runs in the other direction. Psychologists have long studied a phenomenon called the “Ben Franklin effect,” named for the Founding Father’s observation that our appraisals of other people can actually follow our behavior towards them, rather than just the other way around. Specifically, Franklin noted, we tend to like people more after we have granted them a favor …

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