Here's a portion of what he said:
"The way I see it, let the other side be the party of personalities. We’ll be the party of ideas. And I’m optimistic about our chances—because the Left? The Left isn’t just out of ideas. It’s out of touch. Take Obamacare. We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. [We do?] And the Left thinks this is a good thing. [They do?] They say, “Hey, this is a new freedom—the freedom not to work.” [Who says that? Lemme at em!] But I don’t think the problem is too many people are working—I think the problem is not enough people can find work. [ Now you're talking] And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. [Yeah, that's what we've been saying ever since you guys came up with that crazy outsourcing idea] So the Left is making a big mistake here. [They are?] What they’re offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. [Okay, now--what?] The American people want more than that."So then he went on to explain that remark about the full stomach and the empty soul:
"This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my friend Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him."Now, I know I'm not the only one to sit up and take notice over that one. It's been all over the place. But the emphasis from most corners has been on Paul Ryan's misuse of an anecdote that was lifted initially by Eloise Anderson, Scott Walker's appointee to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, who skewed the story to serve her own purposes after apparently finding something somewhat similar in Laura Schroff's book, An Invisible Thread.
I don't care where it came from. I don't care that Paul Ryan was careless about the source. What grinds me most about this are these words out of Paul Ryan's mouth:
She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.This is a representative of our government shaming poor people. This is a man of privilege--a man who never hesitates to vote against safety-net programs designed to pull underprivileged people up and out and on their own; a man who, through his own "Ryan Budget", offered up huge cuts to the safety nets in order to give more to the rich and to the military--shaming poor parents by telling them their own children don't want a free lunch.
He told a crowd--and the rest of us by extension via TV cameras--that poor kids are ashamed of their parents, that poor parents who accept government aid ought to be ashamed, and that we on the left are guilty of encouraging that kind of behavior:
"That’s what the Left just doesn’t understand. We don’t want people to leave the workforce; we want them to share their skills and talents with the rest of us. And people don’t just want a life of comfort; they want a life of dignity—of self-determination. A life of equal outcomes is not nearly as enriching as a life of equal opportunity."This is what Paul Ryan does, and why he is so dangerous. A quick reading of that quote above has everybody nodding their heads. Skills! Talents! Dignity! Self-determination! Equal opportunity!
But what he's really doing is equating essential programs like welfare and SNAP to "a life of comfort". He's suggesting poor people are poor because they like it that way. A "life of dignity" means getting out from under the government wing and going it alone. "Self-determination" means you brought this on yourself.
The "Brown bag" story means stop using your kids as pawns in order to get people to feel sorry for you and give you stuff.
And, oh, by the way, get a job. (But good luck with that, since the dreaded Obamacare just killed that avenue for you, too. The theory goes that employers hate the idea of Obamacare so much they're cutting their workforce in order to show how much they hate it. The insurance companies thank them very much.)
This is Paul Ryan. He is wildly successful. We pay him, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to his other income sources. We will give him health and retirement benefits for the rest of his life--not that he needs us to pay for them. We've given him the power, as a representative of the people, to use this public platform and he uses it to screw the least of us.
If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's this: Live with it.
Cross-posted at Dagblog and Liberaland. Featured on Crooks and Liars MBRU.