Gingrich Must Learn the Difference Between Being Poor and Being Lazy

by on November 20th, 2014
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COMMENTARY | No one has ever accused Newt Gingrich of being timid. During the past week, he has taken an aggressive stance, and while I may not agree with everything that he says, I think that he has been well within his rights to articulate his beliefs. The voters of South Carolina agree with me because his hold on second place has solidified over the other candidates. According to a poll conducted by CNN Gingrich has gained five percentage points in the standing, and they come at the expense of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. On January 5, Gingrich appealed to only 18 percent of the voters and on January 17, that number was 23 percent. Romney and Santorum saw their numbers shrink from 37 to 33 percent and 19 to 16 percent, respectively. Only six weeks ago, Gingrich enjoyed front-runner status, with 43 percent of the voters. He must find whatever conservative voice and message that will work.

Many people are upset at Gingrich’s claim that more people have become food stamp recipients under President Obama than at any other time in history. The food stamp program was not available during the Great Depression, as compared to our current economic malaise, otherwise, Obama would not have that honor. Gingrich also stated that poor children lacked work ethic. I do not view the Speaker’s remarks as racial. I do not find them offensive. If anything, I find them alarming and perhaps applied with too broad a brush.

You can go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and pull up all the data that you want on the employed and unemployed. You will find that since January 2009 the number of blacks who are unemployed is more than the number of whites. The numbers are the numbers. However, being unemployed has nothing to do with your work ethic. There are millions of people who have lost a job through no fault of their own. Corporations disappear, companies downsize, out-source and jobs disappear, and there is little that the worker could do to keep the job.

A single grandparent who worked until she was 80 raised me. I myself have been working since I was 14. We didn’t have food stamps and many of the social programs that were available. However, what we did have was employment opportunity. Effectively, in my world someone was always working.

If someone who was always unemployed raised me, then I may have accepted that as the norm. Everyone has heard about the cycle of poverty and how hard it is to break. It is unwise to toss the newly poor and unemployed into the same pool as those who are chronically unemployed and are content with that lifestyle. Perhaps Gingrich just needs to zero in on the right target, but I do not consider his remarks racial at all.

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