by Jack Bragen

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost people take for granted that they have a place to be. Such a place consists of a spot to put your hairbrush, a place to sleep at night, a bathroom, a way of getting meals, and a sense of belonging among family, friends, or perhaps roommates. People also require a means of making their living — whether this is a job, retirement money, inheritance, or social security.
People need a home. When the circumstances of such a home are abusive or fraught with hardship, it is not always easy to fix. Many people are limited by their lack of income and are forced by economic dictates to remain where they are.
Despite the “prosperity” philosophy found in many “get rich” books, which may state that abundance is the rule of the universe, most people on our planet do not have many choices as to how they will live.
If you are a foreign refugee in a war zone or an area wracked by a hurricane or natural calamity that is featured in the news media, you might get a photo op with a movie star who is visiting on a mission of mercy.
When they get tired, the movie stars can take a quick flight home in their Lear jet to resume lives of affluence in their mansions. Meanwhile, the refugees — the unfortunate men, women and children left behind in the danger zone — are still stuck there, living in dire circumstances as the media attention fades away.
My point is that the barriers that separate people into different sets of circumstances consist largely of money and power. And people have money because everyone agrees that they do. Money is comprised of numbers to which we have assigned a value.
The barriers that keep down the unfortunate and keep the rich people buoyed up have been constructed by the system that people have established to propagate inequality.
There is never an assurance in life that we will get the things we need to survive. We are fragile creatures and there are many avenues of possible mishaps. It is a Republican-promulgated myth to say that anyone, if they try hard enough, can work their way up from poverty to become successful and prosperous.
Sure, some people have done that. And yet, without some amount of good fortune, opportunity, and a helping hand from those already established, most people suffering from poverty do not have much chance at becoming a movie star, a best-selling author, or a business tycoon.

A tale of two cities. An abundant supply of luxury housing is available for wealthy residents in the Bay Area, but a severe shortage of affordable housing leaves thousands of low-income residents sleeping on the streets. Robert L. Terrellphoto

In no way do I intend to put down people who have worked extremely hard to better themselves and their circumstances.  Perseverance is admirable. Furthermore, it is clear that a human being is in a better situation if they have more money.
My complaint is about the corporate heads who unfairly tilt the field through lobbying and influence, and who make it all but impossible for disadvantaged people to improve their circumstances.
My complaint is about the social engineering conducted by corporate heads and politicians, in which welfare and disability benefits are being systematically dismembered, while prices of food, gas, clothing and housing are being driven up, and people are incarcerated due to being poor.
I acknowledge that there are numerous people in a position of wealth who are there because they have earned it. There are people who have made their fortunes by doing good things. However, for every millionaire or billionaire who is simply good at what they do, there are five or ten magnates who have made their fortunes on the backs of the poor.
My complaint is largely about the system that has been established. There isn’t a “safety net” any more. If you can’t earn money, and a lot of it, due to a disability or just plain bad luck, then you don’t have housing, you don’t have food, you don’t have safety and you don’t have comfort.
The myth of lifting oneself up by one’s bootstraps exists because it helps the super-rich people justify the evil they do — hoarding all the wealth while others are deprived, ruining the environment, and keeping down those who are down.