Entitled

So if you haven’t watched the Jon Stewart bit about Chaos on Bullshit Mountain, you should. It’s okay. I’ll wait.

I haven’t seen Jon Stewart this pissed off in a long, long time. Probably not since Sarah Palin was saying that liberals (you know, like those awful people in New York City) aren’t real Americans.

I was pretty appalled by the recorded remarks. It’s not as if there was a snowball’s chance in hell I was ever going to vote for Mitt Romney, not unless I grew a baseball-sized inoperable brain tumor between now and the time I receive my mail-in ballot. What bothered me most of all was this:

All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it

I’ve actually been among the 47 percent, by the way, who hasn’t paid income tax. Entirely because I’m able to write the interest from my mortgage off on my taxes. Since I got married, I guess I’m out of the hideous underbelly of moochers.

But you know what? I actually believe people are entitled to housing, food, and health care. I believe those things should be and are human rights. When I was an EMT I knew there was something goddamn wrong with the world, that people would rather die of a heart attack than risk saddling their family with the burden of hospital bills they couldn’t afford. No one deserves that. No one deserves to starve. No one deserves to have to sleep under a bridge in a car, or outside on a park bench in the snow.

What makes me sickest is that years ago, I believed some of that shit. I believed that people were poor because they were lazy, and that everything I had was due to my own hard work and nothing more. Someone can’t afford housing? Fuck ’em, I thought, it’s their own fault. I got better, at least. I saw what happens to people who are struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford a doctor and just get sicker and sicker. I’ve seen the deck getting stacked against low income children in schools, some of whom only get to eat because of free school lunch.

But this is a thing. Even if you turn your head away from the noble working poor who are struggling and drowning, no one deserves to suffer or starve. We’re all human beings. Maybe it feels good to talk tough and pretend that the suffering of others is okay because you’ve declared you have the moral high ground. But I dare you to look those people in the eye and tell them they aren’t entitled to life.

Or maybe I’m wrong. It’s very possible Mitt Romney could do just that. Maybe he’s one of those people who would have set his dogs on beggars in the old days. But if someone can truly look at other human beings and deny their basic humanity, I sure as hell don’t want that person running the country.

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