September 19, 2013

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New York State offers Safety Net Assistance (SNA) to the childless, nondisabled poor and to single-mother families that have exceeded the time limit for federal welfare; it’s one of the few states to offer such support. By law, New York City must pay 71 percent of the tab for city residents.

And if New York kids are going to bed hungry in such numbers”€”one in four!”€”why is the First Lady lecturing us about childhood obesity?

We are so short of real discontents nowadays, we have to make problems up. There aren’t any hungry children. There aren’t any people dying because they can’t afford an operation. There aren’t any Joad families on the road desperately seeking work and homes. There aren’t any workers being exploited by unscrupulous bosses or tenants being evicted by unscrupulous landlords. Nobody’s being lynched or denied due process or forced by poverty to give up a child for adoption. I wouldn’t say nobody’s poor anymore, but there is no longer what the Victorians called a “deserving poor.” To be in dire straits nowadays, you have to be really, really feckless.

Having nothing to complain about, we make stuff up on some homeostasis principle, adding ever new levels to the hierarchy of needs. You have food, shelter, healthcare, companionship, and work? But you aren’t being recognized for who you really are!

(Concerning which, I have a parenthetical query. If a person is biologically male”€”one X chromosome, one Y”€”but believes himself to be female and can lawfully engage surgeons to do what is necessary to bring his body into conformity with his belief, then what about a person suffering from Cotard’s syndrome? In one variant of this disorder, a person who is biologically alive believes himself to be dead. Can such a person lawfully engage surgeons to kill him?)

We have lost the art of stasis, of letting things be. Congress should be sent home for a couple of years; so should Microsoft’s development teams.


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