Ah, gentle readers. Let's talk about safety nets. I imagine quite a few of you out there are taking advantage of one or another right now. Is unemployment insurance a safety net? Do you become poor living on unemployment insurance for long enough, while you struggle to find a new position?
The federal poverty line is $10,800 a year for a single person, $22,000 for a family of four.
Can you imagine living on that? Let alone in New York City, where everything from food to rent costs more than most other places in the US?
About a week ago, GOP Presidential hopeful (and my former Governor) Mitt Romney said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it." He went on to speak about how he's concerned mostly with the middle class in America, who is struggling. He didn't say that a lot of them are teetering precipitously close to that line of being amongst the very poor.
In your MatchGirl's opinion, gentle readers, Mitt just doesn't get it. While he was governor of Massachusetts (though not voted for by me), it seemed like he might. He rolled out "Obamacare"(otherwise known as health care reform) before Obamacare was even a term. Or, you know, about a year into Obama's career as the Junior Senator from Illinois. Your MatchGirl still has a lot of friends in Massachusetts and the reform itself has mixed reviews, but, overall... isn't it better to be able to go to the doctor, to take your kids, than to either not be able to or to break the bank doing so? Your MatchGirl thinks maybe.
But back to those safety nets.
Your MatchGirl wonders if there is not something more that can be done.
What good is a safety net, after all, if there is no way to climb out of it?
Sure, the majority of the country isn't at the poverty level. Yet. But that number is growing.
We need more than nets to catch people - that brings to mind fish gasping for air to this seacoast girl's mind. We need a way to make the American dream more than a dream for more Americans
In my opinion, dear readers, this starts with education reform. Big and hard changes that will scare the people who think the only way to measure intelligence is by having a kid fill in little bubbles on a scan card. That there is only one way that kids can learn. I've written about it before. And I'll keep talking about it.
Because America is falling behind - it's falling behind not only the Asian countries that the candidates keep calling out as our biggest threats, but smaller countries, like Finland. Because we don't look at the problem long term.
We look at everything in terms of electability.
In terms of a manufacturing sector that does not exist in the way it did for our grandparents (or parents).
In terms of the good old days where you could provide, well, for a family on a high school degree and where you could be guaranteed a good job with a college degree.
Guess what - we live in a different world. And we need to adapt to it if we're going to survive.
America, dear Mitt, doesn't need safety nets (nor, Mr. Gingrich, does it need trampolines - you just fall back down, you know)
It needs a ladder.