Homework #11 for 4-16-18:
Read "How the Poor Are Made to Pay for Their Poverty" (364 and online), and write a 3-paragraph essay that analyzes 3 reasons, according to Barbara Ehrenreich, how poverty is expensive for poor people. Or read Linda Tirado's "You Get What You Pay For" (370) and write a 3-paragraph essay that analyzes 3 reasons Tirado doesn't feel invested in her job. This last essay is not online.
Essay #3 Options with 3 Sources Due 4-23-18
One. Develop a thesis that analyzes the human inclination for staying within the tribe of sameness as explained in David Brooks’ “People Like Us” (very popular with students).
Consider these counterarguments:
David Brooks speaks the truth, but his thesis is overreaching. Tribalism takes second seat to the following:
Education opportunities (good schools)
Good Technology (cable, data speed)
Two. Develop a thesis that compares “People Like Us” (525) and J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” (531).
Three. Based on your reading of Harriet McBryde Johnson’s “Unspeakable Conversations (93),” write an argument that addresses Peter Singer’s philosophy of euthanasia.
Four. Defend, refute, or complicate Steve Almond’s thesis from his essay “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?” (125)
Five. Develop a thesis that compares Barbara Ehrenreich’s “How the Poor Are Made to Pay for Their Poverty” (364) and Linda Tirado’s “You Get What You Pay For” (370).
Sample Approaches to Option #5: Is Poverty a personal choice or the Result of the environment?
Is poverty a "personal choice" or the result of the environment?
There are racist explanations of poverty based on IQ scores, which turn out to be determined not by race but by economic level.
There are studies that show how poverty affects the brain by afflicting the brain with PTSD.
McMahon's personal argument for making the claim that poverty is more about environment than choice:
I look at poverty as having the flu. When I have the flu, I am still myself, but I am a diminished version of myself.
I can still read books.
I can still write stories.
I can still play piano.
I can still do a workout with my dumbbells and kettlebells.
I can still teach.
But I'm not 100% me. I'm 60% or 50% or whatever. The point is I'm diminished because my body is fighting a virus.
Poverty is like a virus. You have to constantly fight. It's always there. It doesn't go away. It weighs you down. It slows you down like Kryptonite stifles Superman.
Poverty is worse than the flu, however, because poverty doesn't just last a week. It can kick your butt for decades. Studies show the longer you're in poverty the longer it takes to get out of it.
Linda Tirado's online essay "Why I Make Terrible Decisions."
Additional Source: Quality of Life in Los Angeles
More Simplified Version
Addressing the essays on poverty, class, and unemployment, including Linda Tirado's famous blog post, write a 5-page essay with 5 sources with a thesis that supports or refutes the argument that poverty is not a "lifestyle choice" but a self-perpetuating trap.
Ehrenreich and Tirado's essay refute the rhetoric that any person, no matter how poor, can lift herself out of poverty with strong character, determination, and hard work by showing that poverty is a self-reinforcing cycle evidenced by _______________, ______________, _______________, and _____________________.
Thesis That Disagrees with the Above
While Ehrenreich and Tirado do a good job of highlighting the risk factors for cycles of poverty, they do little to offer the poor strategies to free themselves from their impoverishment and as such their rigid liberal political agendas do more harm than good because their vision paints the poor as helpless victims who must rely on policy changes before they find relief from their interminable economic hell.
“How the Poor Are Made to Pay for Their Poverty” by Barbara Ehrenreich
Ehrenreich's claim is that the poor are exploited, treated as an asset to be mined by predators and vultures and are essentially subjected to having salt poured into their wounds.
Ehrenreich's critics would argue that while the poor have remarkable challenges, a message of victimization does nothing to help the poor, it ignores the poor's self-inflicted wounds, and it ignores those poor who have come to America with nothing and risen to the top of the economic ladder.
A counterargument to the above is that even if we concede the points above, those points do not negate the gross injustice of structural inequality in areas of housing, healthcare, and education. Nor do the above points address the psychological afflictions and stigma of poverty. To acknowledge these psychological hardships is to face reality, not to encourage victimization.
Barbara Ehrenreich and Linda Tirado are misguided Priestesses of Victimization, Determinism, and Defeat. Their pity party for the poor, while clanging some bitter truths about the challenges of poverty, ignore the perils of hyped victimization, exaggerated structural inequality, and dogmatic determinism, which tragically denies the self-empowerment of discipline, character, and free will.
While I concede that we should not give the poor reason to surrender to victimization, the above claim that Ehrenreich and Tirado are preaching victimization is a dangerous falsehood that twists and misconstrues (Straw Man fallacy) the authors' real message and creates an intellectual environment where no one can even bring up economic injustice without being called a bleeding heart liberal enabler of victims, a shirker of self-responsibility, and a nay-sayer of individual freedom. One can expose and protest economic injustice, as the authors have done, without being a crutch for victimization and learned helplessness.
One. How are the poor robbed?
They are exploited and robbed in thousands of tiny cuts that leave them eviscerated, bereft, and hopeless.
They pay more for cars.
They pay higher interest rates on loans, up to 600%, which is legal in some states.
They pay in terms of stolen wages (employers can program computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck).
They pay in terms of being preyed upon by police for civil forfeiture laws in which police can take money, cars, valuables of any kind, by saying it was money “seized in a drug deal” with no need for evidence, no need for arrest, and no need for any kind of trial.
They have to pay for family members’ incarceration or else be fined and subject to arrest and imprisonment themselves.
The sub-prime market preys upon the poor.
The poor can go to prison if they don’t show up to court to address a debt to a landlord or collections agency.
The government will confiscate the drivers’ licenses of the poor in the event they owe child support (which can’t be paid because they’re, well, poor) and now they can’t drive to work to earn their minimum wage.
If the poor cannot pay their overdue traffic fines in Las Cruces, New Mexico, they will be fined by having their water, gas, and sewage turned off.
Once the poor, who are more likely to get into trouble with the law, have a criminal record, they cannot find work for they now suffer a permanent stigma.
At this point, the poor are more likely to be homeless at which point they may “get busted for an offense like urinating in public or sleeping on a sidewalk.” (I keep thinking of the metaphor “squeezing blood from a turnip.)
Commas are designed to help writers avoid confusing sentences and to clarify the logic of their sentences.
If you cook Jeff will clean the dishes. (Will you cook Jeff?)
While we were eating a rattlesnake approached us. (Were we eating a rattlesnake?)
Comma Rule 1: Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) joining two independent clauses.
Rattlesnakes are high in protein, but I’d rather eat a peanut butter sandwich.
Rattlesnakes are dangerous, and the desert species are even more so.
We are a proud people, for our ancestors passed down these famous delicacies over a period of five thousand years.
The exception to rule 1 is when the two independent clauses are short:
The plane took off and we were on our way.
Comma Rule 2: Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase.
When Jeff Henderson was in prison, he developed an appetite for reading.
In the nearby room, the TV is blaring full blast.
Tanning in the hot Hermosa Beach sun for over two hours, I realized I had better call it a day.
The exception is when the short adverb clause or phrase is short and doesn’t create the possibility of a misreading:
In no time we were at 2,800 feet.
Comma Rule 3: Use a comma between all items in a series.
Jeff Henderson found redemption through hard work, self-reinvention, and social altruism.
Finding his passion, mastering his craft, and giving back to the community were all part of Jeff Henderson’s self-reinvention.
Comma Rule 4: Use a comma between coordinate adjectives not joined with “and.” Do not use a comma between cumulative adjectives.
The adjectives below are called coordinate because they modify the noun separately:
Jeff Henderson is a passionate, articulate, wise speaker.
The adjectives above are coordinate because they can be joined with “and.” Jeff Henderson is passionate and articulate and wise.
Adjectives that do not modify the noun separately are cumulative.
Three large gray shapes moved slowly toward us.
Chocolate fudge peanut butter swirl coconut cake is divine.
Comma Rule 5: Use commas to set off nonrestrictive (nonessential) elements.
Restrictive or essential information doesn’t have a comma:
For school the students need notebooks that are college-ruled.
Jeff’s cat that just had kittens became very aggressive.
For school the students need college-ruled notebooks, which are on sale at the bookstore.
Jeff Henderson’s mansion, which is located in Las Vegas, has a state-of-the-art kitchen.
My youngest sister, who plays left wing on the soccer team, now lives at The Sands, a beach house near Los Angeles.