A Plan for Everyone

What the Republicans Will Do for the Poor

"You that never done nothin'/ But to build and destroy/ You play with my world like it's your little toy." --Bob Dylan

We, the Republicans, have a plan for everyone. Now, if you are poor, you probably think that we don't care about you too much. You probably associate us with wealthy investors and big business. And sure, the GOP spends a lot of time advocating capital gains tax cuts, deregulation and a return to a smaller, less interventionist government. But we also have a variety of schemes for you--the poor Americans.

First, we know that some of you may receive welfare or other government benefits, such as food stamps. Over the last twenty years, we tried to wean you off these by actively reducing benefit levels and passively letting inflation bite into their value. But more and more of you kept joining the welfare rolls, so we've decided to cap benefit levels once and for all with our new block grants. And we know that the states will probably begin their anxiously awaited "race to the bottom" (trying to outdo each other in cutting services for the poor), so expect your public assistance to shrivel.

We're sure that many of you may think that we're heartless and lack compassion. But this reduction will hurt us more than it hurts you. Now, you'll have to adopt the Protestant work ethic that we cling to. This work ethic can help you rise to the top quickly even if you have no other moral sensibilities--just ask Michael Milken or Neil Bush.

Our plan to end the federal government's commitment to aiding poor families will have other positive effects. Private charities might spring up to replace the welfare state (although you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for that to happen). If these charities develop, they will be able to serve you better than faceless government bureaucrats. More importantly, we will feel better about ourselves when we donate our tax-deductible dollars directly to charities instead of having our money confiscated by the IRS. And we can better target the poor we really want to help--those of you who don't live in ghettos.

Despite our best efforts and our great new ideas for you, we realize that some of you may still be discouraged. Nevertheless, there is every reason for you to keep your head up. Just because you may have a poor educational background or lack skills that are prized in today's job market doesn't mean that you are useless. You can still serve as a valued resource for your country--and more importantly, for Wall Street and the bond market.

How can this be? Well, we're sure that a combination of corporate downsizing, new technology and our economic austerity measures will keep a lot of you unemployed. And having a lot of you unemployed means that inflation will stay down. That's good news for investors. And when a lot of you are clamoring for work--any kind of work--employers will be able to ratchet wages down and line their pockets with cash. Wages may tumble so low that corporations may be able to stay here in America instead of scouring Asia and Latin America for slave labor. Just thinking of the brutality of free market economic principles in action makes us giddy.

If all of you really want to work, we may be able to hire some of you if Dick Armey's dream of abolishing the minimum wage is realized. We'll have plenty of jobs for you then--and at reasonable wages. $1.25 per hour for landscaping work. We'll pay up to $1.75 an hour for maids, $2.00 an hour for sweatshop work. If it doesn't raise too many nasty allusions to slavery, we'll pay $2.50 an hour for small Black children that we can wrap our feet in when we're sick or to keep us warm at night. And after we're done gutting the Superfund program, we'll pay $10 per day for toxic waste site cleanup. No, we won't offer medical insurance, but then again, after we decimate urban social services, you probably won't be able to find a hospital in your neighborhood anyway.

Sure, the already low life expectancy of the poor may plunge a little more. More of you may fall victim to childhood diseases. Epidemics may ravage your communities. But you will be ensuring that future generations will enjoy an America that is free from overpopulation. We've seen some pretty alarming studies showing that you people are breeding like rabbits.

If some of you are tempted to turn to crime, we're prepared for you. We are anticipating your violent, depraved behavior--in fact, we're expecting to benefit from it. The prison construction and maintenance industry is rapidly growing--and we can reward our constituents by funding the building of new jails in our districts. In a few years, the prison industry will make the military-industrial complex look like a five-and-dime store.

Finally, your destitution can provide a psychological boost for the rest of the nation. Compared to you, we will all feel like millionaires (actually, if we get our way, many more of us will be millionaires, thanks to you). We can congratulate each other for possessing the moral fiber to avoid the scourge of poverty. After a little while, we won't even recognize you as human. We will see you as a lower species of brutes. And that's when the real fun begins.

So, as you look around at the peeling lead paint on the walls in your tiny apartment, waiting for the slum lord to turn the electricity back on so you can cook a bite-sized dinner for your malnourished kids when they get back from their overcrowded, dilapidated public school--cheer up! We, the Republicans, are concerned about all of the American people. And we've got an extra special plan just for you.

Who loves you, baby?