THE BLOG
08/22/2010 11:34 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tea Party Favorite Continues Class War Against the Poor

I write a lot about how certain elite (pundits, politicians) have made it their quest to criminalize poverty. David Walker, a lackey of billionaire and Social Security pirate Pete Peterson, openly pined for the days of debtors' prison, which is actually already a reality in six states. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries. A particularly enlightened commenter on my blog summarized the logic behind the amendment thusly: "You gotta make sure they're not on the crack pipe."

Previously, I have also written about hiring practices that act to preserve America's permanent underclass, and how some employers are now making it a practice to check potential employees' credit scores. Poor people are buried under extravagant loans, which they might never fully pay back, simply for attempting to pursue higher education. Some students actually resort to killing themselves to escape debt, but these are isolated instances that shouldn't overly concern anyone.

Then there was the embarrassing spectacle of the ruling elite dangling the carrot of unemployment relief before the noses of millions of jobless Americans. There were actual lengthy debates about if the country could really afford the lavish benefits ($300 a week per person) to help people survive the recession during a time when the U.S. is engaged in two separate, tremendously expensive military occupations -- not to mention the shadow wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. -- and after taxpayers spent trillions bailing out the crooks on Wall Street.

Now, a Tea Party favorite Carl Paladino has thrown his hat in the poor-bashing ring.

Paladino said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in "personal hygiene."

Don't worry. The program would be totally voluntary.

As we all know, the only reason the undesirables are poor is because they don't know how to correctly use a loofa. It has nothing to do with institutional racism, archaic and racist drug policies, the prison-industrial complex, stagnate wages, corporate outsourcing, or a government more interested in waging war than properly funding schools.

No, all we need to do is lock away poor people in far away buildings where the normies won't have to look at them. Really, nothing kills a day more than having to see one of those beggars.

Unsurprisingly, Paladino has a problem with New York social-services benefits. He promises a 20 percent reduction in the state budget and a 10 percent income tax cut if elected. Of course, by reducing benefits for jobless people, the underclass will expand, but then we can just throw all those losers in a warehouse and go back to worshiping at the feet of the Aqua Buddha.

Paladino is in good company. Fellow teabaggers Rand Paul and Sharron Angle place the onus of unemployment on the unemployed, and of course this has been the territory of conservatism for years: it's your fault you're unemployed. Intellectual giants like Rush Limbaugh constantly say things like unemployment benefits "do nothing but incentivize people not to find work."

Paladino is just taking that dehumanization of the poor to its logical conclusion. If it's their fault they're jobless, then it follows that the unemployed are somehow lesser beings -- not really like us. We should just lock them away, throw away the key, and hope we never inherit the same fate.

Cross-posted from allisonkilkenny.com