Poor-shaming 2.0


Republicans want to humiliate low-income households that qualify for aid to access the Internet.

Being poor means a life of sacrifices, frustrations, and constant struggle. So what is it about Republican officeholders that causes them to go out of their way to make life even harder for low-income people?

GOP governors, Congress critters, and other officials are making access to all kinds of public assistance, especially food stamps, as burdensome and humiliating as possible. The latest example comes from the two Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC intends to expand its Lifeline program, which makes broadband Internet service more accessible to people facing economic hardship. That’s a good thing, because universal access to the Web is essential to America’s educational advancement and global competitiveness.

Besides, some 70 percent of teachers now assign homework requiring every student to do online searches. So our national interest and simple fairness say everyone should be able to connect.

Even though the Republican saint Ronald Reagan’s administration gave Lifeline its start in 1985, the two FCC commissioners who are Republicans voted against bringing this sensible idea into the Internet age.

Luckily, they’re outnumbered on that five-member panel and were outvoted. But they then demanded a requirement that low-income families must publicly reveal that they are poor to qualify for this benefit.

The FCC’s two Scrooges are subjecting these families to a daunting and humiliating bureaucratic process, which will prevent many kids from getting the Internet access that everyone needs for education success.

Come on — the “subsidy” they’re wailing about is a mere $9.25 a month. Compare that to the billions of dollars of fraud in the Pentagon budget, which Republicans approve without questioning.

What sour, dark smudge on the souls of GOP officials leads them to demean people in need, preventing them and our society from reaching our fullest potential? It’s stupid — and shameful.


By Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, www.OtherWords.org.

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