The Poorfare State: Embodiment and Revelation
What is it, then, that "bugs us" about the poor. Out worst fears are indicated by "fear of falling," as Barbara Ehrenreich ( 1989) titled her book. In an open society, what goes up may also come down; that is what openness means. You have "choice," but you also have some responsibility for that choice and for the effects of that choice. The fear behind the fear is fear of the lack of control. Openness is, on the one hand, great; on the other hand, it is terrifying. Lack of control also is evident in fear of aging. Aging is another kind of falling, ultimately into death, but before that into uselessness, lack of respect, illness, and geezerhood.
It is not only the condition of the poor that causes problems, however; it is the presence of the poor. "Out of sight, out of mind" may work, and has been tried. Ghettoization and physical removal of the poor is a good first step. Then social distance adds to the problem. But the poor always seem to be with us; a sort of nightmare, always turning up, always demanding much and offering little. In the movie What About Bob? a psychiatrist has the bad dream turn into reality. Bob, the intrusive client, seems to be omnipresent. One actually becomes uncomfortable with the alleged comedy. It is only funny for a little while. The same problem occurred in the film Cable Guy. The fact that
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Publication information: Book title: Does America Hate the Poor?The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s. Contributors: John E. Tropman - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 129.