Wow. Even Her Poetry Picks Are Political . . .

It’s true. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, generally, although I’m delighted that my son is a poet — and a very talented one. I, on the other hand, don’t write poetry and I don’t particularly seek it out, unless song lyrics count, in which case my tastes run more toward Dylan’s “The Times, They Are A-Changin’.”

So it’s no surprise, then, that I’d spark on this bit o’ rhyme from financial analyst and poet — now, there are two vocations you rarely find together — Michael Silverstein, as published in The Progressive Populist’s April 1 edition.

First, though, a word of explanation and then a hearty “Amen!” As The Progressive Populist explains in a paragraph introducing Silverstein’s satirical analysis of Washington, D.C.’s, political contempt for the poor, the newspaper notes that “tax breaks to the rich and richest enacted last year will cost the Treasury an average of $85 billion a year — roughly the same amount that will be taken away from the poor and poorest in the form of benefit cuts . . . ” (The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2011)

This ought to outrage Christians, for whom care for the poor is one of the firstfruits of faith in Christ Jesus (James 1:27). It doesn’t. Instead, the Religious Right has aligned itself with the powerful, the proud, the preening, and the prosperous who inveigh against blue collar workers, teachers, and government employees for what they insist is a culture of entitlement. This they do while raking in profits, benefits, bonuses and breaks that can only be described as obscene. The richest in this country receive far more aid, in the form of tax cuts, than do the poor — including the elderly, the sick, children, and the unemployed.

Of course, those Christians who choose to worship God by hating the government he has ordained, and who refuse to recognize the common good that government can achieve among those pesky “least of these” that Jesus was always yammering about, can always take comfort in their noxious injection of pro-corporation, anti-poor “Libertarianism” into the Christian faith. One poem isn’t going to change their minds; only the Holy Spirit can do that. But I think this is worth thinking about, and what it lacks in poetic beauty and form, it more than makes up for in its pointed indictment of the real “entitlement class” in the U.S. –

“There’s a clear need now for sacrifice
To advance a greater good;
It’s not a pleasant prospect
But this need’s well understood.

The poor will make this sacrifice,
They’ll feel its pain and cuss;
while the rich assure each other
That this greater good . . . is us.”

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