‘What is riskier than living poor in America?’


Near the end of today’s show, Melissa made an impassioned point in the conversation we had today about the issue of welfare, and how race is intertwined with that issue in our politics. The panel – which also included business author Monica Mehta, columnist Bob Franken, Wake Forest professor David Coates, and writer/commentator Nancy Giles – had been debating the specific issue of class mobility, and America’s embarrassing lack of it.

Economist Howard Steven Friedman noted earlier this week at the Huffington Post that class mobility is inextricably linked to the cost of education, and Giles made a similar point, including health care in that calculus. Mehta interrupted, noting that such education and health care wouldn’t have been possible without risk, presumably from those “job creators” Republicans like Mitt Romney always tell us about.

I say presumably, because at that point, Melissa interjected with this:

“What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No. There is a huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness.”

We’ll have more on this welfare, race, and poverty discussion throughout the week, but for right now, we’ll leave it there. It should be noted that Melissa offered an apology for “losing my temper” in that discussion. (Judging by the praise folks in #nerdland on Twitter and Facebook are lavishing on Melissa for saying what she did, it’s up to you as to whether or not you wish to accept that apology.)

See the segment in full here, and below.