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Paul Ryan’s “Blame the Victim” Disease: How He Epitomizes A Horrible New Consensus

July 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Elias Isquith, Salon.com

Much like coverage of domestic violence or bombs in Gaza, Paul Ryan's poverty plan has a very disturbing hallmark.


Because there’s no real way to dispute the fundamental moral bankruptcy of neoliberalism without it, the rhetorical trick of blaming the victim is never too far from the surface of American society, regardless of the subject. In pop culture, we hear it when ESPN blowhards indict women for their partners’ violence. In foreign policy, we see it when Wall Street Journal Op-Eds blame Palestinian children for the IDF’s bombs. And in the realm of domestic policy, the blame-the-victim logic is so widespread that I struggle to think of even one major political debate in which it isn’t being pushed by Republicans or Democrats. Often, it’s both.

Unsurprisingly, though, no single issue that attracts more widespread support for blaming the victim than poverty, where it’s often taken as a given that a person’s inability to provide herself with the material comforts of a modern life stems from her own shortcomings, rather than the failure of the social and economic system at large. Examples of this can be found in Republican-controlled state legislature initiatives across the country. But, as if to make the lives of everyone (besides the poor) easier, former vice presidential nominee and current House Republican leader Paul Ryan has put many of them together in his newest compendium of wonky Big Ideas, a “discussion draft” of supposedly anti-poverty measures called “Expanding Opportunity in America.”

Now, while Paul Ryan has previously and repeatedly mentioned his love of Ayn Rand, thecrackpot cult-leader and novelist who made it her life’s mission to turn a sociopathic degree of selfishness into a highbrow political ideology, it’s worth acknowledging upfront that his poverty “draft” is not nearly as Objectivist as his infamous budgets. Brian Beutler rightly notes that despite its many flaws, Ryan’s draft “proposes spending more taxpayer money on poor people” by expanding the earned income tax credit — something that Ayn Rand, despite the EITC’s market-oriented construction, would never do. Indeed, Ryan’s ideas for “expanding opportunity” are such a philosophical break with his earlier plans to redistribute …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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