GRANT, CONNECTICUT — Calvin Ryan is a self-described “Free Market Capitalist” and libertarian. He runs a medium-sized Facebook page called “Biased America” as well as a few others with very pro-capitalist themes, and he holds a degree in statistics from his local university. He recently came upon some data that he thinks proves just how much better off America’s poor are than the poor people in the rest of the world and, he says, it proves that poor people here “have very little they should really be complaining about.”
Citing data from a survey of energy consumption, Ryan put together an infographic, or meme, that shows what percentage of homes in poverty have things like refrigerators, televisions, microwaves, and air conditioning units. The survey even asked how many households in poverty had things like video game consoles and computers. Though the study that Ryan cited didn’t actually speak to ownership, in his meme he used the word “owned,” despite critics later pointing out that many of the items on the list are provided for you when one rents a home or apartment.
“I’m sorry, but if 99.4% of households in poverty have refrigerators, can we really say those living in poverty here in America have it that badly,” Ryan asked rhetorically. He asked, “If people living in poverty in much poorer, much less developed countries have it worse then the poor people here, why should we let our poor people complain so much?” Mr. Ryan insisted that “no one who has two televisions in an era when you can buy them brand new for a fraction of what they used to cost” can call themselves “poor.”
Ryan pointed to the refrigerators as proof that “our poor just don’t know how good they have it.” He advocates “spending less poverty programs” so that those living in poverty in America can have their quality of life lessened. “That way, if they have things as poorly as people living in poverty in some third world nation, maybe they’ll understand how good they had it before we took away their support system.”
“I just think that someone making sure their food doesn’t spoil automatically means they’re not that poor is all,” Ryan said. “I mean, should poor people have the luxury of not knowing if the food they spent their pittance of an existence on will rot overnight? Should poor people get to have the comfort the rest of us take for granted that the food they require to keep living not be inedible less than a week after they buy it? These are the tough questions we have to ask ourselves in society,” Ryan said.
Ryan said, “If you’re poor in this country you should be willing to go without all the trappings of modern life — like air conditioning and humidifiers — because you’re poor and you clearly did something to deserve being poor, even if it’s just being born poor and literally not being given any instruction or help in climbing your way out.”
“We just need to get back to a place where our poverty-stricken families are more aligned with those living in poverty in places overrun with warlords and criminal abuse and neglect,” Ryan said, “and then maybe that’ll force our poors to hit rock bottom. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you only have to go up, right? So let’s make their lives as bereft of happiness as possible, since nothing motivates you to live your life like having nothing to live for.”
Ryan said it all comes down to one thing for him — himself. “If you’re going to ask me to slice out ten or fifteen pennies from every dollar I earn so that poor people can have food that doesn’t rot, you can go screw yourself. I’m an American. I have rights. I don’t want to help people. Call me selfish. Call me naive. But I believe in this narrow, self-serving ideology, and at 42 years old, I’m never giving it up, so neener neener you statist, commie, pinko, economic illiterates!”
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