Hey all you entrepreneurs out there who lack the collateral or a high enough credit rating to acquire a loan from a bank to start your business, Mitt Romney has some advice fom you: Get a loan from your parents. Oh, your parents are poor too you say? Oh well, I guess Mitt hadn’t considered that your being poor had anything to do with your parents being poor. Ooopsy-daisy!
At a campaign stop at Otterbein University in Ohio, Romney thought he should dish out a bit of helpful advice to our bright leaders of tomorrow while at the same time thumbing his nose at those who deign to draw attention to the increasing inequality in the US:
“This kind of devisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.”
Mitt took a good shot, but unfortunately he gets no cigar. Taking a chance and starting your own business is a good idea, especially if your idea is actually a good one; getting a college education is another well-worn path to economic success in life. But unfortunately for many people, borrowing money from your parents is not a feasible option for funding their start-up; and the very fact that Mitt mentions borrowing thousands of dollars from the parental units as if this is a thing of ease is one indication–of many–that he is out touch with the reality of millions of Americans.
Romney isn’t the only out of touch. Recently, in a class I’m taking, I was required–as were all of the other students in the class–to write one pro or con of living in an urban slum. After all of the students had made their comment on the board and we read the statements, I noticed that “inexpensive living” was listed as a pro to living in a slum. I was slightly baffled because I knew from first-hand experience that being impoverished is actually a very expensive lifestyle. Poor people have to pay more for everything–from interest rates on car loans and credit-card rates to the proportion of their income that goes towards paying basic expenses such as housing and food costs. Because poor people have to pay more, it becomes more difficult for them to save money and establish a cushion of funds that can be used for any type of investment. The difficulty of breaking free from the cycle of poverty is a real phenomenon, not just for people in developing countries, but for millions of seemingly ordinary Americans.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs dictates that a person will almost certainly not become a creative, problem-solving person who is consumed with the desire for self-actualization until his most basic needs–which comprise the lower level of Maslow’s pyramid–are met. You may have some difficulty creating the next facebook or Google if your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of where you are going to sleep tonight, what you will eat tomorrow, how you are going to pay your bills, and why can’t you find anyone to love you.
Love. This brings us back around to Mitt Romney. The Republican base is not in love with the idea of Mitt Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee because they don’t think he’s conservative enough. The rest of the Americans who are not in love with the idea of a Mitt Romney presidency feel that way because they don’t think Mitt truly understands them and their trials and tribulations, particularly when it comes to financial pressures. And until Mitt can convince Americans that he understands the sort of reality many of them face–the reality that says borrowing 20 grand from the folks is not an option–then Mitt will continue to get only a little love in the voting booth from the poor and struggling Americans whom he continues to alienate.