18 September, 11:55pm Update: It seems I overlooked David Brooks’ piece in the New York Times today – all credit to him for picking up, rather explicitly, I think, on the themes below.  Even more credit to the center-right Brooks for eschewing politics to express his disturbance over Romney’s comments. Too bad the rest of the media seems to be ignoring the issues here.

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In the roar over Mitt Romney’s astonishingly impolitic (let’s just leave it at that for now) comments, it seems to me that the media, twitter…basically everyone has ignored one part of his statement:

All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. (my emphasis).

Look, do we have entitlement issues in the United States?  Sure – hell, we have giant agricultural subsidies that are screwing up global markets, but heaven forbid anyone try to get rid of them.  And is it totally unreasonable to phase in a retirement age a year or two later over the next several decades, given rising life expectancies?  But this is one set of debates.  When you bring food, shelter and basic healthcare into play, you are not talking about the same issues.

I’m sorry, but is anyone in this country seriously arguing that having enough food to eat is not a right?  That access to shelter is not a right? That the hippocratic oath, and all that goes with it, is out the window? It is a national shame that anyone starves inside the boarders of this country.  It is an embarrassment that people die of exposure in this country. It is humiliating to have a higher infant mortality rate than CUBA. Politics aside, shouldn’t we, as members of the world’s largest economy, all agree that this sort of thing simply should not happen, and that it is our societal responsibility to prevent it from happening?

What religious creed, what political affiliation, what socially-acceptable philosophy argues that we should crap on the poor? None. There is no excuse for this sort of statement, this sort of argument – it is just wrong.  And the fact that everyone seems to be letting it slide because they are myopically focused on “the 47%” is equally inexcusable.  Given these comments, someone damn well better ask candidate Romney where he stands on social safety nets…