Dear Mr. Gingrich,
I'm not going to take your comments about poor children cleaning their schools seriously as potential public policy because we all know that's not what's going to happen and that's not what you intended.
But I just want to ask you: when you said that people in poor neighborhoods don't work hard, where do you think the people who clean your offices live? Where do you think the people who bus your tables live? The people who mow your lawns and trim your shrubs? Where do you think they live? All those people leaving the center of every city every night, collapsed into their subway seats in their soiled uniforms with the dirt under their fingernails . . . where do you think they go home every night?
And the kids . . . the kids who get themselves up and to school because mom isn't home yet from her overnight job at the grocery store (yes, I know those kids) and the child who walks home and locks herself in the house until her mom gets off work at Walmart and takes the bus home to her house in the neighborhood you dismissed so cavalierly, the kids who go without when their day laborer dad can't find work because it's raining and the manual labor he depends on isn't available . . . what about them? That's not to mention what happens to the family of the "unionized custodian" who loses her job because she is being replaced by a fourteen-year-old.
Insulting the poor is a good way to get elected in some circles. It worked for Ronald Reagan and his "welfare queens," even though that particular stereotype doesn't hold up to statistical scrutiny. Herman Cain tried it by telling the unemployed that if they don't have a job, they have only themselves to blame. He got a lot of applause for that.
The truth is that 3/4 of poor adults work, most of them full-time. A sizable portion of the rest are either disabled or elderly or work for cash under the government radar. There are infuriating, frustrating exceptions, I know. But Mr. Gingrich, to use a broad brush to paint the poor as lazy is not only cruel and unfair but incorrect . . . and it will probably get you votes.