The Problem With Empathy

by Joy Tomme

John Boehner is a selfish, narrow-minded Republican troglodyte. But when he says, as he was reported in the New York Times this morning to have said: “Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat once again on signing up people for food stamps,” I am now fully aware that he cannot understand—and the fact that he doesn’t want to understand is a separate failing—the horrors of living in poverty. Boehner is incapable of empathy where poverty is concerned…he does not feel poor people’s pain. If people are poor it’s their fault, is his position.

 His statement, quoted in the NYT, needs a bit of clarifying. What he was saying is that the farm bill has given states a way to allow people to receive food stamps that was not available before, and according to Boehner, those states that utilize this way of awarding food stamps are “cheating”. 

 As is right and proper, a NYT editorial roundly criticized Boehner this morning for his rhetoric and his beliefs.

 But the fact is, John Boehner is no more capable of understanding that poverty is not a weakness in character and/or a divine judgement from God, than I am capable of changing the color of my eyes without artificial help.

Usually, when one reaches a conclusion, one has a solution to the conclusion problem. I have none. Oust John Boehner is about the best I can do.