Friday, May 22, 2009

Poverty 101

poverty, poor, economic,
If you've never been poor, you need to read this.

If you have been, or are currently poor, give me a "sing it, sister!"

A sample for the lazier among us.

Like food: You don't have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe's, where the middle class goes to save money. You don't have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar.

A loaf of bread there costs you $2.99 for white. For wheat, it's $3.79. The clerk behind the counter tells you the gallon of leaking milk in the bottom of the back cooler is $4.99. She holds up four fingers to clarify. The milk is beneath the shelf that holds beef bologna for $3.79. A pound of butter sells for $4.49. In the back of the store are fruits and vegetables. The green peppers are shriveled, the bananas are more brown than yellow, the oranges are picked over.

(At a Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, the wheat bread costs $1.19, and white bread is on sale for $1. A gallon of milk costs $3.49 -- $2.99 if you buy two gallons. A pound of butter is $2.49. Beef bologna is on sale, two packages for $5.)

This is why it's so hard to stop being poor. Not because poor people are lazy or stupid or immoral, but because poor people spend every dollar they have, and then some, paying more for food, for housing, for washing their clothes, etc. You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you can't afford bootstraps.


  1. That's something that has always bothered me, the idea that poor people are lazy. I would love to see these over privilaged people try to live on food stamps.

  2. it is so much harder to be poor than rich. more time consuming, more worrisome, and just harder.

  3. People just don't seem to get that, that being poor isn't about being lazy, you work harder than most and get nothing in return. Sure, there are the mythic "welfare queens" out there, but most people I know work hard as hell and are barely keeping their heads above water.

  4. i want to meet these mythic welfare queens. i know people who get food stamps. they get $3 per day, per person. that'll buy you an awful lot of ramen noodles, but not a whole lot of real food.

    i spend a lot of time in the produce department staring at the lovely fruits and vegetables i can't afford to eat. and i make too much money for food stamps.

  5. Having found myself in Dire straights a few times, I understand perfectly. Another killer is late fees. When you have to go take an odd job after work to get the money to pay the phone bill, it is a back breaker when they add $25 because it took you too long to raise the money.

    I am blessed to live in a pedestrian friendly town. It is perfectly possible here to get to a good grocery store on foot or by bike from just about anywhere. Admittedly you can't buy much at a time. About two bags each but it is worth it.

    Still like you said it is still much harder and more time consuming than being able to drive.

    It is stupid that society will give great respect to a middle class person who becomes wealthy even though that is a path with a lot fewer obstacles than a poor person becoming middle class. An accomplishment which usually goes unnoticed.

  6. PF: I make too much money for food stamps too, I am just over the limit. I also make too much money to get help with daycare. I am no where near Middle Class for my area, I'm upper low income. I have a house, which is a blessing and a curse at time, but I know people with less. I get by because my ex pays child support. That's it. As much as I bitch about him, I have to admit, he's what helps us get by. A friend of mine's ex stopped paying child support for his 4 kids. She makes $12 too much to get food stamps, and regularly has to chose what bill doesn't get paid that month.
    There is something wrong with the system when you have to make that decsion.

  7. you know how you make that decision? based on which utility will shut you off faster. cable company or phone: within days. water, heat or electric: a couple of months.

    i have to be careful to time running out of toiletries and cleaning supplies because i can't possibly afford windex and laundary detergent in the same week i buy shampoo and deoderent.

  8. Shit! I posted as Quitius again. May I ask you to delete it? Thanks.

  9. I price things in minutes, earned working at minimum wage: a loaf of white bread at the 'cheap' store costs you ½ hr. For wheat, it's 45 min. Either the gallon of leaking milk or the pound of butter costs just under an hour.

    For an average earner ($28,000) who shops At a Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda,
    the wheat bread costs 6 minutes, and A gallon of milk costs 16 minutes.

    That average bank fee costs the average earner an hour and 48 minutes, the poor person over four hours.

  10. UZZA! you're alive, and in one piece! I can't tell you how happy I am! I had braced myself never to hear from you again, and that was very sad.

    Cheers for Uzza!

  11. Yer sweet.
    Lol, I'm back in two pieces; got out of the hospital tues.

  12. sing lounder!

    if i am very very careful, and my dad pays my medical stuff, i have enough money to get through July.

    i am not allowed to work. haven't been for over 2 years.
    bread... bread is good. bread can go a looooong way of you work it right. bread ends up being cheaper than ramen, if you do it right.

    i *do* qualify for food stamps, but only by cheating. see, if you are applying for SSI or SSDI or both, you can get them. thats the *only* way i can get them, even though i am not allowed to work.
    except you have to go back in for renewal, and these fucking people just do not understand that i am on medication that literally prevents me from going to a morning appointment. and i called to reshedule and gave the reason, so they gave me a new appointment even EARLIER in the morning. so i tried again. and was told that you can only reshecule ONCE - after that, you're shit outta luck and have to go and wait for a worker, and the minimum wait time? 4.5 hours. i can't sit up that long. literally cannot. i can barely watch an entire movie or last through an entire class, and *that* takes extra pain meds...

    don't mind me i'm just bitching. i have to have another surgery.


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