white radical nerd lady in my 30s
transplanted to the East Coast US
happily living in sin with my co-conspirator Mr. X
my Dragon Age sideblog
Other tags of interest - Places I Wish I Was Right Now, GPOY, owls, you are cordially invited to my pants, this has been a post, OH MY GOD, Favorite of all the things, Maru is the best cat in the whole world
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“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms (via idrabear)
This is one of the best breakdowns I’ve ever seen of how expensive it is to be poor.
SERIOUSLY. Whenever people are like “BUY IN BULK! BETTER VALUE! CHEAPER IN THE LONG RUN!!!!!” it’s like HELLOOOO sometimes you haven’t got the money to buy more in one go.
Pratchett as always, words it best.
Oh my god, Ann! This sounds JUST LIKE my parents’ story! You know, the one where they were so poor that they had to work three low-wage jobs apiece, collect cans and newspapers out of trash bins, and raise my sister and I in the projects in order to fight their way out of poverty.
You know, the story, Ann! It’s the one where a business environment forged by hundreds of years of institutionalized racism made it impossible for my father to get a white collar job despite his education because who could trust a young black man back then? And remember how institutionalized the racism was that businesses would actually say that to his face? He ended up taking three jobs — at a deli counter, at a Burger King, and as a stock boy — oh yeah, he worked all those jobs at once. Didn’t he know that all he had to do was have his impoverished coal miner father believe in himself more? Lol!
That’s awesome that you got to stay home to raise your children. I mean *I* can relate to that seeing as I had to raise my little sister — if only my parents could afford to be stay at home parents — or afford child care for that matter! As a eight year old, staying up until midnight each night just so that I could wake my mother up in time so that we could pile in the car to pick my father up from his night job was so much fun! Of course, she was sleepy because she had to work multiple jobs too!
Since my mom was the only one who could get an above-minimum wage job on account of her being an “Oriental”, she worked as a secretary, at a printing press, and as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant six days a week. I wish she had just listened to Mitt!
Remember how the minimum wage was just $2.90/hr…. (Sorry, Ann. I meant “half a share of Mitt’s stock per hour”.) Remember how the low minimum wage meant that you could barely cover your government assisted rent, no-frills groceries, expensive utilities, and your barely working used car (made by Romney’s American Motors! How ironic!) just to keep up let alone put anything into savings? I mean, who has time to entertain when you can’t afford cable television or a home phone?
One thing that was different, though, Ann, was that my parents weren’t happy where you and Mitt clearly were. I mean, they loved each other and they loved us kids, but boy, could they argue! They’d get into arguments about things like how to spend the extra $1 they’d have left over at the end of each week. Do they buy an extra loaf of bread so the kids wouldn’t be as hungry? Fresh milk instead of watering down the can of condensed milk? Gas for the car so that they’d make it to the third job on time. Such silly arguments! They should have learned to struggle like you did. It sounds like you and Mitt clearly did have all the best days! Now that’s a real marriage! (unlike their silly interracial marriage — remember how people used to treat the interracial couples then like we do gay couples now? That was awesome for kids like me!)
When I see you on television talking about how you got by, in your basement apartment with your ironing board dinner table (how Bohemian!) I can’t help but think of my parents. I mean, it’s like you’re fucking twinsies. You should all go ride your Olympic show horses together. I’m sure they’d identify with your struggle 100%. You’d have so much to talk about!
Bob Torres, Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (via thinksquad)
Wow, I totally don’t remember this part of the book. I’ll need to give it another read soon. Also, for whoever doesn’t know, Bob Torres is one of the hosts of Vegan Freak Radio, an awesome radio show about veganism and all that relates to it.
Recently, The Heritage Foundation released a report on poverty in American, largely trying to debunk the idea that poor people are poor. They included facts like the majority of people living in poverty have refrigerators, microwaves, and air conditioners. Never mind these things might be attached to a rental unit of some kind… it’s not like those items listed are big-ticket items, particularly when bought used.
I met a family the other day who, according to the Heritage Foundation, is living in the lap of luxury. I’ll let you folks make up your minds.
I was at the Salvation Army last week and was looking at the appliances. There was an older microwave for $5. A woman in front of me (I’ll call her Ann) at the register bought the microwave and was telling her kids they’d get microwave popcorn again. It looked like that $5 microwave made those kids’ day. Now, that microwave would have been included in The Heritage Foundation’s analysis because she also receives WIC, and Heritage Foundation is especially interested in those receiving federal benefits.
I know she receives WIC, because she asked me if all the grocery stores in town took it. Ann just moved here about three weeks ago and was staying with a friend who was now in the process of moving away. I talked to her for about half an hour outside the store. She asked if I knew which hotel was the cheapest and cleanest, because she couldn’t afford the rent here (college is about to start, so the cheapest rentals are gone) and she’s on a list for a housing voucher.
I helped her put a suitcase on a luggage rack on the top of her car to make room for the microwave in her trunk. She mentioned she was glad to have a place to work and, she hoped, a place to live. I asked where she moved from. She said Denver, and that she and her kids were living in their car for a few months (in the midst of a heat wave) because her landlord kicked her out and she had nowhere to go. Ann said she never signed a lease and the landlord evicted her with just a few hours notice because her two-year-old was too noisy. She was afraid to go for DFS for help because she thought they’d take the kids, what with them living in the car. She interviewed for a job at a fast food place here about a week ago and starts this Monday. She’d been out of work for about 5 months when she moved up here.
I gave her the phone numbers for every community resource I could think of, pointed her towards the hotels I knew were cheap and clean, and offered to help in any way I could. Ann said that I’d helped, that she already knew how to get along the best she could, and that “being poor takes skills you don’t know you have ‘til you need them.”
But according to Heritage Foundation, she’s not poor. She and her 3 kids are living in a hotel here that has a fridge, a queen bed (or two), a $5 microwave she bought, and she’s living in the lap of luxury (as defined by them)? I don’t think so. Their report exemplifies what I (and others) call “Poor people can’t have nice things.” Basically, if you have a very basic amenity, like a microwave, you’re obviously not poor. Apparently, being poor involves some kind of “noble suffering” and if you aren’t suffering Oliver Twist-style, you aren’t poor.
I can see Ann and her kids were struggling. But that’s seemingly not “low” enough for folks at the Heritage Foundation. I don’t care what “amenities” people in poverty supposedly have - to me, one person being one paycheck away from homelessness or food insecurity is one too many. One in seven Americans currently rely on food stamps to eat. And never mind those folks trying to subsist on the goodwill of others and/or unemployment. I’m not going to quibble about a cell phone or a television.
I hope she’s doing alright, the job works out, and the kids get microwave popcorn.