More on “The Poor”

I made the mistake of reading CNN this morning.  My eyes were unfortunately drawn to this article.

I hate these articles. I hate everything about them. They try to show how tough it is for the poor in hopes that you will blame the rich. Not to pick on these folks, as I have not lived in their shoes directly. I am going to point out that either the victim mentality is terrible, or CNN has crappy writers who are not really pulling out their stories. Let’s take a look at the nine victims (one of which is from the town where I live):

1. “She takes two buses to get to work — a trip that takes more than an hour each way — and considers herself lucky if she gets 30 hours of work a week.” My commute is an hour and a half drive one way. Or, if I don’t feel like driving, I can take two buses and a train for a one way commute of three hours.

2. “‘I was almost better off before the raise,’ she said. She has since found a job paying $20 an hour, but making ends meet still isn’t easy.” Killer. You make $2.50 more an hour than me, and I hold a master’s degree in engineering, and you are complaining that it’s still too hard.

3. “I go out and volunteer with [nonprofit advocacy group] OurDC — we fight for things like minimum wage [increases] and try to get some of these Congress people to do something, because you can’t live off $8 or $9 an hour.” Broke, near homeless, “applying for jobs”, but plenty of time to protest the minimum wage you aren’t receiving (because you’re not working). If she wins, and minimum wage increases, her cost of living will go up, but not her fixed income. Wonder if she knows that…

4. “Andrew doesn’t get to see his wife or son after 9 p.m. each night. This puts a strain on Kristen, since their son suffers from severe attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and she could use Andrew’s help putting him to bed.” For real? My girlfriend and I bounced between the night shifts (every night, one of us was at the factory) and we saw each other practically none. Oh yeah, and our son has ADHD and Asperger Syndrome. Try harder, obvious troll.

5. “they were also finally able to move out of their mice-infested house into a Section 8 home that costs them only $30 per month in rent (though that will increase now that they both found work).” Wait….. $30 a month for housing? Where is the rest of your money going? The quote also exemplifies the problem stated earlier- you are punished for working more. Now that these poor folks have found work and made themselves productive members of society, they’ll pay more for the same house as someone who does nothing all day.

6. “…with the hope of achieving the ‘American Dream’ and finding a better way to support her mother and two children.
But the only jobs she has been able to find have paid minimum wage.” What do you bring to the table? A desire to achieve the “American Dream?” That is not a marketable skill. No fair saying you should be paid more without any marketable skill. The article goes on to say that she’s worked 13 years in the same position. If you are skilled- leave. Find some place that will appreciate your skill. If you are not up-skilling, don’t expect a bigger paycheck.

7. “…earns a mere $18,000 a year. Her husband, meanwhile, makes about $45,000 as a construction manager.” “They currently have about $11,000 in student loan debt.” Super. I have $35,000 in student loan debt, my girlfriend has another $12,000, and they make about $15,000 more than we do a year. Oh, but I bet all three kids have smart phones, and I bet they have cable/satellite TV. We don’t. We don’t drink, either. My car has 319,000 miles on it, and my girlfriends is a “baby” with only 150,000 and no air conditioning. We spend money on vacations- vacations that we can do on the cheap. When we are bored, we go to our bookshelf and select a book.

8. “But working and going to school means that she’s out of the house for 17 hours a day several times a week.” Tragic, I know. Except for two years, I was out of the house 24 hours a day every Wednesday (at two different jobs, while going to school), and would have been out for more (15.5 hours every day), except that I found it was cheaper to stay with my brother (out of my house 24 hours a day, 3 days a week) than to commute. Also, complain to some soldiers who are out of their house for 24 hours a day for their deployments. I’m sure they’ll agree you need more money to be a hotel security guard.

9. “He says he’s scared to ask for a raise because he’s worried that they will let him go and find someone else willing to take the low wage.” Too scared to talk to his boss, but not too scared to protest for higher minimum wage (the photo used for this article is him doing so), or to go on national news and complain about it.

In spite of what you may think, this article is not set up to shred these folks- I am merely highlighting that these difficulties can be overcome. None of this is easy, but the sooner everyone drops the “victim” mentality that is brought about by reports like this, the sooner EVERYONE can view their life something to be cherished and improved, instead of waiting for someone else to make it better.

We could think of our lives the same way: Asperger/ADHD child born to us when we were 20 years old, took out too many loans, working long hours for minimum pay, health troubles (girlfriend and son allergic to wheat, soy, milk, potato, and a dozen common ingredients in all prepackaged food, I have a thyroid disorder, rheumatoid arthritis and diagnosed narcolepsy).

Instead of playing the victim, we organized. For a while, we lived on $30 a week for all groceries. No TV, old cars that we used infrequently to save gas, etc. We grew vegetables to supplement our grocery budget- but frozen vegetables are cheap. We cowboy’d/cowgirl’d up. We skilled up. We learned and educated up. We saw opportunities when others saw problems. We lived within our means.

Stop being a victim. It will never, ever benefit you. Every time you hear sad music in your head about your current situation, tell it to stop!

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