I recently remarked to a friend that there is an awful lot of work that goes into being poor. That got me thinking, which in turn got me blogging, which hopefully gets you reading and sharing the link around. And if you really like my stuff and you have a few extra pennies, there is a tip jar over there on the right. Please feel free to drop a coin in from time to time.
I live in an area that my mayor describes as "Distressed" though I'm sure there are worse areas and I know there are better ones. Before I get into the work of being poor, I'm going to tell you about my 'hood.
The crime rate is high for a city of sinking population. Detroit showed a drop of over 25% in its population over more then 10 years, though honestly I think it may be more. So who is left here? Most folks think it's just the evil or waste of society. They are wrong... to a point.
Evil does hide in this city. It hides in abandoned homes turned into dens of prostitution and drugs. It murders children and burns their bodies in those empty, forgotten homes. It abuses the school system, taking money from children who are already hurting. It makes governmental choices on who to save and who to forget. (click here for a story on that- It is an article from the local news that doesn't want to link right. that)
But there is good here too. There are folks who are trying to make things better. There are folks who take the time to help a neighbor, mow an abandoned lot, plant a tree, watch to make sure other peoples kids are safe outside on the block. There are people trying to use the empty space to provide food to those without.
A lot of us are here because we have little choice. Our house is paid for, there is no where else for us to go, no jobs, or we are just old and wanting to finish out our lives where we have been for more years then we can remember.
And some folks are here because this is our piece of the American apple pie. We earned it. We paid for it. We work for it. We deserve to be able to live and survive on our land. We don't want some kid or some governmental type to force us out because they want control over our land.
There is trash here. Abandoned properties sit with grass that is chest high on a man.Buildings that are dangerous breeding grounds for animals of all types, including the human variety. But there is also hope here. There are people who want it to be better. They want to survive and reach a better place. There are even people that other folks think are set up for failure, that over come and best the doubters. And they help each other get through.
If you are poor in America then you aren't worth much.
Never mind how many of us weren't poor until the recession hit. ~ And on a side note: It isn't over and I don't know what kind of drugs the folks who say it is, are on but they must be heavy duty.~ Never mind those of us who had jobs that just aren't coming back, like the tool and dye guys who worked for the small companies that made parts for the big companies. Those big companies got help to survive but those little guys were crushed like worker ants.
Never mind that if you haven't worked because there are no jobs, the companies will not hire you if:
A. Your credit is bad. Because everyone knows you can still pay all your bills when your income suddenly stops.
B. You haven't worked in the last few months. They really don't care about the fact that not even the fast food places have jobs open in your area.
C. If you worked for 28 years in one industry and it died, so you try something different that 500 better qualified folks are trying for as well.
Those who have never been poor seem to have a few misguided views that I would like to address.
Those lazy folks who milk or cheat the system and give everyone else a bad name are not the norm. The rules to protect the system are stiffer, stronger, and not as full of loopholes. The people you really should watch out for are the ones running the system. They cheat, lie, steal, and blame the poor.
The programs like welfare are not designed for long term help anymore. Michigan had a limit of 48 months even before the Governor made a big show putting a 4 year limit on it. ~how dumb was that?~ Medical help is cut to bare bones. There is a year wait for a child to get a wheel chair. Or Longer. You have to attend classes (called Work First) in order to get assistance. If you get child support while getting any type of assistance then the state gets most of it. The time of a "free ride" is long dead.
Some folks do drugs, most do not. Some spend their money on nail jobs and fancy cars, others spend it on their kids school books and take the bus. Some people lie, cheat, and steal, but most are just trying to do the right things by their families. And other people's crap is just unwanted, undeserved crap by people who have never known hunger so their child could eat.
Oh yeah... and for the folks who say don't have kids if you can't afford them... suck my big toe. You are the same people who think it's bad to give birth control to people who can't afford it.
It's a lot of work being poor.
To be poor or even lower middle class, you have to have some type of driving force. Mostly it is to avoid hunger, cold, or other life draining disadvantages that are a daily threat. That gets you moving each day to find a way to survive.
Your first thought in the morning is "What has to be done today to make it through" Do I need to bring in wood for the fire? How can I get the extra cash for the shoes my son needs for the braces he is getting this week? What bills HAVE to be paid and which can I cut so I can get a few groceries? What can I feed my kids and will there be enough for me to eat too tonight? How many days before the next paycheck comes in?
And that's just before your feet hit the floor.
You don't live paycheck to paycheck. Your paycheck is usually gone before it hits your hand and never makes it to your pocket. You live day to day. If the car breaks down your get by plan is shot. If an extra bill comes in, someone gets sick, or the DOW drops it can screw up the whole life of the family. It is very easy to fall on hard times. It really isn't that far of a fall. BUT that climb back up is hard and long and painful. For some it is near on impossible. And getting kicked while you are down happens more often then not.
Some people have no clue about anything outside their own misconceptions.
My friend Zilla is a fellow blogger and she recently wrote about a few folks who know what it is like. Please take a look here.
Modest Needs is a wonderful place to hear the true stories of need as well as refreshing stories of those who have overcome some of those mountains.
How did cities get the way they are? Some folks say it is the governments doing. Here is a view on how it got to be so bad and on how it's about color and class. ~keep in mind that I, myself, am poor WHITE trash living as a minority in my city... that is another blog topic that I'm sure I'll get to at some point~
If people would stop pointing fingers and start looking out for each other, the world would be a much nicer place. It isn't all about you, about them, but about us as a whole.