WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: SNAPSHOT OF LIVING POOR

SERENDIPITY

snow shack

Should I buy it? Do I need it?

I sit here a mass of nerves, stomach jumping, head spinning. What’s the problem?

My Kindle isn’t working like it should anymore. It has served me well for more than two years. Now, things that didn’t work perfectly at the start work even less well. It’s beginning to die. So what’s the problem? Get a new one, right?

Poverty. I can buy it cheaper now — on credit — than will be possible for months (years?) to come. I depend on my Kindle. I don’t buy paper books. No room. I have to make a decision. Today.

My hands are shaky. I should use what I’ve got until it dies then buy something. But that won’t work well. I’ll wind up paying full price. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

You wouldn’t think I’d get into such a stomach-churning lather over spending $200 — especially when it’s…

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6 thoughts on “WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: SNAPSHOT OF LIVING POOR

  1. Yup. And anyone actually LIVING on social security or “welfare” isn’t living comfortably, much less luxuriously. It’s a pittance that means you make daily choices between food and medication, something you want very much and something you need. Life gets very stark indeed and sometimes, the frustration is just murderous.

    • My mother survived on $500 a month from Social Security after my dad died. He had a pension but it died with him. She was fortunate the house was paid for and she had some money in a savings account. She was 80 when he died at 79 so she had Medicare for her medical.

      My sister and I both offered to have her live with us but she valued her freedom and refused. It wasn’t easy for her but she managed.

  2. Thanks for the reblog, Llloyd 🙂 This is more revealing than I intended but it’s a good snapsho of reality, a commentary on how we treat people who are no longer considered an asset.

    • “How we treat people who are no longer considered an asset.”

      My uncle Lloyd, who I was named after because I was born on his birthday [he lived into his 90s], told me a story of what it was like when he was just starting out as a teen. Every morning, he would get up early like hundreds of other hopeful workers and go to the railroad freight yards where they would wait in the cold to see who would be hired that day to load and/or unload the trains. From hundreds, twenty or thirty were usually picked. He said the way they were picked was by token. The foreman would throw the tokens into the crowd of hungry, poor men and let them fight over the tokens. The winners worked but there was no guarantee of how many hours, no medical, no sick leave, no retirement plan, no nothing and they were paid pennies on the hour.

      The next day was a repeat. Eventually, Uncle Lloyd was hired full time for the railroad and worked his way up to engineer. Somewhere on that timeline, the unions arrived and with the labor unions came better pay, better job security and better benefits. Uncle Lloyd fought in World War II and had a service related disability because of the war. The VA was his medical provider. When he returned from the war, his job was waiting for him on the railroad. When he retired in his sixties, he had a good pension through the labor union.

      The super rich—for instance—the Koch brothers and the Walton family think like the railroad barons before the labor unions fought their bloody battles to gain better pay and benefits for workers.

      The Koch brothers and Walton family were born into wealth and have never been poor. They didn’t earn the billions they use today to attack the public schools, Social Security, Obamacare, Medicare, labor unions, etc. These super wealthy, conservative/libertarian out of touch with reality billionaires are waging war against any program that is socialist in nature like Social Security—that cuts into the growth of their great wealth.

      All of these socialist safety net programs came about so even the working poor in America would have some food to eat through the food-stamp program and not starve. In fact, most of the Americans who collect food stamps have jobs with companies like Wal-Mart, MacDonald’s or Pizza Hut, etc. Most of the poor in America are not dead beat welfare queens or kings.

      I’ve known people who are among the working poor who often work more than one job to earn enough to pay the rent and buy food. My brother—when he was in his 20s—was one of those working poor. In his first marriage, he worked two low paying jobs sixteen hours a day sometimes seven days a week so he could provide the kind of lifestyle his pretty young wife expected. Eventually, lonely because he was never there, she cheated on him and then left him for another man who earned more.

      And if a child was born into poverty, that child would always have the public schools offering those poor children a way out if they wanted to work to earn that free education.

      Many who grow up in poverty do not take advantage of that—due to a variety of problems from being part of a dysfunctional family—but some do. Once the public schools are gone, that option will be gone too and then the ranks of the poor will swell in America until one day it will be difficult to tell the difference between poverty in the United States and poverty in a country like India where several thousand children die of malnutrition and starvation every day.

      No matter how great a teacher is, there is no way that teacher is going to motivate a child who has no interest in working to learn how to read, etc. And “No Child Left Behind” or “Race to the Top”—that punishes teachers for those children who do not show improvement—will not change that reality no matter how harsh the government punishes public school teachers.

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