Originally Posted by insidevoice
Honestly, yes. If they aren't accessing the services available to them, they are struggling more than they need to. I know that in my community, we have a very small food bank (it's actually a closet in the Sheriff's office) but there are a number of people who would really benefit from having the courage to walk in and ask for help. We've such a stigma around asking for and accepting assistance (again, it comes down to the us/them issue) that people are forgoing any savings at all for their pride.
Once someone knows what they are earning, they need to facilitate life changes to make it possible to live with what they ARE earning, not stagnate bemoaning the need to earn more.
y'all--if you've ever had a felony, not only can you not vote, but you are disqualified from any assistance, whether it be medicaid or housing. also, the services are usually only available to "legal" occupants in the US.
also.. retracting claws.
i think that the people who have posted who describe how their families were able to put money by were also talking about how they grew up, two of the posters described intact families and circumstances that must have taken place at least 20 years ago, plus or minus a few. i TOTALLY agree that for most families that were working class, or lower middle class, 2 decades ago, that was indeed a reality and a viable option.
I think this bears repeating: economic times have changed. There are lots of people living in the US who live in poverty, and struggle with joblessness, homelessness, and things like being unable to obtain a freaking bank account. Saving is not a reality for people, in most circumstances, when life is this way. poverty is very real, and it's hard to understand if you haven't ever seen or experienced it. i don't think it's elitist to assume that if you can barely feed yourself you can't possible put money into a savings account. for pete's sake, don't you have to have a minimum balance to even open a bank account?
there are also people who don't live in extreme poverty but who have either had a drastic change in circumstance-- or who have always struggled to get by. A really fantastic book that would be worth a read is Nickel and Dimed. It's by an undercover reporter who tries out several jobs that pay around minimum wage and describes what life feels like there. you can read an exerpt on google books.
me, i have eaten food out of dumpsters. i have lived in a house with 5 other people, and have had to decide whether to put gas in my car to go to work or buy bread and peanut butter to eat lunch. i have stolen countless rolls of toilet paper. but i was able to go to school because i have and recognize that i have privilege. when i grew up, i had the fortune of not being a color that is discriminated against, and i had options available to me that are not present for other people who are still living with oppression. and still, i know that i am fortunate because the experiences i had with being poor weren't permanent and they didn't trap me because of the privilege i was born with.
I think it's really worth thinking and talking about-- but it's hard to talk about it when life is insular or if you're into denying that life is severe and harsh for so many freaking people. and i'm not saying that income = lack of social awareness, but when we try to talk about this kind of thing and people are getting offended, it's worth suggesting that perhaps lots of us are very fortunate, myself at this point in time included, and it's hard to see the whole entire bleak picture that equals the struggle and sad reality for so many.
Edited by hildare - 8/26/11 at 11:59am