. . . and I don’t have much, either!
My blogbuddy and meatspace acquaintance (via Oleg), Nicki, has published an excellent article about poverty in America, and why she doesn’t have much sympathy with those claiming to be poor, or those talking about their plight and trying to make us feel guilty about them. Here’s an excerpt.
I’m often accused of being heartless when I read media stories meant to tug at the heartstrings – stories about the nation’s poor, about hungry children, about stinking, miserable poverty that are meant to make me feel better about government spending yet more of my hard-earned tax dollars ostensibly to “help the poor.”
Because I have no sympathy. None. Sure, there are real stories of hardship out there, but frankly, I’ve been there and done that, so while I can empathize, what I usually see in these stories is parental FAIL, government FAIL and, to an extent, society FAIL. But I don’t see society FAIL in our failure to spend more money to provide more food for the destitute. I see society FAIL in preventing generational dependence on handouts, rather than fostering self-reliance and ingenuity.
When I first came to this country with my parents, we were destitute in a very real sense of the word.
. . .
After a few weeks, we moved into an apartment of our own a few blocks from my aunt and grandpa. It was small and infested with cockroaches. A lot of cockroaches. And no matter what the building did to exterminate, they were all over the place like the plague. They were on light switches when you tried to turn the lights on, in the sink, in the bathroom, in the shower, on my pillow and walls… everywhere. My parents had a room, as did I, and my dad got a menial job – yeah, even with his two Master’s degrees in engineering – to support us.
Furniture? Trash. It’s not like we actually brought anything with us! What we did bring that was worth anything was pretty much stolen by the customs “people” on the border. My dad found two frames for wooden armchairs in other people’s trash. He found wooden planks, which he placed on top of the chairs and cushions from other people’s garbage to place on top of the planks. We had some throws we brought with us from the USSR, so he put them on top of the old cushions, so we wouldn’t have to sit on them directly.
TV? Trash. My dad found a little 10-inch set, which he fixed (those Master’s degrees in engineering came in handy). It had rabbit ears, and sometimes, you had to wrap the things in foil in order to be able to see what was happening on that screen. That’s how I learned English. Watching cartoons on that little TV.
Food was always nutritious, even though we had nearly nothing to spend on it. I ate ice cubes instead of ice pops and ice cream. No candy. No soda. I didn’t even know what soda was until about a year after living in the United States! But we had chicken (it was the most inexpensive protein out there), cereal, milk, some juice, some fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, eggs and potatoes and rice. That’s it. Not an exciting menu, but it got us through each week. I didn’t starve, and I ate food that was good for me.
I wore pretty much the same clothes day after day. I had a couple of outfits. We saved the “nice” ones for school picture day. The other kids at school looked at me funny, because I didn’t change my clothes daily. The only thing I did change daily – a luxury back then – was the color of rubber bands in my pigtails. We found a few discarded items in others’ trash, so my mom washed them, and I wore those too. My clothes were always clean, even if they were washed in the sink with some soap by hand.
There’s more at the link. I recommend her article very highly. She goes into detail about the folly of government programs that claim to alleviate poverty, but only make things worse, and illustrates how welfare money could go a lot further if only the ‘poor’ would spend it more wisely. Thanks, Nicki – all that was well said, and needed saying!
I’ve written several times about poverty and the poor, having experienced it at first hand in the Third World (where many of the poor would probably do whatever it took, up to and including murder, for the privilege of living like the ‘poor’ do in the USA!). Here are a few of the articles in which I’ve addressed the ‘poverty scam’, if I may call it that.
July 2010: The State of the US Economy, part 4 of 5 (an in-depth look at poverty in the USA)
April 2011: The Truth about Immigration and Poverty
August 2011: Poverty Today – NOT!
April 2012: Poverty, Opportunity and Motivation
September 2012: ‘Poverty Barons’ (those who grow rich out of the ‘business’ of helping the poor)
January 2013: Obesity Among the Poor
April 2013: What’s wrong with this picture?
Mike Williamson has also written an excellent article about his experiences of growing up in poverty, and supporting a family in restricted circumstances. He very effectively debunks the ‘poverty apologists’. Highly recommended reading.