marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Worth reading not just for the biology - as up for debate as that might be - but for the points the author makes throughout.

That word—disease—carries a stigma with it. By using it here, I don’t mean that the poor are (that I am) inferior or compromised. I mean that the poor are afflicted, and told by the rest of the world that their condition is a necessary, temporary, and even positive part of modern capitalism. We tell the poor that they have the chance to escape if they just work hard enough; that we are all equally invested in a system that doles out rewards and punishments in equal measure. We point at the rare rags-to-riches stories like my own, which seem to play into the standard meritocracy template.

But merit has little to do with how I got out.

Why do so few make it out of poverty? I can tell you from experience it is not because some have more merit than others. It is because being poor is a high-risk gamble. The asymmetry of outcomes for the poor is so enormous because it is so expensive to be poor. Imagine losing a job because your phone was cut off, or blowing off an exam because you spent the day in the ER dealing with something that preventative care would have avoided completely. Something as simple as that can spark a spiral of adversity almost impossible to recover from. The reality is that when you’re poor, if you make one mistake, you’re done.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Kid yourselves not, this was hard to write, especially since a) it's personal and b) I wrote it as a speech (that I have not given, but oh boy, I could really work with this). I did it in one shot and by the time it was done I was so tired from a) writing and b) writing all week long, which is an unusual level of output for me, that I took the weekend off.

When I got back online I realized it wasn't edited properly and of course there were no links. Looking at the post now, though, I think it might be too overwhelming for anyone (myself included, if the tables were turned!) to read through the links I might add. So I'm taking the liberty of quoting from it here and attaching links as needed.

Any "If Onlys": The grotesque moral atrocity of blaming the poor for being poor

"[...] life for those with money drifts in the vein of commending themselves"... Why luck matters more than you might think

"[...] our biggest social construct of all time - the one called race"... Race and racial identity are social constructs

"Housing? Well, waiting lists are 3-6 years long" - nope, wrong: try more like over 10 years... HOUSING AGENCY WAITING LISTS AND THE DEMAND FOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE

"[...] most are being torn down"... The demolition of housing in public cities

"Section 8 certificates, which society also grumbles about because they blacks "ruin our neighborhoods"?"...How Housing Policy Is Failing America's Poor

"Same waiting list" - nope, wrong again; the wait can be much longer, though figures for all states don't seem to be in one place...Section 8 Shortfall Leaves Thousands Waiting

"Food stamps? You can't get them if you don't work"... More Than 500,000 Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016 as Waivers Expire

Welfare cash benefits? Less than 2 million Americans still get them" - actually, I mis-worded and miscounted: only 1.6 million families receive TANF. Will be updating with correction. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) Block Grant: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions (March, 2016)

"Healthcare? Well, there's still Medicaid, but not for most people"... Medicaid Health Care Denied To Millions Of America’s Poorest

"[...] and there's no low cost health insurance in states that refuse to extend the ACA to the poor."... Uninsured Poor Adults in States that Do Not Expand Medicaid – An Update

"Disability benefits? Extremely small, subject to limitations, and even the most hopelessly and permanently disabled often won't get approved." ... working from the last claim in, It's easier to win a World Series than get Social Security disability, Which Factors Lead to Benefit Reductions?, and How Much Will I Get in SSI Disability Benefits?

"The poor are not people [...] we've even trained the poor to know that"... America's Poor: Blaming The Victims

"A vast majority of the 99% forgets - or does not know, nor care to learn - that the 1% stages recessions only to accumulate more wealth" - I guess I can file this under personal opinion, but while I'm busy trying to pull this theory together, have a link: Obama orchestrated a massive transfer of wealth to the 1 percent. "Too big to fail" is just another name for "set-up".

"We've got working poor living in the streets, overnight shelters, tents and cars still being told that if they'd just work harder or do better"... General Homelessness Facts and Homelessness Epidemic

"I'm tired of being your poverty porn"... 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person

"[...] I don't fit the liberal media's oh-so-carefully-constructed, entirely stereotypical and increasingly bullshit Poverty Model"... Beliefs About the Poor Are Mired in Flawed Stereotypes. For instance, 41% of this nation's poor are white. (I know, white - race - here we go with our social construct again. If we didn't have it, how would that be worded? "100% of our poor are...people"?)

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

ETA: I've added a link index.

I've noticed one thing about people with money and that's that they like to hang onto it and rationalize away those who don't:

"Oh, if only they'd worked harder."
"Oh, if only they'd gotten a better job."
"Oh, if only they'd educated themselves more."
"Oh, if only they'd work more than one job, there are more than eight hours in a day, you know, so funny."
"Oh, if only they hadn't had so many kids."
"Oh, if only his wife wasn't so damn lazy, 'just' staying home with the kids."
"Oh, if only she hadn't gotten up with that loser."
"Oh, if only her husband would work harder/get another job/ask for a raise/get retraining."
"Oh, if only their parents had tried harder than they obviously did."
"Oh, if only those poor folks ahead of us in line would knuckle down and not buy shrimp and steak, they'd have so much more money."
"Oh, if only they'd buy better clothes, maybe they'd have a better chance in life!"
"Oh, if only they would use better grammar, it could open so many doors to them."

There are more If Onlys, and if you happen to know another one you can add it to the comments, but basically, life for those with money drifts in the vein of commending themselves for their own hard work, foresight, and ability and finding excuses to explain away the have-nots having not.

And I think to myself, why is it Not Alright to devolve into victim-blaming when people are, say raped or murdered, or denied opportunities because of our biggest social construct of all time, the one called race, yet it's Perfectly Alright, acceptable - encouraged, even - to blame the poor for being poor? When did that become OK?

To illustrate, say you're a civilized person in today's society. You would not walk up to a known rape victim and say, "Hey, I saw the skirt you were wearing that night - you deserved it." You would not walk up to a known attempted murder victim and say, "Hey, I saw that dark road you walked down alone - you deserved it". The implications of these statements, just to be clear, are that a person who wears an article of clothing an observer deems rape-eligible and walking down a dark road alone are pre-conditions for deserving what you get.

Yet we say "you deserve it" to our nation's poor with impunity, delight, condescension, contempt, even in bored dismissal, and are so conditioned to do so it's a reflex by now. "Oh you're poor? That's your own damn fault". We're conditioned to say it, think it, believe it, fume about it, even toss and turn at night in anger because of it. Because there ARE poor people, and how could that be? How could there exist a class of people who does this all to themselves?

Not only do we blame the poor, we add whining to the mix: "Thanks to you, my taxes are higher to support your little government programs because you're just too damn lazy to work!" (said to me while I was working).

"You wanting a $15 minimum wage means my salary won't look as high anymore! Pretty soon I'll be poorer than you!" (said to me by the same person, who claims to make anywhere from $20-40 an hour depending on how much he's had to drink and which way the wind blows).

"A higher minimum wage means less jobs to go around and laying off people like me to hire more people like you!" (again, said to me by the same person).

At the same time we subject the poor to the double whammy of hearing they're to blame for their condition and society's, they're increasingly denied everything society claims they get. Let's take it one free goodie at a time.

Housing? Well, waiting lists are 3-6 years long for most housing projects, which are mostly crumbling and gang-ridden so not exactly the highlife, and most are being torn down to make way for the fancier neighborhoods the well-to-do prefer. Section 8 certificates, which society also grumbles about because they blacks "ruin our neighborhoods"? Same long waiting lists.

Food stamps? You can't get them if you don't work, and once you do work they're so greatly reduced in amount they're hardly worth the humiliation. Oh, I'm wrong about that? OK, go look it up.

Welfare cash benefits? Less than 2 1.6 million Americans American families (see link index for correction) still get them, most are raising young children, and most families getting them must stop doing so after 2-3 years.

Healthcare? Well, there's still Medicaid, but not for most people, and there's no low cost health insurance in states that refuse to extend the ACA to the poor.

Disability benefits? Extremely small, subject to limitations, and even the most hopelessly and permanently disabled often won't get approved. Anything else? Is there anything else society wants to claim the poor get when, in reality, they're not getting what you think they are or else getting so little of it for such short periods of time that yes, you do honestly sound like Scrooge by bitching about it? Tell me. I'll be waiting.

Poverty discrimination is the only socially acceptable form of discrimination left in this country and don't get kid yourselves; it's a very, very acceptable form. It's always "in" to blame the poor for their hubris and the complete downfall of our entire country, which by society's estimation should've toppled from the sheer weight of supporting them 15-20 years ago. Yes, it's all just a matter of time, folks, before they have us living in the gutters, too!

A vast majority of the 99% forgets - or does not know, nor care to learn - that the 1% stages recessions only to accumulate more wealth, which they take not just from society but from the poor, legislating them out of existence at every turn, while wiping out everyone's wealth, savings, housing, educational, and employment opportunities in one big crash. And they're getting ready to stage another recession now that they've built more wealth than they had before the last one by simply taking wealth from everyone else who lost out big in 2008.

But rather than blame the 1% for the fact that yes, this country's about to go down and will do so entirely once another recession is staged for the 1%'s sole benefit, society blames the poor.

It's not the rich or the Koch Brothers or Wall St. or anyone with money, it's these people walking around with their hands out, ruining everything. The poor are not people so should not be treated as such. We all know that! We've even trained the poor to know that, so then, what about us?

The rich work hard at turning us on each other (class warfare, anyone?) and at turning and keeping us against the poor, and force us to adjust to the fact that we can't benefit from any of the steps we take to further ourselves. Ultimately, they want to turn this country into one vast storehouse of nothing but the poor, who will do whatever they're asked without having to send jobs overseas because a ready, willing, and exhausted but humbled workforce will kneel at the ready to blindly and avidly follow orders.

To this end, the rich have been hard at work on their schemes - like our race and caste systems, which use government and media influence to turn minorities and the poor into scapegoats and scoundrels at every turn, our fake war on drugs, our school-to-prison pipeline, and the student loan debt many will never crawl out from - which results in college-educated people who can't get jobs or afford homes but still must pay for useless educations. We've got working poor living in the streets, overnight shelters, tents and cars still being told that if they'd just work harder or do better or try something else they could succeed. That it's their own fault.

Our society is quite simply delusional.

It's been eating out of the 1%'s hand for so long now in the mere hope of some financial gain in return for swallowing their lies and hatred that it's become society's reflex to respond in exactly the ways the 1% most desires, to the downfall of everyone but the 1%.

I called this "I'm tired of being your poverty porn" because I've noticed the more liberal side of media can do just one thing and one thing well, but I'm starting to think it's insincere: talk and talk and talk and talk about all the poor are going through. I think no one reads any of these articles except their friends. I think anyone else reading does so only to skim and to leave the nastiest, most racist, victim-blaming comments possible.

I'm tired of being your poverty porn.

I fall through all the obviously stereotypical cracks, so no, most of the liberal media I'm talking about is not targeted at nor intended for me. Which makes it doubly hard to be in my position: I'm constantly watching myself being written about and discussed in the liberal media, yet I'm treated like a curiosity or like I can't be poor just because I don't fit the liberal media's oh-so-carefully-constructed, entirely stereotypical and increasingly bullshit Poverty Model. I pass for Better Off, because I'm white and smart and can speak, write and dress well when I feel like it, but I'm telling you, I'm not.

If it's bothering liberals so damn much that the poor en masse are suffering as much as they do then they should stop merely writing to their equally liberal friends about it, since they're the only ones reading those posts with any compassion, and actually do something.

No one's going to educate our country out of allowing its poor to languish nor educate it out of its deep hatred for the poor by posting one article nor even one whole mess of articles at a time. We need to change minds and laws, but so far all we're doing is neither. The media don't understand the complete brainwashing most sectors of society have been given. When no one has answers for that, they just wring some highly manicured hands, then wave them westward and proclaim, "Well, look at Denmark." OK, let's look! I'll take that literally - so are you buying the poor passports to actually go look at Denmark? Because if not, then why are you even bringing it up? It's just rubbing salt in all the same wounds.

I'll give the only proof anyone needs that the liberal media - which thinks it's doing such a great job of educating everyone - has failed us entirely, and that's how we've got Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders in the #1 spot for the presidential nomination. Thanks a lot, liberals. Not.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Most poor people are waiting on the Miracle Money. It's always on the way, but until it gets there, all they can do is wait.

The miracle money can be the promotion or better job you're sure one day you'll get, lifting you out of the poverty that mostly runs rampant at the McJobs you hold.

The miracle money can be the one Lotto ticket you buy that's finally The One.

The miracle money can be the 15 years of back child support the other parent is suddenly court-ordered to pay in one lump sum. Except that parent is back in jail on other charges, so...

The miracle money can be getting back the money you gave someone two, 10 or 20 years ago that you never saw - and realistically, know you'll probably never see - again.

The miracle money can be meeting the one man with a steady, well-paying enough factory job to assist in supporting you, so the kids can finally stop eating ramen every night like they've been doing since your last husband left seven years ago.

The miracle money can be finding the lost hundreds or few thousands dropped on the ground by someone certainly better off than you and, knowing how meagerly you get by, having the presence of mind to simply keep it.

The miracle money can be selling your house for $20-30k once it's no longer underwater, and living off that for another two or three years while hoping your McJob morphs into something more.

The miracle money can be your better-off family member dying with no apparent interest in helping you from beyond the grave, but they did happen to leave you a car you can turn around and sell for a few thousand.

The miracle money can be hoping you wake up one day to find the worthless-looking book or ridiculous decorative pie tin you keep having to dust, is, after researching it on eBay before tossing it in the trash, The Valuable One the collectors all vie for.

The miracle money can be waking up each day hoping our country starts properly caring for its own instead of spending its talent and resources on war, NASA, and select countries overseas, until one day, it finally does.

Except it never does.

The Miracle Money is a common dream I suspect most impoverished people have.

For the great majority it never comes true - but that can't stop us from dreaming.

In our minds, the Miracle Money has been around since Day One. We've been living off it in addition to other, more meager income sources since the day it first occurred to us it might exist. And thanks to it, we live well; useful, meaningful lives that don't involve the constant plague of guilt and shame, worry and fear that is living without enough.

A lot of people think the poor deserve nothing. That's why so many want food stamps taken away.

That's why so many want public housing demolished and the people in those buildings put out on the streets.

That's why cash welfare in any useful form ended for most people back in 1996.

That's why your GoFundMe page will rarely, if ever, raise the Miracle Money you need not just a small amount of right away - for the latest emergency you can't solve on your own - but for the rest of your life, because it's just one emergency after another.

Most of us are taught to hate and fear poverty by the use of upper class dog whistles that filter down to signal us that living in poverty speaks to being a much less worthy person than does achieving greater economic prosperity.

As a society we've created Dalits by conflating income level with social place in the pecking order. By assuming Dalits put ourselves inside our own jail cells, drug addictions, shitty housing, substandard education, lack of proper funding and McJobs, society simultaneously washes its hands of any responsibility for those situations or outcomes, and what those outcomes cost it both in untapped potential and actual hard dollars down the road.

Dalitism is the last bastion of acceptable prejudice. It's acceptable to the poor, who not knowing any better believe what society tells them - that we're unworthy, The Untouchables, creating problems we don't deserve to have solved - and it's acceptable to non-Dalits, who cling to the caste system knowing it's the only cushion anyone has against being One Of Them.

But it takes just one good lump of Miracle Money to solve this problem for most of us, and fortunately, it's always on the way.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

So my fiance created a GoFundme a few days ago over some financial, transportation, and other material deficits we've been experiencing lately. Each deficit is clearly outlined along with all of the steps we've taken (such as trying to find, in my case, a job, and in his, a better job) along with reasons why things haven't panned out too well over the last year (living many miles from where 99.9% of the jobs are and having extremely limited transportation is the big "gotcha").

After he created an outline of what he wanted his page to say, I did my ghostwriting/'look at me I'm a copy editor' thing, he read my edited version and we posted it to GFM. His GFM connects to his Facebook page which lays claim to over 500 of his "friends". We didn't have ridiculously high expectations but felt it wouldn't hurt to put our story out there since he's tying the funding to two very clear, specific goals: paying off our current bills and opening his own business in a specific profession (all discussed at length on the page). What happens next was the one thing you'd never see coming.

Within seconds of my fiance's GFM posting, one of his 500 "friends" (interestingly enough, a woman who jumps in to offer her opinion every time him and I have any sort of kerfuffle and usually sides with him) PM'd him on Facebook to ask why he was doing a GoFundme - doesn't he know that it's "wrong" to do those things?

She told him that instead of doing a GFM page, he should get a job (the GFM page clearly states he's already working but very little because his boss is constantly sick and in legal trouble, both which shut his business down all the time because he's just a one-man show; besides that, my fiance is applying everywhere he can online, by making cold phone calls, along with socializing and networking with literally every person he runs into online and off), to try to "work more" with his landlord (he already did, but the landlord has been "working with him" for over two years and is finally showing signs of strain), to look for others ways to make money online and off (but he already is), to "sell things" (as though we have not already done that until we have almost nothing of value left in the entire house) and to tell him to tell me what to do to find a job, mainly: "look online more". It was humiliating to hear him read this to me. Also, she usually sides with him in our arguments so I don't like her, anyway.

We discussed how every one of her suggestions was covered on our GoFundme page as to a) what we've done in relation to them and b) why, in doing all of that, we've still fallen short (really: it's down to lack of transportation since we've done everything she's suggested, which is discussed at length on the GoFundMe page). So if she was my "friend" I would've told her to go fuck herself after asking her if she even knows how to read, but my fiance was much more diplomatic in his response (and he's usually not the diplomat). He simply replied: "Don't you think we've tried all these things already? We're doing the best we can, that's why there's a GoFundMe because it just hasn't been enough". At which point she wished us "luck" and hasn't been heard from since.

A few hours later a guy he's been "friends" with for years - mostly through Facebook - emailed him to say: "What the fuck is this shit? Are you sending this to ME?" in response to an automated GoFundMe email. At this point I began to worry: of all these friends of his, not one had said a kind word in response, but two had bitched him out over the very thought of someone asking for their help.

After 24 more hours went by without another PM, email or Wall posting for or against his GFM page I thought: "Good, if people have nothing nice to say then they can just not say anything at all. I've lived without GFM before and I'll do so again. Fuck it." Then one of my fiance's more recent - but up until now, extremely supportive - hobby pals of his through Facebook posted a screed to his own Wall that he knew my fiance would see, warning "everyone" not to email him "ever again" with any "Fundmethis" or "Fundmethat" "bullshit" because "from now on" he'll "immediately block them and unfriend them on Facebook". The cruelty of it is shocking. But wait - there's more.

The guy went on to say "we've all fallen on rough times" but when HE fell on them he got a second job, then a third job (completely ignoring the fact that my fiance said he's already working - on days that his boss is not sick or in court he picks him up and drops him off - and ignoring how we lack any decent transportation and live too far from everything to get to any other jobs we could get, which we can't get without going to interviews, which we can't do because lack of transportation; it's obviously sort of a catch22). Then he ran on about how people like us just won't sell off enough earthly possessions, that we aren't looking hard enough online or off for work and that we simply won't give up our pride to work at Burger King. He also wanted to share with us that during HIS rough time he lived on exactly $200 a month for food so people like us should, too (though we never mentioned needing food nor how much we spend on it).

He also said if we're so damn poor then what we need to do is 1) cancel our cable (we've never had cable), 2) cancel our Internet, 3) shut off our cell phones (I've already shut off my cell phone and we've never had a landline - my fiance needs his cell phone for WORK or we'd shut that off, too), 4) mind our bills and 5) stop asking for help. The subtext seems to be that we're shiftless, no-good, lazy white trash that just needs one good mansplain' to pull ourselves out of this quagmire. Thank God he came along because now I know exactly what to do:

  • We need to try to get hired at three different jobs a piece by walking (or biking) 20-50 miles one way to apply for said jobs then 25-50 miles back home, then walk (or bike) 20-50 miles back each way to any interviews we can possibly secure, then walk (or bike) 25-50 miles back after applying for more jobs after any given interview(s)
  • Have the remaining cell phone shut off immediately so no one can call for interviews after we walk (or bike) 25-50 miles each way and back (not to mention all over town itself) for days and weeks on end to apply in person for jobs; it would THRILL this guy to know my phone has been shut off for weeks already, but probably wouldn't thrill him enough, since a few weeks isn't that long and should've been much longer
  • Have our Internet shut off immediately so we can't apply online for any of these six total jobs we need to secure; having the Intertubes shut off will also a) keep me from making anymore money at online surveys and b) prevent us from ever so much as posting a garage sale listing online again, since our phones will be shut off
  • Get at least one job for each of us at Burger King - we've failed and should be spat on for the lazy fucks we are if we can't at least do THAT
  • There is no cable since it got shut off last spring before I ever moved in; in this way we're already following his all-knowing "friend"'s advice to the letter
  • Have a garage sale (but without Internet or phones we can't advertise it except by slapping signs on trees by the house - and our road is fairly private and hard to find, out in the middle of nowhere, with only a tiny handful of neighbors) where we sell everything we own for .50-$1 which is all most of it is worth. This will surely make us enough money to buy a 9-pack of toilet paper while we learn to live without our personal effects in order to do the right thing, which, if you didn't get it the first, second or third time someone made it clear, is NOT ASK FOR HELP
  • Cut our food bill in half since we're clearly living like kings and fools if we spend much more than the magic figure of $200 (we spend almost double that and still have to eat every last leftover and cook only about half of what we'd normally eat, and even at that there are plenty of "pasta and red sauce" weeks because has this guy ever actually GONE TO a grocery store? He's got to be kidding).

If he were only running our lives for us on a daily, nay hourly basis as he obviously should not only would we walk (or bike) at least 40-100 miles round-trip each day looking for work and be unable to apply for jobs and set up interviews except in person, we'd also have amazing Florida sunburns, regular heat strokes and exhaustion, and run the risk of contracting many illnesses from all the mosquitoes we can't afford to keep off of us - and I'm sure he'd have many other really great ideas, besides:

  • The cat and dog? Who needs 'em? Throw'em outside to fend for themselves (since of course we can't drive to the shelter to properly dispose of them). Poor white trash thinkin' they should own animals - now that's kinda high-faluting' and uppity.
  • Electricity? Who needs it? You are poor peeps, right, so shut it off. Shower when it rains, cook and clean when the sun shines, go to bed when it gets dark, use blankets in the cold and wear light clothing in the heat
  • Crack whores and drug dealers exist for a reason so do what ya gotta do - it's rough times all around

Notice I'm not linking to any GoFundme here? That won't be changing. It was my idea to do one - not my fiance's - and it had to be done either way, but because he has over 500 Facebook friends I thought he'd have more pull than I would if he did a page than if I did one. But after the stern counseling and Tough Love sessions we've so helpfully received from them I'd rather pry my eyeballs out with an embroidery needle then ever do a page there again or even link anywhere to the one we've got going on now.