What helps the poor?
Do the rich hold the poor back?
This post is being written because someone objected to the thought that the poor should/could invest in bettering themselves. This is hopefully going to be a simplified overview of the economy and choices that we all make. PLEASE note that because of time and space constraints I will have to make generalizations.
The first thing that I'd like to bring up here is WHY would that make any sense to anyone? The rich have no reason to want to hold the poor back. Why do I say this? The wealthy have money because they fill needs of some sort.
This could be the Walton family that operate WalMart. The patriarch of the family Sam, saw the need to bring better pricing on a variety of goods to the American worker. Like it or hate it WalMart has done that in a major way and made the Walton family (and stockholders) billions of dollars.
This could be the Ford's. Henry saw a way to make cars available to the masses by implementing the assembly line. Again, a huge success.
There are many such families in business, banking, retail, insurance, service businesses, etc. None of these businesses would be successful without consumers (individual or government/corporate). Consumers spend the money that fuel the growth of these large businesses.
Why would a business owner (the rich) want people to have less money? It doesn't make sense. The more dollars that you have available the more money that you can spend in whatever area you choose. If the rich wanted you to have less money they would hurt themselves, not just you. Nobody in their right mind is going to hurt themselves. It's just human nature.
There have been rich and poor since the beginning of time. The Bible speaks of both rich and poor. There will ALWAYS be rich and poor.
Let me start by saying there is really no useable definition of rich or poor. The rich always believe they need a little bit more. The poor believe they will never have enough. Break those two statements down and you'll find that they both say the same thing.
I'm going to go off into my personal history here for a bit to detail why I feel the way that I do. I grew up in a working class household. I remember a few vacations by car as a young boy. Many times we camped in a tent where we went because we couldn't afford to rent a hotel room.
I left high school in my junior year to go to work. I wanted things that my family couldn't afford. I have worked some sort of job since I was 13 up until the time I became disabled by a nervous system disease after 46 years of work. After leaving high school my boss told me that, "You just did the stupidest thing that you could have done." That hurt my feelings, but hey I was a teenager and I knew everything. I went to take my GED test in what would have been my senior year of high school, I passed with flying colors without even taking a prep course. Up until the time I quit school I was an A and B student, but I was bored silly.
I got accepted by several colleges, but chose not to go at that time. After all, I had hated school and why would I even consider going back to do more of the same? As time went by I did take courses here and there. I was declared as pre med, but when I figured out what I would owe and what I would lose by not working I decided not to do it. I have 114 college credits right now.
Attitudes Toward the Poor
People today talk about helping the poor, the poor can't afford to invest in bettering themselves, etc. I don't believe that for one second.
I personally get less than $900 per month from disability. The medical costs that I have which aren't covered by insurance run just under $500 per month. That leaves me less than $400 per month to pay for food, utilities, etc. I don't get foodstamps, but I have gotten help from foodbanks at particularly bad times, I think that qualifies me as poor. My kitchen and dining room floors have holes in them and my air conditioning doesn't work. I live in the southern US where summer temps run in the upper 90's and there is humidity to match. I do have a portable air conditioner and fans, so, it's not too bad.
I have a central nervous system disease that is eating the coating (myelin sheath) off of my nerves. It is very painful and causes difficulty with muscle control. I can only walk about 50' at a time (with a 4 prong cane) before stopping to catch my breath and balance. I have lung and heart problems, diabetes requiring two different types of insulin plus pills, and kidney problems. My fingers jump as I try to type and my strength has gone from being able to bench press over 350 lbs to barely being able to lift a bag of groceries. My grip is non existent. If I buy a Coke while I am out I need to get the clerk or a stranger to open it for me as I physically can't. I have fallen down the seven steps to my front door 6 or seven times over the last several months, but I don't have the thousands of dollars that I have been quoted to build a ramp.
Observations of the Poor
The following are some observations that I have seen personally. Poor people often drink beer or moonshine, smoke cigarettes, and love the lottery (remember these are generalizations, not everyone does all of these things). I know a couple that spends MORE than half of their Social Security on lottery tickets, always has beer in the fridge, and both are heavy smokers.
Suppose that they took just a little bit of that money and bought things cheaply to resell at the flea market. They do this every now and then, but not with regularity. They could better their lives financially, probably smoke and drink less (because they aren't sitting on the couch watching cable tv), and get a little bit of physical activity to help their overall health. They could also smoke a pack of cigarettes (or maybe two) less per week and afford a program like WA, but they won't as they have no desire to improve their lives!
As a former truck driver I had to be drug tested randomly. I would suggest that any of those receiving public assistance be drug tested too. If the people that earn the money to pay taxes have to be drug tested, why shouldn't the recipients of such programs also have to be tested? My thoughts? If you can afford these drugs you don't need public assistance.
I have known many people that have collected unemployment. Out of all of those people I only know 3 that were actually looking for work to support their families. The others would work "under the table" or "off the books", but weren't going to be giving up their free money until it ran out, extensions and all. Believe me, they could tell you exactly how long they had left to collect. I found them to be pathetic and told them so. I was never raised to have a hand out mentality and wish, even now, that they could somehow cure the health issues that I have and let me return to work. There's something there called pride..... If you truly can't find work have them pick up litter, help the disabled, start a daycare for disadvantaged, etc.
People can also go to their libraries and take part in free programs and borrow books to help increase their worth to employers and/or themselves. It costs nothing, but brings big dividends.
$15 or more minimum wage
That sounds great, but look at history and the places that have done such things. If wages go up prices, out of necessity, MUST go up. That extra money to pay employees isn't coming from the tooth fairy. You and I, the customer, are going to pay that money. Do you really want to go to McDonald's and pay $12 or $13 for your combo meal? Are you willing to give up some of your standard of living, that you studied for, worked for, are taxed on, and might still be paying student loans on to help raise someone up that wouldn't go to school, study on their own, or do just barely more than what is required to keep their jobs? How often have you tried to get help somewhere and either had to wait for a group of employees to stop chatting or, worse yet, for them to hang up their cell phone?
In one of my first jobs my boss told me, "The customer here is profit, YOU are overhead." The customer always comes first. I was also told that the customer is always right. Even if you know they are wrong, make them happy and THEN go in the back room or whatever and mumble to yourself. This has stuck with me for over 50 years.
In one generation we have done a 180 in attitudes toward customer service.
I've been told to look at the poor people standing on exit ramps holding signs, "Will work for food." I just saw recently that the police talked to one such person and asked him if he needed help finding a job. He answered them, No, I make more than $1,000 per day standing there with my little sign. Do you think he's paying taxes on that? Probably not, he's leaving you and I to pay more so that he doesn't. I would suppose that he's also receiving public assistance. Here's a link to another one Panhandler
On the several occassions that I needed to go to the foodbank for food I almost felt embarrassed because of what I drive. You see, my vehicle is a former state vehicle that is over 20 years old. There were people there getting food that were driving brand new vehicles. Some of them outfitted with big stereos, big wheels, special tires, etc. If they could afford those did they REALLY need the foodbank's help? I would suggest that the answer is no.
We have become a nation of entitlements. Everyone thinks that they are entitled to nice things, good vacations, cell phones, cable tv, etc. It's making me sick.
Out of my meager disability I chose to pay for WA. I really can't afford it, but it's the only way that I see myself being able to get my floor fixed and get my air conditioner working. It won't happen overnight, but with work, persistence, and some prayer I certainly hope that it will happen.
Before I conclude I'd like to say that I am NOT looking for sympathy, charity, or anything else. The only thing that I would appreciate is your kind words/thoughts, prayers, or any knowledge that you might be able to share with me.
The only part of my training that I have found that I am truly afraid of is social media. I've always been somewhat, maybe even mostly, an introvert. I seem to be slowly coming out of that because of my membership in this community, but it's still an uphill battle for me. I grew up in an age before touch tone phones, color tv, computers, cell phones, internet, self driving cars (still amazed by those) and certainly before social media. Our social media was saying hello to your neighbor while sitting on your front porch or walking down the street (while your house was unlocked).
I know that we're supposed to avoid religion on WA, but I'd just like to say that I am truly praying for our world leaders to wake up and see where we actually are. I also pray daily that everyone here at WA moves themselves toward whatever success means for them.
This has been a long post and if you read it all you truly have my admiration. Especially since my medication was recently doubled and I'm not sure that all of this makes sense or is in a logical order.
Best wishes to you in this journey that we call life.