Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Being Poor

Yesterday presidential candidate Mit Romney said that he is not concerned with the poor because the government already has programs to see to their needs. Please!

I wonder if this man understands America at all. A good many of our citizens came to the continent to exercise one freedom or another and most of them arrived pennyless. As soon as things got organized, the more affluent guys in the new community hired the folks with fewer assets to work at starvation wages.

Admitedly, things have improved over time and employers must hire people at what our legislors select as 'a living wage.' Children no longer work 12-hour days in factories. Company stores no longer charge their customers more than they earn all week in The Man's mines and canneries just to buy food for their children. These are good things.

But there are poor folks - and poor folks. Basically, it seems to me that earning less than one's necessities cost could indicate poverty on some level. Often, however, the people I know in this category consider debt a shame and work at some side hustle to pay the light bill. Some of them eventually break down and ask for heating or other assistance, but they absolutely don't care to think of themselves as 'poor' - although they do without a whole lot and work far into their old age.

There are poor folks who are sick, and the government sees to their care, although I experienced a period of disability for a couple of years - so I know whereof I speak. It is not easy to get disability and it is not easy to take. I had to be certifiablely sick to collect, but I am getting over that and working on a way to provide for myself. I don't like being sick in the first place, so I set about improving my health and otherwise doing things that could provide an income for my future. Like my favorite boss once said, "Terry, you have to learn to work with your head."

My goal is to earn enough money so that the government doesn't have to continue to subsidize my old age. I don't care if I am still poor, as long as I can pay my way.

I have written 20 books, have a line of unique jewelry and composed a couple of CDs. I appreciate the disablility funds that gave me time to develop these other talents -any one of which could free me from the need to draw government funds to pay my way.)Also: I have a friend who is 93 percent disabled and she works for her living. I think there is a lesson about poverty right there.

It is plain to see are just about as poor (and as sick) as we want to be. There are folks on government programs that never work at all their entire life. The paradox is plain to see and begs the question: If all one's needs are met, is he or she still "poor?"

But then there are poor folks who lost their living when the fisheries died and who are learning to be carpenters and lawyers. There are poor moms who leave the kids with Gramma while they go get a degree in business management. There are poor dads who lifted package of hamburger to feed their kids and ended up in a prison where they teach the prisoners a trade. Again the question: once educated, is this individual then rendered no longer poor? I think you may assume this, but poverty is not a country easily left behind.

Poverty is one of American's biggest challenges and it seems to me that we each need to look at our individual responsibility to pay our own way. Perhaps we need to look at the problem and see our place in its resolution. Perhaps we need to think of ourselves in other ways? Perhaps we must stop thinking 'poor.' The rain is done and I am going for a walk to help keep me healthy while I enjoy the view on the sunny side.

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