Friday, August 2, 2013

It is Expensive to be Poor

If you have never read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, I highly recommend it.  At this point, the book is probably a bit dated since the events written about took place around 2000.  But in it Ms. Ehrenreich takes a series of low paying jobs and tries to make ends meet.  If my recollection is correct, she actually starts her journey with enough money to find an apartment and she has a car (which she notes puts her well ahead of many of the folks in her travels).  

Today, I read an article that highlighted many of these issues. Yolanda Williams, the woman featured in this article, is trying to support an adult daughter, her disabled husband on less than $300 every two weeks.  She spends 28 hours a week commuting by bus to work and to school.  She also struggles to afford medication and treatment for her and her husband's diabetes treatment (which likely means more expensive treatment down the road). 

It is distressing to hear about this woman, who is working so very hard, but doesn't seem to be making much progress. 


Anonymous said...

While it's undeniable that living on such a low income would be tough to say the least, the decisions made by some folks in this situation are mind-boggling in that they make their bad situation worse. Why is she supporting a grown child? She can't afford to take in unemployed adults at her income level. I could afford it, but I'd never do that - not even for my own children. What incentive would they have to find a job and become independent? Why isn't she maintaining a healthy weight when diabetes is impacting her health care costs and possibly her ability to work long-term? And the shyster check-cashing places...

It's tough to see these profiles because hard-working people are running in circles, and wondering why they don't get ahead. Or worse, blaming their misfortune on the government, or society in general.

Sam said...

I don't necessarily disagree with your comments, but what do you do with your unemployed/disabled husband and daughter? Do you divorce him and put him out on the street? As for the daughter, yes she should be working on finding employment, but maybe she is helping care for husband or something like that.

As for healthy weight, studies show that poor people often have poor health. If you are spending 3 hours on a bus each day you probably don't have time to grocery shop and cook a health meal.