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Dear Non-Poor Folks: Stop Your S****

Dear Non-Poor Folks: Stop Your S****
Woman cashier with thought balloon reading "This is the worst."

She’s not happy to serve you, guys.

Stop writing patronizing articles like this one telling poor people how to not be poor anymore. (Shout out to Joey for posting that on social media and getting me all riled up.) Why? Because your advice is not helpful, and ignores the very real problems faced by poor folks. For the purposes of this post the best I can give you as a guideline for what qualifies as “poor folks” would be people who don’t make a living wage. What’s a living wage? Well, here is a good website that can give you some guidance: The Living Wage Map. Here is a little bit of info from that page:

Living Wage

The map assumes by default a parent with a spouse and 2 children. Some examples:

Boston, MA (my city): Living wage $27.01/hour, actual: $8.00/hour, shortfall: $19.01/hour

Washington, DC (BNev’s and Martin’s city): Living wage $28.33/hour, actual $9.50/hour, shortfall $18.83/hour 

New York NY (Acadia’s city): Living wage $26.56/hour, actual $8.00/hour, shortfall $18.56/hour
The map can also be reset to other options, like a single parent, one child, etc. Check it out and educate yourself, so you don’t go around thinking people working 40 hours a week making $10 or $11 or even $15 are going to be able to support themselves nevermind their families, in many places in this country. So that’s some background

Here’s why these articles need to stop it – because they offer advice such as the following:

  1. Move to a different city, probably far away from your current city. Examples – move from NYC to Buffalo, NY. Move from San Francisco to Springfield, MO. Oh, OK, thanks, all the poor folks who can’t afford rent will somehow move across country at no cost to themselves, and also obtain jobs in these new cities immediately. Also surely Buffalo and Spingfield must have great public transportation like New York City, right? Because that will be great, since people who live in NYC probably don’t own a car.
  2. Find a place that costs less than $600 a month to rent. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha – breath – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha – EVERYONE IN BOSTON, NY, DC, PHILLY, LA, SAN FRAN, etc.
  3. Eliminate your commute – sell your car and walk or bike to work. I don’t need to own a car if I live in a city with public transportation. They also suggest moving close enough to work to walk, if you don’t already live close enough. This advice comes from people who think that cities like Amarillo, Texas are as walkable as Washington, D.C.
  4. Cancel your cable. Having tv to watch at home is actually one of the cheapest forms of entertainment. You don’t have to eat out, you can eat at home and watch your stories. You can watch movies when they are available on demand, you don’t have to spend $60 on movie tickets (family of 4) and another $60 on movie food (also family of 4). This advice is stupid.
  5. Don’t eat out. This might seem reasonable but if someone is working 60 hours a week to make enough money for their apartment which definitely costs more than $600 a month, and their car that they definitely need now that they moved to Knoxville, TN, then they are probably too effing tired to cook when they get home and/or they aren’t even home at dinner time.

Another thing that a lot of these “suggestions” seem to be OK with is the idea that poor folks should be perfectly happy to work every second of their lives, have no fun or pleasure, and just feel blessed that they have a roof over their heads. 

Being Poor is Expensive

Guess what else, everybody? It’s expensive to be poor. If you don’t understand what that means, here are many articles that can explain it to you:

It’s Expensive to be Poor

Why Being Poor is More Expensive

8 Ways Being Poor is Wildly Expensive in America

Being Poor is Too Expensive

The High Cost of Being Poor

It is Expensive to be Poor

The gist of a lot of this is as follows: Having more money gives people the luxury of paying less for things.

So instead of people with money and privilege writing simplistic, condescending articles that makes it sound like working at $7.25 an hour you can somehow afford everything you need with just “a little scrimping”, why don’t we work to do things that will actually help poor folks, like, I don’t know, having free healthcare, childcare, job training and school, quality education, social services, decent public transportation and rent control in cities (such as mine, Boston, where rents are off the charts and there are no regulations)?

We, as a society, need to stop acting like poor people deserve to be poor, and work on making this an equitable society for everyone, where people don’t have to agonize over basic needs or work 3 jobs in order to afford to house the family they never see because they’re always working.

About The Author

Jenn Martinelli

Don't let Acadia tell you he's the boss. I'm the real boss.

6 Comments

  1. brittnevin

    This reminds me of when I spent a year working for a dentist because everyone told me to get “a real job”. At the time that meant for a woman working a desk job I.e. receptionist… Anywho one day at lunch the dentist said to everyone that he was getting an “A” in life because he was a dentist and anyone not at his level was getting an “F” in life. He then went on to say that he didn’t feel he should pay more than minimum wage to people getting an “F” in life.

    Lol @ the shit I dealt with when I was younger and afraid.

    Reply
  2. Acadia Einstein

    They will never stop because people who are well off have an overriding need to feel like they earned it and the game is not rigged.they deserve what they have to others must have what they deserve.

    Reply
  3. Bigscrod wants cake

    I remember being poor when the kids were young, medical bills were high and I hadn’t finished school and figured things out. Going to a food pantry sucked. Asking for help sucked. Telling your kids why you couldn’t do this or that sucked. Hoping that the car/refrigerator/shoes lasted at least another year sucked. I got a better job through my brother in law and got lucky being in the right place at the right time. Finally made it out. But part of it was definitely dumb luck, part was help from our parents. Neither one are something that you could count on.

    Reply
  4. Meridith

    Being poor sucks, the advice in that article is BS. I grew up poor, at one point my single mom rented a place without heat and we owned one space heater that my sister stole out of my room when it was my night and I fell asleep. My mom did walk to work. We did not have cable tv. But the only reason we survived was not this BS advice, but she had family to fall back on. Not rich family, but still family. Unfortunately the only reason she got out of that situation was a terrible car accident and a settlement. My sister and I worked through college and we do ok. But this article is complete BS. Telling the poor they are poor because they refuse to work 24 hours without any creature comforts. This article is poor shaming

    Reply
  5. Scott S

    This is unrealistic but if enough people found alternative sources of income that paid more than their awful minimum wage job, society would not know how to react. They depend on people working for chump change. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a great supplement for those in denial.

    Reply
  6. SpocKirk

    Did you just assume my marital status and offspring count? You’d better check your privilege.

    Reply

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