Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Working Poor: Our Numbers Increasing: 99%

A big flashy study I found here tells us that the working poor are increasing, that the amount of money made by both the lower income bracket and working poor is edging toward the lowest end, and that some politicians are afraid we are going to suck the life out of 'the government' by taking money while we hang around with our large houses, big TV's and easy lives.

Let me tell you something. You can have a huge TV, two cars, and a big house and be broke as shit. Your "huge" TV can be from the dark ages and obtained free through a gift, so old that you can't sell it on Craigslist, your car can be 1. bought from relatives at a very cheap and kind price and 2. given to you through your employeer:  and your large house? Can keep you scrambling to keep up, taking in roomates, letting go of many things, until finally you just can't do it anymore, and you have to move. And let me tell you something else!: Your husband could have worked his ass off, 60-80 hour weeks with labor and paperwork, building a new business, only to lose the entire thing because his workman's tax went up threefold! in the span of one month, and running his kind of business became a lost cause. And like that, your entire life- his wife, staying at home with three kids went back to work, his truck repossessed, affordable health care- changed. The numbers showing that way, way to many Americans- 62% of lower income families-  are using one-third of their income for housing cost alone. Do you know how much full time infant daycare costs? Here, in California, it is around $1,100 for a center, and a few hundred less for a home daycare. And you have to be really, really poor to get government help. If you aren't poor enough, but teetering in low-income bracket, daycare will push you over the edge.

Politicians that speak about the working poor taking advantage of any help the government gives- or, as some crazy people like to call them, tax provided programs that we poor people pay into our entire lives- are so unprofessional, so embarrassing, so ignorant.  Do your research. Take a class from Eleanor Roosevelt and get out there, mingle with the common man ( I know, scary, you might catch THE AIDS or THE POVERTY ) and closely observe those living a life you know nothing about. Read a few stories about how hard working Americans lose everything and keep going.  Study not just statistics, but the entire ecosystem of those stats: how do the statistics relate the actual experience? What is cause, and what is effect? Who are these people?

Ms. Moon said...

I can just boil it down to this in my own life: if I did not provide "daycare" for my grandchild, my daughter and her husband (who both work full time) could not afford to have a child.
I'll tell you something else- I used to know the wife of the man who in Florida was the head of the insurance company who provided the state's workman's comp insurance and he was richer than midas and ended up going to prison for mismanagement and a bunch of other shit.
It is ALL effed up.

clearness said...

Yes! You are Right! Maggie May. My husband makes roughly $30K per year. If Joey didn't qualify for 'free' preschool then I would be on my own figuring out how to best meet his needs until kindergarten. When Joey goes to kindergarten I'll get a part time job but I wonder how long they will put up with me? I'll be the one who takes Joey to all his doctors appointments and miss work due to any surgeries he has to have and then of course I'll need to miss any days for the common cold/kids missing school days plus all work and no play would stress me out too much so I'll want to take at least one day per year for each of the kids to volunteer in their classrooms....aahhh

Maggie May said...

Thank you my awesome friends for sharing your piece of this. It's...bolstering.

I'd appreciate any Stumbles and FB posts I could get on this piece. I'm trying to push it out 'there'.


Sharon said...

Hit's so close to home. Hubby got axed after 13 years. Our income went to about zilch, no health care. Fear. Lot of fear in my neck of the woods, but I am working so hard to keep it all glued together. And, I am ashamed of accepting government aid. Ashamed, how F'd up is that?

Laura said...

Amen, sista! This is exactly what I keep trying to tell my good Christian friends who want to help people but only the ones who don't blah, blah, blah. It drives me crazy. I've been there. This is a crazy country where people can be poor in the most entrapping ways but still have a lot of stuff. What they don't have is a way out...(stepping down from soapbox). Thank you.

Elizabeth said...

Well, you know what I say. Great piece, Maggie. Clear and thoughtful and factual. Thank you for speaking for many.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Aquino posted this on her FB and I shared it. My husband and I both have jobs but it could all turn on a dime.

Becky said...

Preach it. Came by from Elizabeth's fb. Great post. I'm so disgusted by how, in certain circles, it is now acceptable to express such contempt and disdain for the poor. How did we get here?

Petit fleur said...

Jesus Maggie, I'd love to see you have a regular blog like in a newspaper or online media news blog or something. You are so dead on about so much and say things intelligently, but plainly. No mincing about! I love that.

We declared bankruptcy last year. A few years before that my husband was out of steady work for about 2-3 years. We got help from family and still needed a food card (food stamps) and I do not feel guilty at all. It saved our asses and was used for the stop gap it was meant to be.

It also enrages me when so many people who have no clue as to how government actually works make stupid statements about privatization and etc... UGH! I'm all riled up now!

Thanks for who you are, what you do and what you say.
I love you!
xo m

Varda said...

Love this post. True and beautifully told. (FYI - I stumbled you.)

Marion said...

There are so many poor people in our country, especially children, who are suffering. The only reason my husband and I keep our heads above water is because our home and everything we own is paid for...BUT my husband worked 3 jobs for over 20 years and I worked 2 jobs so we could put our 2 daughters through college to break the cycle of poverty in our own family. (They're both teachers now).

It breaks my heart that one in four children go hungry in the USA. That's why I cut my food budget and give part of it to the food bank every month in spite of living below the povery line myself. It hurts, but so does being hungry. We shop at Goodwill for our clothes and seldom eat out. This is a great, informative article, Maggie. Thanks for sharing it. xo

Catherine said...

You are insightful as always, Maggie. It is a scary time for this country. When so many people are not able to earn a living wage, it's a huge problem.

I am a conservative in many ways, but when I read that the response of some politicians to the "Occupy" crowd was "Go get a job", my answer is that if these people had jobs, they wouldn't have the time to be sitting there. I am afraid for my young adult children, and for our own old age, even though right now things are more or less all right.

The "welfare queen" may exist, but not in the numbers that many seem to think.

lulumarie said...


Annie said...

Maggie, I cannot believe the politicians and the people following them, that do not understand if there is no middle class, there is no America; and that the working poor, who were the middle class, are America. If we do not educate our children, and create opportunity through public services and public libraries, and ensure our social security system continues to support our elderly, we are entering a dark age.

And in America, how can having a television set and air conditioning and a telephone be considered a luxury? Do these people really want a country called America with a third world standard of living?

The incredible thing is that most of the people supporting backward policies are solidly in the middle to lower end of the 99%, with their income, savings and standard of living eroding. How have they become such sheep?

And how can they not understand that jobs created to support the infrastructures of our government, states and municipalities including schools, libraries, roadways, utilities and public works are necessary to both a stable economy and our quality of life?

The middle class and the working poor are America. There was a time when a percentage of the rich were genuinely philanthropic, but those days have been superceded by the selfishness and greed of the upper 1%,and the stupidity of those who support their policies, trying to lick the gravy, always out of reach.

I grew up from the time I was twelve, with a father on disability. I went to college through SSA Disability for students, student loans, grants, working every summer and every holiday break, and work study. I was grateful for that opportunity, and I have always given back. Without these kinds of programs, where would our country be?

Maggie May said...

Annie that response alone is worthy of a blog post

All This Trouble... said...

This is very much our story. And like Ms. Moon, had my parents not kept my babies, there would be no babies.

Lone Star Ma said...

So true.

Bethany said...

I love reading your blog. So much of what you write could be about me and my little family.

I make ok money for a girl who did not go to college. It is just enough that my Husband can stay home with our girls. We live in a 2BR apt, we don't have cable, we don't have internet (our neighbor lets us piggyback), there are very few extras in our world (and those are usually directed towrd the kids). There is no savings to speak of. We chose for him to stay home because day care would obliterate any income he would contribute. $1000/month for 1 child full time is ridiculous. Half that for after school care.

I know that if anything were to happen to my job we would be ok because we could stay with my Mom (provided she can continue to live in her own home) but not everyone has that option. Without my family we would have one foot in a homeless shelter and the other on a bannana peel.

We are also the 99%

krista said...

preach it, girl.
bryan and i laugh that maybe we're doing it wrong. since we're in it for love, not money.
*in a wonderful moment of serendipity, finn just called to me from the other room and asked 'how do you spell LOVE?'*

Erin said...

Shared on Facebook! Thank you for writing this. Seems like too many people just don't understand...

James Claffey said...

yes, you're right on the money. this whole system and the rogues perpetrating the fraud and theft of the ordinary person's labor is fucked. totally. but we must keep going.

leel said...

yes. yes. yes. I'm canadian, btw. We at least have healthcare & one year long maternity leave. As we teeter on the edge of the next great depression i applaud you for sharing your own stories, your own voice like you so often do. I just wanted to high-five you for this. And send vibes of wellness and love.
hugs, keeley

(ps: happy (belated) new year! 2012 is going to be a great one, i think!)

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