Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Fog of Being Poor

Maybe you are reading this because you want to know that you are not alone. Maybe you've had to do things that tested and were against everything that you know is good, morale and ethical just to make ends meet. That's what some of the poor do, they make ends meet and then the ends change and get farther apart, whether it be a toothache, a cold-snap or your landlord suddenly wants you gone after you couldn't come up with all the rent and the "arrangements" that he discussed making involved midnight booty-calls. Hard to believe? Not so. It's what happens all the time.

I know that being poor means lack of opportunity no matter how smart you are. You will not be invited to social gatherings no matter how hurtful it may be and of course you've probably learned that starvation and lack of food make for a pretty pathetic athlete. You have no lunch, there was no breakfast and dinner was always something between toast and a cup of plain tea or sometimes potatoes that were baked in the oven.  Even when the beatings from other school kids became a daily ritual, and it is because you are poor, you learn how to stop crying and you pray to die on a regular basis.

Like most of those that lived in poverty in Canada, when I grew up in poverty there were no food banks and certainly welfare did not cover even the barest of necessities.  Lack of nourishment caused my teeth to crumble away and of course, the dentist was paid by welfare. What this meant was the dentist would not use any freezing whatsoever, and rather than fill my teeth, he pulled them out.   He also hit you repeatedly. To this day I still have nightmares and was horrified to meet someone else who had the misfortune of having the same dentist and our comparison was: "did he hit you too?". Sad situation.

I wonder whom these people are that say poor people are just lazy. Seriously? Come and talk to me and I will explain to you that there are barriers and they are real. And as for those who say that there are lots of people that were poor but made it, I hope that you are ready to back that up with real statistics and proof because citing the few celebrities or Fortune 500 or the wealthiest people in the world is a very small group of people compared to the millions of poor is like comparing a drop of water in an ocean.  I wonder why it became the norm to suggest that anyone can wind up like one of those that got out of the poverty trap, perhaps maybe it is just easier to swallow.

I had wished so badly that I could have had an education but homelessness started early and well, you can guess the rest.  I do not understand that these people are not given any opportunity whatsoever. A better idea: Have the provincial government offer to train these people in-house. Teach them computer skills, teach them how to use email, teach them how to file, how to answer a phone. Give them a bus pass, give them a chance to come to work directly for you and let them have a sense of pride, of being able to feed themselves and contribute to their families well-being.  People vocalize that this will not work, yet they have never even tried to put a plan in place. Not everyone on welfare wants to stay there. And certainly the province can afford to pay a decent wage, not minimum wage so they do not wind up earning less than what they would have if they just stayed home.   Help them with child-care if need be and perhaps some of those will chose to follow in the footsteps of Family care.

It is a simple idea. And sometimes the simplest idea is the best solution.  

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