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Daily annoyances for most people are catastrophic for poor people

Stashed in: Luck!, Winner take all., Awesome, America!, Poverty, Poverty, Extraordinary People

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"Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable."Remember Paul Ryan's recent idea to cut welfare payments in favor of "counseling" and "benchmarks for success" to encourage greater accountability in poor people? This author actually lives in the America of temporary part-time work, where one illness or car repair or misfortune can result in a chain of catastrophe. Read her brutally honest real-talk about how much harder it is to manage daily life when you just plain don't have any money. Then see if meeting with a counselor every few weeks -- presumably when you should be on the job! -- is really going to help many people in that situation.

Reminds me of this essay that living with less is only for the rich:

This is heartbreaking because I know it happens. It's happened to me.

I once lost a whole truck over a few hundred bucks. It had been towed, and when I called the company they told me they’d need a few hundred dollars for the fee. I didn’t have a few hundred dollars. So I told them when I got paid next and that I’d call back then.

It was a huge pain in the ass for those days. It was the rainy season, and I wound up walking to work, adding another six miles or so a day to my imaginary pedometer. It was my own fault that I’d been towed, really, and I spent more than a couple hours ruing myself. I finally made it to payday, and when I went to get the truck, they told me that I now owed over a thousand dollars, nearly triple my paycheck. They charged a couple hundred dollars a day in storage fees. I explained that I didn’t have that kind of money, couldn’t even get it. They told me that I had some few months to get it together, including the storage for however long it took me to get it back, or that they’d simply sell it. They would, of course, give me any money above and beyond their fees if they recovered that much.

"It is impossible to be good with money when you don't have any."

Of course, very little of it was actually practicable. Bulk buying in general is cheaper, but you have to have a lot of money to spend on stuff you don’t actually need yet. Hand-washing saves on the utilities, but nobody actually has time for that. If I could afford to replace stuff before it was worn out, vehicle maintenance wouldn’t be much of an issue, but you really can’t rinse the cheap filters and again—quality costs money up front. In the long term, it makes way more sense to buy a good toaster. But if the good toaster is 30 bucks right now, and the crappiest toaster of them all is 10, it doesn’t matter how many times I have to replace it. Ten bucks it is, because I don’t have any extra tens.

It actually costs money to save money.

It is impossible to be good with money when you don’t have any. Full stop. If I’m saving my spare five bucks a week, in the best-case scenario I will have saved $260 a year. For those of you that think in quarters: $65 per quarter in savings. If you deny yourself even small luxuries, that’s the fortune you’ll amass. Of course you will never manage to actually save it; you’ll get sick at least one day and miss work and dip into it for rent. Gas will spike and you’ll need it to get to work. You’ll get a tear in your work pants that you can’t patch. Something, I guarantee you, will happen in three months.

"It’s impossible to win, unless you are very lucky."

For you to start to do better, something has to go right—and stay that way for long enough for you to get on your feet. I’ve done well in years that I had a job I didn’t mind terribly and that paid me well enough to get into an apartment that met all the basic standards. I’ve done less well in years where I didn’t have steady work. The trouble’s been that my luck simply hasn’t held out for long enough; it seems like just when I’ve caught up, something happens to set me back again. I’ve been fortunate enough that it’s rarely compounded, and I’ve stayed at under sea level for short periods instead of long-term. But I’ve stared long-term in the face long enough to have accepted it as a real possibility. It’s only an accident and a period of unemployment away.

But our dear president said this

""It is my highest responsibility to do everything possible to protect American citizens. As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located. And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice," Obama said.

Wherever they are located outside our borders.  Inside our borders countless nameless thousands can die and no one lifts a finger.  

He does seem oddly externally focused.

Part of the problem with being poor is people still have pride and want to follow rules.  

I say screw the rules. 

What I would do is when I became stable on paper but still unstable I would game the system. By this i mean gather and hide as much cash as possible.  Rent a place, take out credit cards max them out, payday loans, stop paying rent etc.....

Keep the allowable limit which is about 10,000 and use it to pay a bankruptcy lawyer, put the rest in gift cards. 

When the judge in the 5 minute hearing asks what happened say you injured your back did not have insurance and blew the money on prescription pain killers. 

You won't get credit again but you have a base to work off of. 

It is like when you are a kid in school and you say "what if all of us didn't show up for school" and everyone shows up. 

People should create a social media site that organizes a mass action to apply for student loan forbearance all on the same day. So I am not saying don't pay since they are outside bankruptcy but every month bomb the system with deferment requests. 

Create costs and screw their cash flow. 

In other words the poor and near poor need to fight back.  

The poor in general are not good fighters.

Reminded me of this NY Times article from earlier this year:

Consider filling out a loan application when you have a big suitcase (so to speak) versus a small one. In the first case, you can compare packages and lenders, think about interest rates and mull over the pros and cons of taking out a loan to begin with. In the second, you’re so stressed with obligations that you don’t have the time or mental resources to do that. You’re far more likely to just take whatever loan is offered to you, even if it’s an incredibly bad idea, like a high-interest or exploding loan package or a payday loan. Reflection is a luxury good.

And time is a luxury good. Most poor people have no time "to mull over" anything.

You - Americans are happy, because in your country 'high professional' = 'high earner'

Is that not true in other countries?

Unfortunately not at least in my country - Georgia, here are some fields that are paid normally (Software Developers, Bankers, Project Managers etc...), but some, commonly very high profile fields (such as Scientist, Journalists, Doctors) are very underpaid 

To clarify, I can say that I (as Software Developer) earn about $2000, and I can esteem myself as good developer (not top or great), but my father, who is very, very high quality Journalist and works at #1 paper media in country, as head of two major editions, about 50-60 hours a week, gets only $700

That's surprising. I guess software developers are in very high demand!

Yes Adam, they are, but it's not fair. But the world itself is not a fair place, so we should accept it!

Yes. If more people became software developers the salary would go down due to more competition for work. Perhaps that is what's happening with scientists, journalists, and doctors there. 

Yes, maybe ...

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