I wasn’t able to get to the Washington Post piece (it’s behind a subscription wall) but I remember this at Feministe not long ago.
Antigone does a nice take down of some jerk’s take on the article, and how the poor are just poor b/c they are stupid and are WASTING WHAT LITTLE MONEY THEY HAVE ZOMG! and if they were smart like him they would have all the answers.
Reading those examples was like reliving pages from my youth, and my early years as a parent (mostly pre-military).
I remember that sometimes a gallon of milk had to stretch for about two weeks. One gallon, for all meal needs. Milk is expensive, it was even then. My mother would often spend $.99 on a three liter bottle of Faygo (or a generic equivalent) to keep in the fridge so that we wouldn’t drink the milk too fast. We also kept a pitcher of water in the fridge, but our water tasted horrible. I don’t believe that being poor should preclude you from having anything that tastes good. These “luxuries” sometimes keep your spirits up when you are eating tuna and noodles for the third night in a row. Large bags of generic chips, being about $.89 for a huge bag, were also often in our cupboard to provide us w/ a snack if we were hungry between meals (being toast and peanut butter for breakfast and aforementioned tuna and noodles w/ mushroom soup for dinner). Healthy? Not at all, but it was worlds cheaper than a bag of shriveled apples at the same store. And we were lucky to have a car and a store to drive to.
When I was about 14 my mother’s boyfriend threw us out and the three of us couch surfed for a while. Try having a bank account when you don’t even have a permanent address. We often had to use the check cashing places or payday loan places for bill paying purposes b/c my mom was paid on the 1st and the 15th, and just like in the military, depending on the month that can be a long stretch (the second half of the month is always longer, and the money never stretches far enough). I remember owning one bra in junior high, and one sport’s bra for basketball. We didn’t have a washer and dryer handy (and certainly no coin to use a laundry mat, even if my prison guard mother had the time), so they were often dirty, and I depended on the “smell test” to choose clothes sometimes.
It’s not always as easy as “get a new license” to open an account. In Michigan you would have to take a day off of work to go to the Secretary of State, stand in line all day, hopefully have the $15 cash, and even then you wouldn’t get your license for weeks. And that is if you haven’t had your license revoked for something, as opposed to just “losing”, as the commenter Antigone takes to task suggests.
When I was a new mother living on the reservation w/ my young baby we had a “local” grocery store that was about a 40 minute walk (and if you live in Northern Michigan in the Winter w/ a small child you are not walking anywhere for even 20 minutes in January). There was no public transportation to speak of, so I would only have been able to take what I could carry anyhow, since I had a child slung on my back as well. The EZ Mart gas station was three blocks away, and while it had no produce and was more expensive for things like milk, noodles and butter, the convenience was beyond compare. I also worked midnights at the Casino, so I was already low on sleep and time for cooking. We had one working car during my first marriage, and worked opposite schedules on overlapping days. And I was lucky if he came home after work and didn’t gamble the money I didn’t even know we had away each night. Convenience wasn’t so much an issue as necessity.
It is so easy to look at the life of someone else and point at how stupid they are for throwing their money away and being too lazy to spend more wisely. If you were poor and do this it is too easy to forget how lucky you were–b/c yes, it was luck that dragged you out of poverty– to get out and not have to scrape for every quarter. If only we were all perfect like this asshole that Antigone has called out, we wouldn’t be so stupid and lazy and poor.
Holy crap, what is up w/ the personal anecdotes from me all of a sudden? LOL.