My Life is More Interesting Than Yours

And I'm willing to fight about it

Poverty is subjective, the problem is being unstable May 9, 2012

Mittens Willard Romney would have us believe a lot of things.  That he saved the auto industry, that he was always pro life, that he was an effective governor in Massachusetts, that he never approved of his signature health care plan.  And while I take issue with just about everything he claims, there is one thing that I think he really truly cares about and believes, and that’s being rich, that people who aren’t rich aren’t trying and furthermore that people are “envious” of his wealth which is why they take issue with it.

Class warfare has been an interesting buzzword this election cycle.  Unlike the war on women, there’s agreement that it exists, but disagreement on who started it.

In America, class is an odd nut.  There is no “noble” class, no one who leads by accident of birth.  Here, its all about money.  Now some people may point out that there have been a recurrence of family dynasties here, the Kennedys and more recently, the Bushes, but its not the same as nobility.  Its the accident of birth in being born into wealth, which leads to power.  In fact one of the great things about America is the ability to move beyond your class.  Being born poor doesn’t mean you will be a peasant all your life, or that you have no chance at acquiring power on your own, and while some may say that that’s a dead dream, I can say that its still true today, but it is harder than it used to be.

Which brings me to the subject of this entry.  Poverty being subjective.  Lately I’ve been telling people I grew up poor, but with the caveat that I was poor…in Massachusetts.  This is a huge difference from being poor in Louisiana, Mexico or Kuala Lampur.  This hit me the other day when I was in the doctor’s office talking to my doctor who came from a different country and had one toy growing up.  Usually we divide class up by income level, but is that really a good indication to how “poor” someone is?

My sister grew up in the 70s, a time of bad inflation, and our parents were very young.  Yet they weren’t doing all that bad.  Especially compared to the 80s, with two extra children and the advent of Reganomics.  Growing up, money was always an issue.  My parents would pass bad checks to the supermarket in order to get cash for a few days, the house had a lien on it most of the time and it fell into disrepair.  And yet, we had a house, a car (most of the time, sometimes even two) and we weren’t starving.  I knew people who were far worse off, who were constantly moving from rental to rental, never had adequate transportation or job stability (by the time I was a kid, my dad was a union man at GE) and where abuse was physical or even sexual.

But no matter what the difference in income level was, there was one common thread.  Instability.  Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t stable, and yet many people who would be dubbed “Middle Class” are doing just that.

Without stability, how can you hope to thrive, grow and move up in the world?


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