Being Poor in America

I admit I am in a relatively priviliged position.

I have a roof, have a job, have a graduate degree, a wonderful wife, 2 cats, etc.

Good friends, my poetry, lots to read, a good education.

But America is a tough place to be poor.

People think you do something wrong to be on welfare. That it’s an entitlement, that they shouldn’t ask for help. To me that’s sad.

We live in time where if a company asks for money millions is given. But if a family needs help they can get welfare but a 5 year limit of TAMF money is coming up soon that is going to affect millions. Which to me is absurd.

We live in a country where a hedge fund trader who makes money on investment income can make $100 million dollars and pay 15% tax on investment income. Meanwhile someone who is on food stamps, Medicaid, section 8, etc. not only pays taxes but also has to pay a percentage of that money in welfare. We live in a country where social security and medicare taxes are paid on first dollar. The social security taxes are capped at $110,100. This means someone working 20 hours a week at McDonalds for 10 bucks an hour (more than almost anyone gets paid there) makes $200/week and if working 52 weeks $10,400 a year and is losing welfare benefits, paying taxes and SSI taxes. While the hedge fund trader making $100 million literally pays 1/1000 the tax rate for Social Security.

I wish that we treated welfare as a social good like places like Scandinavia and made it so the least of us did the best. Instead, we live in a country where social service agency are seeing kids without shoes, like my friend Shay says in her great blogpost today.

Am I hopeful of change? Frankly, no. We live in times of People’s United where the rich and corporations can spend millions on candidates of their choice. If you think this doesn’t affect the candidates and the government you are fooling yourself. Corporations and wealthy Americans will keep doing better while the poor do worse. Remember that some kids don’t even have shoes, when you blame issues on America’s poor.