Sunday, March 25, 2012

The New Poor?

I Feel So Poor Without My Tiara
I recently read an article on Yahoo! that really rubbed me the wrong way...  How to Earn $100,000 and Still Feel Poor. It's a topic I've been thinking about for quite some time, and frankly, I can no longer remain silent on it. My ire concerns the way Americans define the term, poor.  Heck, it even concerns the definition my computer New Oxford American Dictionary gives: poor means "lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society."
When it comes to our society I'm all for throwing that definition out the window. Why? Because when it comes to defining what poor means we are messed up. Our view of comfortable or normal equates to what other countries consider champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Poor doesn't mean not having a cell phone complete with sparkly case, it means not having a place to live. It doesn't mean you have to cut your cable package and miss out on 1000 Ways to Die, it means your electricity was just shut off. It doesn't mean having to eat out less, it means wondering where your next meal is coming from. I hear people complaining about the economy while talking on cell phones, which more than likely cost a lot of moola to maintain every month (I seriously do not understand how so many people can afford these things when our economy is so terrible - does it make any sense to you?). At any rate, if you're eating three meals a day and have a roof over your head, you're not poor!

Over the last couple of years, while voting for the town and school budget, I have heard many people invoke the term, "tough economic times" as a reason for voting down basic needs for our town and school.  I'm not challenging that phrase...what I am challenging is the number of people who claim to be suffering during these tough economic times, yet their kids (and themselves) have all the latest gadgets (my kids are always telling me about how most kids in their classes have cell phones, gameboys, DS's or whatever's the latest and greatest), the biggest cable package (not to mention flat screen TVs) you can get, the nicest clothes and most expensive brands, and who obviously are getting enough to eat (this is not a slight on people struggling with their weight - it's saying, you aren't poor if you're getting plenty to eat), and so on.  It's an insult to the people who really are suffering...those who have lost their jobs, those on fixed incomes, those whose communities have been hit by natural disaster, those who can't take necessary medications because they can't afford them (type I diabetics will often go without insulin because it's hugely expensive), and those who are literally starving, especially children.
Homemade Shirt and Bad Haircut Does Not Equal Poor
I grew up on reduced price school lunches, hand-me-downs - sometimes holey, oftentimes too big - and at one point shared a bedroom with 2 sisters (I slept on a couch).  We rarely got the latest fad (unless it was cheap, like beaded friendship pins), my mother made a lot of our birthday and Christmas gifts or got them from yard sales, and we pretty much never ate out.  Were we poor?  No way!  And my mom, who had it worse than me by a fair amount and who grew up in a pretty tough neighborhood, didn't consider herself poor, either. She had food, a roof over her head, and clothes to wear.
What's my point? Well, maybe people should start looking at what they do have instead of complaining about what they don't (I will include myself in this, as well, cause I can get whiny, too).  It's a simple idea and I can't take credit for it, because it's been around for a long time.  Just because you don't have everything you want or aren't living the lifestyle you'd like to live doesn't qualify you as poor.  Poor hurts. Are you really hurting if you can't have steak twice a week or had to put off your family vacation for a year? Does cutting your cable package or dumping your cell phone really cut deep?
If you think so, then I suggest you re-think your priorities.  You may not truly be poor economically, but you're definitely poor in spirit.  And in the long run, that's going to hurt worse.
Until We Meet Again...
Come Explore Anaedor!

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