Is Being Poor a Choice?

   Even though the comment from someone who most country folk despise for his un-sportsman-like habits of shooting animals  that are fenced in and thereby, trapped. And he may even have a point, albeit a small one. What we choose as young adults will of course, set the path through which the future will be born. Turning away from education, tech schools, and choosing a life of crime/easy money, these decisions can  cause poverty, Many would like to think (and probably do) that all one has to do to better oneself is to decide to do it.  But in too many instances to count, poverty is a state many are born into, and being poor has its own ways of trapping people forever in its web. For instance, and I’ll use my own family for this. My Mother came from a genteel southern family that wore old money as casually as last years wardrobe. But a few bad investments by her father, left them destitute. Her dad even went insane over the whole thing, and lived the rest of his life out in Chattahoochee, a horrible mental asylum. She married twice, divorced once, widowed once, had 2 children from her first marriage, one of which was mentally handicapped. Then she met my Dad, a full blooded Navajo. They married and raised a total of 7 children on a poor man’s pay. He worked on dairys, she worked as a seamstress, and in a shrimp plant. Every weekend we   all piled in the car and headed for the Gulf of Mexico, to fish, crab, and collect oysters. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a garden full of fresh vegetables, and Daddy’s job allowed him to bring home 2 gallons of milk home every day. I was unaware that we were considered ”poor” until a girl complimented my school dress, and I proudly said “My Mom made it for me!” then the girl turned to her friends and said “only poor people make their own clothes”  This was quite an awakening for me.  I chose to go to college, but not until after my kids got old enough to start school themselves. I studied Business, graduated, went into the business world and HATED it! The in-office politics, the two faced bullshit, the backstabbing; they were all too depressing for me. I’ve worked a lot of different jobs, I was a logger, a semi truck driver, a laborer, a heavy equipment operator, a cook, a sous chef, a manager of a restaurant and I was a floor manager in a factory.  None of these jobs made enough money to support my family AND keep up w/medical insurance payments. Because we were a 2 job household, we didn’t qualify for any money saving things like free or reduced school lunches,  food stamps, or anything else. BUT we also did not make enough money where we could afford to go to the dentist, doctor, or anywhere out to eat that didn’t have a dollar menu. We worked hard, I often worked graveyard shifts to save money on child care. Our car was an old beater that   my hubby could tinker with just enough to keep it running one more day. There were no buses to catch, so that car or walking were our only options. We didn’t qualify for the things most people take for granted like credit cards, decent vehicles, cell phones.  Then I got hurt, and it wasn’t on the job. So no workman’s comp. Bills kept piling up; you think the power company gives a damn that you almost died? No, they do not, since you’re still alive pay your fucking bill. It took me 7 yrs to finally get disability, because I had lost 70% of control of my  right hand, and although I tried like hell to get my left-also-known-as-stupid arm to pick up the slack, it didn’t work. Now mind you I’ve worked every day of my life, whether it was on the farm when I was a kid, and ever since I was 16 I worked for pay. I always put in to SocSec, paid my taxes, didn’t claim more than what was  truly mine. Now I’m on SSI, living on $445 a month and $109 if EBT a month. I live so far below the poverty level I’d need a hand up to just be poor. In a world where “the working force” is no longer revered, where the elderly often live on dog food coz they can’t make ends meet otherwise, because the cost of electricity goes up, price of gas goes up, food prices soar, everything goes up but our income, I have to say that NO ONE truly chooses to be poor. And you know that line about history and those doomed to repeat it? Government needs to wake up and realize the gap between the ”haves” and the ”have-nots” is now a chasm, growing wider by the day. There really is no middle class as we once defined it.  Shouldn’t we all, the elected officials, the business owners, the  work force, shouldn’t we remember the French Revolution, where heads of self important Royalty rolled….and rolled…..and rolled.? Perhaps it won’t come to that.  But it could. Very easily.  And I bet  when the Donald’s head rolls, his hair won’t be mussed a bit.Oh, and one more thing, my husband is a construction superintendent, and extremely good at his job. He isn’t afraid to labor w/his tools on. But there ARE no jobs to be had. Between all those bad loans, foreclosed homes, and illegal immigrants snatching up all the construction jobs because they will work for less, we are in big trouble now, because after 35 yrs of working steadily, he has already used up all his unemployment benefits, so my measly little check is what we have to try to live on. Thank heavens our kids are all grown now. We go hungry a lot,  but we’re grown, and that’s different. A child should never go to bed hungry. Our troops deserve to come home after performing so valiantly for their country, but has anyone thought about jobs for them? We don’t want riches, we are  already rich in our love for each other and our family. But it would sure be nice to be able to keep the water, lights, and trash pickup going.

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