Friday, September 16, 2005


Being Poor

I'm getting really tired of the people who blame the poor people of New Orleans for not evacuating, as if they had some way to leave and just decided not to. They obviously don't have a clue what being poor means. John Scalzi provides a few examples.

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs. Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV. Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn. Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away. Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours. Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier. Being poor is living next to the freeway. Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last. Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help. Being poor is off-brand toys. Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house. Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around. Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt. <much more>
Unfortunately, it's not enough to tell the Barbara Bushes of the world what it's like to really be poor; they'll still believe, with infinite self-righteousness and self-congratulation, that poverty is a moral failing and wasn't it obliging of God to give "us" the grace to be not-poor? If the poor didn't exist, the Bushes and their ilk, in order to have someone to be superior to, would have to create them-- Oh. Wait.
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