Reply by Laura Smith-Johnson: What I see as issues are that low-income people, although not all, don't have the skills that independent people do. They are fully-capable, smart people who are simply lacking the skills and knowledge to become independent. Some of the problems I have seen personally that support my opinion are listed below.
Many low-income people don't know how to manage money and many live like they are middle-income when they are not. As an example, a person I know buys three or more mochas a day instead of using the mocha machine that we gave them. This person also won't be caught dead in an economical car and instead purchased and chooses to drive a gas-hungry SUV. Instead of taking a nearby bus to school which is offered at no charge, this person chooses to drive 40 miles a day, round trip, in their SUV. As another example, a person I know adopted a Great Dane instead of choosing a smaller dog or no dog at all. Adult Great Dane's, due to their size, eat between 8 and 14 cups of food per day. Both of the people in these examples are low-income and have children yet they don't seem to understand the financial impact of their decisions on not only themselves, but their children and society.
Many low-income people living in houses complain about the cost of food and yet they don't have a garden in which to grow their own food.
Many low-income people complain about the high cost of everything and yet they shop at Walmart, one of the places that helps to keep them poor. And, by the way, it's not so much about the wage that Walmart employees get as it is the lack of hours they get and no flexibility for them to get a second job, but that's a topic for another discussion.
Many low-income people on public assistance don't understand where the money comes from that supports them. They say it comes from the government but, when asked, they don't understand where the government gets their money.
The solution, I believe, starts with educating people. Start with young people, while they're still in school. Add 'Home Economics' back into the curriculum as a required course for both sexes. Adults who fall into the low-income tax bracket, who are of working age and ability, and who receive public assistance should also be required to complete this course.
The course, if designed for today's needs, would include food, nutrition, and health; gardening; personal finance; family resource management and planning; clothing; housing and household management; social economics; technology; education and community services. They will learn everyday living in households, families and communities for developing life skills and developing the potential for growth; to discover and develop their own resources and capabilities; and to facilitate sustainable futures for everyone.
I don't know how Walmart "helps to keep people poor". The Walmart here has good prices and a lot of the stuff you need in one place.
And the 'good prices' and 'lots of stuff' are provided to you on the backs of the people who are cussed at by others who check out, and all at a minimum wage that can't support their families. Enjoy the 'good stuff!'
Luara, the problem with Walmart is they purchase their goods from countries with the lowest labor costs, even slave labor. Walmart has no concern for the welfare or safety of their producers, no safety regulations, no concern for working conditions. Walmart brings these products to the U.S.A. and undersells local markets, putting other stores out of business. Once the local stores go bankrupt, Walmart raises their prices; they have no competition. They hire people to work for local Walmart stores but do not provide opportunities for full time work so that they have no obligation or laws to make them provide insurance benefits or retirement plans. Walmark assigns workers variable hours so that it makes it difficult for workers to find second jobs. The low wages do not support a single person, let alone a family, enough money for decent housing, food, transportation, education, health care plans or retirement plans.
Walmart hands out instructions on how to get food stamps, which means the public purse pays their employees so they have enough to eat. Some families have no food and the children get in on breakfast and lunch programs at their schools during the school year.
The Walmart family, alone, not just the investors in Walmart, but the family have fantastic wealth, not because they work to make a living, but they get shares in the profits made by other people's work. They are pure parasites on the working people of this country.
Walmart: The High Cost Of Low Prices FULL MOVIE
I thought you meant that Walmart somehow exploits the customers. I didn't say Walmart has "good stuff".
But how do you know they are "keeping people poor"? Perhaps importing a lot of goods ends up helping the countries they come from. Perhaps in practice, Walmart serves as entry-level employment for some, or a part-time job when that's what they want.
You can see causation on an individual level, but sweeping arguments about causation on a grand social scale, are much more dubious.
And, that sort of concern - slave labor in foreign countries, etc. - should be dealt with by laws, not by reliance on a company's "social conscience". Big companies in general probably have only as much of a social conscience as they can afford to have.
I buy things online as much as possible, to avoid allergic reactions when I'm out of my house. I've wondered what the explosive growth of Internet commerce will do to economies. Perhaps internet commerce tends to exploit the workers, too.
I saw a woman working at the local Walmart once, who I had seen working at the local health food coop store. She told me the health food coop treated its workers terribly, and working at Walmart was a lot better. These things don't necessarily play out in practice according to the generalizations.
Joan, your point about the importance of home economics is well taken. I would add home repairs to that too. That doesn't mean everyone should be able to re-roof their house. But there are simple repairs and plumbing that are within reach for many young people, who just don't know how. Computer skills might it into that as well.
I imagine you are right, many low income people don't know how to manage their money. I imagine that is true for many high income people too.
I looked for statistics on that issue. I don't know if anyone has defined the question well enough to answer it.
It can be hard for someone who works a grueling job, to go home and make a decent meal. Just to exhausted to think, so stop at a fast food place. Fat, salt, and sugar are comfort foods, and take the place of nutrition because for the moment, they feel better.
Working long hours, and sometimes raising kids to boot, it's hard to expend even the mental energy to make or repair something, when you can just buy a cheap one at Walmart. Even if Walmart is tearing down other local businesses and exploiting their workers and workers abroad.
I don't know if it is still true, but I read that many neighborhoods do not have grocery stores. People have to travel a fair distance just to get groceries. Towns are laid out so that residential neighborhoods are far from most workplaces, and workplaces are in commercially zoned areas with minimal housing.
My values were passed on by parents who survived the great depression. They were, in modern terms, amazingly frugal. I am not as frugal as they are, but I could do better than I do. When I was at the economic bottom, I ate a lot of rice and beans, spaghetti, ramen noodles, rented a room to live in, bought clothes at goodwill. Still but clothes at goodwill, for home use. My downfall is I don't have the energy to do some things myself, especially after work. I know I could cook better, make it myself better, more healthy, and it would cost less. And I know my life is privileged compared to many. If someone does not see an economic light at the end of the tunnel, I could easily see them just giving up trying.
That is great about your daughter k.h.!
Daniel, in some ways we are privileged because we can bare witness to the days of Great Depression and know what poverty feels, tastes, looks like. We also know what recovery is like as the country developed after WW II.
A depression will be quite different than the last one, we now have over 7 billion human beings on the planet and the press of hungry people may be overwhelming. WW III will be quite different too, with the increased access to very heavy arms and chemicals. With great wealth hiring armed men and women from hungry families will be a formidable force.
So, now, we have our lemon in sight; how are we going to turn it into lemon ade? You are quite right in home repairs being part of that education program. Much of my career in teaching was with recovering adults. The recovery included from adult children of alcoholic parents, or recovering alcohol and drug addicted people, or people who had delayed development, or boys sent to ranches by the courts, or adults in prison from many different crimes getting ready to be released into the public domain. My job as life skills instructor was just the kinds of people that you and I have seen in our work with the public.
I have great optimism because I have seen what can happen when adults learn what they should have learned as children from their parents. Of course, not everyone wanted to change. I witnessed enough to know that there is a reason to be optimistic.
There are some formidable challenges that prevent positive outcomes: religion, economics and politics. All of these contribute to the problems facing us and they are important challenges.
As to religion, this hate mongering that is going on, focused mainly on women's bodies and GLBT s presents tough hurdles. I am very encouraged in this aspect because more and more people are speaking out about their lack of belief in supernatural forces at work in our lives. Listening to the tapes of American Atheists in Salt Lake City gives me great hope. The growing numbers of new members in Atheist Nexus is amazing. With so many different personalities it is a wonder we haven't destroyed the movement. However, AN is flourishing.
Economics gives me great hope, too. There are more and more voices speaking out against laissez faire capitalism and more people listen without cutting them off. Really good writings and videos become available as the ideas of a few great economic thinkers spread.
Politics is a bit more scary. I don't see really great leaders emerging as I hoped they would. Elizabeth Warren is one towering giant. She claims she will not run for president ... lack of good leadership may force to change her decision.
Well, big issues and we are so small. As for myself, creaky, cranky, bitchy, curmudgeonly, testy, and crusty as I am, I kind of like a good challenge. Maybe I will be able to go out swinging punch lines, or at least having my say, I will die happy.
Well, I'm weary. Goodnight everyone.