July 22, 2009

Paying To Be Poor

In a recent article Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown examines the cost of being poor. Brown states in the first few lines: “The poorer you are, the more things cost”. The cost, of course, comes in the form of money, time, convenience, and energy level. Brown points out that many of America’s poor are stuck with an unfair bill when it comes to the essentials like food, transportation, and housing.

Photo courtesy of This Fffire

The cost differences paid by the poor at their local corner store compared to a grocery store are likely to be huge. However, for many people without the time and transportation to get to big box stores, the $2.00 savings on a loaf of bread is hardly worth the hassle. The prices in these corner markets are, according to the article, almost always higher because their cost of doing business has a high overhead cost.

Tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, and getting to work become a juggle of both time and money and often leave the poor with a higher bill than middle class folks. The poor must sacrifice their time, which could be spent with their families or working to attain the basic goods and services to sustain and improve their lives. Sadly, the options available to the poor, like shopping at the corner store or paying to have checks cashed at a payday loan service, are often the ones that require more money that is simply not available.

Brown’s article offers an interesting exposé of the economics of poverty and the means by which structures and institutions are placed specifically to keep poverty intact. We can expand this knowledge of the economics of poverty to understand the farther reaching effects of sustaining poverty. Not only is the cost of bread more expensive but also the cost of education is greatly increased. Transportation to and from school might not be an option for some students or perhaps the neighborhood is too dangerous to walk through. The cost of community colleges and technical schooling can not be afforded when their already limited funds is going toward paying more for basic goods and services.

The result is uneducated people with less earning power in the workforce. Hence, the cycle of poverty and paying to be poor continues.

The article is a bit short when it comes to solutions to these issues. This is where I believe community and national organizations like Literacy 'n' Poverty Project and C.A.R.E have the opportunity to come in and make change. These groups have the tools needed to combat injustices and dismantle the systems responsible for charging the poor for their poverty.

By eliminating the injustices enacted on the poor that often cause monetary detriment, we are able to push forward programs promoting education, literacy and achievement among the poor. We must act together to change the status of poverty in America and strive to offer all of our citizens a fair chance to succeed.

I'd like to start an open thread and ask all of you, what organizations do you feel offer concrete solutions to end poverty?

This post was written by Laura Scroggs who is a feminist scholar living in the mid-west. She is currently an active community volunteer and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. Please leave your comments or email info@makesocialchangeareality.com with your questions.


Anonymous said...

I am unaware of any organizations that are geared towards ending poverty. I do believe though that the only way to help the poor is through education.

Combating poverty has to do with one's mindset. Back in our grandparents day our communities were much stronger. If one was poor we all were. The circumstances are much different now.

In this day and age, we have babies raising babies and the cycle must end. Our religious institutions as well as the home should be where it starts. The poor are unaware of their resources or just don't choose to utilize them. For instance their is a Continuing Adult Education institution in the neighborhood I live in. There should be a waiting list to get in there! Instead, you could probably count on one hand how many people attend. Unfortunately, people's mindset are on other things.

I am guilty of blaming my financial situation as to why I can't finish school but I also know that being ignorant is not an option and if I have to take out $200,000 in loans to better my future then so be it. Unfortunately one organization cannot end poverty for the entire nation. It should start at home and in your local neighborhood...

I look forward to reading more on your blog!
- C. Gorham

eurasintell said...

poverty has to do with ignorant self destructive behavior and the inability to resist impulses. don't get that girl pregnant. or if you're the girl, don't get pregnant. finish high school at least. take the jobs that your bling-loving peers consider beneath them. things'll work out.

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