Monday, November 5, 2012

Who's really poor?

A couple of weeks ago I went for a stroll with some ladies of my local mom's rosary group.  One of the women was talking about how she decided to discipline her children by removing all the toys from the floor of her two boys' room.  She said she stuffed them into one tote sized bin and then went on about how she didn't remove all the toys in their room or the one's from her children's play room. 

For whatever reason, the whole tote thing caught me off guard.  When we moved I literally placed all my children's toys in a large size packing box and their books in a separate box.  I could probably fit the vast majority of their toys (minus bulky ones) into two totes.  I live in 1000 square foot two bedroom apartment.  My husband sleeps on the couch....in the living room because he doesn't like the baby waking him up. 

But then I reminded myself that just up the street from us there is a park in which the homeless live.  And for whatever reason it's been plaguing hubby.  Not about what to do for them.  They are actually well taken care of despite not living in a home.  He's not sure how to talk to one.

Now you might say that I'm being mean, but in our country the homeless or poor really have it made.  Most homeless are homeless because they want to be.  Now before someone starts hurling stones...

There are shelters in urban areas.  Yes technically your still homeless.  And yes, they get full.

But...there's section 8 housing.  The government literally pays for you to have an apartment.  That's why my neighbor well...is my neighbor.  She doesn't have steady employment but does odd jobs.

In addition to section 8, there's Habitat for Humanity.  There's SNAP aka food stamp program.  There's medicaid.  Etc. Etc. 

In our country the poor live a life of privilege, one given to them and largely funded by the lady with the tote.

In fact after the weird encounter where Hubby didn't know how to talk to the homeless lady (who did not fit the stereotype what-so-ever; she even gave the boys candy), he ran into her again on the bus.  Our local buses are free and the major metro bus's are generally speaking free to the poor.

So not only are you able to eat and have a roof over your head but you get transportation.

It's nice being poor in America.

It's tough being poor elsewhere.  Some of the poorest nations in the world don't have nice grassy parks with restrooms and water fountains for the homeless to use.  They don't provide food or shelter.  If your poor, you tend to get exploited.  In other words any outside aid doesn't normally make it to you.  The poor stay poor and the exploiters get rich.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've long since stopped worrying about the homeless in the US because really they are okay.  And I try to remind myself that even if my kids don't have a ton of toys, it's really a stupid first world problem.  They are just fine.

The focus should be on countries abroad.  When our economy took a dive it meant more people going on freecycle asking for winter clothes.  Yes, free computer/internet access at the library (which has a bus stop very close to the front door).  This rippled across the rest of the world.  Can you imagine a life where you go from scratching out a living to death from starvation? 

Maybe we should focus on spurring the economy here not just to help those "homeless" get off section 8, but to help those abroad, the more vulnerable among us.

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