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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poverty in America: She Left her Bootstraps on the Bus

Some say that the "New Poor", not to mention the "Old Poor", need to learn "personal responsibility".  They need to stop sponging off of those rich "job creators"!  
Meet some of the "New Poor" (and some of the "Old Poor" as well).  We're watching them sponge off of others,  show no "personal responsibility", and demonstrate how little they value money and how dependent they are on the government:

Lazy Sponger Number 3:  She Left her Bootstraps on the Bus

A young woman had two children out of wedlock at a young age. It created a life of struggle for her, but she vowed to work hard and not pass a life of struggle on to her kids. She worked for a large retailer, but pay slightly above minimum wage doesn't go that far when you have two kids to raise.

She realized she would have to go back to school to get some kind of skill, and she went to school on the weekends and worked during the week. That didn't go over well with her retailer employer which insisted that full-time staff work on the weekends. As a result, her hours dropped down to 34 a week, the fewest that one could work and still be considered "full-time". The automatic scheduling system often scheduled her for difficult hours, a few hours in the morning, then several hours off, and then a few hours in the afternoon. As she traveled by bus, it added hours a day to her working day, and working a split shift was just something she really couldn't do.  Her boss would try to fix her hours, but he often got grief from his boss, as the automatic scheduling system was to be left alone.

But with fewer hours and ever-decreasing pay (due to changing pay policies of her employer), she did qualify for food stamps, housing, energy assistance.(In other words, the government was subsidizing her employer who didn't pay her enough on which to live.) 

She did not do well in school; she feels due to the pressure of kids, work, and school, and she has not yet been able to finish her program. She finally found a different job, still just a bit above minimum wage, but without the pressures of her old job. She's still not getting ahead, but at least this job seems to be less stressful, and the hours aren't as capricious.

Lazy sponger Number 4:  Grandpa Cuts Grass

The young man grew up in a dirt poor neighborhood on the "wrong side of the tracks". He was very bright, did well in school, went to college on a scholarship, and graduated with honors. Vietnam started up just as he was finishing school and he was drafted. 

When he left the Army and came home, he struggled to "find" himself, which was the story of so many vets who returned from Vietnam in the 60's and early 70's. 

After a series of odd jobs, a broken marriage, and a stint in graduate school, he got a job as a ...

Lazy Sponger Grandpa Cuts Grass Continued HERE


  1. I too work retail and weekends are part of the requirements for work.
    I do not deal with an automatic scheduling system, I have a boss that schedules me for the night shift and I have to be back at opening the next morning, short on sleep. I do not think this person deserves any label at all and how dare you refer to her as a deadbeat! I know her struggle all too well as I have lived it for the past 5 years. She is not a deadbeat at all. She made mistakes, and she is doing her best to try to correct her mistakes. Her motivation is good, she wants a better life for her kids, and she is doing everything she can. Yes there are deadbeats out there that suck the system, and there are those who are using the system temporarily in the path to a better life.
    As a taxpayer I do not have an issue having my tax dollars go to people like her for short term assistance.
    If you really want to help struggling people why don't you open a website for ideas, resources and tips to help make their lives easier, instead of putting them down?

  2. I'm completely on your side.. and the side of this young woman. I'm sorry that you missed the sarcasm in that article and in this whole series of article on people that I personally know who are dealing with poverty in the wake of the worst recession in 80 years.

    I consider this young woman a hard-working person, trying to give her kids a better life under very trying circumstances. I do not consider her a deadbeat but, because she needs government assistance, there are many out there who would cast aspersions on her character. Again, I'm sorry that the sarcasm wasn't evident.

  3. Molly,
    I am beginning to wonder if you know what "personal responsibility" means, as you clearly do not recognize that Sponger #3 has failed to take it for her life.
    Sponger #3 is using food stamps, housing, and energy assistance to pay for her lifestyle, all forms of public assistance that are paid for by taxpayers. This is an important point, because it recognizes that people who work (and pay taxes) have a portion of the money they worked for that they would ordinarily spend on themselves taken away from them (taxes). This money is then given to people on public assistance-- in this case Sponger #3. In this very real sense, other people are paying the bills of Sponger #3 because she can not pay for them herself. She is not taking the "personal responsibility" of paying for her own, personal bills like her electricity, housing, and food.
    And why is that? Because she has made a series of bad choices.
    Bad Choice #1: Having not one, but two children without a father to share the financial responsibility of children. Taking personal responsibility would have been NOT having unprotected sex, NOT choosing to hook up with someone unwilling to commit, and NOT making both of those choices TWICE.
    Bad Choice #2: Accepting a job that you can't, or are unwilling to perform. In this case, I find it very hard to believe she was not told she would have to work weekends. Knowing the she was taking weekend classes, she should have made the choice to find another job, or hold off on taking classes. To then complain that she had to work split-shifts, or that the bus ride was too long is ridiculous. Did she think that all the shifts should revolve around her? Personal responsibility would be either accepting that the job didn't meet her schedule, or just toughing it out.
    Bad Choice #3: Not doing well in weekend school and blaming it on the pressure of kids, work, and school, all of which she bought on herself. Personal responsibility would be putting the effort in to succeed. She said she had hours on the bus (why not use that time to study?).
    Sometimes if you want to succeed, it is a matter of having will power. Sponger #3 obviously lacks the will power to say no to having unprotected sex, and the will power to study when needed. Taking personal responsibility for her would mean (among other things) having will power to put the effort in, AND do her job, AND take care of her kids. Hard? Of course. But not impossible. The alternative, which she has chosen, is to sponge off others for the foreseeable future.


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