Friday, November 12, 2010

Poverty, the Only Thing Money Can't Buy

Do you really think you are poor because you can't buy that HD flatscreen this year, at least until the big bonus comes in?
Actually, if you really think that, you are the world's biggest douche. (Look, someone on the internet knows how to spell douche!)
Try making $661 dollars a month. I think the only thing that sucks worse is having AIDS, or having to live through the Holocaust.

I'm absolutely saved by subsidized housing. I only pay $92 dollars a month, which actually gives me more overhead than a lot of the people I know who have semi-decent jobs. But still.
When people who have no idea what they are talking about, start spouting off about people "taking advantage of the welfare system" I want to slap them. How exactly does one "take advantage" of less than $700 a month? I know people who spend more than that on a pair of shoes. (Granted I live in Southern California, and people spend that much money on shoes on a regular basis, but still)

The same people speak of "kid-farming" on the welfare system. Well, that doesn't happen anymore. If you have a child after you have been on welfare for over 8 months, that child doesn't qualify for additional benefits. If you happen to have a child within that 8 months, you get an extra $65 a month. Honestly, if you are shitting out children simply for the extra welfare money, somehow, $65 doesn't cut it.

I agree that there are women out there who put themselves and their children in the system while the husband works under the table. Sounds like a good deal, any working family could use an EXTRA $661 on top of what hubby is making, standing in front of Home Depot and being picked up by a sex pervert to weed the backyard shirtless for 8 hours.

However, as soon as Paco gets a real job, the state will garnish his wages for what was paid to the wife and kids during her stay on welfare. Yay. Way to punish you for finally getting a job and off of welfare!
So, Paco and Maria aside, my family is on welfare. Abuse us if you will, but watching my kids play with broken, second hand toys, and sleeping on a lumpy mattress bought for $20 off of Craigslist is punishment enough I think.
How did two educated, well spoken people wind up on welfare, do you ask? Well, I guess the first mistake was mine. The hubby was making plenty of money for us to afford to live comfortably in our 3 bedroom house, keep up on our car maintainence, and feed ourselves... with quite a few extras. So, I quit my job after having Tyler. We thought we were sacrificing, but we had no idea.
Little did we know, when Tyler turned 6 months old, he was going to lose his $18 an hour job that he had held for 6 years.

He went on unemployment, which wasn't horrible, he made about $1200 a month. If he hadn't been laid off from such a high paying job, it would have been much less. I got a part-time job at a pizza place, but they were surprisingly unaccepting of the needs of a 6 month old breastfeeding infant with health issues, and I was informed that my work hours were just "suggestions" and they could keep me after for as long as they wished. So, needless to say, that didn't last long.
Meanwhile, my hubby had over 100 resumes circulating, to not just his field, but all related fields... but as it turns out, we were nuts-deep in a recession, and anything slightly having to do with construction was shit-for-jobs. People were getting laid off left and right, and not even the most irresponsible of workers were letting go of their positions.
Almost 3 years has passed since he lost that job. When we moved to this new apartment in Palm Springs, my hubby did the resume thing again (100 times over) with the new address and phone number. We haven't heard a single thing.
While this is going on, I struggle to get into school. You may have heard that there are programs for women on welfare to get into college... but apparently, my social workers have not heard the same thing. When expressing my desire to better myself and get off of welfare, I have been told: "You know, you're exempt from having to participate in the GAIN program (the program that can help me with school)until your children both turn 4 years old." and "If you go forward with this, you are then required to look for work full time (32 hours a week) while attending school." and "I really don't know, no one has ever wanted to start participation while exempt before." as well as "We are only interested in getting you to work, your education is not a priority."
Wow. Holy wow even. So, you people would rather me get a shitty job at McDonalds, which as soon as I lose, I'll be back in the system, than go to college, get a degree, and never be poor enough to need assistance again?

This month, yes, November, You know, the month with Thanksgiving in it, they cut my foodstamps $130. Because of my subsidized housing, they said. I'm already forced to borrow food from my parents by the end of the month... my parents who hate me because I ask for too much shit.
This month, yes, the month they cut my foodstamps, we paid an extra $40 on our electric bill so we can buy Christmas presents for the kids without getting the electricity shut off. I'm pretty sure they will live without a tree.

I'm in the process of getting a new computer in trade for 15 boxes of powdered laundry detergent. The one I have now was free, and I'm running Windows ME on it. This new one should be able to run Win XP... but it's been 5 weeks and the people are taking their time getting back to us. Meanwhile, it takes 2 minutes to load my blog. The blog that I'm thinking is good enough to eventually make money off of.
My so sweet husband is trying to talk me into starting writing novels again (he says I'm SUCH a good writer... aww). I informed him that he would have an easier time going back to Hollywood and getting back into acting after a 20 year hiatus.

After all this, I wonder why I'm not deeply depressed, instead of slightly irritated and sarcastic.
Maybe, because even after all this, things aren't really all that bad. My children are active, healthy and smart. No one has died (who hadn't already lived a long and full life) for a while. We love each other deeply. The passion is still alive in my marriage. We are strong, intelligent and resourceful people, and we'll make it through this.
There are so many people out there who are doing so much worse... not just in the world, but here in our very country... Land of the Free, and Home of the Laid-Off. Ever seen pictures of children living in tin shacks in the Ozark mountains? Ever seen a news story about someone committing murder-suicide because they saw no other way? Ever seen a mother holding the hand of her child dying from leukemia?

It could always be worse. People with drinking or gambling problems, women with severe post-partum, husbands and wives that no longer love each other, children who go to bed hungry... I could go on and on. Who really cares that the belt that runs the brush under my vacuum is broken, and I can only suck things up with the hose? Who really cares that my bedspread will never get back white, no matter how much bleach I use, and we can't buy a new one? Who gives a flying fuck that my no-stick cookware has long lost it's no stick bottom?

I could do without the damn cockroaches in this subsidized apartment complex, but I thank God every night that we have an affordable roof over our heads, and plenty to eat, and clothes (no matter how ratty) on our backs.
My children sleep in beds and wear clothes that (mostly) fit them. We have shoes and carseats and most importantly a coffee maker. I may not be content, but we are surviving. Nothing gets shut off and the rent gets paid.
And for all we have, I am thankful.
Let's just hope we can get a Christmas tree once the kids are old enough to care.


At March 4, 2011 at 5:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should sell it on the then you could afford cockroach spray.


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