Silk Brutalizes the Poor

NO, I’m not actually going to beat up the poor, lol, It does make a great headline, and is mainly intended to mock the typical response from the FAR Left when you paint the poor in anything less than glowing colors. The situation is far more complex than blaming the lazy poor or the evil rich though. I’m going to try to take a balanced, honest look at the situation and see if I can enrage all sides. 😀

I’ve been debating doing an article like this for a while. A very well thought out post by Miranda Russell on the subject finally got me off my tush and writing. Miranda is young, but well read and shows a great deal of insight. Having “been there” in terms of income and surroundings for a good portion of my life, I can says she’s very accurate about the mindset of the poor. Here’s her post, which is certainly worth a read:

I did find her post just a little one sided however, so I’m going to finally offer my own take here.

So for those who didn’t read it, Miranda’s premise is that the poor often make unsound decisions financially because of short term survival needs, as a sheer pressure relief for their personal circumstances, or to sort of lash out at a society that they feel is unjust. Having been there, I can say there’s truth in that. HOWEVER, it’s also only half the truth.

POOR VS MIDDLE CLASS:

First, let’s deal with the obvious. The major difference between the middle class and the poor is that the middle class is willing to put off the short term feel good stuff to better their situation in the long run. Bills come before pleasure. They’ll work longer hours and seek to better their job opportunities instead of complain they can’t get ahead. They avoid the instant gratification knee jerk decision making that is common among the lower class.

This is NOT totally the fault of the poor however. Financial literacy isn’t taught in schools. My personal belief is it’s outright discouraged so that government can better hide it’s mismanagement of tax dollars and big business can more easily manipulate customers into bad decisions.

We’re taught the lie that a credit score is everything. That debt is good because it builds your credit score. We’re also bombarded by ads that say we’re not complete and won’t be accepted in society if we don’t have the latest and greatest name brand everything. You won’t even feel good about yourself unless you have “it”! Most of the time “it” is just useless crap that adds nothing to your life beyond being the illusion of a status symbol too.

THE LITTLE MAN CAN’T GET AHEAD!

The idea that it’s impossible to get ahead in the West is a COMPLETE farce however, especially in the U.S. Here we have immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, Asia, India and Africa who come here with NOTHING and become successful business owners. These people come here with the understanding that short term sacrifice and hard work will get them to their dreams.

On the flip side, native Westerners don’t have that financial understanding or drive. Worst yet, they’re told repeatedly by activists and politicians that they can’t get ahead. At best, you can tread water because those activists and politicians will take money away from others to keep you from falling any further (read: keep you trapped where you are and under their control).

Common sense should dictate what these people are saying is insulting. “You’re not smart enough to do anything for yourself” is what it comes down to. Then they double down on this by painting poverty as noble and anyone who has even small success in life as lucky or a thief. There’s NOTHING noble about poverty. By the same token, being poor is NOT evil or a sign of laziness.

BUT LIFE HAPPENS!

One argument that the media and activists like to play out is that we’re all only one emergency away from homelessness. This is partially true at best. First off, for big disasters like a massive medical bill, there’s bankruptcy. Secondly, the financial advice Dave Ramsey offers on his radio show points out how easy proper planning prevents disasters. His plan to get out of debt involves a handful of “baby steps” and some hard work. Over the last 20 years, he’s gotten millions of people completely debt free and financially independent too.

Step one of his plan is to save $1000 for a starter emergency fund. Why that amount? Most attacks by Murphy’s Law such as an appliance going out or a major car repair are at or below $1000. If it’s bigger, like a leak in the roof, you can patchwork repair it for that price. Yes, if you’re poor, saving a thousand dollars can be tough. That’s where working a second job and cutting back on unnecessary expenses comes in. It can be done faster than you think. I know from first hand experience.

After that, you start paying off your debts smallest to largest. You make minimum payments on everything else and throw as much money as you can at the smallest. Beat that debt, you move to the next, throwing all that money that was going toward the last debt at this one. It creates a snowball effect and is VERY powerful emotionally in that you see results and build motivation. Almost everybody on Dave’s plan is debt free in a year and a half too thanks to that motivation.

Anyway, step three is to build a real emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses. THAT also is easier than you think when you’re no longer giving an extra 30% to the credit card companies every month. The point is, it’s all easier than the manipulators would have you believe. It simply takes discipline and determination. But hey, life changes when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Again, the big problem here is NOT that that the poor are evil, it’s that they haven’t been shown the path. The rich and the middle class are NOT evil either just because they found the path. And yes, I *do* differentiate between the millionaire next door and SOME of the super rich who will do anything to acquire money and power.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE POOR AND THE RICH:

So far, I’ve talked in generalities. Let’s get down to reality. We have a HUGE homeless problem here in my area. The (only) good part of that is it has been an opportunity to study the poorest out there. Here’s what multiple homeless advocates and others who work with them have found:

Roughly one third of the homeless are there because they were blind sided by financial problems (or physical disabilities). They’re also almost always there temporarily and will be back on their feet in about six months.

My personal opinion is that society should do everything possible to get these folks back on their feet AND see to it that they have proper financial education so they avoid ending up this way again.

A second third of the homeless are mentally ill and/or drug addicts (sometimes both). Society has failed these people. There’s a warped sense of false compassion out there that it’s somehow kinder to let these people live and die in the gutter (and potentially be a danger to others in some cases) instead of institutionalizing them and getting them help. Get them turned back into functional members of society where possible also. Granted, these institutions need to be better and more compassionately run than they were in the past.

Institutionalized help is better than stepping over them in the gutter and pretending you’re compassionate because “they’re free”.

The last third of the homeless population… These are the grifters and the lazy. They think they’re living free. They think they’re getting over on society by living on handouts and what they can steal. Yes, reality is there IS a percentage of the homeless who just don’t want to try. MAYBE some of this group can be reached with counseling. Some won’t however.

What I’m going to say next will seem uncompassionate, BUT it’s coming from a person who has been at ground zero for an insane over-tolerant policy towards the homeless; police won’t respond to break-ins or attacks. Homeless are allowed to camp on the street, block businesses, scare off customers with aggressive panhandling, urinate and defecate in doorways and on the street… Our local river isn’t even safe to fish, swim or drink from due to the garbage they dump in it. Reality is we’re not doing society or these folks any good by tolerating this kind of behavior.

If it were up to me, laws would make life uncomfortable for this last portion of the homeless. No camping on streets or in parks, no panhandling, no loitering… You want to rejoin the real world, we’ll put you in that first third and get you all the help you need, but you’re not victimizing society anymore.

Now, as for the rich… Class warfare has put out a TON of misinformation here. First, the textbook definition of a millionaire is a person who has assets valued at or above a million dollars after their debts are balanced against that total. It’s NOT a person who makes a million dollars a year. Your typical millionaire is a middle aged person who scrimped and saved all their lives, owns their middle class house free and clear, and has a few hundred thousand saved in their retirement funds and similar investments.

The previously mentioned Dave Ramsey did the largest study of millionaires ever done. Over 10,000 millionaires questioned on how they got that way. For starters, 79% of them didn’t inherit ANY money. Most of the rest didn’t inherit enough to make them instant millionaires either. In fact, only 3% did. Want to know more? The National Study of Millionaires.

BOTTOM LINE:

Soooooo… No, the poor are not sainted victims of an evil society conspiring against them. They’re NOT inherently evil either. Like ALL groups, you can’t generalize and stereotype them. Some just don’t want to work and think they’re getting over on society. Far more are victims of a lack of financial education and manipulative elements within society. The real answer to the problem is that financial education, combined with good decision making. As a society, we have to get away from the crass consumerism that gripped us. We need to restore the idea that short term sacrifice for long term gain is noble also, NOT stupid or cheating OR just not possible.

23 thoughts on “Silk Brutalizes the Poor

  1. The Eclectic Contrarian

    The rich are getting richer off our money. Have been for decades. But interestingly enough, nobody cares. We see it obviously but people are latching on to their favorite politicians harder than ever. Why? They’re not fixing the problem but promising freebies….

    If they’ll take your money, just think about the cost of those freebies for a moment.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Silk Cords Post author

      Agreed, but I differentiate between those super rich and the typical struggling small business owner. The freebies… people truly don’t understand that they do cost SOMEBODY money. The lack of financial education in the world is staggering. People literally think you (ie the government) can just print money and not have it lose value.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      1. The Eclectic Contrarian

        Well all we have anymore is Monopoly money. The dollar is essentially worthless. So the Big G can print all they want. The super rich own money so what does it matter to them?

        Liked by 3 people

        Reply
  2. Laura Venturini

    Excellent post!! The system most definitely fails the mentally ill and addicts. My family tried to get help for my brother who had become dangerous. He was a drug addict. We were told until he hurt or killed someone, nothing they could do. Well that’s just what happened. He killed his drug dealer. After that, there’s no helping him. A person has to want to be helped though but if they have a chemical imbalance from all the drugs they have taken, they should be institutionalized. I have a feeling a great number of homeless fit this category.

    Liked by 5 people

    Reply
    1. Silk Cords Post author

      Well, again, it’s about 1/3 of the homeless per locals who work with them. That really sucks about your brother. I’ve advocated the same kind of help and been cursed right off of NextDoor.com as a Nazi. THOSE are the true mentally ill.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  3. What Words May Come

    Well done! My wife and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University a couple of years ago. We only owe on our home that we bought last year. We do not have credit cards and pay as we go. If we don’t have the money to buy it, we don’t buy it. The idea that a great credit score is great for you financially is rubbish unless you pay it off every month. Otherwise, it’s just more debt! We prepaid our vacation to Idaho this year and paid out of pocket for everything else as we went. No financial burdens for taking a wonderful trip. I’d never done that before. It was so nice! Again, very nice write-up!

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Silk Cords Post author

      I never appreciated how much the Bible has in terms of common sense advice on money till I listened to Dave. “The borrower is slave to the lender” about says it all though. Funny thing too. Back in the Middle Ages, it was considered a grievous sin to charge interest on a debt. We’re soooo much better off as a sophisticated, modern society where banks can charge upwards of 30% a year in interest on a credit card… *headdesk*

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. What Words May Come

        Hahahaha… Yeppers! We gave the Financial Peace University course to my daughter and her husband for Christmas two years ago, and they have done a great job on ridding themselves of debt. She gives me a proud update from time to time. Proud daddy!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
      2. The Hinoeuma

        And, in return, when we try to SAVE, reduce the interest rate to 1% or less. I can remember the days when savings accounts got 10%, 12%. Even today’s money market accounts don’t match the d good ole savings accounts from the 70s & 80s.

        Like

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  4. RuthScribbles

    Wow just wow. Do a budget on minimum wage. It’s unliveable. Many have several jobs. They can’t possibly save $1,000. Well, they can if they don’t pay utilities or don’t eat. They live in states that don’t get them Medicaid. They are one or two days of missing work due to illness to losing jobs and end up homeless. Unless you have truly been poor for a long time, you have no clue.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Silk Cords Post author

      First, I was poor most of my life. We’re lower middle class now but living comfortably thanks to following that financial advice. I started out on my own at 18 to get away from abusive parents and worked two full time minimum wage jobs in the SF bay area; one of the most expensive spots in the country. I survived and without ANY government assistance. No medicaid, no food stamps, nada. What I DIDN’T do was go buy a big TV, video game systems and stacks of games, stereos, expensive clothes, cell phones (not that we had them back then, lol), go out partying on my day off… If I’d had my act a little more together, I could have saved $1000 back then. The less money you have the more you need a budget too. Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs typically for unskilled kids. A responsible adult doesn’t try to raise a family on minimum wage. Even at 18 I realized that was working towards higher wages and promotions. Right now in particular there’s no excuse not too. The unemployment rate is at record lows; best since WW2. Businesses are so desperate they’ll not only train, they’re going into PRISONS to recruit new workers.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Silk Cords Post author

          Ruth, there’s a family on Dave Ramsey’s YouTube channel that paid off all their debt while raising 11 kids. I know I came across a bit harsh last reply, but I do not hate or look down on you. I’m only trying to get you to see that you have more power in your life than you think. Change will be difficult and painful, that’s true. It IS possible though. You just have to believe in yourself enough and want it enough. I made a follow up post to the original one also to better address some of your points. People better their lives every day. You deserve to be one of them. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
            1. Silk Cords Post author

              I had plenty of setbacks also. Still have them, or we’d probably be doing better yet. Glad you made it also. Sometimes it’s definitely a fight to get there, and I’d like to see folks like that get more constructive help than is often out there now. It can be done though. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              Reply
  5. bigskybuckeye

    I taught 10 years in a large urban, inner city school system. Some of the financial distress goes back to the lack of stable and loving families. One-parent families (usually mothers or another female relative) try to hold life together while the persistent grip of poverty and economic insecurity exist side by side.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Silk Cords Post author

      Yep, very true. That was something I didn’t really touch on in the post. The system for government assistance that’s out there now is horribly broken. Both in terms of mismanagement and that it rewards behavior that keeps people in poverty. It’s almost impossible for those those single parents to qualify for much of the assistance out there if they get married, live with somebody or just start to get ahead. The system needs to be revamped to encourage success, not punish it.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  6. Pingback: The Poor: Round 2 | Silk Chatters

  7. The Hinoeuma

    Great post. As I stated before, if the savings accounts with REAL interest rates would return, people could save, again and plan.

    I say, bring back 10% savings accounts, living wages (the last true, adjusted min. wage was in 1968), layaway & hope chests.

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  8. Pingback: Just When I Thought it was Safe to Come Back… | Silk Chatters

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