Yesterday at work a customer made an off hand remark about getting something free. Lots of people do this, nifty percent of the time they are teasing. We laugh, I say sorry can’t do that, and we go on our ways.
But yesterday was a bit different. We laughed, then he said “I’m just kidding. I work for what I have. I’m a conservitive, not a liberal. I don’t expect anyone to just give me anything.”
I was a little offended. First time in a really long time that I’ve ever been offended. I don’t necessarily consider myself a liberal, but I have been on public assistance before. Even now I have free medical from the state because I can’t afford health care. And this is what this person thinks of me? That I just want free hand outs instead of working for myself?
I laughed it off and let him go his way without saying anything. He was a grumpy old man, and a customer. Picking a fight would never change anything. What’s worse, even when confronted with their ignorance they won’t change their mind.
I hated being on public assistance. Every time I had to pull out that damn food stamp card I felt like I was a failure. It made me question my value to my children. My value as an individual.
I am so grateful I live in a country that gives food to the hungry, even if it is done so begrudgingly, and at the same time they give it to you they are making you feel guilty for using it. Without those food stamps there where months when my children and I would have gone hungry. Because of food stamps my children ate, and I only went hungry a few times. (They really dont give you much.)
The guilt is awful. I once put an energy drink on a counter along with some food because I was really tired from working and going to school, and wanted a little pick me up. “Food stamps don’t cover that,” the cashier said.
Ya. I know. That’s why I have a job, and I also get money from student grants that pays for this. Just ring it up, will ya?
Then there are the people who say “well you shouldn’t have had kids if you couldn’t afford them.” To everyone who says this FUCK YOU! I could afford them when I had them. I wasn’t on state assistance from the moment I had them.
Shit happens, things fall apart and you thank god, or the little fairies, or the flying spaghetti monster that there is state assistance because your friends and family will not be feeding your children when the shit hits the fan.
Having been poor I envy people in countries like Sweden and Norway that have good schools, and health care for everyone. Right now I have to deal with lots of little cavities and two more root canals because I couldn’t go to the dentist for more than fifteen years. I almost died once because my job wouldn’t let me take time off work when I was sick and I ended up with pneumonia for a month. I was too afraid to go to a doctor because I didn’t have insurance and we already went bankrupt once because of medical bills. But we didn’t go bankrupt fast enough. We were evicted, and lost our car because of garnishments when we couldn’t afford to pay for the life saving surgeries my husband and my son had.
“Then why did you get a divorce? Two paychecks are better than one.” You would rather people stay miserable and unhappy, or in abusive relationships because you don’t want to pay an extra one percent in taxes to help the poor?
“But there are soup kitchens, churches, shelters for the homeless etc. Etc.” do you want to stay in a dorm room with hundreds of people you don’t know with your children? There are people that get raped, stabbed, robbed and worse in those places. Does it feel good to go to a soup kitchen every day to eat with your children? Or is it easier to get a little food stamp card so that I can go to the grocery store like normal people? Besides if every hungry person in the area went to these places they would run out of money and food a lot faster.
The attitude of many people in this country is “it’s your fault you are poor and you have to get yourself out of it.” They don’t consider accidents, job layoffs, medical conditions, or just bad luck. They can’t see that helping a person is far better for everyone than keeping them down.
“It’s my taxes!” And you’re right. It was my taxes too. I worked, I paid, and then when things went bad I used them. Even if I hadn’t what is better, paying one percent of your income to help the poor and sick, or paying 30% of all taxes for military, NSA, an unending war on terror, spying on everyone, passing million dollar pensions, and a lot of other things that probably could be cut or shrunk. But you’d rather cut services to the poor which consists of about 22% including health benefits for anyone who needs them.
It’s really frustrating that the same people who make you feel guilty for not making enough to live are the same people that say “we can’t raise minimum wage! That would hurt everyone.”
Do you really hate the poor so much that you want them to stay poor? Do you really care so little for others that you’d rather send drones to shoot up wedding parties and arrest people for feeding the homeless?
I haven’t been “proud to be an American” in years. And attitudes like this man’s are why. Like our government forcing drug testing for being on state assistance, or locking away people who told the truth.
When will we learn that helping people is better for everyone then keeping them down?