As soon as someone tries to make a valid point about their personal struggles with poverty, someone is always there to say something along the lines of, “there are people who have it worse than you.”
This is too much like saying someone should be happy because other people are miserable. Just because other people are worse off, doesn’t mean you need to settle for less.
Then there are those people who think anyone can just pull themselves out of poverty. Billionaire Bill Gates once said “If you’re born poor, it’s not your fault. But if you die poor, it’s your fault.” Obviously, he isn’t the only person who believes Americans can still pull themselves up by their Sketchers.
I don’t know what world these people have been paying attention to, but statistics say otherwise.
Research done by Pew’s Economic Mobility Projects show 70 percent of people born into the bottom five percent never even make it to the middle class.
Despite job growth, it’s still hard for some to save enough money to move up their status. So many people sacrifice for their kids to live better lives, but to be honest, that’s just not possible for everyone.
It’s not enough to just try hard, if that was the case, there would be more wealthy people. It’s a horrible assumption to make that poor people don’t work hard, when in fact, they often work harder than rich people. But regardless of the efforts we make, we still get the “privilege” of having to hear people complaining about footing the bill for us poor folks.
“But what about welfare?” First of all, government benefits are not guaranteed. If you are approved, there are so many hoops to jump through and depending on the size of your household, it’s still not enough to live off.
“Maybe you should get a job,” many kind-hearted yet unhelpful people suggest. Like many people in this city, we lack the funds for transportation. This means we could only get jobs within walking distance and it becomes a lot harder than it sounds.
Though the economy is showing improvement it’s still hard to find a job in California. The current unemployment rate is seven percent, but that’s still pretty high compared to other states. Pittsburg’s unemployment rate as of December 2014 is 8.3 percent according to HomeFacts.com.
There are 65,695 people in Pittsburg according to the 2013 census. 14.6 percent live below the poverty level. This means there are roughly 9,591 people who can barely afford daily necessities. Living this way takes a toll on us physically, mentally, financially and academically.
We do not get to live worry free while rich people pay or “cater” to our every need. We’re the ones who have to worry about having to choose between school and work.
We’re the ones who have to choose between eating and paying the rent.
We’re the ones who have to share hygiene products and clothes with our siblings.
I know not all rich people complain. There are a lot of people doing good things for less fortunate individuals and there are also a lot of people who donate in the most minimal way possible just so they can brag.
Gee, even though you make eight times the money the average person makes, on behalf of every poor person we’d like to collectively thank you for the time you once gave a panhandler 45 cents, 15 years ago. Now what kind of cookie would you like?
There are so many things to take into consideration when discussing poverty. It’s not just about donating, but it’s also about reforming the entire system. Yes, even if it means doing away with capitalism.