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How the poor get by in America

How the poor get by in America

Washington Post examines the Reddit thread (What do insanely poor people buy, that ordinary people know nothing about?) on why people who are poor can’t “pull themselves up” through saving and being thrifty:

The poor pay more for everything, from rolls of toilet paper to furniture. It’s not because they’re spendthrifts, either. If you’re denied a checking account, there’s no way for you to avoid paying a fee to cash a paycheck. If you need to buy a car to get to work, you’ll have to accept whatever higher interest rate you’re offered. If you don’t have a car, the bus fare might eat up the change you’d save shopping at a larger grocery store as opposed to the local corner store.

It’s easy to feel that “when you are poor, the ‘system’ is set up to keep you that way,” in the words of one Reddit user, “rugtoad.” That comment is at the top of an extraordinary thread full of devastating stories about what it’s like to get by with nothing in the United States of 2015.

“Growing up really poor means realizing in your twenties that Mommy was lying when she said she already ate,” wrote “deviant_devices,” another commenter.

Pew Research reports on where the poor are in the U.S. Some notes:

Today, most poor Americans are in their prime working years.

Far fewer elderly are poor.

But childhood poverty persists.

Today’s poor families are structured differently.

Poverty is more evenly distributed, though still heaviest in the South.

Poverty among blacks has fallen sharply (though still high).

But poverty has risen among Hispanics.


Image by swanksalot Wikidenizen at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0 <a href=”],> via Wikimedia Commons</a>


posted by Ann Fontaine


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Robert Martin

I sometimes wonder too, how being poor affects people in church, particularly the Epsicopal Church. Our church expects the laity to pay up regularly for all sorts of things, and to donate time to the parish. Obviously if you are working two or three jobs just to support your family the likelihood of this drops considerably. Most Episcopalians I know are better at donating time and money to causes rather than interacting with people of different means on a regular basis.

And then of course there is the pride of ownership and donations, that come with supporting and touting the support of, the larger parishes. Sometimes we see this in dioceses as, “why can’t those smaller/less well off parishes pay their own way like we do?!?!”

In those sorts of places I see clear parallels to disputes and issues in the wider society about taxation, social services, etc.

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