With Poverty, Money is Always the Answer

The more time that I spend on the social internet, the more I’m convinced that wealthy and middle class people don’t understand what it means to live in poverty.

In my better moments, when I’m willing to ascribe some good faith to the person in question, I don’t think it’s a failing of empathy. They are trying, as best they can, to put themselves in my shoes, and the shoes of the millions of people like me. But absolutely nothing in their life gives them any sort of understanding for a frame of reference.

For them, there is always some option, some resource, somewhere to turn. Some asset to liquidate, some dearly-prized but not-strictly-necessary thing that they can live without. They can tighten their belts.They can cut away excess. And they think that’s how it is for everybody.

There is a wall in this country, a wall so strong and mighty that it would make Donald Trump salivate more than a big stack of Fillet-o-Fish — the wall between the wealthy and the working poor.

More lately, though, I’m unwilling to trust in the good faith of others. Especially when they’re derisive of my full-hearted belief that money is the answer to my problems — and the problems of anyone living through true and abject poverty.

I understand that there are studies that appear to back them up — a correlation between wealth and depression, a cut-off point where additional wealth no longer leads to happiness. I’ve seen varying figures for what this number is — somewhere between a yearly earning of $100,000 and $250,000.

“See?” Says the people waving these studies about, “Having more money WON’T make you happy.”

The more malicious folks will also go on to talk about poor people who win the lottery, how they’re likely to end up back in poverty, and have a whole host of mental anguish that comes along with receiving the money.

I’ll have people tell me that this is why poor people shouldn’t have money.

Oh, the fucking humanity.

Leaving the lottery issue aside — that’s it’s own can of worms — what these people don’t realize is that the sums of money we’re talking about with those studies — the $100,000 to $250,000 a year — is the dream for most people who are living in poverty.

Speaking just for me: I don’t need millions of dollars. I need enough to get by. I need enough to live a comfortable life.

Yes, I’ve seen those articles from rich assholes who moan about how making a quarter of a million dollars a year isn’t a lot of money — how they have to cancel their third vacation, and maybe not get full insurance on their three BMWs. They need their millions to fuel their lifestyle.

But when you’re making less than $30,000 a year, that’s the least of your worries. Those are the kind of problems you wish you had — instead of worrying about how you’re going to find a place to live, choosing which bills you’re going to pay, praying to God that you don’t get pulled over without insurance and an up-to-date registration.

When I say that money is the answer to all of my problems, I’m serious.

Money means that I can pay off the debt and maybe have a decent credit score by the time I get into my 50s. Money means that I can walk into the store and not have a panic attack in the check out line. Money means being able to be a part of a community, to spend time with friends, to enrich and broaden my horizons. Money being able to leave the house more than once or twice a month. Money means being able to get an education. Money means being able to get healthcare without the impossible pain of navigating insurance company bureaucracy nightmares. Money means being able to get a job and not having to worry about transportation or being able to put gas in the car — and yes, of course I fucking recognize the irony in that statement. Any way you want to crunch the numbers, more money means a better life for me, in every possible regard. Money means being able to take care of myself and the people I care about.

In a word, money means freedom.

If you cannot understand, at least try not to condescend. I don’t need your morality play, I don’t need your light-hearted moral teachings on how money is the root of all evil, I don’t need to hear how much trouble your money gives you. I need money — full stop.

I might not know much, but I know my own life. And I know what I need to make it better.