A Closer Look at Poverty from an Expert

Have you ever had more month than money? Have you ever had to decide whether to pay your electric bill or buy medications that are needed? Have you ever gone without a meal so that your children could eat? If the answer to any of those questions is a resounding yes, then you are one of millions of American’s that have to make those decisions every day while living paycheck to paycheck. On top of that, you have their neighbors telling them that they are lazy and irresponsible because they need to rely on benefits to feed their families. Poverty is close to my heart because I have lived on that side of the street. I have experienced poverty as a child and as an adult. As a child, I didn’t know I was poor, I just knew that there were certain things that we didn’t have, sometimes our electricity would be off for a couple days, but I was unaware until I became an adult and a parent myself.

There are people that truly believe that the people that get benefits are “Welfare Queens” bilking their states for millions of dollars in benefits and they refuse to work. This is a myth. Here are the facts, “Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children — more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.” Those numbers are not a myth, they aren’t made up, they are fact. A large number of these people work the jobs that they can get to keep from going under totally, and some of them have reasons why they work part time, such as they have special needs children that require their care in the afternoons after school because they can’t afford to pay someone to fill in.

No one wakes up one day and decides that they want to live in poverty. Families have changes everyday. Illness, job loss, job cuts, and being overworked and underpaid are all things that plague the impoverished family. When we look at people that live at or below the poverty line, they struggle for equilibrium every month. Many people are one flat tire, one paycheck, one prescription away from slipping further into poverty. I’ve lived this existence. I have experience with what I am writing about. I’m not just blowing smoke. The reality is that if Americans like myself don’t tell our story to the people that can make a difference, we don’t get heard in the walls of power. The naysayers continue to tell those that matter that poor people are lazy and don’t want to work and support themselves when it is the exact opposite. I’ve worked two jobs and still rocked below the poverty line.

What is the solution? Number one, wealth inequality needs to be addressed. Number two, the Racial wealth gap needs to be addressed. Number three, the gender pay gap needs to be addressed. There needs to be more than family medical leave, we need paid leave including paid maternity leave. Lastly, Number four, the poor and disabled need to be able to save for a rainy day without being penalized for these efforts. We have to face the facts and not ingest what is being shoveled down our throats to point out the inequality of the poor and make them the issue when the deck is already stacked against many of them. Why does the modern daycare cost often more over the child’s first five years of life than what is required for a down payment on a home?

Poverty is not new. It is an age old problem. It is a problem that when it is addressed, the very programs that provide a hand up, not a handout, are oft-demonized as being part of the problem. Why do we invest fifty percent of our nation’s budget on the military industrial complex and not its citizens? We are in an election cycle. Look at the things that matter to you. If you have more month than pay check, you’re single, why is it that you get taxed further into poverty than those that have children. Single Americans are the only people in the US tax code that get taxed into poverty. If your candidate is not talking about how to end hunger, how to help the impoverished, is talking about retooling (basically going back to school) but not talking about ways to address the gaps mentioned above, if he or she is not talking about raising the minimum wage to help with the economy even more, then you should reconsider your candidate.

Want to know what to do, go to Results.org and seek out domestic poverty and find an action and take it. Seek out a Results.org group and work with them. I have tattooed on my arm “Be the Change…” Be the change for someone today, for someone that feels that they don’t have a voice. This is why I’m a Results Expert on Poverty, I know what I speak of, I have first-hand experience so find your story and share it with your policy makers, make waves, and make change.