How the Poor are Penalized

Chicago local & beyond

Update: In order to make the commute to Chicago locally, a total of 4 times, it cost me $90 for transportation alone. That includes both times I had to pay cash on the metra train and was charged no less than $6 in fees by both my bank and the bank operating the atm. The $90 total also includes the time the Artist/Millenial/Late-Runner train tax was assessed.

For those of you who don’t know, $90 is a small fortune — for a zero income unemployed person interviewing, starting training, and hoping to become bonafide soon — for anyone who is having trouble paying the bills, difficulty feeding themselves or their family, for any of the millions and billions living below the poverty line — and if you are poor anything you cannot afford is costly no matter how proud or hard-working or strong or considerate or self-sacrificing you are.

Fees & Fines Punish the Poor the Most

Once Olivia Lilley told me to park in a lot when we went to eat. My car got towed. I had to take a taxi to the place they were holding my car hostage and then pay a couple hundred dollars.

That sum of money was easily equal to a week of work (in 2012 when the above incident took place, minimum wage was $8.25/hr and before taxes working full-time one would earn $330).

Parking tickets cost more for poor people, because they count as a greater proportion of their income or savings, if they even have any savings.

Every single kind of fine or fee costs more for poor people and for students in debt or anybody working paycheck to paycheck, because it is more money for them. Further, such fees, while perfectly inconsequential for the wealthy, could actually cause total financial ruin for the poor.

Five Dollar Retail Value Public Transit Fare Card

Before you even pay your fare, in Chicago you must buy a $5 retail value Ventra card. It actually looks cheaper than most visa gift cards, but no matter, it costs infinitely more, 5000x more to be precise.

If you are poor, $5 is enough for a load of laundry. It is enough for two tacos. You could buy a whole goddam feast at any fast food location, or just spend $1 every day for days to eat on.

In other words, $5 is a lot of money for a lot of us.

The Artist/Millenial/Late-Runner Train Tax

Did you know that in Chicago if you buy your train ticket on the train it will actually cost five whole dollars more? As in, if you just catch the train with time enough to pull cash from an atm, you will have to pay a $5 Artist/Millenial/Late-Runner train tax.

Chicago is Stuck in the Past

Chicago has not heard of income-based transit prices, the kind that have been implemented in far more advanced bastions of American innovation and industry such as Madison, LA, and Seattle.

Overdraft fees

In 2015, people who had no money were assessed $32.5 billion in overdraft fees.

They had no money. And so they had to pay 32.5 billion in overdraft fees because they did not have any money.

Who is running these banks? They are obviously perverts.


I do not have nearly that much money and I cannot afford to file even if I must.

How are you even going to afford a lawyer if you don’t have any money?

Anyone can get away with doing anything to you if you don’t have money. No one will defend your honor.

And on the other hand, the toujours déjà privilegié privilegiés who se croient tout permis know they can get away with anything, because even if you can’t afford a lawyer, they could get ten. Or pay bribes.

They have publicists, spin doctors, and dirt-slingers who will dig your grave and what do you know they have even got someone on payroll nailing nails into your coffin.

Let’s not forget the media is controlled by the rich and has no loyalty whatsoever to the poor.

Misogynoir as Universalism

Now that the Eastern and Western seaboards are overrun with white men pretending to be black, on college campuses, in malls, at family functions, the pimp/whore gender binary in all of its mystifying blasphemy is the explicit gold standard of the arts.

You have middle upper class whitey at college thinking every last female student on the Dean’s List is his whore. What’s new?

Slave owners acted the same way.

Women in poverty bear the brunt of the violence of misogyny and the system is set up for them to lose.

Needless to say, women in poverty get a raw deal.

The Democratic Socialist Bourgeoisie of America

To even subscribe to the email list of DSA, you have to pay membership dues*. With the student debt ceiling exploding over the 1 trillion mark, you would think that it would go without saying that some people are in debt and don’t have $25 to throw around just for solidarity.

Democratic Socialists of America: your decision to exclude everyone who wishes to support you upon the basis of economic inequality strikes me as one of the most heinously stupid oversights in all of recorded history.

It infuriates and offends every moral fibre in my body because people who are poor have a hell of a lot more to offer than money, and you need them more than they need you.

Great job marginalizing your very grassroots you fucking idiots.

*For the record, on November 16, 2016, when I attempted to subscribe to emails from the DSA so that I would be apprised of events, meeting times and dates, because I wished to actively engage and contribute to political grassroots efforts, $25 membership dues were demanded and I was denied participation on an absolutely classist basis.

The irony of this experience does not escape me and I hope that others are not insensible to it either.