They Hated Me When I Was Poor — But I Live Off Their Labor *Now*

Photo: Greg Altman

Conservatives have always treated my family like shit. This even included our relatives. We were “parasites.” We were stealing their tax dollars. “All you people are drug addicts and thieves.” My parents were lazy, not actually crazy (as a crazy person, I use that word with all the love in the world). Nowadays, they keep up the hatred through anti-poor person comments on the Internet.

Because of conservatives’ attitudes in the 1980s, social programs for the poor were cut to the bone. We suffered as a result of their vindictiveness. Hunger, freezing house, dirty clothes, foster care placement, the works.

Still the punishment was not enough. Cruel things have been said in the intervening years. Taunts, suggestions from “pro-life” people that our family should have embraced Social Darwinism and died off like people did before social welfare programs. And always with the vicious venom. “Your family, as long term users of social services, is scum.”

In adulthood, I got out of poverty through higher education because of a government program and federal student loans, and went to work as a professor, college counselor, mental health practitioner, etc. I got to do some fascinating jobs. At least, I paid taxes then.

I met a man who would be fortunate enough to inherit a substantial inheritance. The stock market over the past few years has soared swelling this “trust fund” more and more. A recent report to my husband far escalated what we already expected to live on.

I couldn’t work now anyway. My body and mind are broken down. That’s what growing up in long-term poverty does. Research shows formerly poor kids have poor health when they grow up, even if their economic position increases in adulthood. Yep, I am a case study for what they call the health gradient — the near perfect correlation between poverty and poor health.

But I am fortunate. I don’t need to rely on disability. My husband doesn’t have to work either, so we get to spend every day together doing what we want. That never happened when my family was in poverty. It is hard work to be poor. I had a job from age 8 on, first delivering the Des Moines Register.

Yet the conservatives said we were lazy. They hated us for needing help: young children and a woman w/ bipolar disorder with her schizophrenic husband. Nowadays, they love a narcissistic, misogynistic money-grubber, so I know where their values lie. Hate us, love him. Calling Jesus…

You know what the conservatives want to do for my leisurely life now? A tax break. More money for my husband and me. We have been thinking about traveling around the country. Thanks guys! We can splurge.

We live off the profits of companies who underpay their workers to give fat checks to us. We live on the backs of the laborers in lots of public companies. We live the comfortable life conservatives always claimed I had as a child, but never did.

Conservatives ❤ my husband and I. They want us to have more money. They think our middle age asses should get to be on the Internet all day, every day. The policies they pass choke the air and poison the water. Just so we can relax. Constantly.

I can’t believe a couple of years have gone by since I worked. A year since my husband has. He was out of work and panicked, until — surprise — free money.

Plenty of conservatives think they are “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” skimping along paycheck to paycheck only to one day make it rich. It almost never happens, and if it does by some miracle, it wasn’t because food stamps/Medicaid were cut, and you got an extra $30 back in your taxes. You need your wages raised, which should mean less profit for us to sit around on.

If you do get lucky and a miraculous fortune appears, it is often earned from profits. The money people make paying their workers minimum wage while driving US productivity through the roof. Then, these companies let the government pay their workers’ living expenses. If you have a conscience, you don’t want to live off other people, unless you need to.

When I was poor, I rarely met these mythical poor people receiving aid without genuine cause. Poor people tend to spend all their time with poor people, so I know a plenty. The welfare queen was a unicorn. Damn hard to find. Our next door neighbor was arrested and jailed for food stamp fraud. That’s just it. Since it’s a crime, people get caught, and pay dearly.

So bring it on, conservatives. Shower us with your love. We can never get comfortable enough or have enough green. We already bypassed most taxes, because the Republicans took away their “death tax” so people inheriting a kaboddle don’t have to pay anything when they get the money.

The reduction of the capital gains tax would be great, too. I mean we already pay less tax for our free money than working people pay on their income. The more you can line our pockets, the more we can take cruises and maybe buy a boat. I hope your feet aren’t tired, working people. The poor people out there are miserable, living on table scraps, but keep hating them. We’ll just keep soaking in your love.

Meanwhile, I will forget having to beg for food in school. I will block out other children suffering with untreated earaches as I did. I know they exist right now a few miles from me, but screw those people. We’re comfortable and we have all the free time in the world.




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Deborah Megivern

Deborah Megivern

From 1976–77, I was living with the FLDS polygamist cult. In 1982, I went to foster care. From these traumas, a thousand more would launch.

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