Social Question

Berserker's avatar

Poverty, what are your experiences, and how have you, or how are you, currently, dealing with it?

Asked by Berserker (33470points) February 17th, 2010

Poverty can often be summed up in a few different ways, but there is clearly a line which establishes it, whether that is being homeless, or not making enough money at your job, and therefore struggle.
What are your experiences with it? Have you ever been homeless? What about welfare? Are you a parent having trouble making ends meet? Does the government help you? What about people with mental and physical disorders? What are the situations for that?
And students?
How do you all define what poverty is?
Those are some examples, you don’t have to follow these to the letter. I’m interested in any experiences with poverty. Not just being “poor”, but what about those who work with charity? What about overseas poverty? Tell all, yo. Opinions, experiences, anything else.

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9 Answers

Steve_A's avatar

Anything you don’t really need, you don’t and if it is costing you money suck it up and save a few dimes.

Poverty is hard to define, I see some people who just make horrible decisions with there money am I suppose to feel sorry for them?

Some people decided to take a wrong road in life eh….

I feel bad for the people who clearly honest,hard working folk and have seen there job which they been at for 10–20 years and 401k plans fall away to nothing. Of course thats how it goes, but I find it really unfortunate the little guy gets screwed it seems like in the end.

davidbetterman's avatar

I remember a time (late 70s) when I was living on the streets of L.A. penniless. I had a car, but ran out of gas and couldn’t fill it. I slept in garages and alongside people’s houses without their knowledge. I stole from the grocery stores. I felt it was good practice for when the system fails, as it is now.
It is not so bad, and you almost always run into kindly people willing to give you a hand (shower, food, small amounts of cash).

It is no big deal, if you have a good sense of humor. It was actually a lot of fun, although I hope not to repeat that period of my life!

SeventhSense's avatar

I’m broke as shit right now but my fortunes rise and fall with business. I’m constantly in fear I’m going to go under. But I’m familiar with pain.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I was raised in a very poor environment. This was for a few reasons. My guardian/aunt had a kid out of wedlock at 19 by an old guy who bolted as soon as he found out she was pregnant. She took in another child (me) that she wasn’t prepared to raise. She was unable to find a working, stable man who was interested in her. She had never done well in school and she could hardly read or write. She has BPD and has schizophrenia with paranoid features; her symptoms got worse as she grew older.

Even with plenty of encouragement (and before her illnesses manifested so overtly), she refused to go back to get her GED or train for any other work, claiming that she was “too old”. She was horrible at networking and letting people know that she needed help. She felt that to tell someone these things would be “burdening” others, and that people were selfish and greedy, so no one would want to help her. She upset herself with that one belief too many times to recount.

I was a kid; I wasn’t aware of the wonkiness of her core beliefs or why she had no friends and no one to help her figure out how to better herself. The upshot was that she was only able to get very low-paying jobs that were only right over the qualification level for AFDC. We got free lunch at school, though. It was a mess if any of us got really sick or something needed repair. She couldn’t afford a car.

I’d been in government food lines and queues at the welfare office many times as a kid. Given that my grandparents and most of her siblings had carved out middle class lives for themselves, I didn’t understand why our family was poor. It really stunk to have to go to upper-upper middle class schools from 5th grade on and be made fun of for my poverty. If it weren’t for the fact that I was singled out to get a different sort of education, I don’t know how I would’ve ended up.
When I did a run with New York Cares recently in distributing food to the homeless, I asked the team leader why he felt so many people in that situation stay where they are. He asked me if I’d had a bad habit, like smoking. I said I had and that it took me 4 times over 7 years to finally quit. He then asked me to think about people who may already be mentally ill and/or self-medicating with booze and drugs. Think about how hard it is to change oneself for any reason, then imagine if you have some seriously messed-up beliefs about life and yourself. It’s going to be extremely hard to pull oneself out of such a situation.

marinelife's avatar

Poverty is about having life cost more than it should, than it does for the middle class.

From small things like food (which is more economical in larger sizes which the poor can’t ever buy)

to larger issues like you can’t afford your car tabs (for $60) so you end up with a $150 ticket.

It is a constant struggle.

liminal's avatar

I’ve been homeless. I’ve lived through times with no source of income. I have also lived on very little income. Yet, I wonder if I have really experienced poverty. I think of communities riddled with the absence of food, clean water, and limited shelter. Communities where people fall asleep resigned to there being nothing awaiting them the next day and no options for changing it. I have always lived in communities where there is shelter, food kitchens, and over-flowing dumpsters. While I have family that is not emotionally and psychologically “safe” to be around I could have called them, it would have been terrible (so terrible that I chose other options), but that is my point: I had options. I question, as a mentally sound adult, living in communities where I always have choices to make, “boot strings” to pull up, access to food, and shelter can I say I’ve known poverty or simply say that I know what it means to suffer, struggle, and scrape?

Just_Justine's avatar

I see a lot of real poverty around me everyday. People who live in informal settlements. They have no running water or electricity. Some of their homes are made from cars, car doors, old discarded wood. It breaks my heart. I see the children in the morning emerge from this dressed very smartly for school. It makes me ashamed to complain about anything.

I have not experienced that type of poverty. However, yes, I have been without food, my water and lights have been cut, I have experienced “poverty” for longish periods. Then I experienced great amounts of money flying to me every month. It is strange how you forget the hardship when this happens.

The worst kind of poverty I have suffered is poverty of spirit, which the people mentioned above do not have. When for a period I just gave up.

wundayatta's avatar

Ending poverty is about so many things—education, health care, parental support services, jobs, day care, crime and more. It’s so much that one barely knows where to start when there are not enough resources to attack all the issues.

Not so long ago I worked on a study to find out what the folks who live around the university where I work were like. The university wanted to be a “good neighbor” and hire more local people. The problem was that you needed a high school diploma to get a job here and less than 25% of people around here have a high school education!!!!

Our neighbors had been complaining we weren’t hiring enough of them. Well, when you took out the people who were ineligible to work here either due to age or education, and adjusted for the proximity effect (people near by a workplace are more likely to work there than people farther away) it turned out we were hiring at a higher rate locally.

It turns out that what is really needed to hire more people locally, is to get them educated enough to be eligible for jobs here.

I’ve been doing that kind of thing most of my career—working with labor unions, advocacy organizations, government, consulting firms and in higher education. Through better data and better analysis, we can develop better knowledge that will help us address the issues involved in poverty.

Before my analysis, the university had been planning to set up hiring offices and do interview training. After my analysis, they knew that wouldn’t make a difference. Whether they changed their plans, I don’t know. Another goal of the program was symbolic—public relations. A hiring office, even if it didn’t hire people, might be more effective (and certainly cheaper) than trying to really improve education in our area.

But that’s how I try to deal with poverty, and help end it. It’s hard to say if my work has made any difference, though. Maybe I get points for trying or caring.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I second anything you didn’t absolutely have to have, you didn’t have. You don’t have to have foil, trashcans, sandwich bags, paper towels and any number of other things.
You do need toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and cleaners, and tampex, so you prioritize.
You never went out to eat.
Coming up with school fees left me in a panic.
Coming up with any unexpected expense left me in a panic.
Christmas sucked, but I did my best, and I think the kids appreciated that.

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