The New Poor

Children's hands help high in the airCompiled by Newsbyrd Staff-

(April 26, 2012)  One of today’s hot political topics is that of entitlements; Medicare, welfare and food stamps at the top of the list. And while some far-right conservatives would like to strip all such forms down to their bare bones, even the most liberal of Democrats believe there is at least some room for reform.

The issue has become academic while real people will be gravely affected by even the slightest change in such programs.

I recently came across an article that discussed the issue, part of which made me remember who we once were; the reason these entitlements were created.

Tom Brokaw touched upon this universal characteristic of earlier Americans in his best seller, The Greatest Generation: Sacrifice, compassion and empathy sum it up pretty well.

My advice to all politicians today would be to read that book.  And next time you are addressing a group of people at a $1,000 per plate dinner party and talking about cold surgical cuts to our entitlements, look around at who you are talking to and try to remember who we once were.

The following is part of an article written by NPR staff entitled, Poverty In America: Defining The New Poor:

Vicki Jones lives with her 7-year-old son, Jack, in a one-bedroom apartment just outside Chicago. She’s studying to become a chiropractor and goes to school from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. almost every day. Then she comes home, takes care of her son and studies.

A few weeks ago, she decided to write about her situation in the Chicago Sun-Times. In short, she says her marriage fell apart, and they lost their house and had to declare bankruptcy.

“I’m a single mom, and I needed to be able to take care of my son,” she tells NPR’s Raz. “I needed to feed myself and my son, [so] I applied for food stamps a few years ago. I truly believe at some point I can pay this back and re-contribute to society and help people in my situation who can’t afford medical care.”

Jones sounds almost apologetic when she talks about the decision to accept food stamps, as if she has to justify taking the assistance.

“I guess there’s part of me that says [that] this wasn’t supposed to be my life and story,” she says.

Jones did well in high school and then went to college, she says. She had envisioned the big house and a fancy car, but that’s not how it worked out for her.

“That was a hard pill to swallow, just having to step back and say, ‘I need help. I can’t do this by myself,’ ” she says.

Jones gets $367 per month in assistance for food, which breaks down to about $12 a day to feed two people three meals each day. That’s not a lot of money, especially if you want your child to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, she says.

“An avocado costs $1.50, and I’ve got approximately $2 a meal,” she says. Little as it is, without the food aid, Jones says, she isn’t sure how she would get by each month.

Jones decided to write the article after she saw a posting on Facebook from someone who had been a good friend comparing feeding wild animals to giving people food stamps.

“It was a sucker punch in the stomach,” she says. “I thought she has no idea that the person she’s talking about and comparing to a wild animal is her friend. I [needed] to speak up for others out there who are just trying to make ends meet and just trying for a better life.”


Posted by at April 26, 2012
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