In Westfield, NY, if you shop at the local supermarket you will likely see many of the welfare-state perks.
It’s not quite as easy as it once was because many of those perks now resemble pay checks and credit cards. But if there are two or three folks ahead you at check out and you have good or decently corrected vision you can easily spot checks and plastic from various agencies representing various programs to help “the poor”
Food stamps are common. I’m not quite sure just how one obtains them, and am equally ignorant about the current appearance. I do know they are common because the cashiers will often mention that this or that can’t be purchased with them. Then there is “WIF”. Very common. Checks from Chautauqua County and New York state are abundant. Some are no doubt actual pay checks for county and state employees.
During the warmer months I notice many of “the poor” have a tattoo or two or three. Many buy cigarettes, scratch-off lottery tickets and plenty of beer and snacks. Lest I sound puritanical let me add that I think all of these choices are none of my business. I just don’t like helping to pay for them. Also, to me “poor” means having trouble with provisions, basic shelter and suitable clothing.
My view of adequate food doesn’t include salty snacks, beer and ciggies. If money for basic shelter and proper clothes is a problem the tattoo(s) will have to wait. A tattoo does cost money doesn’t it?
Noticing such things during the past few decades has set me firmly against the idea of reincarnation. If I were to be placed by an angry Karmic Justice into the hands of many of the mommies and daddies I see in various circumstances I would know that I had been very bad indeed in a previous go round.
One local school district (Ripley, NY) estimates the cost of public K-12 education at approximately $250,000. This doesn’t include things like head start etc. The cost of health care and retirement benefits for the local police department is now about equal to and soon will surpass the payroll for active employees. Most of Chautauqua County’s budget is mandated by Albany and the greatest percentage is for various programs to benefit “the poor”
A son of a friend of mine is addicted to opioids. His dad asked last summer if I could take the lad to a rehab in Buffalo (Dad had last minute car trouble) After delivering the young man into the hands of the rehab industry (This, he told me, was his fourth go round) I headed back to my trusty Honda. A not unattractive young lady accosted me in the parking lot and offered certain favors for twenty bucks. Even a hard hearted sob like me was moved to offer some real help. I told her I thought she was on the road to ruin. She explained that she is “always broke” because her boy friend is a drug addict. I told her to leave him. She said she couldn’t, so having offered a rational solution to her plight I drove home quite certain that many of “the poor” have similar stories.
In my opinion true poverty ie. the lack of life’s basic necessities through no fault of your own or genuine misfortune is fairly rare in the United States. Much of the “poverty” I’ve seen is either a choice or the result of many bad choices.
I was born in 1945 just after the war. My dad made very little money. We didn’t have a car till I was seven and I slept in the same bed as my two brothers till I was nine. Our flat had one bedroom; Mom and Dad slept in what was supposed to be a small dining room. When my sister came along in 1954 my parents had saved enough for a down payment on a modest house. (Just nine doors away from young Tim Russert and his family as it turned out)
I never considered we were poor. Of course I was blessed with the one indispensable: great parents. It did not cost $250,000 for my K-12 education. I paid $500 tuition for my first college year at the University of Buffalo. I quit college for a full-time radio job. Then came the draft and I was a $78 a month private in the US Army. Later, there was 13 months in Saigon spinning the hits on AFRV. So my country borrowed two years of my life. A tax of sorts.
I’ve paid plenty of taxes of course. Plenty. My happiest memory of “investing in government” was my time in New York City where my net pay was less than my total tax deduction .
When I reached fifty-five or so I was a vice-president at my firm and making the best living ever, but eager to salt some away not for retirement, but for a buffer that would allow me to explore other vocations and aspirations. The tax code really put a crimp on this as I now was in “the rich” bracket.
And so on and so forth. I write this not for sympathy-I have a good life. Rather I write it as a long explanatory preface to the following:
I don’t give a rhodent’s rear end about “the poor” and I could not care less about Romney’s not focusing on “the poor”