Thursday, July 15, 2010

Playing Poor...

I recently read an article in Essence that high-lighted the sick social experiment that the media and affluent-America is playing with poverty. The media has turned the idea of being poor into a social experiment. Think about it, when was the last time you turned on your television and heard of a mid to -upper class executive giving you tips on how to save money by living on a tight budget?

The money saving tips may include:

  1. Biking, instead of driving to work to save gas money

  2. Sticking to a budget of x-amount of dollars per week for food and eat leftovers

  3. Cutting back on luxuries such as cable, eating out, drinking, and going to the movies

  4. If you are fashionista, don't by from Nordys or Barney's. Shop at a thrift store or Target to save money on clothes. Or, my favorite just by things on sale.

I am sure that you can think of plenty money saving tips that will help you save $100,000 per month, like the Laura Hollings, writer for Elle magazine did.

According to the Essence article, Laura "cut back" on spending for a year. As a result she saved, $100,000, just enough money to afford an "upscale" vacation to Aspen. Well, poor little Laura, in total all of her yearly savings amounted to a little less than a salary for a minimum wage worker - if she worked full-time.

Let's say, by chance the media grew some BALLS and started reporting on the facts. For example, according to Essence more than 430,000 jobs were generated in 2010. However, more than 400,000 of those jobs were temporary positions for Census workers. Don’t believe the hype people!

Don't get me wrong, I believe that poverty and strife is all relative. Unemployment is unemployed, no matter how you look at it. If an affluent executive, with a stay-at-home wife, a couple kids on private school, a mortgage of 5K /month, and he lost all of his money in the stock market last year. You don't have to be an accountant to see, that a person like this is SCREWED!

Same thing for a GM worker that lost his job, he was barely paying the bills with his full-time job, his sick child's healthcare bills equal more than his mortgage and his wife works two jobs just to keep the lights on. Again, SCREWED!

You want to walk a mile, in the poor man's shoes? Okay...let's deplete all of your accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, savings, checking and drop you off in the deep-end of one of America's poorest neighborhoods – now, swim for your life.

Oh, but, keep in mind:

  1. You can't bike to work, because your job is across town. It is the only job you could find to support your family and you work long nights.

  2. You can take your lunch to work, but there aren't any leftovers at home. If you eat for lunch there's no food for dinner. Your family has to eat too, you know.

  3. Don't worry about cutting off the cable and eating out, you couldn't afford either luxury in the first place.

  4. Shopping for clothes, please. You better learn how to sew.

This is not “Trading Places,” "this ain't no major motion picture." There is no happy-ending. Poor people can't just yell, "cut." Poverty is a harsh reality for a lot of hard-working Americans; Americans that are one paycheck from living in a shelter and Americans that has to choose between food or gas money, Americans that lost their jobs, because of corporate greed and Americans, Floridians that are losing tourist money every day, because BP had a little “spill.” Oooops! Sorry about your luck. Being poor is not trendy, you jerks.

As a student of journalism, I’m truly ashamed of the cowardly and reckless behaviors of the industry. In this case, the “messenger’ should be shot, because the media is using their talents for evil not good. I am waiting for Parker Brothers to come out with a board game called Playing Poor, "Tying to make a dollar out of 15 cents," The Welfare Addition. But poverty is a board game; it’s more like Russian roulette.

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