People in the Massachusetts government and in our charities strive hard to ensure shelter for all in my state. Yet many poverty-stricken folks having no charge or low charge housing and food bank food don’t want to be dependent on financial or food assistance. They definitely don’t want a handout, and find receiving it demeaning, belittling and humiliating.

Instead they want jobs from which they can make enough money for themselves and their families to survive without any gifts of money and food, the taking of which is often seen as proving that they are losers in life — no good, worthless failures. Yet sufficient income is not had by most low wage workers in the US. In fact, the minimum federal salary for work, $7.25/hr, has not risen for eleven years while the cost of living keeps sharply rising.

So how do we fix the problem of too low wages? Someone who I know suggests that the “market” can take care of the problem of the poor not having enough money. Now, how would that work? What do people with few job skills and supposedly insufficient knowledge do when there is so much competition for jobs that they can perform so that there is no incentive for employers to raise salaries to attract new potential employees?

This person who rants to me about the impoverished also says that they should take courses to improve their job related capabilities. Then their chances to get better jobs will improve. Yet from where would the money derive to pay for such enlightening classes? Who would hire them after class completion?

As it is, “There are 18,000 parking lot attendants in the U.S. with college degrees. There are 5,000 janitors in the U.S. with PhDs. In all, some 17 million college-educated Americans have jobs that don’t require their level of education.”- There Are 5,000 Janitors in the U.S. with PhDs – Gizmodo

I can personally attest that there are also taxi drivers with doctoral degrees and many college graduates with very low salaries. Meanwhile many are miserable since they’re simply unable to pay off their “sharky” student loans. So of course the amount owed for the loans keeps on skyrocketing for them. In fact, “the Federal Reserve estimates that in quarter three of 2020, Americans owed more than $1.7 trillion in student loans — an increase of nearly 4% compared to quarter three of 2019. The decades-long increase in student debt is even more noticeable when compared to decades prior.” – U.S. student debt has increased by more than 100% over past 10 years – CNBC

The person who I know additionally suggests that impoverished people should move to where the jobs pay more. Yet it takes money to move. It takes a lot of bureaucratic paperwork and a housing unit opening to move if receiving subsidized housing. Additionally how do the moved individuals get to spots near their new homes where free food for needful people is being doled out?

Further, how about when there is too little housing in an area so that the price for housing has climbed out of reach? How about terrible public schools that teach very little by way of job skills or knowledge while their floors, walls and/or ceilngs may be crumbling? How about the impoverished children, who can never get ahead due to their garbage-like schools, and destructive gangs roaming the streets while trying to bring these new children into their groups?

People can say all that they want that these children should figure out a way forward, but sometimes the odds holding them back are just too daunting. So the poverty goes onward generation after generation with no way to escape the trap. That being the case is great for owners of companies who want to keep the brunt of earnings for themselves and pay for menial labor as little as possible.

Some of the bosses don’t even work and their companies were handed to them by their fathers or other relatives … meaning that the money keeps flowing towards them no matter whatever they do or don’t do. What a sweetheart deal!

Knowing all of this helped me to understand that some people act surly and angry when collecting food bank food. Others cry and act timid when obtaining it while other act embarrassed and can’t even look the food bank worker or volunteer in the eye. Yet the man who I know, the one with presumably all the answers for the impoverished folks, thinks that there is some underlying laziness that many poor people have. He thinks that this is the reason that they can’t get ahead and are forced to use food bank food.

According to the Congressman for my district, Jim McGovern, “Over the last eleven months, America’s billionaires raised their net worth by nearly one trillion dollars. That number is a mind-boggling testament to how top-heavy things have become, especially when you consider that in the same time period:

“More than 70 million people in our country lost their jobs;

“Nearly 100,000 small businesses closed permanently;

“Total work income of the bottom 82% of the workforce declined.”

Here’s some related information:

All considered, it is long past time to assess our economic system that leaves many citizens in the lurch and wondering whether they will ever recover from their woes of not knowing from where and when their next paychecks will come (if at all). How foolish to think that the huge number of indigent people are just loafing around and listless because they don’t like hard work. Instead many don’t prefer a life of leisure wherein simultaneously they have little idea about from where their medical care for themselves and their families, sufficient shelter and enough food will derive.

Short of some large revolutionary changes, can improvement occur at all to fix the massive and possibly growing amount of poverty in America? I wonder and, certainly, we shouldn’t blame the destitute for their sad, unenviable plight.

Sally Dugman lives in MA, USA.


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