Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who Chooses to Be "Poor" ?

I'm not trying to pick on poor people.
I'll help anyone who is poor because of oppression.
I'll help anyone who is poor because of a disability.
I'll help any child who is born into a situation that they have no control over.
I'll help any elderly person who can't fend for them self.
I'll help anyone who is poor and working or trying to better their life.
I won't help those who choose to be "poor".
Is this cold? Maybe.

To many, living off of government entitlements is a smart business decision. If someone made poor choices in their life and has limited their ability to obtain all that is available in our country - living off benefits for a short time makes financial sense (sometimes).

Take "Lisa";
A single mother of two boys in elementary school. One son has asthma (Asthma and other ailments are common in the hood because of various social and environmental conditions.).
Lisa works one job full-time @ $8.00 hr. . Lisa also works an additional twenty hours a week in overtime to try to make ends meet.
Lisa grosses $560 wk and about $29,120 yr. .
Lisa spends:
$6,000 yr. on medical insurance (the other half being paid by her employer)
$6,000 yr. on rent
$1,000 yr. on school lunches (and some breakfasts)
$5,200 yr. ($100 wk) on groceries
$3,600 yr. (about $300 month) on phone service, electricity, gas and water
$5,200 yr. on child care
$27,000 yr.

At the end of the year, Lisa has $2,120.00 (or $176.67 a month) to pay for clothes, toiletries, furniture, transportation and any other incidentals.
Lisa still has to pay all of her FICA, Federal Tax and other items taken from one's paycheck.
Lisa has lived as frugally as one could expect.
At the end of the year, Lisa owes money.

Now let's look at "Uniqua"
"U" is a stay at home mother of two boys who lives next door to Lisa. One of U's sons also has asthma.

U gets:
$12,000 yr. in Medicare coverage
$4,300 yr. ($360 a month) in food stamps
$800 yr. from the free-lunch program
$400 yr. from the free breakfast program
$5,700 yr. in rental assistance ($475 month)
$7,200 yr. from SSI and child support (the government makes people on SSI get child support from the fathers - if known)
$30,400 in cash and benefits

U spends:
$300 yr. on rent (After section 8, U only has to pay $25 a month [I've seen rent as low as $12 a month])
$3,600 yr. on the same utilities as Lisa

At the end of the year, Uniqua has $3,300 to spend on clothes, furniture, toiletries, transportation and other incidentals.
U is home everyday to help her children with their homework.
U is home everyday to teach her children the social skills needed in life.
U is home everyday to discipline her children.
U qualifies for school grants to pursue a better life.
U has time to work under the table twenty hours a week for an additional $200.
But U spends the extra $10,400 a year on Jordans, grills, a flat panel television and other luxury goods.

Which situation would benefit a family more?
Based solely on income, the Welfare mother comes out ahead.
The trick is to know what one has and to make long term decisions on how to use those assets to benefit you in a sustainable manner.

Poverty is more a state of mind than a state of being.

(image - SuperStock)

1 comment:

brightstarr said...

GREAT post!!! This is why the welfare system needs to be reformed. The people who are trying to escape poverty lose - which is why many get stuck in the never-ending cycle of hopelessness. I think welfare does more harm to our community than good. Instead we need more programs that really help mothers to go to college or take up a trade (while keeping in mind the cost of child care). Lots of work needs to be done, but we know which candidate would probably benefit this community.