Why the poor can have “things” but can’t escape poverty



More: Changed Life of the Poor: Better Off but Far Behind


I don’t get the focus on what poor people own, anyway. Capitalism has worked it’s magic on those folks who care. They clearly believe the more things you have equal wealth. Things = Worth.

Beyond the affordability of “Things” now, I find that things  are easy to come by. I mean… I can go to a yard sale where they have a huge table full of quality toys I would never be able to afford brand new and because the parent does not feel like hauling all those toys back in the house and then have to figure out what to do with them, they might say, “Take that whole box there for $3”. It happens to me all the time. And because I know I couldn’t get these things for my kids new , I will take all of it. And yes…toys. My kids have toys,ok? Kids should have toys.  I usually save these thrift scores to give as gifts.

Or at a church rummage sale, near closing time… “Fill up a whole bag for $1”. I’m all over that. Big family, growing kids… we always need clothes and what I don’t end up using, I can pass on to someone.


I have a lot of things.

Most of them are nice things. Or at least…I like them a lot (which is all I care about).   I’ve had the troll types point at things in the pictures that were public on my Facebook profile, making a list of how much the contents my living room cost or what I could sell it for. Ha! I paid $30 for my couch second hand when my old neighbors moved out. The rest was free, handmade, scavenged,yard saled, gifted,thrifted,given, Craigslisted,Freecycled, keepsaked.  That flat screen TV? Won. I’ve always come by things in these ways, even when I have some financial stability (No, I haven’t always been poor)

How much could I sell all my possessions for? Honestly, probably half a month’s rent. It’s not worth much.And who the hell wants to buy my old crap, anyway?

And this weird poor judging lookyloo phenomenon isn’t just about who is receiving government assistance. Saying you’re poor seems to invite these people to figure out all the ways you were stupid enough to get poor. Homeless people get it. Oh,man…homeless people with cars. What are they thinking ,hanging on to that one thing that gives them shelter and mobility? Ridiculous in theory that a homeless person should sell their car.I know homeless people who knew homelessness was eminent, so they used what money they had to make sure insurance was paid and that they have money for gas. The car is the backup plan.
So, OK, what happens when they sell it? They have a wad of cash toooo…. do what with now? Security deposit & first months rent for an apartment, put food in the fridge? That’s about it. Then what? People assume “Get a job” is always an option. It isn’t always. People would know this if they think outside their own privilege box & become aware of more than their own business.

Can’t pay rent. Become homeless again and have to live on the street.

While it sounds like harsh judgment, I think some of that poor judging  is really the fearful panic of that person trying to figure out if it could be them someday. They tell you to sell this and do that because they think that’s what they would do if it happens to them …and then they get combative when you explain why that’s not a feasible plan because “Shit, then what will *I* do when it happens to me?”




Today’s Reads: Basically, a round-up of jerky people

I guess maybe it’s good to consolidate all the mean people into one post. Keep the hate contained a bit.

Yes, talk of Donald Sterling’s racism is totally relevant here. Long before the audio of his racist comments came to light, he was a racist who was sued by the federal government on more than one occasion for discriminating against blacks & latinos by refusing to rent housing to them. Structural racism like this contributes to inequality. I don’t want to rehash what happened and why it was wrong. I just have things to say to some of the reactions supporting Sterling.

Such as:  “No one should have their property stripped away and have to pay money because someone was offended by something they said!” – Stop acting like Sterling is the one being oppressed here. At the end of the day, he’s still a billionaire and a racist. He’s going to be fine but if not, I’m sure he can go work on Clive Bundy’s ranch.
My point is, this lifetime ban from the NBA, fines, and probably being forced to sell the Clippers is not going to impact this man in the same way he can impact others. The NBA held him accountable for racist words but who is going to hold him accountable for discriminatory practices in his other business ventures and daily life?

Apologists need to just stop worrying. That rich white dude is going to be ok.



Paul Ryan won’t let poor people testify at hearing about poverty. This is a SSDD thing.
You can read Tianna Gaines-Turner’s testimony here , what she would have said if real live poor people could have said some words.

And again, can someone explain why PAUL RYAN is the one holding a hearing on poverty?



We’ve probably all seen this meme floating around faceboob. The first time I saw it, it was posted by the dad of one of my kids’ classmates. I have no filter sometimes, so I left him a comment asking him, “Do you think of my family as wild animals? We get food stamps.”
His answer was… “Of course not YOU! I mean those other people.”
My answer to this is always,”If you can recognize that I’M not the stigma you have in your head representing food stamp recipients, then why is it so hard to imagine that your entire narrative about poor people on food stamps is wrong?”

All of this aside…. and not really looking to “debunk” the faults in this meme right now…
This screenshot is of a South Dakota GOP Senate candidate’s Facebook post.

SD peeps, do not let this person be voted into office.


Why You Should Leave Blog Comments Instead of Facebook Comments

I’m doing  (another) stint in Facebook Timeout. Every ban I’ve ever gotten has been for really stupid reason. “Harassment” was the official reason a few times. Harassment in these cases means I disagreed with someone’s opinion and they got mad. No exaggeration. I’ve been part of and seen respectful ,well constructed comments reported and resulting in a ban. Every single time, the commenter who was being disagreed with was stating opinions that would fall under the following categories : racism,homophobia,sexism, misogyny ,transphobia, body shaming, classism, religious intolerance….and of course, breastfeeding.Other things ,too, but those are the main things.  So, it’s ok to state racist and general assholey opinions of the book of face but if you disagree with those opinions, THAT is harassment. Got it? Yeah, me neither but that’s the way it seems to work.

I’ve been writing and participating in the blogosphere since 2002. WAY before Facebook. I liked it better then. For awhile ,Facebook did help bloggers establish farther reach to wider audiences but with the new “algorithms”, only 10% of a blog page’s audience sees their posts at all. Social media experts have spent the last few years explaining to bloggers that they NEED to have a presence on Facebook and I just don’t agree with that. Bloggers had readers without Facebook . It can be that way again.

The biggest change between blogging “back then” and now is how commenting has changed. This is the thing I miss the most. People used to leave comments ONLY on blogs! They didn’t just leave a comment on Facebook after seeing the title of a post and assuming they knew everything the post was about (sorry,that’s one of my biggest comment pet peeves. For crying out loud, people. READ the damn post before you comment! ).

Maybe it’s because I am incredibly disgruntled with Facebook at this exact second but I feel compelled to toss out the one huge reason that ya’ll, dear readers, should consider being a blog commenter instead of a Facebook commenter.

Molly Fair: Safe Space




On Facebook, the lack of privacy means if you leave a comment on a page, all of the people you have friended on Facebook can see that comment. How many people you’ve friended on Facebook do you actually like or want to know your latest fight down at social services with your food stamp caseworker? The lack of privacy keeps people from commenting on pages in a conversation they could use support,advice or be the person to lend experience and support. On this blog, you don’t even have to use your real name to comment.

When I saw this is a safe space, I also mean that people are free to speak openly without fear of being attacked or judged for their experiences while dealing with class struggles and other issues that people in poverty have encountered. Everyone who has been marginalized by society is safe here. Comments that attack or demean anyone based on race,income,ability,sexuality,and gender are not tolerated. As the blog owner, I also have the added bonus of being able to block IP addresses and heavily moderate comments from people not interested in being part of an inclusive and supportive community.

I think of my blog as being an extension of my personal space. Like it’s my living room. When I am moderating comments, I think, “If this person were in my house, would I ask them to get out?” And would I ask them back again to give it another shot?
This might seem ridiculous to think I could craft such a place on the Internet but I believe that on any space I have devoted to curating the content with a spirit of hope & good intention, I have every right to make it so. I think I even feel that it’s my responsibility to my readers that I make this space as safe as I possibly can. My one bit of advice to people while using the Internet is ,”DON’T READ THE COMMENTS!”. The comment section of most places is a triggering cesspool of emotions. I want this blog to be the exception to that. Not only should it be ok to read the comments but it should be ok to leave a comment and not have to worry about unkind responses. It’s AWESOME to have thoughtful and engaging conversations about hot topic issues. Open dialogues are important. The best way to facilitate these kinds of conversations where everyone feels comfortable is to have guidelines that keep abusive attitudes out of the space entirely.

Unless one of the moderators on the Facebook page is vigilantly checking comments, it’s so impossible to ensure this sort of space can be a reality on Facebook. It just isn’t.



3.25.14: The Republicans want MORE food stamp cuts

News,thoughts, and going-ons…


The Republicans have the balls to be asking for more cuts to SNAP. Yes,really.

In this 5 minute segment, Bernie Sanders lays out the picture of poverty in the U.S. right now and the insanity of the Republican party’s agenda. “It’s ugly”, he says. There isn’t a better way to put it. Inequality is widening and the immoral Right just push their class warfare deeper and deeper.

Al Sharpton  touches on the gross suggestions that poor kids work for their free lunch ,too.

These people are so disgusting. They purposefully are causing the media vilification of poor people. They actually pay trolls to create the focus on blaming the poor and distract from the true issues. 10 red states are also the poorest and have the most people who need food stamps.

I just can’t even….



Fullscreen capture 3252014 104025 AM


Tell it, Prof.

via one-mandrinkinggamess




Rising inequality forever? Thomas Piketty’s sweeping account of the “central contradiction of capitalism” nyr.kr/1dp847C
t’s a long read but worth it. An excerpt:

Piketty believes that the rise in inequality can’t be understood independently of politics. For his new book, he chose a title evoking Marx, but he doesn’t think that capitalism is doomed, or that ever-rising inequality is inevitable. There are circumstances, he concedes, in which incomes can converge and the living standards of the masses can increase steadily—as happened in the so-called Golden Age, from 1945 to 1973. But Piketty argues that this state of affairs, which many of us regard as normal, may well have been a historical exception. The “forces of divergence can at any point regain the upper hand, as seems to be happening now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century,” he writes. And, if current trends continue, “the consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying.”

In the nineteen-fifties, the average American chief executive was paid about twenty times as much as the typical employee of his firm. These days, at Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the corner office and the shop floor is more than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook received three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the wage of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year; Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend is evident everywhere. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim—own more wealth than the roughly 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.

Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reëmergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this “patrimonial society,” a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up. For the United States, in particular, this would be a cruel and ironic fate. “The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion,” Piketty writes, “and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.”

What are the “forces of divergence” that produce enormous riches for some and leave the majority scrabbling to make a decent living? Piketty is clear that there are different factors behind stagnation in the middle and riches at the top. But, during periods of modest economic growth, such as the one that many advanced economies have experienced in recent decades, income tends to shift from labor to capital. Because of enmeshed economic, social, and political pressures, Piketty fears “levels of inequality never before seen.”

djlineEven NASA is concerned that the rising inequality gap

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system


Now excuse me while I go pack my bug-out bag and go hole up in the woods.


Mean People Suck: Tom Brower thinks he’s Captain Hammer, Walmart still treats their employees like crap, and other stupid stuff

This week, the Mean People who suck are also providing some comedy. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t help but laugh. It turns out that a lot of the time, mean people are also pretty stupid …or at least do some stupid stuff.

So,there’s  this guy…Tom Brower…he’s a state rep from Hawaii. He’s solving the homelessness problem by bashing shopping carts with a sledgehammer.

Excuse the geek moment here but I immediately thought of  Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Tom Brower is more like Captain Pointless,though.  He walks around Honolulu looking for shopping carts that he identifies as one homeless people have been using and smashes the wheels in with a hammer. Then piles them up so the city’s garbage trucks can come pick the up and haul them away to the dump. What a good use of public resources and a friend to the environment.

You have a huge homeless problem in your city and the logical way to deal with it is this instead of advocating for programs that actually help homeless people not be homeless anymore? All righty then. Makes so much sense.
He says he returns carts he can identify to the store they came from but it must be that he can’t read or his store locator app doesn’t work so he can’t figure out where to return all of them to because in this video, the cart he smashes is clearly identifiable.

Whatever. He’s a tool.

And just so I can continue in the vein of Dr Horrible….
These rich people said the homeless have it easy and you shouldn’t give them money because you’re enabling them.

Then there’s this guy.


It’s cool if you do coke and your paycheck comes from taxpayer money as long as you’re not on welfare.

Now might be a good time to point out that Florida’s drug testing for SNAP recipients was a giant waste of money and pretty much everyone’s time. The state lost  $45,780 and the end result was about 2.5% testing positive, mostly for marijuana.
(and that’s about the same result coming out of every other state trying this out)

And finally this week, shout out to the Walmart in Canton, Ohio for getting in to the holiday spirit by collecting donations for their own poorly paid employees so they can have a nice Thanksgiving Day dinner. Well, for those employees who don’t have to work on Thanksgiving, I guess.


The further insulting irony here is that a lot of those employees are on SNAP and just had their SNAP allowance reduced this month. Walmart is already one of the biggest beneficiaries of the SNAP program and the most recent SNAP cuts will probably increase that trend.

Stephen Colbert on the government “slimdown”

Some states are still funding their WIC programs and everyone will be seen during the government shut down as usual and checks will be issued normally. Other WIC programs are closed but WIC staff have made sure their answering service gives emergency numbers for women who may be out of formula or other food. Some staff are volunteering their time to help families who need assistance.

The very beginning of every month is very unstable for many low income  families . Things are due all at once, leaving no extra cash for groceries and many SNAP recipients don’t get benefits until the second week of the month. If someone was scheduled to get new WIC checks this week, there’s going to be a horrible gap for that family between now and when they will finally have access to WIC or their scheduled SNAP allowance.

I know. They didn’t think about that when they shut the government down, nor do some of them even care.

It has been mentioned that we should consider why there are so many “non-essential” employees that aren’t allowed to work during the shut-down. I think it’s more important to access and evaluate who and what are considered essential government workers and programs instead. I’m really sorry that there were veterans who wanted to go see some memorial this week and couldn’t because it was closed but babies drinking watered down formula ranks higher on my essential priorities list.

What Can & Can’t Be Bought With Food Stamps & An EBT Card



Infographic source unknown. Someone sent it to me from Pinterest.

This infographic is a good rough guide to what you can and can’t buy with SNAP.

I have a huge gripe with the way some states or counties in  parts of the U.S. work with their clients.  The most frequent search terms on my other blog where I started blogging about SNAP is questions about what people can buy with their food stamps.

This should be a caseworker’s job, not a blogger on the Internet. I am very happy to provide the information but from what I understand ,there are food stamp recipients who never even see a caseworker or the only info they’re given about purchasing things is ,”You can’t buy cigarettes and alcohol.” Well, no duh.

Based on my most frequent search queries, here is a list of things people wondered about that you CAN buy with food stamps:

  • baking soda
  • vinegar, all kinds
  • coconut oil
  • any cooking oil,including olive oil
  • seeds …EXCEPT sunflower seeds, unless they are packaged and ready to eat.
  • plants that produce food and potted herbs

Here are specific items you CANNOT buy:

  • toilet paper
  • shampoo
  • tampons or pads
  • deodorant
  • tooth paste
  • diapers, cloth or disposable
  • bakery goods
  • cooking utensils or small kitchen appliances
  • pots and pans
  • dishes

Yes, it’s totally true that you CAN buy bows and arrows in Alaska but not live animals. Like lobster. You can’t buy a live lobster to cook…or chickens ,if you were to want to raise them yourself.

Since we’re talking about what can and can’t be bought using an EBT card, I want to clear up some things for those who are misinformed.

This is what my EBT card looks like. All inconspicuous, not announcing that ,”I get benefits!” or anything.

Nobody is given paper food stamps anymore. Everyone who receives food stamp benefits gets a card. An EBT card. Electronic Benefits Transfer card.  It works like a debit card.

EBT cards are also given to people who receive cash welfare benefits. Some people who get food stamps also receive cash benefits but just to clear up a misconception... it’s very hard to get cash assistance . Because of the Work to Welfare program and other reformation of the system,  once someone is approved for cash assistance, they must either enroll in school or job training, or prove that they are job searching, unless they are disabled. Most states have a limited time or a cash cap limit that you can receive while looking for a job. They will also place people in jobs, basically at a just above minimum wage rate for as many hours as comparable to the amount of cash assistance they get.  If they don’t go to work or school, they lose the assistance. Once they’re earning money, they also lose the cash assistance. It’s a temporary assistance program, which is why it’s called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It’s that simple.

In some states, the EBT card cannot be used at a register in a store for non-food stamp items. The recipient has to go to an ATM or a store office and withdrawl cash.  In some states, it can be used right at the register, which I’m guessing is causing confusion to nosy people who stand in line behind other people in line, checking out what kind of card it being used to pay for groceries.

Also, it’s important to put out there : Some states put a single mother’s child support money into the account attached to their EBT card if she’s also eligible for food stamps.  So, the state isn’t being the baby-daddy there. The actual contributor of DNA paid his child support and that’s how the state is giving her that money.

All those stupid memes online about beer,tattoos,cigarettes being bought with EBT….
I’m not going to say that no one buys those things with their cash benefits but if you pay attention to how those ridiculous things are worded, they are completely fabricated . “Today I saw a woman in line paying w/ food stamps blahblahblah…IPHONEblahblahblahLEXUSblahblahPOTATOCHIPSANDSODA!”
No, you didn’t. You want people to get riled up and start a shit storm on your page or tumblr.

97% of the time, I guarantee it.

Or I’m only person in the store,minding my own business and thinking about the stuff in my own cart. If someone has time to cart judge, they need a constructive hobby. Go volunteer and the local food bank or something.