questionable decisions made this week

Poor people supposedly have poor decision making skills. I might be demonstrating that well.

Like going back to college. Poor people are told that they need to get themselves educated, so this seems like a brilliant idea. I did indeed apply. I’m already “educated” and have a paper degree that says I learned some things but that’s beside the point. I decided I needed to go get another degree after seeing countless jobs I wanted to apply for recently that I didn’t have the right degree or qualifications for. Funny though…I usually had enough experience, although most of it is unpaid & volunteer work.

So, I’m going back to college, even though I’m poor AF and can’t even help my daughter pay her monstrous tuition (she goes to one of the most expensive colleges in the country and does get a massive fin aid & scholarship package but STILL….ugh) . I also can’t get a loan, so that should be interesting. Maybe those annoying people who tell us poor people that “If there’s a will,there’s a way!” are right and I’ll figure it all out by sheer will.

In September I will be here asking for math help and crying about what a horrible idea it was to even think I could do it. You’ll see.

I also cancelled my life insurance policy this week because I needed the cash surrender amount for pay bills and the last 2 months, that insurance payment has caused my bank account to be overdrawn and cost me $50 in bank fees that I didn’t have.
This means I can’t ever die now, which would be fine with me but if I’m going to live forever, I’d like to not be poor. How do vampires live such opulent lifestyles?

But really, I knocked on wood which should keep me safe from death and anyway, all I want is to be cremated in a cardboard box . Frugal to the end.

On a lighter note, I’m currently on duckling and gosling watch here on our rented homestead. No signs yet. Grown up geese and ducks have been quieter than usual, so maybe that’s the calm before the fluff?

They’re nesting on the island in the middle of the pond (or lake,if you ask the neighbors)

Fullscreen capture 572016 73119 AM

My coffee drinking, waterfowl watching bench . This is the extent of my good decision making lately.

All photos courtesy of my daughter and stolen from her instagram.

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Today’s Reads- Transgender employment challenges…Poverty, Stigma, and Disease….

Some notable reads from around the web today…
The Challenges of Finding Employment as a 52-Year-Old Transgender Woman – Finding employment when you’re over 50 is really difficult but then add in being a transgender woman, it’s damned near impossible. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I get upset by the near daily articles I see about trans people facing job discrimination is because I know transgender people and they’re a part of my life? Not enough people seem to be that concerned about the discrimination that places trans people at a huge risk for being in poverty. This woman’s story isn’t unique and that makes it even more heartbreaking.



“Poverty has been rebranded as personal failure.”…

Unless it’s a poor kid, no one really cares about poor people. And then even then, it’s that lazy,irresponsible parent’s fault that the kid is poor. Poor is segmented into poor ,innocent babies and lazy slackers.



Global poverty, stigma, and the spread of disease… –
“Blaming cultural practices or poverty-linked practices of living, such as the potential link between poor rural regions consuming bush meat which could be contaminated by the virus, stigmatizes those stricken by this rare virus or by curable illnesses such as malaria, or diarrhea. Even though it is often inappropriate and counterproductive to blame culture or practices of different populations, poverty and socioeconomically oppressive structures propel the spread of disease.

It is poverty that further stigmatizes those who have been infected with a virus that is largely misunderstood by rural communities and scientists alike. It is poverty that causes overcrowded health care clinics that are unable to maintain a standard of sanitation due to a lack of funds which allows for the spread of disease. It is poverty that stigmatizes culture to be part of the source of their suffering. Fighting poverty and fighting disease are inextricably mixed, and neither one should operate in an isolated silo.”









Revisiting the affordability of “Grow your own food!” ….

[previously on this topic : “Why “Grow your own food!” might not be so easy for poor people” ,Part 1 & Part 2 . Also: The Privilege of Real Food ]


My friend Amanda was nice enough to share this photo of her sweet new backyard mini-homestead .

Here’s what Amanda had to say about this:

So. Telling poor people to grow their own food. Nine chickens $55, coop $255, gardening soil which I mixed with 50% Florida dirt aka sand $15 on sale at Lowe’s. Three large bins (I had the others and I know people think I shouldn’t use plastic) 2 bell pepper plants, 2 zucchini, 2 cuke, 2 cantaloupe, 2 basil, 1 each oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill $91 all from walmart. I’ve got $150 in feeding/caring for the chickens so far as I had to buy feeders/waterers. I’ve ordered fancy ones now, but that cost is only the basic plastic ones I started with. The kind you refill by hand every day from tractor supply. I can’t expect eggs til June/July. I had on hand: a drill (tub drainage holes), shovel, truck to move things, easy outdoor water access, garden hose and space. Unless someone has easy access to basically all that stuff for free, there’s no way even feeding the chickens seems worth it if we are looking it at this like the “food stamp police” do. I’m in love with my little side yard, but as I’ve been working on it I’ve been very aware that there is NO WAY IN HELL I could have done this when we were on SNAP. Also, that low fence is needed to keep the dogs from stressing out the chickens and peeing on my plants. It was the cheapest option that would work for my big dog and was $85. That total space is roughly 17′ square.

I forgot the $80 in concrete from the trench I dug and filled with quickcrete to hopefully avoid that) or some virus or the plants die…. I mean, it’s in no way a sure thing (as y’all know)


I am so frustrated that I have to have this same conversation over and over again about poor people and gardening. It blows my mind when someone shares their story of food insecurity right now,real time ,”There is no food in my house”-stories and the best words someone can offer is, “You should start a garden.”

Right. Because when you literally have NO money to buy food, you can go buy seeds/plants, gardening tools,dirt,etc etc etc. And then when do you get to eat? I mean…if you even have a place to grow stuff. “But you can buy seeds and plants with food stamps!” Uh,yeah….you can but when you’re trying to budget $1.25 per meal because that’s all the food stamps you have for a month, you’re not going to add seeds to your budget.

I’ve had this conversation enough (at least once a week for the past 2 years, I swear) to know that the counter-argument is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Well, right. It can be inexpensive but that’s usually if you’re been doing it for awhile and have accessibility to some things that make it easier.

I just like to reiterate all this because it’s important for people to acknowledge this is not a solution to hunger for everyone. If you’re a fan of growing it yourself, think outside your own box before telling a poor person to grow their own food. Maybe ask some starter questions. “Is it possible for you to garden?” If no, don’t be pushy. That person knows the reasons they can’t garden. All of your suggestions is not going to make their situation any different. It’s just going to make them feel like crap.

I mean,dude…that one time I wrote about having no food and weighing 85 pounds? Someone actually said : “If only you had a garden.” When I said I wasn’t able to then, they told me, “If you’re hungry enough,you’ll make it happen.” For real.
I lived in a basement apartment underneath a liquor store with a parking lot as my “yard”. If only I had the magic of the fairies or whatever those things were in Fern Gully!  But honestly, it’s an incredibly insulting thing to suggest that maybe I wasn’t hungry enough or maybe I should have tried harder and I just wouldn’t have been hungry.

Now, if someone says “yes” to the “Can you garden?” question… ask them what they need. Do they need seeds? Do they need book recommendations? Do they need advice?  Do they need money for gardening tools? Are they close enough that you can lend them tools or supplies or even some actual physical help?

If they can ,support and encourage that. If they can’t leave them the hell alone and start looking around your own community to see what can be done to foster a better local food system for poor,disabled, and elderly people living there.


“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine…”

An extensive study of crack babies conducted in Philadelphia over the span of over 20 years yielded some unexpected results:
Poverty in the inner-city is more powerful than cocaine.

“We went looking for the effects of cocaine,” Hurt said. But after a time “we began to ask, ‘Was there something else going on?’ ”

While the cocaine-exposed children and a group of nonexposed controls performed about the same on tests, both groups lagged on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the norm. Hurt and her team began to think the “something else” was poverty.

As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home – measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation – were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside – and the kids were only 7 years old at the time. Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.

More recently, the team did MRI scans on the participants’ brains. Some research has suggested that gestational cocaine exposure can affect brain development, especially the dopamine system, which in turn can harm cognitive function. An area of concern is “executive functioning,” a set of skills involved in planning, problem-solving, and working memory.

The investigators found one brain area linked to attention skills that differed between exposed and nonexposed children, but they could not find any clinically significant effect on behavioral tests of attention skills.

Drug use did not differ between the exposed and nonexposed participants as young adults. About 42 percent used marijuana and three tested positive for cocaine one time each.

The team has kept tabs on 110 of the 224 children originally in the study. Of the 110, two are dead – one shot in a bar and another in a drive-by shooting – three are in prison, six graduated from college, and six more are on track to graduate. There have been 60 children born to the 110 participants.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt to a conclusion she didn’t see coming.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine,” Hurt said at her May lecture.

Other researchers also couldn’t find any devastating effects from cocaine exposure in the womb. Claire Coles, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, has been tracking a group of low-income Atlanta children. Her work has found that cocaine exposure does not seem to affect children’s overall cognition and school performance, but some evidence suggests that these children are less able to regulate their reactions to stressful stimuli, which could affect learning and emotional health.

Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. “When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time.”

Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrics professor at Boston University who has tracked a similar group of children, said the “crack baby” label led to erroneous stereotyping. “You can’t walk into a classroom and tell this kid was exposed and this kid was not,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, there are so many factors that affect poor kids. They have to deal with so much stress and deprivation. We have also found that exposure to violence is a huge factor.”

Read about the study and the conclusions here.

At a time when 2 in 10 children are living in poverty in the United States and many of those are living in the inner city, we need to be paying very close attention to what studies like these tell us. This along with the studies that conclude that nutrition is a huge factor on school performance and brain development (also something common sense could tell us), it just doesn’t make sense that “we” are not desperately trying to end child poverty. It’s definitely not a time to be cutting programs that help feed and educate these children plus provide intervention services  to help them and their families out of it.