THERE'S NO TRICK; IT'S JUST A SIMPLE TRICK!

The state of the world today has us all doing double takes at every news item that seems like it can't be real. As we are learning, the line between what can and can't be real these days is getting indistinct. But when someone posts an infographic called "Build Wealth on Minimum Wage" on March 30 – just before the official day of things that Aren't Real – well, a man could experience an existential crisis trying to figure out if it's serious or next-level satire.

Since the website that posted it has since removed all reference to it after a torrent of mockery, let us assume it was serious. Fortunately it is cached here and I uploaded the entire (large) infographic for your viewing pleasure as well. I wanted to make sure you realized I wasn't fabricating this.

Since these aren't ideal reading formats, let me summarize the key points.

1. Move to a cheap city. The author helpfully lists the 10 cheapest, highlighting places like Buffalo, Fort Wayne, Amarillo, Akron, Jackson MS, Detroit, and Shreveport.
2. "Find a place that costs less than $600/month for rent" – preferably "with utilities included"!!!
3. Eliminate your commute by getting a used bike (to ride to work in the winter in Buffalo or Detroit I guess)
4. Cancel cable
5. Don't eat out – "Elon Musk once ate on less than $1/day"!!!
6. Maintain a catastrophic health insurance plan to avoid being medically bankrupted
7. Shop at thrift stores
8. Do things for fun that are free
9. Invest your Extra Money
10. Make money in your "spare time" driving Ubers and whatnot

Some of this stuff is, admittedly, not horrible advice. When I lived on a very low income, paying for cable and eating out were the first two things I eliminated. I also put a moratorium on buying clothes, which is a bigger expenditure for most of us than we realize. But this is the kind of "financial advice" people get everywhere they look. Some people follow it, some people don't.

The basic premise of this Advice, though, is so stupid that it's hard to believe that any editor, even of a minor Financial Infographic purveyor, would sign off on it: Move somewhere it is cheap to live. Uh. A couple things here.

1. Moving is very expensive. I have done it probably 15 times in my life. Even loading the truck myself and unloading it myself on the other end, moving costs at least several hundred dollars for anyone who doesn't own a large moving van. Starting in a new location requires a lot of up-front cash as well: security deposits, "activation fees" for utilities, and so on.

2. His list of cheap cities are places with rampant unemployment and crime problems. It's a list of America's Crappiest Big Cities. Perhaps he should go check out the $500-600/month apartments in Jackson and Buffalo and see how livable they are. And how close they are (biking distance!) to anywhere one can work full time. Those cities are cheap because there are no jobs there and nobody wants to live there. People are leaving, and they are leaving for a reason. Why would anyone move there and expect to find work?

3. The assumption that anyone can get 40 hours per week of minimum wage work makes sense to someone who has never worked minimum wage jobs. I suppose you could cobble together multiple jobs to equal 40 hours, but you're not getting anything close to 40 at one job. In a dying city with a bad economy.

4. There are maybe two or three big cities in this country with sufficient public transportation networks (and weather suitable for biking at least some of the time) to allow residents to get by without a car. Going without access to a car in 99% of this country is close to impossible. You'll give back whatever you "save" from jettisoning a car in the jacked up prices you pay at Convenience Stores in food deserts where one finds things like $500/mo. apartments.

5. Cutting back on spending is good, albeit patronizing, financial advice, but the "budget" here assumes a person's spending is literally zero. That simply isn't realistic. Sure, a disciplined person can cut out the Meals Out and Costly Entertainment (movies, bars, etc.) but the idea of going years on end with nothing happening in one's life that would require spending money is quite stupid.

6. Even living this to-the-bone lifestyle recommended by the author with no spending and a mythical full time minimum wage job enables one to "save" a grand total of something like $3500 per year. Managing the infinitely unlikely feat of repeating this performance for five consecutive years, then, would result in saving up something like $17,000.

OK. That's not nothing. But it's hardly "wealth." Your five years of spartan living in a probably-dangerous apartment in a shitty place has left you with enough cash to buy a decent used economy car, pay maybe 1 or 1.5 years of tuition at a real institution of higher education, make a down payment on a really cheap house that will probably be in an area with a depressed economy, or something equally underwhelming. Maybe the real moral of the story is that no matter how ridiculously strict a person is about financial habits, $7.25/hr just isn't enough money to allow an adult American in 2017 to do much of anything except survive paycheck to paycheck in the very best scenario. And that's if you get close to 40 hours on the regular, which you won't.

Americans are terrific at learning the wrong lessons from looking analytically at poverty. Were this a satirical effort to show that someone earning minimum wage is in a no-win situation it would be brilliant. Instead we have yet another example of how clueless the Silicon Valley Thought Leader types are and how willingly they ignore the reality that the system they exploit so well is not sustainable in the long term.

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88 Responses to “THERE'S NO TRICK; IT'S JUST A SIMPLE TRICK!”

  1. other bill Says:

    WASF

  2. Sarah Says:

    1. First thing that struck me is how they don't mention SNAP or Medicaid or anything of that sort. So, that's kind of weird. Maybe because after you're driving on the side for Uber with the car that you already sold (also car insurance + licenses are free, you know!), you're then too wealthy — not sure.

    2. He tells you to buy a used bike (for commuting + hobby) but never builds in that cost. So he really means steal a bike.

    3. 75$ A MONTH FOR FOOD. Even if you follow his "food rules" — it is *very* difficult to eat for less than 5$ a day unless you're actually starving yourself. People have tried (Leanne Brown's "Cheap Eats").

    4. Hobbies are adorable. DIY projects on YouTube (with what tools + internet + computer). Blog (with what computer + internet). Yoga (with what money to pay an instructor). Call an old friend (with what phone + phone plan).

    5. He didn't mention essentials like toilet paper or soap, furniture or things like lightbulbs, cell phone which you probably need to hold down a job, money to wash your mended clothes that will fall apart soon (because if thrift store clothes are *that* cheap, they're not high-quality).

    This is so much stupid.

  3. Sluggo Says:

    Steve Martin in The Jerk had a plan to become a millionaire: Step 1, get a million dollars…………

  4. carrstone Says:

    A fine rant, Ed, in the best tradition.

    I notice you don't have any recommendations yourself about what folks should do if faced with the challenging conundrums outlined by you, though. I would like to suggest two 'next steps' for their edification:
    1.] Blame the government, capitalism, employers, the rich, the successful, Republicans, Trump, hedge-fund managers, just not, not ever-never, themselves
    2.] Ask for help from the government.

  5. define and redefine Says:

    The "common excuses for not moving" are particularly tone-deaf. The author might as well say it's worth sacrificing your emotional and psychological well-being in order to amass more money.

  6. Talisker Says:

    Even loading the truck myself and unloading it myself on the other end, moving costs at least several hundred dollars for anyone who doesn't own a large moving van.

    In the mindset of the infographic, you must sell all your possessions and move with just one suitcase on a Greyhound bus. Possessions are a human weakness which must be discarded, along with closeness to friends and family. The sale of your possessions will fund your Greyhound ticket, secondhand bike, and security deposits. And your incredibly cheap apartment will also come with usable furniture and appliances. Sure it will.

    This is like a more depressing Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century. Instead of migrating in search of good farmland where you can live with dignity, the prize is a crappy cheap apartment where you can save money by living in fear and discomfort.

  7. NickT Says:

    Sometimes I think Ed might just have gotten tired of all the winning produced by the Trump Administration For Make Glorious Kleptocracy.

    @carrstone

    "I notice you don't have any recommendations yourself about what folks should do…"

    And the carrstone recommendations from under the bridge are…?

    Gosh, let me guess: square root of fuck all with a large side order of malicious ignorance.

  8. Major Kong Says:

    Those losers should have done a better job of choosing their parents.

  9. Paul Says:

    Step 3: Sell your car.
    Step 10: Drive for Uber.

    Step 15: To really pile on the savings, dine exclusively on Irish children.

  10. doug Says:

    Carrstone must lead a miserable life…..very little to do….
    Sad.

  11. arjun jobil Says:

    I actually found these ideas to be very practicable for the most part.

    When i retired a few years ago, i moved to a small midwestern city where real estate and the cost of living are reasonable. I bought furniture at the thrift store and supplemented it with cast offs from friends and relatives. After living in my sister's basement for a year, I bought a duplex using the lump sum i got from SS when i signed up as down payment, so the rent i get pays for the mortgage. During the summer, i get all my veggies from my garden and i rarely eat out.

    All in all, i manage to lead a decent lifestyle on my $14,000 a year, but i realize that would be impossible if i had a family to support. In summary, i would say what he's describing is possible, but ONLY under the right conditions.

  12. Chase Johnson Says:

    @arjun jobi

    So, you're saying that what the infographic describes is possible, but only as long as your initial and ongoing conditions are completely different.

    That sounds to me like something else is possible, not what the infographic describes. I don't think most people consider social security to be a minimum wage job, nor do most people trying to survive on minimum wage jobs have lump sums coming their way anytime soon.

  13. Major Kong Says:

    @arjun

    Key phrase being "when I retired".

    The reason real estate and cost of living is reasonable in that small midwestern city may be lack of jobs.

    I found the suggestion "Move to Detroit to escape poverty" to be pretty laughable.

  14. Jestbill Says:

    People have been trying to understand and deal with pauperism since the 16th century.

    No matter what is done, it stays. It stares in the face of moralists and economists, daring them all to live up to their own theories.

    The only people willing to follow through on their solutions are people who don't believe in society and are only allowed to live because the rest of us are not like them.

    Use the right word: pauperism.

  15. carrstone Says:

    @NickT
    How blind can you be? Look again at my comment, duffer, and you'll see two suggestions, yes two, i.e, two more than your whiner-in-chief managed to come up with, that fit the progressive hymn-sheet perfectly.

  16. Major Kong Says:

    I find that when conservatives are not successful it's always the fault of: the unions, minorities, the government, immigrants (pick one or more). Yet they're the "party of personal responsibility".

  17. anotherbozo Says:

    Fascinating post, Ed. The unbelievably patronizing nerd should have read Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickle and Dimed" and STFU. Not to mention considered moving casts, actual life in the towns he mentions, and your other objections. Ehrenreich waited tables and vowed to spend no more than what she got in salary and tips. She takes us through the choices that even a highly disciplined, college-educated (and childless) woman has to contend with in the cycle of poverty at the bottom of the wage chain. Published in 2002 but still timely. Unfortunately.

  18. Townsend Harris Says:

    Ed wrote "40 hours on the regular"

    Bingo.

    "Labor Management 101" fragments steady jobs with marginal pay and benefits into tiny shards with smaller gross pay, as few benefits as possible, just-in-time staffing, and wage theft that has people working off the clock as a condition of keeping their jobs.

  19. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    We're on the road to Wigan Pier.

  20. E* Says:

    I agree that it is *possible* to live like this, having done it when I was in grad school. But I'm able-bodied, generally healthy, and have no kids or other dependents. Plus, to paraphrase @Jestbill, I don't believe in society and was able to get by because the rest of everyone was not like me.

    So, yeah, what everyone else is saying. This is a possible scenario for a small slice of society, but not a probable one. And at the end of it all, I had savings, but they were paltry, so I was itching to get a real job. Not a sustainable scenario even in the best of circumstances.

    (Also, note that in grad school I was making more than minimum wage, but at 20 hours/week it came out the same. I highly doubt I could have done so well financially in an actual minimum wage job.)

  21. jon Says:

    3 & 10: ditch the car and drive for Uber?

    If I'm drunk in Buffalo, NY, I'd have to be beyond shitfaced to say "Yeah, I'll sit on this Huffy's handlebars to get myself safely home!"

  22. Bob W. Says:

    It occurs to me that this may not be intended as sincere advice to real minimum-wage workers. Its actual audience is more likely highly educated professionals who can now safely dismiss the concerns of the working poor. You see, they wouldn't be poor if they followed these simple steps.

  23. Chase Johnson Says:

    All the anecdotes about surviving on low income here seem to involve the survivor starting out with capital: savings, lump sum retirement payments, advanced education (human capital). Unsurprisingly, if you already have money or money-equivalents, you can get by with less money coming in for a while.

    Start at $0 and try to climb up from there, that's the real trick. Especially when everyone around you is also starting at $0 and trying to climb up from there. That's the difference between poverty and grad school.

    Not denigrating anyone, I worked min-wage in college, too, and it sucked and I learned how to not-buy things. But I was never poor the way an inner-city Milwaukeean might be. Evicted, by Matt Desmond, is a fantastic look at that world. The financial costs entailed in starting at $0 in our society are phenomenally high, as Ed hit upon; the food deserts, the moving costs (which are often forcibly imposed on people for reasons from the tragic to the utterly incomprehensible, see: Evicted), the costs of being unable to fully participate in civil society because of the constraints of your employment or of your poverty (like not being able to attend eviction hearings because of work or lack of transport), the costs of interacting with the financial system (overdraft fees, ATM fees).

    The biggest piece of propaganda in our society about the poor is that they make many or all of their decisions because they're stupid, bad people, or (if you're a compassionate progressive) uneducated. But the more you study the system, through books like Evicted and articles like this (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/underbanked-servon/513542/) the more you realize that the choices that look stupid from a lofty height are the smartest choices that are possible within the context of a poor person's life. Getting evicted costs money, but not as much as losing your job; so you go to work, and miss the eviction hearing, and move. Check cashing establishments charge more for their services than banks do, but they are more predictable, and when you're living right next to the zero-lower-bound, it's more important to be predictable (overdraft fees, check bounce fees, even potentially criminal charges, all because the bank took an extra day to process a check).

    The system must be fixed. Poverty is not solvable through the application of bootstraps, no matter how well-designed your bootstrap advocacy infographics get.

  24. Chase Johnson Says:

    @Bob W.

    Bingo.

  25. Pete Gaughan Says:

    11. Get a serious disease so you lose your job AND end up with large, high-interest debt.

  26. OtherAndrew Says:

    "2.] Ask for help from the government."

    I think that's super-reasonable when the very best "private sector" solutions are "move somewhere with no jobs and then magically find a way to work for five solid years while starving and/or staring at a blank wall with all your free time."

    Yes, the government should absolutely step in when that's what's on the table otherwise. First because of that giant "???" between "move" and "find a minimum wage job that will keep you employed for five years in a depressed city's economy", and second through to thirteenth because of the rest of that infographic.

  27. Chase Johnson Says:

    @Pete Gaughan

    That's the middle class (which is probably most of us here). If you're doing the "minimum wage with no assets" trip, you're not going to be able to incur the treatment debt in the first place, because no one will give you the loan. Emergency rooms have to treat you, but it's pretty hard to treat most serious diseases on ER visits alone.

    So instead you just die, probably horribly.

  28. democommie Says:

    KKKlownstone:

    I live on a check from Uncle Sugar, having put my time in for about 45 years at one thing and another.

    I take every fucking dime that I can get from that same uncle–for instance a monstrous EBT of $70/month, medicare, VA medical benefits, HEAPP, you name it, I go for it.

    I pay ridiculous interest rates on debt that I ran up when I had ZERO income for nearly five years. Of course I could have always just starved to death which would make a self-made man like yourself chortle into his single malt and choke with laughter on his Ruth's Chris steak. That I chose not to is a sin that I can live with.

    I own my house free and clear, the not very imaginatively decorated hovel that it is and since it's in NY state and it's assessed for about 35% of the $85K "safety zone" for homestead exemption, I'm pretty much judgrment proof.

    I have a car that I'm too broke to pay someone fix and too broken, physically, to finish fixing, at least until the weather improves. I walk or ride a bike and use public transit which is intermittent but, hey, it's something.

    I shop at a number of different grocers and always buy what is available at the best price. I eat well, because I know how to cook and how to follow a recipe. I'm in reasonably good health, according to my doctors and I stay active mentally and physically despite problems with arthritis, carpal tunnel and some other chronic conditions.

    I go to a couple of local watering holes and drink whatever is the cheapest beer (except lite, light, ultra or any of that sort of horse piss). Not because I like cheap beer, but because I know the people who own the place SELL stuff, but they don't SELL water.

    While I'm there, I often run into sneering, privileged young assholes who make me think of you. People who know all of the answers. People who think that being born middle-class makes them, somehow, smarter and better than those born into a lower class*. Randroidickwad college students who flash credit cards (in many cases paid for by indulgent parents) drive late model "used" Audis, Beemers and various suv's–and the college here is a STATE school and, generally, live the lives that they will be able to UNTIL they graduate from an undergrad program or get a masters and find out that, for most of them, that diploma/degree isn't going to be the ticket to a life of privileged ease.

    They either support Trump outright or drop enough dogwhistles in conversation that they're easily sussed out; mewl on about how BernGarJills got "SCREWED" by establishment dems and the DNC** OR, they don't like politics, until the result is something that will actually affect THEM in a negative way. Oh, Trumpligula is not just fucking the POORS? He's going to make more of them, including you, by allowing the people who you owe college loan debt to, to put it up your ass a little farther with penalties and fees? Aww, gee; too bad, so sad–maybe you should have voted, you fucking moron.

    Oh, I know, you're WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY smarter, in fact you are prolly the smartest person you know–about everything. Except you're not. I honestly don't know whether you're trolling (highly probable) or you're just a fucking jerk (almost certain).

    Fuck you, you ignorant self-absorbed piece of shit.

    * Oddly, though, they never seem to feel that THEY are lesser beings than the rapacious capitalists and various scammers whom they emulate.

    ** There is a little truth, there. They did get short shrift from a lot of establishment dems and the DNC, Bernie in particular, because it was "Payback" time for all of the years of having Bernie criticize them and play on his "outsider" cred. He should have been working the shit out of Hilz and the DNC for the last EIGHT FUCKING YEARS. Because that's what she did for the last 16 years.

  29. Tim H. Says:

    The (Bitterly.) funny part is, the more people practice thrift, the more the economy deflates, and so on. Not destined to end well is the mildest thought that comes to mind.

  30. Tim Says:

    Ed, you sound like a typical whiney complainypants. I'm usually all aboard the G&T bandwagon, but this is unilaterally good advice. The assumption here is that the person is in a job paying the lowest legal wage; part 2 of the infographic would be showing you how to increase your income for cheap/free by using computers as a life-hack to make money while you're doing other things, i.e. blogging (which you know about) or creating a customer base for your creative outlets.

    Also, boo hoo moving sucks. Sell your shit on craigslist, buy identical shit in your new town on craigslist. Moving only sucks if you attach greater emotional significance to your material possessions than you do to your time.

  31. Brian M Says:

    Fort Wayne is not actually that big of a hellhole (it's my home town). Mediocre economy, but they try really, really hard. Some beautiful older neighborhoods (I think the 1920s is the high point of American residential design), lovely parks, a downtown they are trying to revive with tiny little islands of success. And, when I retire the real estate is pretty tempting, even though the cornfields and soybeans of Northern Indiana pale compared to where I live now (Northern California)

  32. Prairie Bear Says:

    That infographic left out an important piece: plant a garden to grow your own produce. Even if you don't have a yard, you can create a container garden on the balcony of your $500/month apartment. Not only will you save hundreds of $$ on your grocery bills, you can also earn extra money by selling the surplus.

    OK, seriously. This was pretty bad (good?), but was not even the most ridiculous live-cheap advice I have ever heard. That came from an NPR story decades ago when I still listened to it. I think it was that awful guy who owns (owned?) Dominos Pizza and he was giving a talk somewhere. He said you could go to the Farm Bureau (BS right there, because FB is not an ag-supply business) and buy a 50-lb. bag of milk substitute for some amount and live mainly off of that. WTF? Milk Replacer is explicitly labeled not for human consumption. I grew up on a dairy farm, and to this day I still feel guilty for having fed that stuff to calves.

    @ Chase Johnson: Splendidly put. The only thing you may have sorta left out is, try even getting hired for any kind of job in the first place from that zero-dollar state.

  33. E* Says:

    @Chase Johnson: ++100%

    My little grad school anecdatum was to support the idea that you can only pull this crap in really specialized circumstances. And even then it sucks and is unsustainable. I don't look back on that time with nostalgia. I was stressed and miserable. And I had capital (human) as you point out. Imagine actually starting from zero with no end in sight. And then keep that image in your mind when you vote.

  34. Periscope Says:

    I'm thinking that in some bizzaro parallel universe there is an analogous infographic on steps that obscenely wealthy kleptocrats can take to keep their "earnings" under the radar, laundered in shell companies, parked in tax-free offshore accounts, and out of reach of a trophy spouse. A guide to donating to the most politically influential philanthropic organizations for tax write-offs; tips on leveraging high-end real estate sales to gain access to foreign markets; steps to selling property at a loss to take advantage of tax write-offs.

  35. Chase Johnson Says:

    @Prairie Bear

    Agreed, there are a shocking number of unmentioned prerequisites to getting even a minimum wage job. Decent looking clothes, transportation, communication tools and skills. And for the really poor, you have to get all that together while you're still paying rent; or you might have to do it while living in a shelter, which commonly places constraints on your schedule that can make it impossible to keep a job.

    My post is nowhere remotely close to an exhaustive catalog of the problems faced by people living in poverty. Hopefully it gives a taste. The thing is that poverty is an issue of interlocking problems; any one single problem faced by a poor person would easily be solved by someone without all the other problems, so its easy to say something, like Tim did, "Boo hoo, moving sucks", that implies that handling one specific problem is easy and infers that the rest of the problems must be equally easy.

    Every individual problem faced by a poor person is easy enough. All of them together is nearly impossible.

  36. Dice Says:

    Ed, this list of privations is strikingly similar to the list of criteria to qualify for public assistance in most places.

    Hmmm.

  37. democommie Says:

    Sell all of your shit on Craigslist and buy it from Craigslist when you get to where you've moved?

    I have a lovely set of six knives I just bought at the thrift shop (I have maybe 50 knives of the non bagel spreading sort) as they were cute and had bakelite handles and they're in a case that looks like it's birdseye maple. They're also forged stainless. They cost $1.99. Craigslist, ebay and Etsy are all showing similar sets at prices ranging from about $5 to near $70.

    I buy beautiful wool sweaters for $4-7 dollars, fleeces for about the same. A couple of years back I found a Burberry Trench Coat for $13–and, yes, it was genuine. I gave the Burberry to a friend's son.

    The thing is, I don't work at a paying job so I have time to go by the thrift shop.

    They don't have, last time I checked any "thrift" apartment complexes. The city I live in had about 15 rental properties condemned around the middle of November last year–all with tenants who had to quit the premises. I think the Red Cross or the Salvation Army gave them the usual cot and 3 hots for a few days and then they were on the County or with relatives. The landlords of the people who were made homeless? They're still sleeping comfortably in their beds, in their nice, big, slumlordly estates.

    Anyone who thinks a job alone will allow someone to escape poverty is sorely fucking mistaken.

    What I've heard from a lot of different people is that they could do it, why can't these bums on welfare do it? Somebody said to me, as recently as a couple of weeks back, that allathem welfare bums ought to just "Ride the dog" to another city. I said, "They can't do that. They have NO MONEY. And, as much as it sucks to be poor here, they KNOW what is going on for them here. When they "ride the dog" they don't know that they won't be rounded up and tossed in jail for vagrancy, or worse, when they get to wherever the get to."

    I hear people say that they don't want to pay for "those bums getting free whatever" and in the next breath mention their uncle Earl who's getting shit from the Workmen's Comp board because somebody sent them a video of him on water skis.

    The dems need to grow some balls and a lot of people need to grow a heart.

  38. democommie Says:

    @ Dice:

    Qualifying is not the same as receiving. Trust me, I've been down that road.

  39. maurinsky Says:

    I moved out of my parents house (it was no longer tenable to live there given alcoholism and untreated mental illness therein) when I was 18, I did have a healthy lump sum of approximately $325 from my summer job which I put together with my boyfriend's earnings (he was quite a bit older and had a job that paid more than minimum wage) to put 1st & last month's rent on a cheap apartment, conveniently located for those in the market for illicit drugs. We got married. I worked as a CNA until I got pregnant and had hyperemesis; surprisingly, even the nursing home folks weren't keen on keeping an employee who had to throw up every 10 minutes.

    Then I found several shorter-term part-time jobs until I gave birth without medical insurance, which meant I brought home a beautiful baby girl and $8000 of medical debt. Into the hole we went!

    I eventually was able to claw my way out of poverty, but there are some advantages I had over others: I'm extroverted, which is an advantage in most circumstances, IMO; I lived near family and had emotional and very occasionally financial support; I don't have any mental health issues; I speak English; I didn't get a college degree until 2 years ago but people typically assumed I was well educated; I have above average intelligence and I'm good with people. It took me 8 years to pay off my medical debt – by then, I had a much better paying job that I got because of people I knew. I was able to pull my family out of poverty because of connections, hard work, and built in advantages that are purely based on luck of the genetic draw.

    I do have a physical disability which is much worse now than it was then, but it was a mild enough limp and I had made my peace with it, I think it made people think more highly of me.

    My ex-husband, btw, has schizo-affective disorder, and plummeted back into poverty when he left me. I think undiagnosed, untreated mental illness holds a lot of people back.

    I don't want to diminish how stupid it is to give the kind of advice presented in the infographic. Poverty thinking kicks in when you have no resources. When you have nothing but "bad" or "less bad" choices, you can get trapped. Moving up the ladder is hard – the people who employ low pay employees typically want you stay low-paid; the people who pay more may not take someone who doesn't already have experience or the accoutrements of a middle class life; I'm fairly certain I was turned down by at least one employer because of the beat-up shoes I was wearing, based on how many times my interviewer looked down at them. They were the only shoes I owned, though.

  40. Robert Mcneilly Says:

    Don't sell the car. Live in it. Trap and eat muskrats. Poach deer (many along the rouge river in detroit). Find a really out of the way spot and grow pot. Live in vacant houses. Own a gun. Drive out to rich areas pick up tossed out bikes and grills (need something to cook muskrat on) . Learn about wild edible plants (cattaills work all year).

  41. Safety Man! Says:

    But there'll always be more, that's what "more" means!

    About the shoes, I once touched up a pair of shoes with a sharpie and prayed nobody looked too hard in the interview…

  42. Steve Holt! Says:

    The ugly truth is that labor has become such a cheap commodity in these United States that you are barely worse off doing nothing at all than you are working for assholes that take a steaming dump on your dignity for a minimum wage.

  43. Chase Johnson Says:

    @Steve Holt!

    "has become" implies that it was ever different.

  44. democommie Says:

    Speaking of clothing and success.

    Is it just me or is there a decided lack of actual "grooming" knowledge these days?

    I see it less than I used to when I worked in Boston but I still see men wearing suits that are not cheap but are completely wrong for them. Wrong cut, wrong fabric, wrong size, etc. I used to see a LOT of guys in Boston's financial district with suits whose pants were INCHES too long. Bad shoes, hideous combinations of colors and patterns, ridiculous ties, etc.,. I literally bought nicer ensembles in thrift shops back then (although I had a job that paid decently, I never got out of the habit of "foraging") even though I wore nothing but jeans, chinos, shorts and a lot of LOUD LUAU shirts.

    I know that "dressing for succes" but an awful lot of folks, even those spending significant money for clothing, never get to the "'cess" of "success".

  45. democommie Says:

    @ Safety Man:

    Might work for the brogans–never panned out for the bare spots on my "thatch". NO, just kidding, I'm happily bald (or "fuzzed" more like) but it never ceases to amaze me that people are so desparate to appear young (the only reason, afaia, for worrying about one's hairline receding*) that they'll pursue implants, wigs and even, yes, spray painting to appear to have their hair.

    And, no, I'm not including those folks who suffer from various ailments that cause them to prematurely lose hair. Then again, those are not the ones I see trying to hang with the 22 yo at the bar.

    * Mine's not receding–it's a naked singularity.

  46. democommie Says:

    " After living in my sister's basement for a year, I bought a duplex using the lump sum i got from SS when i signed up as down payment, so the rent i get pays for the mortgage."

    What "lump sum" is SS offering? I never got anything from them but a monthly check?

    I have no idea where you live but if you own a rental property in most places I've lived it's not treated the same as a single family for "senior discounts" on things like water, sewer and property taxes. I know this because I own my house, it's a "single family" and I have just over $13K a year in SS.

    So, yeah, you can live on $14K, IF you have rental income and IF you already own a home and IF your yard has room for a garden. A lot of IF's in that scenario.

  47. Benny Lava Says:

    Didn't we already establish that you know who is a troll? Please stop feeding the troll. Don't reply it's a trap. Notice the dishonest reply it left?

  48. democommie Says:

    "the costs of being unable to fully participate in civil society because of the constraints of your employment or of your poverty (like not being able to attend eviction hearings because of work or lack of transport), the costs of interacting with the financial system (overdraft fees, ATM fees)."

    Let's not forget, "voting". By having people working at low paying, part-time jobs you also build a lot of resentment/disinterest into the political process. Plus, if you work in a place that's 10 miles from where you live and you DON'T have a car, you might go to work before the polls open and get home after they close. I'm fairly certain that a lot of these things are not accidental.

  49. democommie Says:

    @ Benny Lava:

    Of course you're right. I try to not buy scratch tickets, either. Some candy is just too irresistable.

  50. Katydid Says:

    I graduated from college with a degree in Comp. Sci. into Ronnie Raygun's recession, and after six months of splitting a 2-bedroom apartment in a crappy, drug-dealer-infested area with 5 other people while cobbling together a bunch of McJobs and desperately interviewing anywhere in my one "nice" outfit, I joined the military–where I got socialized medicine and socialized housing and lower-cost food and entertainment on the base and a job-for-career-life (provided I met basic minimal requirements like not getting arrested and doing a passable job at my, well, job).

    The military does a lot of things right–they trained me and fed me and housed me and provided my work clothes for practically nothing. My on-base accomodations were walking distance from my work. Several of the bases I was stationed on had a shuttle bus that would go to various places (the mess hall, sick bay, the base grocery store and shops, the movies, etc.). When I got sick, I went to Sick Hall and saw a doctor without spending the next four months arguing with an insurance company over the cost. I lived far, far better in the military than I had since I'd left home for college at 17. These are things that make conservatives' and libertarians' heads explode.

  51. Katydid Says:

    Barbara Ehrenreich wrote several great books. In Nickel and Dimed, she (college-educated, middle-class, all the advantages of being white) took a series of minimum-wage jobs in a variety of cities. It's a must-read book–she explains so clearly the difficulties in finding a place to live, trying to visit a food bank that's only open during work hours, the countless indignities that managers heap on the workers, etc. It's because of her that I'm now acutely aware of restaurant servers and how hard they work.

    She has another book (forget the title) where she (again, college-educated, middle-class, white) attempts to land an office job making a middle-class salary. You wouldn't think this would be hard–she has the clothes, talks the talk, knows how to present herself. However, no amount of networking and perserverance landed her that job in a year of searching. The only interest she got was from pyramid-scheme MLMs.

  52. democommie Says:

    I was out of work for a while once and sent out about three hundred resumes. I suspect that most of them never even got looked at.

    I got ONE interview at a company that I had done business with when I worked for one of their customers. I knew their product and I was good on the phones. When I got to the interview the guy I spent 30 minutes or so with, spent the first 20 telling me that honesty, integrity, sincerity were the "Holy Trinity" of the company. Then the phone rang.

    He spoke with a client who had sent product samples to them for testing, to see if they were comapatible with his firms offering. He said that the lab had the samples and he expected results momentarily. He hung up the phone and said, "I've got to rememer to get those to the lab.". We chatted for another moment and I left.

    I heard from somebody else, later, that the guy didn't like it when somebody didn't send him a "thank-you note after an interview. I was not surprised. I was glad I had not been hired.

  53. rustonite Says:

    to whoever suggested SNAP and Medicaid (too lazy to scroll up): this person wouldn't be eligible for any kind of help. To quote Missouri's guidelines: "Non-disabled adults without children are not eligible for Medicaid regardless of how low their income is."

  54. rustonite Says:

    ditto to SNAP: a person making $17,000, paying rent of $600/mo, medical premiums of $100/mo, with zero in assets, is too rich to get SNAP in Missouri.

    https://dssapp3.dss.mo.gov/fmwBenefitCenter/PreEligibilityTool.aspx

  55. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    This makes me think of dealing with various private and public sector bureaucracies. My​ husband and I are raising two adopted sons. I am a native speaker of English, college educated, with over twenty years work experience in the Federal Civil Service. There are times dealing with people over the phone about school, transportation and medical issues that make me wonder how many parents just give up. I'm grateful for the advantages we have, but they shouldn't be prerequisites for accessing needed help.

    I also remember how respectfully I was treated when applying for SSDI eight years ago. Some of that was undoubtedly due to my being an educated white man who had been career Civil Service.

    In conclusion, perhaps part of the plan for revitalizing the dying small towns across America is forcing all the poors from the urban areas to relocate. Then they can all be prepared for a new life in the off-world colonies.

  56. MS Says:

    I was going to write what rustonite wrote. A single person working full-time at minimum wage is not eligible for ANY help, anywhere. Not food stamps, not Medicaid in most states (all?), nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero.

    The US has, to a first approximation, no social safety net at all for the non-elderly.

  57. Major Kong Says:

    These days job applications are largely done online and there are algorithms to weed you out before you ever so much as talk to a human being.

    For just one example: the computer can guess your likely age based on your email provider. A hotmail account is likely a person in their 50s.

  58. Sarah Says:

    The infographic discussed someone making $14,500, not $17,000. At $14,500, you are eligible for both SNAP and Medicaid.

  59. Khaled Says:

    My only issue with Ehrenrich's book "Nicked and Dimed" is that she spends at least 4 to 5 pages railing against drug testing and then revealed that she didn't want to take it because she smoked pot once, thereby giving everyone who loves drug tests the ammunition to disregard every one of her arguments. And I didn't mind that people had to pass a drug test to get hired at my Large Chain Drug Store because, after all, we sold controlled substances and I didn't want people who used drugs AND were dumb enough to not be able to pass the drug test working in my store. The drug tests for benefits are usually pretty stupid and are attempts to funnel public money into private hands.

    I agree with Bob's point above that this "infographic" was written by a upper-middle class person to appeal to other upper-middle class people that those poors just don't work hard enough and only if they'd get "side gigs" like Uber with the car that they sold they'd be rich, hence appealing to the "libertarian" philosophy of "I got mine, fuck you".

    And as I said before, the Paul Ryans of the world heard the song Dead Kennedy's song "Kill the Poor" and said "THAT'S A GOOD IDEA!!!!"

  60. Katydid Says:

    You all may remember not long ago (within the past 2 years) when the conservatives were simply APPALLED that Teh Poors were living in homes with refrigerators. They can't be poor if their home has a refrigerator! (It's a law in my state that any rental apartment/townhouse/home must have appliances, which includes a refrigerator).

    They were also aghast that Teh Poors overwhelmingly had access to a microwave. Because a $100 microwave (as opposed to a $900 stove) is A Luxury, Dammit!

    My crappy 2-bedroom rental back in the day, the one that I shared with 5 other people? We pooled our money and bought a microwave because we couldn't keep the roaches from crawling in the oven, but the microwave was sealed. And yes, we had a refrigerator, but it was one of the 1950s models (in the late 1980s) with the metal freezer "box" inset in the tiny little refrigerator. You could fit two ice trays and a single frozen dinner in the freezer, unless it was encrusted by ice (which happened the first time you opened the refrigerator). That's technically legal, but it's not luxury by anyone's wild imagination.

  61. Katydid Says:

    Barbara Ehrenreich admitting that she smoked marijuana was further proof of her white, middle-class privilege. Of course those mandatory tests before getting food stamps are a money-grab–anytime it's been tried (Florida, and Florida, and oh, yes, Florida, and I think also Wisconsin wants to get in on it) proves that poor people do *less* drugs than the non-poor population. But when a politician owns a drug-testing company, he sure loves to test the poors!

  62. jcdenton Says:

    "part 2 of the infographic would be showing you how to increase your income for cheap/free by using computers as a life-hack to make money while you're doing other things, i.e. blogging (which you know about) or creating a customer base for your creative outlets."

    This is satire, right?

    The only real life-hack is to be born white, male and wealthy.

    As everyone else has mentioned: the incidental costs, transitional costs and general inability to find full-time min-wage employment in the kinds of cities where that sort of employment could even remotely support you makes this an exercise in torture. You're basically one accident, one fine, one mistake away from starvation in most cases.

    This is late-stage Capitalism; Infographics informing the poor about the joys of asceticism and the wonderful flavours of boiled shoe-leather.

  63. Katydid Says:

    Anecdata; while living in the crappy 2-bedroom apartment, I once burst into tears when shopping at the grocery store when my $7 shopping spree "earned" me a free 2-litre bottle of store-brand soda. The water in the apartment smelled foul and we didn't trust it, but none of us could afford fancy clean water or soda. Being poor sucks.

    There were 6 of us in a 2-bedroom apartment, and none of us owned a television. Only 2 of us owned cars (used cars). All of us worked several low-level jobs that kept us running hither and yon 7 days a week. We were all of us white college graduates, raised in middle-class Rill Murkkkuh. It was Bob Cratchit living for sure–one of us temped in an office that had donuts on Fridays and would bring her donut home and split it six ways.

  64. jcdenton Says:

    When 45 million Americans (this doesn't include the roughly 47% of Americans living paycheque to paycheque in general regardless of income) are a few cheques away from eviction and starvation, the least the infographic could have done is taught them how to build molotov cocktails and shivs. I guess it could have also included the cost-benefit analysis of buying a gun chambered in a NATO-standard round versus one of the other calibers.

  65. Major Kong Says:

    Drug testing for SNAP recipients is "feel good" legislation that spends a lot of money to find a tiny number of drug users.

    Speaking as a transportation worker who is subject to mandatory drug and alcohol testing. It's stupid and mean to do this to someone just because they're getting food stamps.

  66. April Says:

    This article made me so angry (not Ed's comments…the OA) that I had to go away for a while. By the time I came back you all had said everything I would have said, only better. No repeat necessary.

    I would like to add one thing….more expensive shit usually lasts longer. (Captain obvious here). When I came to China I was not only broke, but on a couple thou borrowed money. I carry a backpack everywhere but those days I could only afford the cheapest ones. So I would buy a crappy one for 10 bucks, it would last three months max and then LITERALLY fall apart, necessitating the purchase of another one. This went on for about two years until I could afford a 100$ leather one. This one is still going strong after 6 years. Just one of the many ways being poor is WAY more expensive than having money.

    Oh, and for the record, there aren't always even shitty jobs available. In the 80's for a short time I was unemployed and thus, broke. I couldn't even get a Mac-job. And me – white, educated, young, blond…I mean, really – come ON PEOPLE! How DARE someone like ME should be in this position"??? (y'all realize the sarcasm, right?) Actually had to go on food stamps (when they were still "stamps", ie coupons) for a couple of months until I could lie my way into an actual MacDonald's job ("I'm a high school dropout, single mother of three kids…") which led to a better one ("You're working at MACDONALDS? YOU? Come work for us…"). Fully aware and grateful for all my privilege and advantages. No serious bootstrap-pulling on my account.

    All those fuckers should be required to try and live on the shit they write. For at least a year. Maybe two.

    Assholes.

  67. democommie Says:

    I've certainly said this before, here and elsewhere, but bear with me.

    I have listened to a lot of people complaining about other people getting something for nothing (never realizing that they, too, get things for nothing) and when I tell them that I get an EBT and SS and a break on my taxes and sewer & water bills AND free VA health care ANDANDAND MEDICARE–they always pause for a moment. Then they say,"Well, you earned those things.". To which my reply is always. "So, now you know some of my story. You know none of theirs.".

  68. April Says:

    slow clap DC.

  69. Khaled Says:

    @April
    Being poor certainly is expensive. I read something recently where a woman told a story of how she got her car towed and it ended up with her and her husband getting evicted because she couldn't afford to get her car out of the tow lot, and when she did get enough money together, the bill was completely out of reach and so she lost her car. Because her and her husband lost their car, they kept being late for work, and they ended up getting fired. And because they got fired, they ran out of money, stopped paying rent and got evicted. She also said that she got evicted once because her roommate got sick and missed a ton of work, didn't have sick pay, and because she couldn't cover her roommates rent, they got evicted because they couldn't afford the place.

    In working for Large Chain Drug Store in what my company called "urban" (i.e., poor black) neighborhoods, I got to see what poverty is *really* like. Most middle-class white people have no idea. Rural poor actually have a LOT in common with inner city poor people, but black people, so we, as Americans, can't have nice things. My employees often would spend way more than I ever did in car payments on my newer low-cost (Saturn, Mazda 3) cars because they would buy a car, it would break, and they'd have to either replace or repair the car, repeat. Food? If you work 2 jobs to try to make ends meet, you can't "buy in bulk" because you can't afford the Sam's Club membership or you can't spend $50 on a metric ton of canned fish or whatever, you have to make your dollars stretch. Oh, and medical care? If you do eat out, your choices are shitty fast food places and their dollar menus. On the corner of my last store was located there was a Burger King, McDonalds, Church's Fried Chicken, a local chicken place, and a Rally's Burgers. They were always busy. BK was usually the slowest because it was the more "expensive" of the choices.
    I also had an employee who got married after he and his girlfriend had a kid. They were barely scraping by while he was working full-time and she was in school/ working full-time. When they got married, she lost a ton of the benefits that she had from being a "single mom" and they were considerable worse off than they had been before when they weren't married. As he told me, he felt like he was penalized for doing the right thing, for getting married, and I had to agree with him.

    Oh, and another thing about that dumbass info-graphic. Sell Furniture on Craigslist? WITH WHAT TOOLS AND WHAT WORKSHOP YOU FUCKING NIMROD. Ever looked at tools? They're not cheap, unless you buy shitty ones that break. And you have to buy the materials, etc, and rarely does the time/effort/materials really allow you to make it more than a hobby. BUT BLOG ABOUT IT AND I'M SURE YOU'LL MAKE MILLIONS.

    stuff like this is written to make rich white people feel better about themselves and to make them believe that the poors are all poor because they're shifty layabouts, not poor because their parents are poor. Fucking assholes, indeed.

  70. April Says:

    Exactly, Khaled!

  71. ChickenLady Says:

    I can't really add much to this that hasn't already been said; yep, I've had my share of hardships/scrimping, too; nothing too drastic, luckily. But as someone who loves to feed people – UGH! I wish I had known you all when you were down on your luck, I'd supply you with smoked ribs and homemade bacon, bake you up some french bread and chocolate-cherry scones, and stock your fridge with yummy pre-packaged meal salads that you could grab on your way to work in the morning. Splitting a donut six ways? That just breaks my heart.

    So, yes, this is what this discussion has engendered in me – fantasies of feeding people. Well, and smacking the idiot who published the heartless infographic upside the head.

  72. democommie Says:

    @ChickenLady:

    Firstees! As soon as you're ready to discuss my requirements I will be happy to give you a list of my dietary allergies (NONE) and my dietary preferences (FOOD). Oh, wait, I just did that!

    I'm going to make some Dulce de Leche chocolate sauce with my homemade DdL and some nice Polish dark chocolate which DID come from the $tore near here (not $ Tree, they're for books, deodorant, incense and–surprisingly–these little 3oz pieces of country ham, cryowrapped, for a buck apiece, it's the real thing) but a smallish chain in upstate NY, something like 14 stores. I bought twenty pounds of chocolate in 100g bars for about $23 (4 bars/$). It's 60% Dark with a nice "tooth", long finish and just the right amount of sugar.

    I make goodies and give them to people who are good to me in one way or other. Sometimes I get free beers but usually it's just about repaying some kindness or opening their eyes to possibilities.

    You sound like everybody's favorite sister, aunt, mom, etc., Cheers!

    Actually, I don't think I'd want to smack the writer. I think I'd like to make him eat, sleep, work, travel and recreate the way he thinks others should–on that same income.

    @ Khaled:

    I get a lot of people asking me why I don't just FIX my truck. If I have my tablet handy I sometimes show them the custom clamp that I had to design and build to re-attach my catalytic converter/exhaust system to the header pipe on the truck. Ford doesn't sell anything for the fix that had to be done. The choices were remove the engine to get at the back bolts holding the header/exhaust manifold on; spend anything up to $2K to have it done (they would have to pull the engine, too–and we all know what that sort of shit leads to) or struggle, curse, whack on shit, curse, pry the motherfuckingpieceofshitsonofabitchcocksucker off the vehicle (necessitating a little more in the way of repairs) and then spend a while on your back looking at things.

    After the above I spent a lot of hours over a period of months (my body was very much not cooperating for a few years, there) cutting out pieces of stainless and mild steel, drilling holes, filing slots, assembling sandwiches of washers, springs and socket head screws or hex bolts and then some more hours struggling to make it all line up and snugging it home.

    After making some other new parts (Ford just doesn't stock any of the stuff I needed, nor does JCWhitney or anyone else I tried) for the rest of the exhaust systems "fixing points" I got everything back together and was backing the car out of the driveway when it blew the driver's side front brake line, inside the fender well. That was four months ago. Since then, working on my back in ice, snow and mud just hasn't been something I'm dying to do. So, the truck is close to inspectable but it might as well be on the moon. Oh, yeah; a vindictive neighbor complained to the cops that I had an unlicensced car ON MY PROPERTY and so it has plates and costs me more than I'd like to insure, because it's sitting next to my house and my homeowners policy is with the same insurer. Too much to go into on that score.

    Anyway, the trucks been off the road for almost 6-1/2 of the last 8 years. Yeah, life sucks for the poors–fortunately I can still drink and blog–sometimes simultaneously. And, I'm going to CO for a visit, soonish.

  73. ChickenLady Says:

    @democommie:

    I would so love to feed you! And I'm not too humble to say that I am the favorite sister, aunt, step-mom, and neighbor to all the kids around here. Also dogs. And a neighbor's Bengal cat adopted us.

    I have a 1966 Valiant, and I really lucked out with car repairs. One of my neighbors is the swim coach for the local college, and he sometimes requests big pans of cinnamon rolls for their meets. One of his swimmers is also in the automotive repair program at the school. So any time my girl needed repairs or upgrades, he'd bring it in to class and the instructor just loved being able to show his students how cars used to work. I got a lot of work done in exchange for cinnamon rolls or biscuits & gravy. Between that, RockAuto, and some parts lots, she's now in pretty good shape.

  74. ChickenLady Says:

    And that chocolate Dulce de Leche sounds divine.

  75. Katydid Says:

    @ChickenLady–thank you so much for your kind offer, but I'm fine now. Fine enough to support a food bank as one of my charities, because I remember going hungry.

    Re: the expense of being poor; the British author Terry Pratchett (deceased now, too early) is best known for his Discworld series, a whole bunch of books about a flat world that rests on the backs of elephants that ride a turtle through space. This world had a number of societies, including the one in the major city. The city has a police, including Sam Vimes, a guy who came up from the streets and ended up marrying a duchess. Sam Vimes has a lot of really pertinent beliefs (you really should read these books) but the one that springs to mind now is his theory of boots and class. The poor man can only afford to buy $10 boots, which fall apart after a year or so. The rich man can afford to buy $50 boots that last a decade. After 10 years, the poor man has spent $100 on boots, whereas the rich man still has the $50 boots he started with.

  76. Katydid Says:

    Back in the early days of AO Hell (early 1990s), I was in charge of a discussion board that often got lively. One memorable debate that went on endlessly started with a man who insisted those northern city slum residents were just so very stupid–why, all they needed to do was go buy some prime Mississippi bottomland and support themselves in true STYLE. Several people had some great arguments, including the cost of locating and buying the land, the cost of moving to a different state, and once they got there, having to buy farming implements, seed, etc. etc. etc. And buy materials to build a barn to hold it all, and a house to live in. They'd also have to likely buy chickens or pigs or something because man cannot live by kale alone, and they've got to eat *something* while the crops are growing. Let's not forget that this fictitious northern slumdwelling family haven't the slightest idea how to farm because at best they might have had a windowsill herb garden or a couple of pots of tomatoes on the fire escape (if they had one). Even in the Little House on the Prairie books, the ever-moving Pa almost starved his family to death several times because even though he had a lifetime of experience hunting and fishing and growing his own food, some years were just awful.

    If a poor inner-city family had the tens of thousands of dollars needed to start a new life and career in another state…they'd have tens of thousands of dollars to stay exactly where they were to start with, with their support network and friends and all the things that make people comfortable. With that money, they could get a nicer place and maybe a car or two.

  77. HoosierPoli Says:

    Katydid:

    Your story about the military got me wondering: What if the government offered jobs like the one you had, except instead of blowing up brown people, we actually spent that money improving the world? A bizarre thought, I know.

  78. democommie Says:

    HoosierPoli:

    Stop that dangerous thinking, this instant!

  79. Brian M Says:

    Hoosier: But such jobs don't allow the FUN of macho posturing. As well as the fun (for some) of blowing things up and killin' "the other".

  80. ChickenLady Says:

    HoosierPoli –

    It's called the Coast Guard.

  81. Katydid Says:

    @Hoosier; I spent the majority of my time in the military setting up computers…and re-setting up computers…and re-re-setting up computers. And going to different places to set up THEIR computers. No blowing up anyone. Very little of the Air Force actually involves violence.

  82. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    HoosierPoli – that reminds me of Buckminster Fuller's idea for 'livingry'. That was his term for technology intended to advance living conditions, rather than destroy. Good real world examples would be telecommunication and weather satellites.

    Katydid – one of my older brothers was career Air Force, as a medical corpsman. He spent most of his time in West Germany, waiting for the tanks to come through the Fulda Gap. He compared it to a stage play – twenty people backstage for every one the audience sees.

  83. democommie Says:

    @ Robert Walker-Smith:

    I spent most of four years in Wiesbaden, Germany (3/21/69–10/20-72) in various supply jobs.

    At one point I worked in the same building as housed the base armory. We had a couple, "Ve Vuss NEFER Nazzis!" ex-Wehrmacht techs who maintained service issues sidearms and examined, adjusted and warehoused about 5,000 M-16's that were to be used in the event of the
    dike blowing out. I once asked my boss, "Why do they keep them here?".

    He said, "If the Warsaw Pact's tanks make it through the gap, we'll be issuing those for base defense.". I told him that I'd be traveling on that day–west.

  84. Condi Says:

    Freaking Buffalo? If you didn't work for Xerox, you didn't work. Period, as Stupid Spice likes to say.

    Plus? My tits never thawed out from October to June.

    Serious, not kidding. No plump, no give. Like rocks.

    Couldn't pay me $250 an hour to move back.

  85. arjun jobil Says:

    Lots of good points here. I just wanted to add that i never meant to say that all poor people should be able to get by like i do. I've lived a middle class lifestyle since graduating from college, so i do realize i've been privileged. My only point was that following most of the suggestions (and i do) can improve one's quality of life provided you have a little more to work with than just MW.

    BTW, i live on the border between IN and IL, but i've heard that Fort Wayne is not a bad place to live.

    I lived in Sacramento for about 10 years and loved it, but that's no longer possible on my income. I don't see how anyone could make it there on MW.

  86. Aurora S Says:

    Some dumbass upthread mentioned "saving hundreds by growing your own food". That is some peak mayonnaise shit right there. If you've ever lived in or around a shitty section of an actual city, especially a broke-ass city, you would know that many shitty apartment buildings don't actually have balconies, and if you have a fire escape (and you probably don't), you can't put anything on a fire escape because it's against fire code and your landlord will jump up your ass. You also need money to buy seeds/plants and materials to grow them. You need water and sunlight. Sunlight is a thing that is often in short supply in cities. You need to know how to actually grow things. And, growing things in pots doesn't produce nearly as much food as a backyard garden.

    Since these are things that the "why don't poor people just ____?" crowd considers, people in Baltimore—a former classmate at my college, for one—have started programs in which they buy up cheap empty lots upon which a house formerly sat before being demolished, and they turn the lots into gardens for growing food. Some of these are run by churches and their congregants, some are programs for kids to get involved in growing things. People then take the food home.

    These are especially valuable in food deserts. Most middle class suburban types don't even know what a food desert is. If you don't have a car and have to ride the bus, shopping can be a whole day affair. You have to buy things in bags and boxes that will last, particularly if you are on SNAP or WIC and you get your benefits once a month. These things are usually cheap crap with tons of preservatives that even pests are reluctant to eat. Fruits and vegetables are luxuries.

    Another good thing that Baltimore does is that the farmers markets accept food stamps. It was cheap anyway–you could get a plastic grocery bag full of kale for $1. Did you know that in shithole areas of the city, it's not uncommon for landlords not to provide a fridge? It sounds barbaric, but after the seventh fridge they've had stolen and pawned by a tenant, they now require people to bring their own. If your broke ass is living in a place where the landlord doesn't provide a goddamn refrigerator, you're living without a goddamn refrigerator.

    This is America and that is actually a thing. If you're born into this, and everyone you know is born into this, climbing out is next to impossible. Rich people have equated wealth with morality so they can feel better about being rich greedy fucks. And those greedy doe-eyed hangers-on who *want* to be rich fucks love stupid infographic porn like that in the OP to satisfy their confirmation bias and soothe any cognitive dissonance they may feel about wanting to crush the poor under their heels so they can get just a little bit richer.

  87. HoosierPoli Says:

    Katy did,

    Didn't mean to imply that you did, just that we have a gigantic jobs program funded by tax money that is justified in its essence by the potential need to blow up brown people. Why we couldn't have paid you to set up computers at libraries instead is not clear to me.

  88. democommie Says:

    @ Hoosier Poli:

    Whenever somebody, especially some PWMA*, says, "Thanks for your service" I have to resist an urge to say something… That thing I want to say is like this:

    "No, no. Don't thank ME. Go down to the VAMC in Syracuse and thank the guy who's waiting to see a clinician or therapist; the guy who's having a hard time sleeping, making love, working or having a conversation wirthout losing his shit because he went to Afraquistan and got his body or his mental health (often both) fucked up beyond repair to jack up testosterone levels for the stay-at-home-PATRIOTZ like you. Kthnxbi.".

    Thus far, I've resisted the urge–I may not be able to much longer.

    * Privileged White Male Asshole

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