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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Plight Of The Poor

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I try not to mention the word "politics" anymore, it seems to invoke a firestorm depending on party views.  But, it's been on my mind lately and I wanted to express my opinion on the fact that in this country, the wealthiest nation on earth, there are literally millions of people who are desperately poor and struggling daily to survive.  When I think about the number of people who have lost their jobs, homes and savings, who have lived by all the rules, paid their taxes, saved for retirement, helped the needy and suddenly find themselves in a position of a needed "hand up" only to be told they aren't "poor enough" or they aren't "trying hard enough," I am so saddened that our national discourse has become so polarized that no meaningful assistance is forthcoming.

It seems to me that collectively we have lost our perspective and insight on what is important.  I don't begrudge anyone who has worked hard and has "made it to the top," on the contrary, I am very happy for them.  But, when I see the people who have been blessed turn a blind eye and refuse to share in their good fortune with people who, through no fault of their own are less fortunate, I become upset. Overall, it appears that national sentiment is currently focused on reducing governmental assistance to the poor.  Corporations and the wealthiest among us feel that they are currently paying too much so where will the needed help come from?

Men and women of a "certain age" often become the target of cutbacks partially because they have become more expensive and, in today's economy with a surplus labor pool, much cheaper younger labor can be used to replace them. This causes older people to have to take early retirements with reduced benefits which normally does not include any health care, often forcing them to choose between food or medicine. The working poor, and more importantly perhaps, their children, are deprived of security, good nutrition, adequate shelter and educational opportunities. All of this weakens the social fabric and threatens the future of our country in many ways.

The free market advocates who currently dominate the public conversation and are influencing the course of government say people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps (even though a great majority of these folks were handed their fortunes by their ancestors) but it is impossible to do this when you don't have any boots!

When I go to bed and after I say my prayers, I often ask God what he must be thinking when he looks down upon us and sees the sadness and desperation in so many of the eyes of his children and I have to think that he struggles too in trying to understand how selfishness, greed and apathy have become the new reality on how we live our lives.

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.
~ quote from


  1. You have a huge heart and I so appreciate that. Hope you are having a wonderful Summer. XO, Mona

  2. Dearest Kris,
    You stated one thing right: 'The working poor...'
    Certainly those that fall between the cracks need our help. But the problem is that there are so many able-bodied people demanding handouts. Poor people for us is a different concept, we've seen really poor people in India, Indonesia e.g. the leprosy colony we visited and hand delivered money from our local Rotary Club.
    But it is annoying that so many obese 'poor' that live off welfare for generations now, demand MORE and MORE for nothing. They're not even willing to move their lazy butt.
    You come from a large family, like I do, we had poverty but with a lot of pride and we did wear hand-downs but with hard and honest work we made it.
    That lack of pride is running us down, the low morals are to blame as well. Those that demand hand outs have children that are out of wedlock (70%) and nobody is addressing that issue. We need to get back to more DISCIPLINE; yes with a capital D.
    Let's pray that this nation's morals will be restored or else everything will go down rather fast.
    Love to you,

    1. Mariette,

      I'm sorry but I don't agree with you on this. What makes the poor people in India and Indonesia any different from the poor here in the United States? They don't have jobs either and that doesn't stop people from helping them. Yes, I came from a large family and we were far from rich, wore hand-me downs and worked hard but we were always taught that you should never judge another person's situation unless you have walked in their shoes. Did you know that people who use food stamps live on a $1.48 per meal? It's fairly well documented that a central problem causing obesity in poor people is the lack of availability of healthy food in their neighborhoods (they live in what they call food deserts)

      Clearly your opinion of the poor people in this country has been distorted by some bad experiences. And while there are always exceptions, my experience has led me to believe that the vast majority of disadvantaged people are trying very hard to overcome their poverty.

      Many of the problems that you mention i.e children out of wedlock, lack of discipline, obesity, moral decay and laziness are certainly not limited to the poor. I'm sorry that you feel these issues are specifically related to poverty. My opinion is that these types of prejudices against the poor are a significant part of why we as a society are not addressing the problem adequately.

      I will join you in prayer that not only our nations morals be restored but also our nations conscience.


  3. A timely post in the age when the economy is suffering in so many countries. I fall between two camps really. A proportion of the families who live on welfare benefits spoil it for those who are truly willing to work, and although they do poor wages blight their lives. Until we get out of the habit of paying people in the public eye vast amounts for nothing, and expect people who do what are considered menial jobs which are far more necessary for the good of society to work for a few pounds a day, how can people regain pride in their contribution to the common good.

  4. I agree with you totally, Kris. It is so easy to make generalizations about why people are poor and make it their fault so we feel justified in not helping those in need. Instead many of those who are responsible for our economic decline are rewarded. I was in the supermarket the other day and paid $1.25 for an organically grown apple, folks. If you are poor and hungry, a Snicker's bar is much cheaper and fills you up. Don't blame the victim. As a woman of a certain age, I find it very depressing that what we seem to lack more than almost anything else is empathy. Perhaps we should all reflect upon that.

  5. Since I come originaly from Greece I know pretty well what judging all because some are no good means. I've read so many times that all bad happening in Europe right now is Greece's mistake, about how lazy and horrible Greek people are that I should almost believe it. But I've lived too many years in Greece to know better.

    Let's hope with all our hearts that people in all countries will have a better chance in the future
    and let's do what is in our power to help them

  6. oh that quote is heartbreaking. wonderful post to invite people to think twice before they talk. ...

  7. This is a strange country we live in-large food portions and waste every day. I do not think that that the rich should support the poor however there is something wrong when you are paying $1,000 for a pair of shoes or $5. for a coffee. IN a country like the U.S. no child should ever go hungry.

  8. Dear Kris,
    ...this is a wonderful posting for reflection! It is so sad that so many people in the world have less luck in life than others. I do hope for them, that they will get a better chance to have a better life in the future!
    Warm regards,

  9. Thanks for this post, Kris. I think that on an individual basis we do well, but for the masses we have not solved the problem. Our communities may care for its people but the country as a whole has not figured it out.


  10. Your post spoke to me . I agree and thank you.

  11. I appreciate your post Kris. I'm not sure what the answer is. Here in Australia a lot of people have lost a lot of money through the GFC. We also have people in poverty here, but I don't know the statistics. Our government is ruining the country and is actually hell-bent on giving more and more to people who aren't working or producing and those of us who ARE just become taxed more and more. It's unfair to people trying to make a better life when they see their money being given away to people who won't take a job because it's not really what they want to do. It's hard to generalise as every case would be different, but it's truly getting to the stage here where there are more people with their hand out than going to work and earning it. No country can exist like that for long. Most people I know are desperately waiting for the chance to change our government and it can't come soon enough.

    Sorry, no simple answers for this one.


  12. it is very good that you raise this issue and draw your reader's attention...
    we all need to pay more attention and act

  13. Firstly, thank you for visiting me and for your sweet comment - you are welcome to my blog anytime :) Secondly, love this post as I feel we do have so many in the world with nothing and those with so much. If we'd only see that we all belong to each other and if we helped more than we tear each other down, the state of the world would be so much richer. If you see someone asking for money for food and are worried they will spend it on nonsense and aren't really hungry, buy them some food instead of giving money. It's so simple. We must do more instead of turning our eyes away!! Loved this. Wish you a gorgeous day :)) xxx

  14. It has truly been interesting in reading these comments....some so simplistic, some rather hateful, but so far most don't even grasp the severity of the problem in our country....sure, some people take advantage of the system, but so many folks at the moment in our country truly need a hand up and help. Not only for medical problems, but for help in buying basic food, and holding onto their homes, and help in finding easy answer, but if our congress, and political leaders actually tried to work together, instead of spending their time and energy in tearing down the other side, perhaps some solutions could be found....even taking a first step would help. Whatever ever happened to working for our country, instead of our party?

  15. Agree with you wholeheartedly. Many here despise and bully the overweight, the poor and the out of work. More often than not obesity is simply a product of poor diet through lack of money and education. The problems with our education system (of which their are many) need to be tackled as a starting point. We can all give money to charity or an apple to the guy begging on the street but the problem still needs to be solved at grass roots. A lack of social housing here and huge rents has forced many families onto the streets. I grew up in social housing at a time when far more council houses were available and there was no shame in renting a house from the council. Margaret Thatcher stopped all that and encouraged everyone to buy, buy, buy. My parents both worked and saved hard to buy their first house, but with a mortgage still hanging round their necks with my father at age 65, they sold up and moved into a mobile home, releasing themselves from debt, in order to live comfortably and happily. A home and an education is what everyone is entitled to and needs to restore their pride.


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