Thinking about poverty on MLK Day

January 19, 2015

Tags: Charles Blow

Charles Blow in today's Times talks about "how expensive it is to be poor," in James Baldwin's phrase. One point (of many excellent ones) is that if you don't have enough money to maintain a bank account, then you pay to have your checks cashed & for money orders (& stamps) to pay your bills. Poorer people may spend $1,200 a year in financial services; when I can't maintain the minimum on my checking account it costs me $14 a month (which I think is outrageous: They are charging me to hold my money, which they are using while it's sitting there?).

When I was in my early 20s, I would say I was poor because I was barely working yet supporting myself, living on, at one point, $15 a week. After a while I realized I wasn't poor, I was only broke. The difference: I had access to money: there were people around me who could have helped out. That's a big difference.

The richer people are, the more they think poor people have it easy. I'm trying to say something about the lack of imagination & callousness of that but I lack the imagination to be as scathing as I want to be.

Blow concludes: "The list of hardships could go on for several more columns, but you get the point: Being poor is anything but easy."

Here's the link to Blow's column:

And a remarkable piece:
Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts