Read = Shameful in America

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Star*, May 20, 2008.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911

  2. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I agree with you Star. It's a very scary out look right now in America. With gas what it is, food, housing, credit, etc. Things aren't looking so hot these days. Soon there will be a lot more people like this and then some. Jobs being lost besides homes. People not able to afford to live let alone exist! :( So seriously sad.

    Housing that is available isn't like the old times where it is built to allow larger families to co-exist together even. If so, it would be a lot easier for families to join together (yes, problematic and fights will exist) and move in to combine expenses and save (an option at least). Instead everything has been downsized or become so out of reach in price. We talk of how cramped so people live when they squeeze a lot of people into a dwelling that is suppose to house a certain amount of people only. But you know, looking at this story it's got to definitely be better then living out of a car. I wonder just how many families have thought about or are using this option now or will in the future?
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    This is so sad. Did you read some of the comments there? Obviously, some of the people commenting have never had a trial in their lives....yikes.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I was once homeless with exh and my two little dds - difficult child was 4 months old - because my exh was snorting coke up his nose instead of paying the rent. I stayed with 3 separate families for a few weeks. I was also on public assistance for a short period following my subsequent divorce from exh - with my two babies. I HAD to do things to change my circumstances. I moved, I went to work after starting a cooperative babysitting arrangement with my friend, and I gave up all the extras. I drove a scrappy car and got food from the food pantry when I couldn't compelte my food shopping needs. I learned how to entertain the girls and me at home without spending money. Our big treat each week was Tuesday night pizza (1/2 price pizza night at the local place, cost $12 for all three). Every single penny of my paltry income was accounted for in a very tight budget. I bought my business clothes at a consignment shop, same with my girls. I saved all my loose change to pay for their field trips. We ate homemade everything and had fun making it.

    I have a heart, I really do, and this story is sad for sure. But I think some of the comments were dead on. Why doesn't she move to a location with more affordable housing? Surely, working together with her 19 year old daughter, they can make a new start somewhere else where life isn't quite so expensive.

    I think it's sad and I think that the general jist of the story is true: this is the way things seem to be going in our country and its not only a travesty, it's criminal. However, the general population also has to take some responsibility for where they are.

    We baby boomers grew up, came of age, & raised our children in a time where things are readily available, people live in excess, and the wealth enjoyed by most middle class Americans has been the best our country has ever seen in history. People aspire to have things, to vacation more, to build giant empty homes, drive the coolest, biggest and hottest cars, engage in a lifestyle that is too big for them, too costly to society as a whole. Credit card debt is out of control. Before the Diner's Club card was introduced in the 50's credit cards or buying things on credit was exclusive to the uppermost echelon in society. The only thing the general population bought on credit were homes and cars. Now you can get credit cards at Walmart, Best Buy, etc., and people do it! Even if they know that they really can't support the debt.

    Now that kind of living is taking its toll. Obviously there are other factors at play besides overspending or not living within our means. Energy costs are out of control and major corporations are outsourcing jobs to other countries. But at what point do we stop charging up expenses and spending our money on 'extras' & 'things' rather than necessities? When do we change the way we earn, live and spend so we can live within our means?

    Why live in an expensive place that eats up 3/4 of your income when there are other places to live that are less expensive and decent? I just think that we have options but for whatever reasons, some of us are simply afraid to give them a try.

    Go ahead, flame me. Sorry if I offended anyone - not my intent, but having been homeless myself and out of that situation having to make some difficult, serious changes and a big move from all that I knew, I know that we still have the power to change our circumstances if need be.
  5. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Ok...this made me cry. (Thanks Star.) ;)

    Seriously, if I saw this, and it was a person who was TRULY down on their luck...not just a vagabond, I'd invite them into my house. Dogs and all. No one should have to live like that.

  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    JoG -- I totally agree with your post.

    I understand that for many homeless folks, the circumstances truly are beyond their control. And as a society, we all must share in the welfare of those people until they are able to be sef-sufficient and mainstreamed back into society.

    But I also know there are many, especially in my Southern California community, who live up to their eyeballs in debt just so they can have the biggest, or flashiest, or [insert adjective]-est car, house, clothes, vacations, whatever. The signs of affluence are everywhere in my town, but I cannot believe that there are THAT many people making the kind of money needed to afford a mortgage on a multi-million dollar home, not to mention the property tax, plus luxury cars, designer clothing, expensive vacations, etc. Surely, many of them must be living far beyond their means, and that, I believe is the root of many evils. There's a generation of people in our country who have an overblown sense of entitlement. And meanwhile, they drive past the homeless family on the street corner in their BMW without batting an eye... Shameful.
  7. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    It's probably safer for them to sleep in the car then to be in a shelter, where their belongings are stolen and people are doing drugs. At least they can lock the doors on their cars and not have to sleep on a park bench.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    JoG, I agree with you, I won't deflame you a bit! Those comments were right on - living somewhere "special" that you really can't afford was a not so bright idea.... When I read it, the comments posted at the bottom were about the dogs - a person shouldn't be allowed to have pets if they can't afford a home.

    While I agree that makes sense, I also know, when you're down and out and have nothing, how important that something is. I used to have a lot of really black and white views of the world and who should be entitled to what. I got a LOT of education thru difficult child's.
  9. Genny

    Genny Worlds Best Nana

    This is sad, but I also see JoG's point. There was an article in the local paper this morning about the increase in homes having their power shut off due to inability to pay. One of the local power companies realized that some people would pay their cable bill first, because the cable company cuts you off after your account is 60 days past due, while the electric company gives you 90 days. They noted that cable tv isn't much good if you don't have electricity. My first though was , "Why do you HAVE cable if you can't afford to pay your power bill?!" husband and I lived years without cable - some of those years it was a choice, but most of the time it was because we couldn't afford it...a concept that seems lost on many people.

  10. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!

    Man oh man, this hit me hard. I was one of those, husband had a 6 digit income, we lived in a very huge, nice home in the heart of wine country, didn't think twice about buying 3 brand new cars in one year. We entertained to the excess, vacationed in Hawaii, lived on credit cards because we thought this money tree would never dry up and die! Then, after 20 yrs with the same company, husband was layed off, then let go within a realitivly short time.

    We were stuck with enormous credit card bills, car payments out the buttootie, and a house payment that makes me cringe now to think about.

    Talk about a slap in the face with reality. But, we needed that! It was nuts the way we were living and SO NOT US!! We are simple people really, just fell into the "Keeping up with the Jones" trap.

    We moved to the mountains after selling our huge home for a huge profit, thank God! Paid off most of our credit cards and cars, sold lots of stuff, determined to simplify. But, husband got a decent job again and we got comfy again. But when the ecomomy went kerplunk a few years back, he was layed off again.

    Sold that house for a decent profit, got into a much smaller house, paid off more credit card debt and REALLY simplfied our lives. We started doing foster care and that really opened my eyes to how spoiled and bratty we had been. Life was NOT dinner parties and new cars.

    Now, fast forward to this past year, we have lost that house, we are renting a really nice double wide on 10 acres of horse property (well husband and Aly are, I am living on my sis' property near them). We are living paycheck to paycheck with some assistance and are just a paycheck away from homelessness. If I couldn't live here with sis for free except for utilites, we couldn't do it at all.

    So, my reason for posting all this is that I can so relate to the way it is to live in America right now. We are barely existing, zero extra spending, zero meals out, zero movies at the theater, nothing, nada. Major wake up call for ones who were living high on the hog just 7 years ago.

    Been really hard for husband, having had such a prestigious career and now just being very grateful to have a semi-secure job sort of related to what he is highly over qualified doing. He is so great about it, but I know it must be hard for him.

    I just wonder...had we not went nutso when we did have money...where we'd be right now. No use thinking like that. We made major mistakes and now just need to learn from them and try to exist in this very difficult time.

    I am so very thankful for all we do have and am working hard on getting healthy so that I can contribute any way I can.

  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I would go without a lot before I'd give up my dogs for sure. I totally know what you mean about that. And yes, having difficult child's, working within the crazy legal and school systems really shows you what your life could be well as how far you've come, eh?
  12. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I've lived with my difficult child in a van, when I left abusive x.

    We had a dog, it wasn't fair to the dog, but it was all difficult child had. That and an old bicycle. I had just enough money to get gas to get us to the public assistance office and get emergency food stamps - I told my cw we were homeless, so they used the address from my last state drivers license. I got a voucher for Dude to go to daycare, and I actually went on interviews, tired, hungry with a child in tow. I got a job as a day time bartender - not much money - but it was something.

    I met someone who offered us a room in their garage and took it for cleaning her house, car, and doing yard work that would have scared 2 men. Eventually I found a sitter for Dude at night and began working evenings at the same bar - made enough money in my first week to pay 1st, last, on a house and moved out of the garage. We stayed in the house for 2 weeks without any furniture - we camped out a lot. Eventually I got the lights turned on and got fs card. When i got on my feet a month later - I tried to turn the FS card back in - and they told me to "stock up" that it would mess up their system. I cried the day I GOT food stamps I cried the day I realized how messed up this country is in trying to give BACK $300. in food stamps. Frustrating.

    I have not had the pleasure of living beyond my means, but I agree with everything you wrote Jo. No fanning of flames from me....I was down and out - and I maintained that lifestyle to make ends meet. It was nice for a while before DF became disabled and couldn't work - 2 income family for the first time in my adult life with a man - and now? (laughing) I'm poor in purse but rich in spirit.

    I'm not so brazen as to think - it could be me in that picture. I think - in years to come - I'll have no one to turn to unless Dude really comes around - and then I think - MAYBE all her kids are difficult child. The dog is probably the easy child. But agreed - and wondered the same - why not just pack up the Honda and go to a more affordable way of life? I guess I hope I never find out the answer to that question.
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I too tried to turn in my public assistance card, which included a rent allowance and food stamps. The state refused it for 2 months! I finally cut them up and mailed them in. I then received a check for the remaining balance on the card! I finally just said, "Fine, okay, I'll take it! Yeesh!" and I was able to buy the girls some new school clothes after we moved up to CT. It was a blessing really, to be able to utilize that assistance. I hope that woman and those other women are able to make it back to a regular existence - whatever regular is.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I also do not understand why she just doesn't drive somewhere where it is more affordable to live. I do not understand why people pay 3/4 of their income for housing. It just doesn't make sense to me.

    I sort of understand why she still has the dogs. The unconditional love of the dogs may be what keeps her going. I agree it is not fair to the dogs. I don't know what she does with them while she works, or how she intends to work with no where to keep the dogs while she is at work.

    We have only had cable for maybe HALF of our almost 17 years of marriage. And we have never had satellite. We keep thinking about it. It would be nice to have. But we really feel that healthcare and mental healthcare for all of us is so much more important. Even with AWESOME insurance, the copays just eat us alive.

    The house we are in is a stretch for us. When we bought it we had every plan for me to go to work, at least part-time. But my body had other ideas. I have been actively searching for ways to fix whatever is going on so that I CAN get a job.

    I truly think that credit cards have contributed a great deal to the homeless situation. The credit card companies go after us starting in college/late teens. Then many many of us find ourselves in way over our heads. They make it so very tempting to live beyond our means.

    I strongly support Habitat for Humanity. I think they are on a good path to help end this problem. But until we have equal earnings for women, support for the primary caregiver of children from a marriage, and more support to help end homelessness, this is only going to get worse.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Some people really are that poor through no fault of their own. And some people do make bad choices. I think the danger lies in making broad assumptions when sometimes each individual story is very different.

    This isn't something people would choose. But it is something that can happen either because someone was very unlucky, or very badly organised. Or both.

    We live in a society where so many messages being sent, by advertising, by subtle hints in various TV shows supposedly reflecting 'reality', how in so many ways we see depicted a lifestyle which is supposedly typical - the family owns their own home (with garden and white picket fence); owns a car per adult driver; has all the whitegoods they need; everyone is always well-dressed in the latest fashions and often coordinated fashion at that; can always afford to go out to eat regularly; always has home-cooked meals which resemble something a hotel chef would produce for a 50 seat banquet (unless they are ordering the takeaway meal of the moment); of course always has cable; etc. And it is always presented in a way to make you feel guilty or inadequate if you do not have this for your family.

    It's not just America. We have this in Australia too.

    husband & I used to sell party-plan house plants. It was a fairly expensive product, but a good one. Still, it was a luxury. We found that our best customers were also the ones on welfare (the Aussie equivalent). The ones on assisted housing (and who therefore had already been struggling with a lot of life's problems) as well as on single parent benefits, disability pensions, compensation payouts - we had to organise our deliveries to coincide with pension pay week. Because we were invited into their homes we saw how they lived - no expense was spared, in a lot of cases. These people lived the lifestyle they BELIEVED everyone else lived. "We may be struggling, we may be poor, but we have the same blasted living standard of the ones who aren't struggling." Only they didn't - they had more. They didn't realise that they had been conned by commerce and free enterprise. These people are where a large portion of the national credit debt can be found, as they desperately try to live as they are told they should be living.
    husband & I would see the new big-screen TVs, the latest model of extra large fridge, the new car with extra trims, then go home to our small borrowed b/w TV, the second-hand fridge that needed defrosting every two weeks (we still have it), in our dented but much-loved and cared-for small sedan. Superficially, it looked like we were living a life of poverty. We weren't - but sometimes it seemed we were the only sane ones in a huge capitalist lie.

    Some people can survive like this, some people (a lot of people) eventually find it catches up to them. But who is really to blame? These people are only living as they are told they should be living.

    In Sydney, our rents have gone up 25% in the last 4 months. That's just a sample - they've been rising like this for the last few years. House prices are currently falling, but not far enough for a renter to afford. we lack enough roofs to put over people's heads, even those who can afford it. And moving away from the city to a cheaper area - not a good idea, because although it may be cheaper to live there, you need an income. Our welfare will move you back to where there are jobs. The city.

    It's increasingly getting to the stage where only the most shrewd, independent, innovative individuals are not getting caught by the increase in debt.

    I regularly get phone calls from people trying to sell me re-finance. A few years ago they were trying to sell me time-share. Now, the line is, "Invest the equity in your home, into more property. Negative gear it so you can claim the income from the newly-purchased rental property as a tax deduction. Become a property owner and make yourself rich by not letting your equity sit there idle."
    In other words, if you have paid off a large enough portion of your home, no longer is it the ideal to pay it all off as fast as you can and then enjoy not having a mortgage. Now they want you to risk everything by taking out a mortgage, or a second or third mortgage, and sinking the lot on another property which you can rent. "Property values always rise," they say. Not at the moment they're not.

    Or people are being advised to use the equity to take that world trip they'd always promised themselves. "You deserve it," we are told. Groups form - SKI - "Spending the Kids' Inheritance" is seen as the sensible way to behave in your middle age.

    The idea is being spread to otherwise careful, sensible people that this is a safe way to manage your finances. So now, it's not just those on struggle street who are spending inadvisably, it's otherwise sensible, moderately affluent people who have worked hard to pay their bills who are being encouraged to be spendthrifts.

    The market is the guide, as to the quantity. And I would get more calls now than I used to (maybe ten times the number) and these days, ALL trying to sell us another mortgage. When we refuse, we are told we are naive and foolish. But this is what is driving the rents up, driving down the availability of properties to rent, driving up the national debt, and in general doing so much damage in so many ways.

    We believe we "deserve" a certain lifestyle and advertising and the media are responsible. It is unrealistic. We are being conned. And the less canny among us (or the less fortunate) are the ones who end up sleeping in their cars as a result.

    It's winter here now. That's when, every year, we get the winter appeals for homeless people. Our TV advertising is full of it at the moment. We get documentaries on it. Saturation coverage. And still we get phone calls trying to sell us reverse mortgages.

  16. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I've been so close to living in the car many times. Back in 1996, right after I bought my house (special first time low income buyer program), I was laid off. I was a single parent at the time, went down to welfare to see what kind of help I could get till I found another job. Because I owned my car outright (a Metro that I'd bought used, not exactly a gold plated vehicle), they told me to either sell or refinance my car. I was waiting on my emergency credential to come through so I could substitute, and all I wanted was help to get through till the credential came in and I got my first check. Nope. Nothing. I wasn't willing to sell the car, which would have made it nearly impossible to work; I needed to get to different schools on different days, so carpooling and city buses were not an workable option.

    I'm still angry that there is no safety net in place. It would cost the government far less to catch people when they first start falling and help them get back up than to wait until they have nothing and see if they ever do get back up. It would be more motivating for those of us falling to know it might not take as long to get our lives pieced back together. I understand why someone would want to give up.
  17. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Awww..Mary. People in between are the worst. You either have it, or you don't. If you have it, you live the high life. If you don't...well, you're in tent city or your car. We 'inbetweeners' (I know that's not a word) wonder from day to day which way it will go. You just never know.

  18. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    You are so right. Currently husband and I are so so inbetweeners. If something doesn't happen with these gas prices soon, we're going to take a plunge. :pouting:

    What saddened me the most was that this woman has 3 grown children. Why couldn't she sleep on a couch and chip in to pay her share with one of them?? I mean, c'mon, this woman gave birth to you!

    Sad, cuz the way things are going we're going to be seeing alot more of this.

    I've shut off the cable many times. Done without a phone too. Even did a stent without car insurance, although it scared the begeebies outta me, but there just wasn't enough money to spread around.

    We got a notice for shut off on our electric the other day. I went down to pay the bill, found ALOT of other people there, many senior citizens, doing the same thing. Nice older lady infront of me told me to hold my head up high "Nothing to be ashamed of, we're all in the same boat."

    We were the ones who had money to pay, even if it was late. I wonder how many more didn't. This is a very poor county.

    As for the lady's pets......Well, our Betsy and Bruce might adjust to new homes. They're both young enough. But neither Molly or Rowdy would go with anyone, and I'd never have the heart to make them. As it is their diet of dog food is being supplimented by table scraps because the thought of wasting any food right now to me is awful.
  19. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!

    This afternoon, while riding in the car with sis while she ran errands (exciting times for me, being a shut in right now with this stupid broken leg) I was SHOCKED to see gas prices are up to $4.05 for the lowest grade gas!!! OMG!!! Diesel is $4.85 a gal!!! This is getting just too scary for me.


  20. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I'm not a political genius - but I am a conservationist and I have been keeping up with the fact that Owners of the largest gas companies are spouting they have NO control over the price of gas - but continually remark that the US needs to open up or re open areas like Alaska, and the Mountains for a US fuel sorce. Areas which have largely been blocked due to conservation efforts.

    I think this is a ploy - and if enough people feel the crunch - they will all flip and say WHO CARES about Alaska? I'm not able to get to work or afford food.

    THAT I believe is the true meaning of what is going on. What happened to ALL that gas we had reserved after Katrina? If we could do it then = it could be done now. Gosh wish I owned Texas Oil wells.