The Problem with being Poor

The problem with being poor

This morning I had my landlord on the phone asking where my rent was, which was strange seeing as I had paid my rent the day before. I went to the bank, handed over some cold, hard cash, and it was paid. But she didn’t get it. This is the problem with being poor.

Most people think that wanting to be rich is the same as being greedy. It’s not. Material possessions are part of it but not the real reason we want it. Being rich is more than money, it’s about power, and when you are poor you have no power. The poor are at the mercy of the rest of society who have the power. My rent is a prime example. Every month I have to make sure that the rent is paid or my landlord is on the phone. I make sure that it is paid but I’m guaranteed at least a few times a year, she is on the phone claiming she didn’t get it, even though it is done through the bank and is completely traceable. Maybe she just wants more money out of me every month but that’s hardly fair. But that’s the problem when you have no money. People think they can treat you like crap and try to take whatever extra money you have.

So if I had money, what would I do? First of all, pay off all my debts. Second, I would buy a house outright so I would no longer be at the mercy of landlords or banks. And that would be it. That is the real dream of the poor. Not flashy cars and diamonds, as nice as those things would be. No. It’s about stability, freedom, and a little bit of power. Being able to use the money we have worked so hard for every month to fill our cupboards with food and maybe even enjoy ourselves a little.

So how much would I need to reach my very small goal? £500,000. That’s it, not millions. I don’t need a massive lotto win or anything like that. And that is not a lot of money really, but it is enough that I could regain some power and feel like a proper member of society again. If you ask any poor person, they would say the same. A few grand to pay things off and get themselves on the same level as the rest of the world. Our idea of rich is not the same as those who are the rich and powerful.

Do we expect handouts? Hell no! Believe it or not, we work hard and enjoy when our hard work is noticed with a small bonus. If someone was to walk up to me and hand me a cheque for £500,000 I think I would pee myself. I don’t expect people to hand me money like that, but what I would like is for the rest of the world to stop dumping on us poor folk, we are trying our best to better ourselves. But when people dump on us and make us feel powerless, it makes it that much harder to reach our goals. One of the big problems is how the media portrays people. Many people who are poor and rely on benefits are there because of the downturn in the economy. It is a fact that employment has suffered and most of the country is debt. But the media is determined to turn on those who have had a bad run of luck. The simple fact is, we make great TV.

There was a programme gracing our TV screens called “Benefits Street” which gives a very poor image of people who need benefits to survive. I have also subjected myself to reading one of the worst cases of one-sided journalism ever which came in the form of an article from a newspaper. This one-sided report claimed that #CameronMustGo (a campaign from a few years ago which got me into writing) on Twitter is nothing more than bullying and that those who tweet this hashtag have no real argument. Well, if the paper had bothered to ask anyone they would have discovered what is wrong, and this is my problem.

  1. The benefits system is a mess- As someone who has had to live on the minimum wage in the past, I kind of needed to rely on the benefits system to make ends meet. I had to rely on housing benefit to help pay my rent, a whole £75 a week. I was forced to sign off because they stopped paying it. Why? Because they thought I was working multiple jobs and claiming benefits. What had happened was my husbands boss at the time was screwing with the system to avoid going to court. He was changing the company name a few times, and the housing benefit picked up on it. What they done was froze my benefit, didn’t tell me why, and then expected me to jump through hoops to get it back. The only thing they hadn’t asked me to do was drop my pants for an anal exam. How was I supposed to prove that my husbands boss was changing the company name to avoid a tax charge? In the end, I told them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. I’d rather struggle than dance for pea-nuts.
  2. Child Support Agency- The Government has said my ex-partner needs to support his daughter. That’s fine. Has he paid anything? Not really. How much does he owe me? To date, around £25,000. Is the Child Support Agency doing anything about it? No, because he won’t respond to them. Of course he won’t respond! He owe’s me £25,000 while he drives around in a Porsche! He is also self-employed and doesn’t pay tax. Have they done anything about that? No. And yes, she did have contact with him for years until he made it clear she was not important to him.
  3. Riddle me this- I’m a simple person, I don’t do politics, and half of the time I don’t have a clue what they are all talking about. But I can spot when someone is doing a crap job. That’s not rocket science, it’s common sense.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this if Twitter is anything to go by. Everyone has their own problems with what the Government does, but those are just my own. For the most part, I think that people voted the way they have because it was the lesser of two evils. But they have done a terrible job, so we don’t want them in charge. It’s that simple. It doesn’t need to be over complicated and I’m horrified that the media would make everyone seem stupid in this way. #CameronMustGo was not a hate campaign, it was feedback.

This was made even worse when my husband walked in through the door after work one night. He was met by me drinking coffee, laughing without a care in the world with a friend. My daughter was having a friend over to stay the night. Dinner was cooking. Out of the blue, without any notice he announced that this would be his last week of work. His shop was closing next Saturday night. He was out of a job.

Clearly, that was a distressing time for us. He is the main bread winner and his wages ensure that the bills get paid, while I pick up casual hours and writing work when I can get it. What do we do now?

This is a problem that many people are facing now with jobs no longer being secure. Families are being thrown to the wolves with jobs that are zero hours, no guaranteed income, and people struggling to make ends meet. I’m not an expert in economics but when I see so many businesses being shut down and people forced into jobs that pay less than the minimum wage, it’s time to learn how to play the game.

The game is something I don’t understand. I don’t know how people manage to make mountains of money. Is it manipulation? Are they conning people? Or are we as a society being brainwashed into thinking that only the rich deserve money? Do we believe that we are worth nothing? I’m no angel but surely that doesn’t mean that I’m not worth something. I work hard, try to raise my children right, I’m an activist for ethical treatment for everyone. I try to be good. But is being a “good person” good enough?

No, it’s not. It’s not enough to just be “good”, you need to be outstanding in the eyes of society to be worth something. Everyone is worth something, that I believe. It shouldn’t matter what you have done in the past but if you choose to take control of your future to improve yourself, and others, then you are worth something in my book.

My husband is a good man. He worked hard in that butchers shop to keep it going. He was nice to all his customers. He always got the highest sales while he was there. He always made sure it was the best quality produce in the counters. But yet, it wasn’t good enough, and now another local business has been forced to shut it’s doors. His place is not the only one I have seen. One of my friends had to shut up shop after being in business after ten years. The reason, taxes were too high and he couldn’t afford to keep up with them. He done great business, but every year the Government imposed taxes got higher and higher, and finally he couldn’t afford to keep his business going. He confessed to me one day that he had to use all his savings to pay the taxes, and if it wasn’t for having those savings, he would have had to declare himself bankrupt.

So, what is the problem? Like I said, I’m no expert, but the living wage is too low for people to make ends meet. Taxes continue to soar. Yet, the Prime Minister claims that the country is broke while politicians sip at champagne and give themselves a holiday at the tax payers expense. Yes, I blame the Government for the continued closure of local businesses, the rise in homeless families, and for the fear that hangs over us. Until they do something about it, we will continue to see a decline in local businesses. Until consumer spending power increases, and the living wage is increased in line with inflation, people will not have the ability to support their local businesses.

RIP Local Business

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