Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Richest Poor Folk in the Universe

The Census Bureau released some stats this week about overall income of Americans and revised the "poverty line".
Congratulations- some of y'all got a 1.0% increase in earnings...don't spend it all in one place, now.
Across the board, whether you're white, black, brown, red or blue, and you be one of the po' folk, well, the situation "remained unchanged" as these kind of departments are fond of saying. The "poverty line" income now is just a few hairs below 19,000 bucks a year for a family of 4. The headline for the Census press release includes the phrase "Poverty Up"...but if it's unchanged, then how can that be? Damn staticians! I imagine it's there, I read the thing, but with only one cup of coffee in me so far, I may have missed it. Oh well, never claimed to be a real egghead...but I am an expert on poverty...been living in it all of my adult life-according to government standards. Could have fooled me.

These regular press releases by the Census geeks would always get my husband in a lather and he'd take the bait. Holy Crap! Dan Rather just told him to his face that he was a low rent loser! He'd boo-hoo about how we were living below the poverty line and rant about how that just wasn't right that a hard working American guy was busting his chops all day long for what? To live in POVERTY?!
Oh, the outrage! Oh! The humanity! It's communism, that's what it is!
In my husband's mind any evil or wrong thing in the world was 'communism'- I always thought it was kinda cute how he'd holler that out. Nine times out of ten, whatever situation he was getting up in arms about usually had no bearing or connection to communism whatsoever, but I guess that was the only label he knew. But in retrospect, at least when it came to the government stats he may have been close to the mark, in a way, at least as far as how those figures would be manipulated to suit the cause of the whichever political party could find advantageous.

So anyway, there he would be, in the Laz-e-Boy, frothing at the gibs about how we're so broke we can't even pay attention and how his children are, according to the government, just 2 steps away from eating lead based paint chips and being bitten by rats and that his lot in life ain't no better now than some migrant black sharecropper in the 30's and how in America that just ain't right and blah, blah, blah then I would have to step in and pull my Cher/Nicolas Cage/Moonstruck scene to bring him back to earth:


"Babe, Look at what we got...
You just found out about this shocking news on a color TV, one of 2 that we own.
We also have 2 VCRs AND satellite service for those same 2 TVs.
You're sitting in a nice recliner, in a nice house with 3 bedrooms AND indoor plumbing with a flushing toilet AND electricity to every room in this house, which by the way, we OWN, not rent. And we even have some acreage.

We have a refrigerator in the house that's fairly well stocked and you have one in the shop. We have a chest freezer out back that's big enough to hold 5 of your relatives, drawn and quartered and it's 3 quarters full with all manner of meat, pot pies, frozen dinners, popsicles and so on. The back porch pantry is a virtual 'mini-mart'...any time you're hungry there is not a lack! Night or day there's something to munch on here.
We are not starving.
We have a microwave, a blender and even one of those fancypants Kitchenaid mixers. I have enough pots and pans and dishes and drinking glasses and silverware to whip up chow for us and a bunch of your friends. And I even have a kitchen sink to wash up all those dishes afterwards with HOT RUNNING WATER.

You have a truck that's paid for, I have a car that's paid for. True, neither one is brand friggin' new, but they run. You have your Panhead out in the shop, which, by the way, also contains just about every tool Craftsman makes and you have a bigass tool chest taller than me to store all those in! You got 4 rifles for hunting and a gob of fishing and camping gear. You have a jonboat out back...on a trailer! You have every video that Van Damme cat has out and I have never said no to buying any other vid that strikes your fancy. The kids have every Disney flick out in their library. We have books up the wazoo and your motorcycle magazine subscription is always renewed.

The kids have shoes, I have shoes, you have shoes...hell, you got more shoes than me!
The only time our kids run around unclothed is when they are playing in the wading pool. We all have clothing suitable for all seasons. When it's cold we all have more than one coat to choose from. Ok, so it's mostly yard sale and thrift store stuff BUT WHO CARES!? We have it. I don't see the younguns complaining. And toys...? Oh, let's not even go there!

Every room in this house has some sort of furniture-we are not sleeping on flour sack pallets on the floor. We even have complete sets of bedding and sheets for our beds.
The couch is second hand, but it's comfy and clean. We even have a table to eat our meals at...with matching chairs!

We have a phone...actually 2, cuz you have one out in your shop. We even have a computer and are online. In the winter we stay warm without worry, in the summer we have air conditioning and ceiling fans.
I have a washer and a dryer. All of us are never without clean clothes and when was the last time we ran out of toilet paper?
We have never had the power turned off, we have never been late on our bills, we've never been threatened by foreclosure...and we do it all on your 'poverty' wages!
Good God, honey, if this is the government's definition of POVERTY then I don't think I could handle to be middle class, it would be too overwhelming to my senses!!"

That'd usually shut him up. Until the next time they'd trot out the stats. And then I'd have to ramble off my spiel again-making adjustments for any new accquistions.

Now to be fair I really think we were in the minority. Overall, the cost of living here in the Ozarks was so low, one could do more with the money-as clearly we did. In this area we were not alone. Most of us hillbillies were ignorantly living in "squalid, abject poverty" and never even knew it half the time...because we had so much stuff!
Heard something the other day about a guy saying that if he had to chose a country to live in, he'd chose the country where the poor are fat. There's really only one place in the world like that.
And I'm living there.


Blogger AB5SY said...

Po, po me. It's really tough living so far below the proverty line. I get $800 a month social securty retirement and let me tell you, it's hard as heck, saving more then 2-3 hundred a month. Like you, Like you, I seem to have everything I need, I can't think of anything I am wanting at the moment, and if the gubernut forgot to send the SS for a few months my savings account says I would hardly notice. Life is good....

9/16/2006 9:00 AM  

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