As many of you know, I live in Texas, so I am constantly in the presence of Republican ideals. While I am not entirely against their principles, I really take issue with this sentiment: “Why should I hand over my hard earned money to those who are too lazy to work?” Unfortunately, there is a false implication that those relying on programs like WIC and Housing Assistance just aren’t trying hard enough. Why don’t they take on another job? Why don’t they get a better paying job? Can’t they ask their own family and friends for help? I’m really not sure where that comes from.
Most of the lower class families I know are holding down multiple jobs. They get up at the crack of dawn and they don’t make excuses. So if any job is a good job, why aren’t they seeing the benefits of having one or more? Well, according to MIT’s living wage calculator, a single mom in Dallas County with 2 children would need work full time making $23.07/hour to earn a living wage. I have been job hunting for 3 years and despite my 6 years experience as an Executive Assistant, I won’t see $23.07 in Dallas. It’s more like $15/hour at best. As a teller, it was $10. As a sales associate, it was $8. The fact is, most jobs won’t pay a living wage and earning a degree no longer ensures one that does.
Deep down, I know this but when I volunteered to serve in a soup kitchen, I was expecting to serve bonafide degenerates. The retired army vets and blue collar types who showed up came as a complete shock to me. It was abundantly clear that at least 80% of that line had a day job. They had ID badges and came in work attire. The rest were families. I even saw children I recognized from Kylie’s school.
More surprising was how grateful they all were. They were happy for chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. They didn’t complain about the line and they didn’t complain when I ran out of dark meat. They were a community seemingly unaware of their sad predicament.
Many who end up here, seem to be the people we rely on most. The bus driver drove your kids to school and back again every day when you could not. Those holiday packages will arrive safe and on time thanks in part to that postal worker making $13/hour at the back of the line. What truly infuriates me, is that veteran gave years of his life for this country. There is no reason he should be relying on hand outs especially when politicians regardless of merit, receive their annual 6 figure salaries for life. What the hell, America?
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the actual reasons for homelessness might shock you. They list foreclosures, eroding work opportunities, and lack of affordable health care among the top reasons of homelessness in the US. These are issues that affect us all. Furthermore, the people in line for a free meal are not people unwilling to work. These are people who work in lieu of a decent wage so that the rest of us can get by.
I don’t mind giving up a couple hours out of my week to give these people a hot meal. I do, however mind the baseless notion that they are some how lazy. After all, if Hurricane Katrina alone can render 300,000 families homeless, where is the logic? So with a clear conscience, please support your local homeless shelter: http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/ and donate to your local food banks: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx. If you can’t give money, please give your time. We have all fallen on hard times in our lives and could all stand to be a little more understanding of one another.