I just finished reading an article at Cracked.com that my teenage son showed me entitled 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor — written by a self-professed member of America’s “working poor.” Unfortunately, I found it to be full of excuses, cop-outs, and lame defenses for why it’s “incredibly difficult” to get away from that situation.
Judging by the numerous comments, most of Cracked’s readership were in complete agreement with the author’s assertion that those struggling to make ends meet have virtually no hope of ever escaping their predicament because, if you read between the lines, their condition in life is essentially out of their hands. Their fate is hopelessly sealed.
Of course, most folks who buy in to that defeatist line of thinking end up falling victim to self-fulfilling prophecy.
Believe me, the last person I need reading this tripe is my son. So I put together this quick counterpoint for him explaining why the Cracked piece is, well, cracked:
Thing Number 1: There is an industry that profits by keeping you poor.
The Cracked rationale: People who can’t pay their bills have no choice but to go to a payday loan company that charges a fortune in interest.
Additional excuses curiously rejected by the Cracked editors: Congress hasn’t passed a law yet making it illegal for payday loan companies to force people to live beyond their means.
Why Cracked is cracked: I realize this is kind of obvious, but it doesn’t cost “the working poor” anything extra when they spend less than they earn. Not one cent.
Thing Number 2: No credit can be just as damaging as bad credit.
The Cracked rationale: “Having no credit will stop you from getting a loan or an apartment just as fast as having bad credit.”
Additional excuses curiously rejected by the Cracked editors: “And everybody checks your credit — if I want to get Direct TV, I have to pay $310 worth of start-up fees.” (Wait, check that. The editors actually decided to leave that statement in.)
Why Cracked is cracked: Even if the rationale were absolutely true, which it isn’t, there’s nothing stopping the working poor from getting a secured credit card, using it responsibly, and building a rock solid credit history. (By the way, a fiscally responsible member of the working poor wouldn’t get satellite television service.)
Thing Number 3: Your next expensive disaster is right around the corner.
The Cracked rationale: “Shit happens, always at the exact worst time.”
Additional excuses curiously rejected by the Cracked editors: How can you expect anyone to have money available for a rainy day when they’re paying for satellite television service they can’t afford?
Why Cracked is cracked: Guess what. Shit happens to everybody at the worst time, mister. Rich and poor. That’s called life. And it’s why financially responsible members of the working poor put aside a little money each month into an emergency savings fund.
Thing Number 4: You get charged for using your own money.
The Cracked rationale: “Meticulous, flawless record keeping is the difference between surviving and having the bank seize your next paycheck.”
Additional excuses curiously rejected by the Cracked editors: It’s impossible to set aside 30 minutes a week to balance a checkbook when there are so many great shows on satellite television.
Why Cracked is cracked: Folks … if you’re having trouble adding and subtracting, buy a calculator.
Thing Number 5: You’re always in survival mode.
The Cracked rationale: “Down here, at this level, you take what you can get. The journey (out of poverty) is something like trying to go from the Earth to the Moon.”
Additional excuses curiously rejected by the Cracked editors: Not applicable.
Why Cracked is cracked: Yeah, so? Nobody said life was going to be easy. That doesn’t stop countless members of the working poor from sacrificing and moving up the economic ladder everyday. Well, at least the ones who aren’t busy making lame excuses.
Photo Credit: Arturo Avila