On Economic Bias

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I have experienced times where my economic status left something to be desired. I have been on food stamps, welfare, gone to the food bank to feed my children, and gone to a local church to get warm clothes for my kids for winter. Yes, I did live a life at one time, it seems eons ago, where I was proud, maybe even arrogant, where I looked down on those who were dealing with hard times - like the homeless. But, as the old saying goes, pride comes before a fall.


I have learned humility over the years...

I have learned humility over the years, especially as I found myself in the very place of those I once looked down on and judged. It seems that Life has humbled me time and again, taking me through the twists and turns of difficulty and challenges. I have gained, though, a certain strength of character that can only come from experience and hard times.

What has repeatedly amazed me is the way some people feel they can treat me because I have come to them for help or they see me as someone ‘poor.' It seems that there is a distinct economic bias against those who are poverty stricken. Apparently, we are unable to comprehend what is told to us, we cannot think for ourselves, we are uneducated/stupid, and we are lazy. Well, I can assure you that I am none of those things.

I have been homeless; I have lived in poverty. Those circumstances, however, have nothing to do with my intelligence and they did not occur because I am lazy. In fact, I spent hours each day applying for jobs but they just never came through. I have a college education and great experience, but I am autistic. I don't interview well because of the social limitations that my autism creates. I can do the job and am very productive; I just can't get past the interview process to show what I can do.

And it has left me sitting on that other side of the desk, the side where others sat - the ones I once judged with the same attitude that many have. If they would just look for a job... If they would just try... If they just wouldn't squander their money... If they would stop relying on others to support them...


I was once that person...

I know the thoughts, the attitudes, because I once was that person. I saw people who were having financial difficulties as products of their own doing. I too held the belief that if they wanted a job bad enough, wanted to get out of their impoverished situation bad enough, that they would. I thought they were lazy, not interested in working, intellectually incapable of holding a job.

Then I wound up on the other side of the desk and my perspective changed. Then I understood how far reaching economic bias is.


I found out the hard way...

I found out the hard way just how it felt to be the one dealing with the judgmental attitudes. I once signed with an agency that provided free prescriptions to those who could not afford medication. I called the place to see how long it generally took to pick up a prescription that had already been called in to be refilled. I had been at doctor's appointments all day, since early morning. I was in poor health and had had several medical tests run. I was actually calling between appointments and was on my way to another appointment.

When I spoke to the woman on the phone I told her that I needed to get the medication as soon as possible and she told me, "Well, you knew that you had this appointment this afternoon, you should have gotten up and come by here this morning." I was taken aback at this insinuation that I had been lazing around or sleeping in all day. I felt compelled to explain to her that I had been at appointments all day, since early that morning, and this was my first opportunity to contact her. She still maintained her haughty manner.

It seems that when you must go to such an agency to get help they can treat you any way that they wish.

Another time I applied for food stamps in Louisiana. The worker talked down to me right from the beginning. I was polite and kind to her, but she called me the day after my case was approved to tell me that she went ahead and approved me even though I did not provide the information that she told me to provide. I told her that I had given her everything that she had put on the list and she told me I was a liar. I had the list in front of me and I told her that she had no right to call me a liar. She told me I should tell the truth.


An impoverished wallet is not indicative of an impoverished mind...

These are only two examples of how I have been treated as a person of a low financial status. However, an impoverished wallet is not indicative of an impoverished mind, values or feelings. Certain people seem to look down on those who have financial difficulty. If you are on food stamps to feed your children or need help with medication or bills or necessities, some people who work at these agencies seem to have a God complex. They display an attitude indicating they feel that just because they are not in such a position they are somehow superior to the person they are ‘helping.'

Then there are the people who don't work at the agencies, but see you using your food card in line at the grocery store. When I was a struggling mother of three with an abusive ex who did not pay child support I often was the recipient of such lovely comments as, "If you can' afford them you shouldn't have them" (referring to my three children who I had with the same husband and was still married when the third one was born) and "Get a job and stop bumming off of the system." Nice.

As the economy continues to tank and more people are finding themselves unemployed or underemployed, you will see more people struggling. I have been there. I have been laid off, struggled as a single mother to feed my children, lived in my vehicle because I could not come up with the money necessary to pay all of the fees and deposits for an apartment, I have worked but my salary was not enough to pay the bills and feed the kids. In the real world you can't always wrap someone's life in a neat little package, all cut and dry. There are circumstances and hardships. Things happen.

Thankfully, not all people are harsh and judgmental. There are those who truly want to help. You don't see pity on their faces. They don't treat you like a criminal - or a potential criminal. They treat you with respect and kindness regardless of your economic station.


I am your reality...

But to the others I have to ask: Do you think that we don't have any pride or feelings just because we are not as financially well off as you?

I would like to ask these people, what makes you so much better than me? Is it because you have a job? Is it because you don't have to worry where your children's next meal will come from or how they will be clothed?

Or do I make you think that someday it may be you in that chair on the other side of the desk.

It is something to think about, you know. One day you have it all and in a blink of an eye it can be taken from you. Then it will be you sitting there, while someone just like you talks down to you, treats you like you are not human, stupid, and have no value.

I choose not to respond when people treat me that way. I look past the rude, haughty exterior at someone who is intimidated and fearful. See, I represent reality, a reality that they don't want to face. I am the reality that it can happen to anyone at any time.

32 comments

wajay_47 9 years ago

Excellent hub, fotojunkie and you are quite right! Some of these people should be removed from their confortable, stable positions and placed on the unemployment roster.


Amy 9 years ago

I experience the same thing a lot here in Oregon. It is very disrespectful.


9 years ago

I felt for you. I am poor too....don't know how I gonna pay for my meals this week.


C. from d/a grp 9 years ago

Fotojunkie, I agree with this so much. I have lost my job due to illness, mental and physical, and the people on the other side of the desk act like they are paying for your benefits. Well, maybe their taxes are but I worked for 20 yrs before illness set me back...therefore my taxes are included too. I had to call my sister-in-law that works for DSS in another county to e-mail my case worker about the status. I turned everything in within 48 hours from applying and four weeks later she was just sitting on it. When she saw the e-mail from my sis-in-law and saw the last name was the same, she called me that same day to say that my benefits were approved. I had spoke to her that morning and she was very rude, honey when they are approved you will be notified. I guess it helped to have a family mbr in the system. Great post.


thecounterpunch profile image

thecounterpunch 9 years ago

Poverty maybe not about Welfare but ... warfare unfortunately :

http://hubpages.com/politics/Warfare


Carolyn 9 years ago

I lost my job in November,because my company signed on to a new company and did not bother to inform me,when I did get ahold of the company,they told me I would have to drive to Phoenix(which is 3 hours from where I live to get the paperwork)(I was a security guard)i told them I could'nt,I did'nt have the gas and that was that. The caseworker who first reviewed my case(and I had not had assistance in over a year)said that I had willfully quit my job and would have to endure a probation period of 1 month before I could get food stamps and cash assistance and it was Christmas time! After I threatened to take it to court,after several weeks I got the back food stamps only because I threatened to sue this corrupt office for the second time! I was and still am attending college trying to get my bachelor's degree and i reapplyed for food stamps within the alooted time.Now,the new caseworker that I have did not enter my information in time,even though I gave it to her in time and now I am without fs or cash assistance! her response everytime I call her or go in is "I'm going to work on it"It has now been almost a month since I applied and "yes" I had to go through all the humiliation of the haughty jobs worker(who I had to comply with)talk down to me in front of the whole waiting room,and drive 30 miles(60 roundtrip)to Holbrook to comply w/child support just to get this kind of treatment and NOTHING to show for all the hassle anda missed day of class right before finals!Casworkers should see what it is like to be on the other end!


consultjohan 9 years ago

I used to be quite an arrogant person, but shortly after Sept 11, 2001 I lost my job as a systems consultant. We lost both our cars, both our houses, all our long term insurance policies... everything!

I could not find a job in 7 months. I was desperate. Then I got an expat job, made some money, started a business, and lost everythinng again!

Where we live there are no food stamps, no un-employment queue, no government assistance. No free schooling -- I had no money to transport my son to school, leave alone money to pay school fees!

I can't pretend that I know what you've been going through, but my life changed a whole lot -- and my heart!

Some friends and distant relatives had been very kind, and assisted, but we as a family had been humiliated at the same time...

I came to the conclusion that the world we live in is a huge hostile place, and that even when one tries to be good, the god of this world does his utmost to stop you.

I managed to find a small office in a shop from where I can access the internet and develop intranet web sites for one of the shop owner's customers. This helps paying for the rent and we have now enough to eat!

We live a simple live! Im totally dead to material things! Someone had to give me a cell phone for free, because I could'nt care to get one again.

I had a burning desire to do good to others that are destitute, and I helped a few poor beggars, but I'm now very disillutioned!

It seems that the people I'm helping are professional beggars! They're not interested in jobs and they're really totally healthy! I asked one of them we began to know better why he does'nt go and help with the harvest, when he suddenly began to limp -- pretending that he was unfit for any job. This is enormously discouraging, and I don't know what to think! By the way, 99% of all these beggars, I'm told by the local government doctor, are alcoholics!

Fortunately there are good news! One day "... many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." We will have One world government -- a monarchy -- that will by ruled by someone who has all the answers! The laws will be based on love and the commandments that everybody already knows but refuse to live by!


roseflr profile image

roseflr 9 years ago from PITTSBURGH

I've been in the same position and I've experienced a deep sense of inadequacy as a result. People are quite judgemental. The roots of this are the same as roots of any prejudice; not seeing people as individuals, but simply lumping the good with the bad. Have faith, you obviously have talent.


adtm 8 years ago

I just wanted to first say that I appreciate the way that you told your story. I am a 31 year old mother and wife. I have had my share of up's and down's and I have always tried to believe that one day I would have the 3 vehicle s, nice home and financial security for my family. I have worked since I was 11 years old and I still have not accomplished my goal ooal of financial security. I have attended college and was taking the classes I needed to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). I was making excellent grades, I had perfect attendance and I worked full time so that I could take care of my kids. Even though I was doing everything right, one day I tried to get out of my bed and I could not. Because I had no medical insurance and I no money saved to take care of medical expenses, I lost my home, my vehicle and finally found my self with nothing. I was not able to continue my education and I found myself like many trying to apply for and receive public assistance. The caseworkers I the misfortune to deal with were not understanding and very degrading.

It is now 2 years later. I have a minimal wage job and I am trying to keep it together every day. I have come to realize that no one is going to help me unless I help myself. I have to make sure that I stay one step ahead of my caseworker, because she seems to look for any reason to deny my benefits. I hope that she never finds herself in my position. The USA has thrown away it's homeless, impoverished and uninsured. I can only pray that things will get better, but I know it will not. God bless us all, because without Him, what will we do?


cassi.frost 8 years ago

thanks for the amazing post its really inspiring.

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mumbua 8 years ago

Dear ones. Thank you for your stories of courage. I can only pray that somehow we can offer opportunities that are meaningful. As one of you noted, no one can meet another person's needs. I know that the help that is given to us in the form of food stamps is so limited and really it is just to help with the survival. We all need and want the best for ourselves and children. I remember when I graduated from collee with a PhD. I had to go on welfare because I couldn't find a job. The social worker called me very early in the morning at 7AM to ask me whether I had gone to look for work! I just couldn't imagine what she was thinking aobut.... that I went to school for all those years to go on welfare? I asked her whether she really thought I was just seating at home waiting for the welfare check. Anyway, I had to leave to find a job in another country.


sarah k 8 years ago

I think as long as you are trying to improve your lot in life, it is fine. If your plan is to milk the system for all it is worth, I think little of you. I myself was on food stamps at one point in my life. After I had my daughter, I had no marketable skills and was a single mom. I worked 50 hours a week and went to full-time night school for four years and now I'm a school teacher. It is possible to work your behind off and get away from food stamps...kuddos to the people that do.


Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

It is a sad misconception that people who need assistance are dumb. Too often, those that "help" are actually blaming those in need for their circumstances. You make a lot of great points here--thanks for sharing your experiences.


susan 7 years ago

I am a married mother of 3 we have a home income of 70,000 and we have trouble just getting by!! We make to much to get ANY help so the gov. says but in trouth we had it bad from day 1 19 w/ twins and no help led to bad credit and high bills that have weighed us down from day 1 we can not get by and it seems things will never get better I am glad to see its not just us, thanks


Dawn  7 years ago

Thank you for sharing. I was raised in poverty. I have worked and put myself through college and have a decent job. Compared to where I came from, I'm doing okay, survival isn't so tough. I still have dreams and goals, that comforts me. Keep your head up and keep pushing through. Anyone that comes in your life, grab their hand and pull them up with you.


kate 7 years ago

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences where "helpers" acted like anything but. I would do my best to help others who are temporarily financially disadvantaged... but in some cased you know darn well the person isn't doing their part to help themselves. For instance I know someone who gets social assistance and a student loan (the totals of which more than double what I EARN by going to work) and then spends most of it on expensive clothing and high-tech toys for their kids, and then can't afford to buy groceries... I'm a little reluctant to help them out. They just prove to be horrible with their money. If I work a minimum wage job and get by just fine, a person who is handed twice the amount I have to work for can't manage their finances responsibly, why should people give them more, only for it to be wasted? I'm not saying your case is like that, but a great many cases are.


see 7 years ago

A lot of these caseworkers, need to be removed from their positions!!!!!!!!


me(: 7 years ago

as a read this article, i thought about how rude these people are. they could be in this same position, eventually, and would absolutely hate if they were mistreated because of their economic status. this is economic bias and something needs to be done about it


poor gurrl 7 years ago

this article is very well written and made me realize how lucky i am


Tracy 6 years ago

Great article. I was moved.


wogen 6 years ago

there is no poor in the world.because every body has mental power that help him to over come poorness


kefe  6 years ago

no poor in the world


pink 6 years ago

iwant to any help


elbows 6 years ago

Congratulations on being made of the right stuff. Rare is the being who can remain circumspect after being treated in such a fashion. I have not been where you are, but you deserve wonderful things coming your way. Hang in there, don't give up and thanks for this wonderful post.


U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

Bravo, photojunkie. This is so well written and very thought provoking. We have always managed to provide for ourselves as far as necessities, but my husband's diagnosis with cancer has led to our needing to accept some help and make small payments on some large medical bills. It has been an eye-opening view into the world of bill collectors and it's not pretty. Thanks for sharing.


Igorirka 6 years ago

Help us please!

Me and my wife a young couple, we live in a poor country, where it is very difficult to find a job even a good specialist, a year later I graduated from the University. This greatly complicates our lives. We do not have housing, and to earn money for it to go abroad to work illegally for decades, but they need to live Somewhere to rent a room and no one can guarantee that the promised money Polic. Credit from banks at home do not give no guarantees, but we have nothing to leave on bail, the more the percentage is very high at least 23% per annum. Political crisis does not give any hope for any change for the better. We remove now the room, we have large debts that can not return. We are ashamed, but out of another we do not have, I beg you to help us any money, please help us get an apartment and return the debts. We are grateful to you all my life.

please visit our site: help-me-please.ucoz.net

Any questions or respond to Email: igorirka@yahoo.com or by Skype id IgorIrka1, thanks in advance.


hi 6 years ago

Im poor too, life is hard. I know that now. But NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS remember everything happens for a reason. It's hard to believe in those words, but please try. Things will get better, right now, they are bad, I know, I'm in your position. But, keep your religious beliefs strong. And stay strong. It WILL get better, for you, me, and everyone else. It's hard, it wont be easy. But one step at a time....and it will get better, I promise. God has a plan for everyone, right now he's just working on the glitches of yours.


Luke 6 years ago

It was not long ago I was living on about $8,000 per year if that in US funds. I read a lot of peoples comments that they are doing it tough on what would probably be five or more years worth of my income.

A lot of my work is trying to do peace work on the planet and making the world a better place for others in areas that are ravaged by poverty and extreme war. Day by day we cause change. Money is not always required to make a difference in the world but it certainly helps.


Daisy 5 years ago

Very inspirational! And thanks for reminding all of us.


claus muntet 4 years ago

thanks for sharing your problem.me am poor because cultural factors such as age discrimination,racial discrimination, caste discrimination where by i remain poor.


Becky Norris 4 years ago

My husband, my two children and i have moved to Metairie La from Michigan. We always had to struggle to get respect from these workers but we always ended up getting the help we needed. I have been here a couple months and have been treated horribly. The first worker i talked to almost yelled at me the whole time and then ended up denying my case because i had supposedly not sent in all the information. We applied again and didn't receive anything back. No calls no mail NOTHING. I went to the office i applied at and they found my case in the computer and it had been aproved. They gave me a number to one of their 5 offices that had accepted my case. The worker in charge of my case lost my information and didn't even know about me. I gave her all the information i had and she said she would send me a benefit card in the mail in the next few days. The card arrived but there is NOTHING on it. I called them back today and tried to let them know they case is under my husbands name. They didn't care and refused to take my application number. All they wanted was my name and said i would receive a call in the next two days. I know i wont because our case isn't even under my name. All this happened after i let the woman know one of my children is extreamly disabled and cant eat normally and im almost 6 months pregnant and unable to get medicaid because they too have not contacted me. So im 6 months pregnant still nursing my one year old so he dont starve. I had to feed a bowl of oatmeal and a can of peas to my children today. Im running out of food and nobody cares. God help me i dont know what to do.


Kristy 4 years ago

I have been treated horrible by the Louisiana DCFS ... I am a single mother of three children... I have worked hard my whole life and paid my taxes. One of my children is disabled so my who life has changed and I have to stay home with him now. I was receiving food stamps and was very grateful. When it came time to renew I received my paperwork in the mail after the date it was due. I had to drive 38 miles to the DCFS and talk to them q out that. Then, I received a letter saying I would have a phone interview at a certain date and time. That day came without a call. I drove down there again. I was told by my caseworker and her supervisor that I was lying about not receiving the phone call and that I had never left a message with their message center for my caseworker to call me. I had left numerous messages. They also said that they had left me a voicemail. I don't even have voicemail!!!!! The DCFS supervisor and my caseworker were rude, condescending and humiliated me in front of others in the lobby. I have never been so humiliated in my life. As of right now, I have reaplied. Today is 6/7/12... I received two letters in the mail. The mail that was postmarked 6/4/12 that said I had an appointment 6/1/12!!! The other letter said that since I missed my appointment I would have to reapply! That puts me waiting 30 days again! My kids have been without food for four months and I am literally selling stuff to feed them.

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