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The Crime of Poverty - Discrimination by Business

Updated on November 14, 2011

Poverty isn't a Crime, Yet

August 15, 2011

If poverty isn't a crime it should be declared one. At least then there would be some justification for the horrible treatment and unbelievable disregard people below a certain income level are subjected to.

Make it illegal to be poor and at least then a horror story will have some logical reason behind it.

We are all human beings; shouldn't we all expect to be treated as human?

Street Sleeper
Street Sleeper | Source

It's Bad Enough Then...

It's bad enough being poor, but if living from check to check and constantly worrying about ending up in the street isn't enough you are also penalized by business.

Got a bank account? If you are poor you are probably paying a monthly service fee while those who have direct deposit have a "no cost" account. Funny how the person that needs a break gets charged and the person who doesn't need a break gets one.

Need to send a cashier's check? Same deal. If you have direct deposit the cashier's checks are free. If you are poor they'll cost you $10 to $12. Isn't that nice?

Did you miscalculate your spending? Too bad, each of the nine dollar coffee and danish, twenty dollar milk and cereal run, and six dollar toilet paper dash will cost you thirty-five dollars each. By the time you figure out what your bank charged you for your entire meager paycheck is gone. Time for a payday loan.

Are you coming up short and need a payday loan? Because you are poor you'll be paying almost 80% interest to borrow that money. Can't pay it back on time? The interest rate might rise to 400%. Great!

How's your credit score? Don't have one? Good luck applying for a place to live. No credit score means you are a risk to the landlord. You didn't really need a place to live did you?

Got a car? You are one repair bill away from complete disaster. It's bad enough that you have to buy insurance, buy gas, and try to keep it looking nice too. A broken starter, dead battery, or other problem will set you back anywhere from $250 to $1,000 with labor. You didn't really need to eat did you?

Like to eat do you? Bet you used to buy healthy stuff and treat yourself right. You can't afford that now, but it's taking a toll on your health. It's damned hard to live on Top Ramen and stay fit.

Stressed out? That's not good for your health either. In fact it is a proven fact that continued stress will cause you to become ill more often and those illnesses (along with the stress) will shorten your life, but you deserve this; you are poor.

So you are working through a state employment development agency and you've been offered a "free" class. This is great; skills you can use. But a month later, after spending all that time you might have been looking for a job, the class is over and guess what; no one is hiring that profession either. Aren't you glad you paid a sitter, used up all that gas, and spent all that time learning something you can't apply?

The Details

The Bank
You've got a bank account, but you are poor. Because you don't make that much money the company you work for does not offer direct deposit. You also make less than $24,000 a year.

If you made more or made more and had direct deposit your account would be free. But because your income is lower you are charged anywhere from $12 to $15 per month to have that checking account. That means you are being charged $144.00 to $180.00 to access your own money.

Using the example above you forgot about a nine dollar coffee and danish purchase you made. You bank account was short eight dollars. The $9.00 dollar charge hit your bank first and incurred a $35.00 overdraft fee. This means your $20 food purchase did not clear which added another $35.00 overdraft fee. Then because you are now overdrawn by $99.00 the $6.00 toilet paper purchase now cost an additional $35.00 overdraft fee.

So now instead of being overdrawn exactly $9.00 you forgot about are now overdrawn $140.00.

Need a cashier's check? If you are one of the low-tier customers that's going to cost you $10.00 to $15.00. If you have direct deposit a keep an account balance over, say, $500.00 the cashier's check is no cost to you.

Pay Day Loans
These are loans you are expected to repay on your next payday. If you had a "run-in" with the bank you are likely to need one of these.

For every $100.00 you borrow you will be charged $15.40 per month. Of course they expect you to pay back this amount in one month. If you borrow $500.00 then you are looking at $77.00. That's $577.00 you owe on a thirty day loan of $500.00.

If you can't pay in thirty days the rate rises to 400%. Just the sort of loan someone barely making it needs to make.

Credit Score
If you are poor and you've been honest then you've tried to avoid credit. Good for you, but it's still going to bite you. Landlords commonly use the credit score to determine the credit-worthiness of potential renters. No credit score means you will likely not be considered as a renter. Good for you; your honest paid off.

The Iron Chariot
Your car, unless brand spanking new, is going to break down. Mechanics have to paid and the parts don't come free.This is an unexpected expense that can break you. Worse, if the breakdown occurs on the way to work you are looking at lost time (which the company may not want to pay you for) and a towing charge. Even a repair as simple as a battery is going to run at least $100.00 plus mechanics time. If you are towed there's another $100.00 at least and if your employer doesn't want to pay you for lost time you are really going to take a hit.

When your pay is reduced so is your food purchasing power. The organic stuff you used to buy is too expensive so you start buying pesticide laden fare and hope the complete washing you always do is enough to get it all off. Or worse, your finances (see Bank, Payday Loan, or Iron Chariot) are so bad you are reduced to buying and eating Top Ramen.

This is not good for you and you know it, but it's that or the street.

Of course the constant state of stress keeps you up at night. You may even be seeing a psychologist who prescribes mood elevators or tranquilizers. The professional isn't cheap and neither are the meds. On top of that the drug companies make sure the doctors only prescribe the high dollar patent drugs that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle. Glad someone's making a profit; too bad it isn't you.

With all of that you are still suffering from stress. Elevated blood pressure, bad digestion, sleep deprivation, all of these take their toll. It will shorten your life one way or another either when you fall asleep at the wheel or have a heart attack years down the road.

Other Ways to Take Your Money
The means and methods separating you from what little money you make go on and on.

Your health insurance goes up. You keep it and pay more or drop it and risk the result.

Gasoline goes up and up, but your driving pattern remains the same; it has to, you have to get to work.

Rents are rising. Do you stay in the same "dump" you've lived in or attempt to find a cheaper place? And many locales allow landlords to raise the rent as much as they want or a set amount every year.

Food is going up. Do you buy cheaper or spend more on food and cut corners somewhere else.

Gas and electric are also rising.

It seems that no matter what you do the only person not getting the raise is you. Everyone else, utilities, bank, landlord, grocery store, you name it is charging more. Of course they don't pay their employees any more; you know this for a fact. You are one of them.


The author was not compensated in any way, either monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.


Submit a Comment
  • justmesuzanne profile image


    5 years ago from Texas

    Very good rundown on all the nickel and diming that plagues us poor folk. I am gradually letting lots of things fall by the wayside so as not to have to pay for them any more. It's really the only way to avoid having every penny stolen in fees and penalties. Voted up and awesome! :)

  • crazybeanrider profile image

    Boo McCourt 

    7 years ago from Washington MI

    THis hub is so true, and hits home way to close. It is a crime that will only continue until the poor get the big breaks the non poor folks get, and DO not need. Nicely written and tweeted as well.

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Jonathan: I hear you man!

    steve of ian fame: Don't they though?

  • steve of ian fame profile image

    steve of ian fame 

    7 years ago from Essex

    Until you are in a position to accumulate you keep helping those that are.

  • Jonathan Janco profile image

    Jonathan Janco 

    7 years ago from Southport, CT

    Yes, those who are in a position to do so love to bilk you, dont they?! There are a gazillion things I could add to that but I think you captured the experience of the poor and underpaid rather well.

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thank you J.S.

  • J.S.Matthew profile image

    JS Matthew 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Wow! You just told the story of 99% of Americans! This is great! I will be Voting as such and Sharing!



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