Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Saturday, May 01, 2004

some punishments of poverty

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

First, there's revision of a state law. Insurance companies now notify the state's dept. of motor vehicles, if a car is no longer insured. The state notifies the owner. If the car is driven without insurance, or if the owner doesn't snap to and get insurance promptly enough, the car is kidnapped by the police. The owner must pay steep fines for this. If the owner can't pay, the state sells the car.

This benefits the insurance companies' lobby and the state treasury.

Car insurance in affluent, predomenantly-white areas of the state costs $140 per year. Car insurance in low-income areas of town, particularly the War Zone of Albuquerque, costs $350 per year. The residents there are predominantly working class people of color.
I can't work at KUNM as a reporter. It doesn't matter that I have decades of experience and education. I don't have a Bachelors Degree, nor can I afford to acquire one. The best I can do is a job as an Editorial Assistant. This is a part time position, with no benefits, on an as-needed basis.
My bank. I have been getting Direct Deposit Advances on my Social Security Disability check.

The fees were, originally, one dollar for every $20 borrowed. I borrowed five hundred dollars from next month's check, a year ago, so I could move out of the War Zone and try to improve my life.

The fees were about twenty five dollars per month.

A few months ago, the fee was increased to $1.50 per twenty borrowed. That's about thirty seven dollars per month.

Last month, in mid month, the fees and policies changed.

I've been paying down the amount, every other month. I'd gotten down to $460. For the Broadcasters' convention, I decided to advance myself an extra twenty, in case I needed emergency money at the conference. I couldn't do it.

They'd changed the amount. I could no longer advance myself $500 maximum. I could only advance myself half my total deposit: $300.

No warning, no notice. And the fee has increased to $2 per twenty dollars.

I had advanced myself $440 early in the month. The fee for that money, thank heavens, is the old rate. Two weeks later, I advanced myself another twenty; the rate was the increased rate!

So, I have to budget this month without the potential additional amount of 160-200 dollars!

If I hadn't accidentally stumbled onto Melissa, the news director of Pacifica's Free Speech Radio Network, who gave me an eighty dollar job last month (a day before I knew about any of these changes), I would not have had enough money to pay my rent and internet bills!

And I live in a slum. If I'd been late with the rent, I would have received a three day notice. If I hadn't paid the full rent, plus a fifty dollar late fee, within three days, my landlord would have taken me to court, and I would have been homeless within about two weeks.

I'm glad to say my little eighty dollar check put me just over the line. I have $464 in the bank at this moment.

My rent is $425; my WebTV bill is $22.

I have just enough left to pay back the grrlz on da 1st floor, and to buy a cheap carton of cigarettes.

I'll have less than five dollars leftover for the month.

The bank is a predatory lender. There's no excuse nor justification for these steep rate increases. They've got us "hooked," because we're poor and can't get money elsewhere. They know we're stuck and now they're sticking it to us.

I'm sure there are thousands of disabled and elderly people stuck where I am.

So, I'm glad I only have to borrow three hundred next month. I can eat it down much faster.

And I'm grateful I've got the option of freelancing for Pacifica. I can get out from under those bastards even faster, with stories I can sell to Pacifica.
Now, add on: rent-to-own scams, payday loans at huge interest, home equity loans that gouge, higher-priced groceries in slums, predatory landlords, "no credit required" used car lots, etc.

If you think the poor in this country are lazy, or just don't try hard enough, you're a fool.

It's a pit; it'll drag you down to lower and lower standards of living. It'll eat you up and spit you out.

And, once you're completely broken down, it'll throw you in a privatized jail or hospital, suck out every dime of personal property, over charge Medicaid and Medicare, and kill you with neglect.

I am absolutely serious when I say I'm doing EVERYTHING I can to break this cycle of poverty!

THAT's why, in pain and malnourished, I WALK three miles to KUNM, so I can write news stories!

THAT's why I've been collecting duck eggs and eating out of dumpsters! Every dime I can scrounge keeps me a pebble's distance farther from falling deeper into this black hole of poverty!

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