When you’re pregnant for the second time it’s really easy to forget. Like, actually forget your pregnant. Sometimes Dan has to remind me that I can’t have a beer and I’m thinking, why? And then I get wicked heartburn and it’s like, oh yeah.
But earlier this week at my 19 week ultrasound it got really real. There was a baby in there with arms and legs and a little face and while Dan was exclaiming to the ultrasound tech how he thought the baby looked JUST like a dinosaur – I was thinking holy shit, this real person is going to have to COME OUT.
You’re probably thinking I was stressing about the pain, but actually I was stressing about the money.
When Mia was born it cost 9k dollars out of pocket (that’s AFTER employer-sponsored health insurance that we pay $780/month for). Luckily, at the time we actually had a savings account and were able to pay it off. This time we have a toddler and she has sucked us dry and there is no such savings to speak of so I’m a little bit panicking about how we’ll pay the hospital bill, and whether or not we could even afford a no-interest payment plan.
The more I think about it, the more angry I get. I’m angry at the insurance company, sure – but I’m also angry at the hospital bills that are so high to begin with. I’m angry that it costs 35k dollars to vaginally deliver a baby in a public hospital with no complications, and I’m angry at all the poor people who have no money at all and get to deliver as many babies as they want for free while the hospital jacks up my bills so I can subsidize the freebies.
One night, I was getting really, really angry about this – until Dan asked me would I rather be them? Would I rather be so poor that the hospital writes off my bills? Would I rather depend on a welfare check and be told what I can and can’t spend it on by the government?
No. No of course I wouldn’t.
And so I ask myself, why am I angry at those people? Why am I angry at the people who are even worse off than I am?
There is bill on the table right now in Maine that proposes we make all welfare applicants pass an asset test before getting benefits. Basically, the state would investigate whether or not they have any assets or bank accounts worth more than 5k dollars before they can qualify for assistance.
Maine citizens are ALL ABOUT this bill. They’re all about it even though it’s actually going to COST THEM MORE MONEY. Yes, more money for less benefits.
You see, welfare money that is paid out to Maine recipients comes from a pre-determined federal budget allocation (not the state budget). So kicking a few people off welfare who have 5k in their bank account wouldn’t actually save the state any money. What it would do is up the administrative budget which is the part of welfare that DOES come out of the state budget. So, tasking the state with asset checks for each welfare applicant will only cost the state money – money which won’t be offset by any savings from people getting kicked off assistance because that money is coming from the feds.
Not to mention the overwhelming failure of similar assets check programs in other states and the fact that an asset check actively dis-incentivizes people from responsibly saving money, in order to retain their benefits. But, that’s not the point of my argument.
The point is that non-desperately poor people (middle class?) seem to be absolutely dead set against really poor people getting a hand up. Even if preventing that hand up costs them MORE money.
I know because I’ve felt the same way. I can’t even tell you how many times a day I catch myself saying, it’s NOT FAIR.
It’s not fair that I work my ass off and my grocery budget is less than people on welfare get. It’s not fair that I save for years and can’t afford a second child while other people have theirs for free. WAHHHHHHHH.
So today I’m asking myself, why?
Why am I (and so many others) so angry at poor people? The only people even more desperate and disenfranchised than we are. People that would likely give anything to take our place.
Is it so we can feel superior? I don’t think so. Not for me anyway.
Is it because it feels unfair? Maybe. But nothing in life is fair.
You know what I think it is? I think people are angry.
I think people are angry at a system that forces them to tread water just long enough to keep their head above water until they die. They are angry about working 80 hour weeks and still having to shop with coupons. They are angry that it costs them 9k dollars to give life, safely, to a human child. They are so angry and they have to place that anger somewhere so they say “fuck those burger flippers that want $15 an hour. I barely make 15 dollars an hour and I do something IMPORTANT. Who do they think they are? Why should anyone achieve a better life, a fairer wage, a little help – while I keep struggling?”
Believe me, I get it. Because I’ve been angry too.
But at some point we need to stop. We need to punch a pillow instead. Because getting angry at each other is only holding us all back.
We’re fighting for crumbs while the 1% eats the entire pie.
Enough is enough.
Instead of worrying about a single mom getting a welfare check and putting it away into a bank account with 5,000 dollars (barely enough for a months worth of rent, food and childcare) – let’s worry about the corporations that are paying her $8 an hour (which is NOT EVEN CLOSE TO A LIVING WAGE) and forcing taxpayers to make up the difference.
Instead of worrying about the couple of people who are abusing the system and getting away with a few hundred bucks here and there, let’s worry about the politicians who are drinking out of $3000 wine glasses while they discuss how much they care about the middle class.
Instead of stepping on each others fingers and watching everyone fall, lets try to give each other a leg up and get everyone over the wall.
Poor people are not the reason we’re not rich people.
It’s as simple as that, really.