When is enough, enough…?
After reading Margarita Raycheva’s excellent article in The Gazette (May 2, 2012) about the woman who just received an interest free home through Habitat for Humanity I’m left puzzling over what we now consider “needy” and “poor”.
I guess I’m writing more for input than informing the public.
Do we now consider a single person with one dependent to be needy when he or she is making over $43,000 at one job, holds 3 others, and has full benefits?
I agree that person might not be able to afford a mortgage for a home in Maryland, but does that qualify them as needy? They are certainly working hard, but isn’t that what one does when one wants something?
You can rent a nice apartment almost anywhere in the county on that salary.
2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines puts a family of two in poverty if they are making $15,130 per year. The example I gave above puts that individual well above the poverty line.
So, what is “needy" or “poor?
Google defines needy: “(of a person) Lacking the necessities of life; very poor. (of circumstances) Characterized by poverty: those from needy backgrounds.”
And poor as: “(of a person) Lacking enough money to live comfortably in a society.”
The person in my example doesn’t appear to be “needy” or “poor” as defined by Google and probably not most other truly needy people and families for that matter.
My mother grew up in Howard County living in a one room – not one bedroom – one room house with one bed. She, her sister, brother, mother and father slept in that one bed together. There was no running water, only a “community” well for them to gather water from winter, spring summer and fall. No television, no radio, no phone, no X-Box or iPad. Food was often scavenged from the local dump.
That’s needy. That’s poor.
To clarify, after this Gazette article hit the public, a Habitat for Humanity representative spoke out on the Morning News Express with Bob Miller about the incident that caused me to question how we now define “needy.”
After the broadcast I understand Habitat for Humanity doesn’t necessarily help get homes to the “needy” inasmuch as it is to those who “could use” but “can’t find” a mechanism to purchase one on their own.
I’m okay with that, not that the public cares, but it still leaves unanswered my original pondering on the 21st Century definition of “needy” and “poor.”
We still have people in our community stating loud and clear that they cannot afford to live here making between $40 and $100K a year. They’re still saying through their unions and others that they won’t stay and will move elsewhere if raises are not given.
One even went so far as to say “that apathy here tonight [by FCPS employees], is going to transfer to your classrooms tomorrow.”
Yes, it sounds as bad as it reads and can be found on the Frederick County Public Schools/Board of Education archives for the February 1, 2012 public hearing, Part 3, minute marker 27:58. (It was still there as of yesterday so I will assume it’s still there today.) But I digress….
Ken McIntyre, of National Review on Line, wrote of the new poor: “Data from the Department of Energy and other agencies show that the average poor family, as defined by Census officials:
“Lives in a home that is in good repair, not crowded, and equipped with air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cable or satellite TV service.
“Prepares meals in a kitchen with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave as well as oven and stove.
“Enjoys two color TVs, a DVD player, VCR and — if children are there — an Xbox, PlayStation, or other video game system.
“Had enough money in the past year to meet essential needs, including adequate food and medical care.”
I’m left scratching my head wondering how, then, are they poor? Isn’t the goal of most people to make enough money to meet their needs? Google says it is.
When we start successfully convincing people who make a decent wage that they fit into this category - well, I don’t know about you, but I find that deplorable. It’s this kind of thing that adds fuel to the mind that believes making over $40,000 a year is somehow not enough to survive on.
I’m not sure why anyone fitting into the above criteria would consider themselves “poor” or “needy.”
Have we become a society so greedy and jealous of what others have that we cannot see how good we have it?