This is the second time this week the internet has described me as “reserved” WITHOUT EVER MEETING ME, YO.
At least they’re not telling me I’m Emperor Palpatine anymore.
On “Broke” vs. “Poor”
Straight from Slate this morning: “A viral essay shows that we’re confused about the difference between “downwardly mobile” and “impoverished.” (They’re arguing, of course, that Linda Tirado aka KillerMartinis of Poverty Thoughts is “broke,” not “poor,” mostly because she had a middle-class childhood.)
I’m going to tread very carefully around the “poor is a cultural thing” that they’re setting up, and focus on the broke v. poor distinction.
On the one hand, sure. I get what they’re saying.
On the other hand: when you put those words into print, you trivialize the low wages and economic environment that prompt people like Linda Tirado to write essays called “Poverty Thoughts.”
"Ha ha, college students are just broke, not poor."
"Yup, young adults are broke, not poor."
"Heh, grad students are totally broke, not poor." (There is a blog post of my own, hidden on the interwebs, in which I describe being a grad student and not being able to afford food. Don’t read it — it’s maudlin. However, during that time period I was living off $750/month, which I kept up for three years.)
And so on.
How many years do you have to be “broke” before it starts adding up to “poor?” At what point do you let go of the assumption that people like Linda will somehow get better jobs and be able to provide her children with the type of childhood she experienced?
I get that there is a world of difference between “I come from generational poverty” and “I haven’t been able to build a financial foundation for myself and my family.” But you can’t say “don’t listen to Linda, she’s just broke” without ignoring what appears to be the primary struggle affecting working Americans in this economy.