Poverty in the United States is a problem. When folks are poor they are less healthy, receive less education and are more likely to raise children who are poor themselves. And there are a lot of noble efforts to curb poverty in the US. Much of that effort is, of course, centered on taking money from people who have it and giving it to other people who don’t.
There are schools of thought that say, “The wealthy are able to give their children unfair advantages. We need to remedy this unfairness by proxy; giving money to the children of the poor.”
Not surprisingly, I don’t agree with this.
I am not among the poor in the United States. I live a life of relative ease. While I work my arse off, I don’t have the debilitating worries of poverty that afflict so many in America.
Note: I USED to live these worries. I’ve had telephone, water, electricity and cable all turned off. I’ve lived on the couches of friends and lived with roommates only just now less than 50% of my years after moving out from my folk’s place.
Now, while it’s true that my parents DID give me advantage, that advantage was NOT money. It was a mindset.
When I turned 10, TEN, my dad got me a job. My birthday gift that year was a paper route. Since the day I turned 10, I’ve been pulling a pay check. When the route wasn’t enough, mom and dad canvassed the neighborhood and scheduled me to mow lawns. I pushed my lawnmower down the street to mow lawns and when it was too far to walk I pulled it behind my bike.
I worked to get to work.
I had to go to church, to Cub Scouts, to marching band, to theater and to participate in sports EVERY season. When I was old enough to drive, I was expected to get a job. I swept the floors of the pizza joint and then got promoted to cook the pizzas. When I wasn’t a good enough cook I got moved to delivery boy where part of my responsibilities was to clean the toilets every night.
THIS is what my parents gave me.
A new survey from Visa Inc. shows that the average American family with teenagers plans to spend $1,078 — that’s for each child — on the prom, a 33.6 percent increase over the $807 spent last year.
Because we’re spending money on things like the prom. But that alone isn’t the whole picture; there’s more:
And those in the lower income brackets, less than $50,000, plan to spend even more — $1,307 per child, the survey found. And those in the very lowest bracket, under $20,000, plan to spend $1,200 — more than 6 percent of their annual income.
But the most staggering number came from those families earning between $20,000 and $30,000, who plan to spend an average of $2,635, which would represent almost 9 percent of annual income for those making $30,000. Those families are just above the federal poverty level, which is $23,050 for a family of four.
$2,635 spent on the prom. This with a household income of, at most, $30,000.
Parents in one of the lowest income brackets from the Visa survey reported planning to spend the most on prom. Those who make between $20,000 and $29,999 a year will spend more than $2,600, twice the national average, while families in high income brackets plan to spend between $700 and $1,000.
There are devastating examples of tragic bad luck or bad circumstance that leads to poverty. However, there must come a time when the noble left must acknowledge that a significant reason for poverty is the willingness to spend more money than one has.