Why Americans Dislike Poor People & What to do about it

Rachel Yerks


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Passing a $600 stimulus check took far longer than it should have for a room full of millionaires. Getting help when it’s needed by others never seems to be something better-off Americans are interested in.

But is this solely reflected in our politicians? No. We elect people who share our views. We can’t be mad when they follow through on what we allowed them to do. It’s like not voting and then getting angry about the results. You have no right if you didn’t even try.

Americans being against the lower class isn’t only a government issue. It’s a daily issue that becomes worse every moment we don’t intervene. It’s when an old lady holds up the line at the grocery store with her coupons and people start to yell at her when it’s not her fault the cashier rang the coupons up wrong.

It’s when the friend you’re with says they dislike extreme couponers because they waste people's time for a few dollars. I don’t think they intended to waste other people’s time while trying to feed their family affordably, and I told my friend that. Fight back against the poor treatment of other people.

Poor treatment is when people using SNAP benefits have cake mix and soda in their shopping cart and people think that because they’re poor, they shouldn’t be buying treats for themselves and their kids. Maybe that week you saw was their child’s birthday and the rest of the time they buy everything you think they should. Or maybe they needed a cake to get through the week … or they just wanted a cake for once! If you aren’t going to help, keep your judgments to yourself. If you are going to help, still keep your judgments to yourself, or help the people you want to help. At this point with so many needing help, I’m sure you can find someone you think is *worthy*.

The system is designed to never let anyone get ahead

There are people who make just a few dollars over the minimum income required for government assistance and struggle. They can’t get what they need because they “make too much” but they don’t make enough to afford what they need. Maybe they need affordable housing or SNAP benefits or help to pay off student loans. It’s a paradox. In order to get what they need, they need to make less, and that’s not helping anyone.

In Finland, homelessness is decreasing because people are given support, no ‘qualifications’ needed. People don’t need to make below a certain amount per year, they don’t commit to paying back their free housing, etc. They are provided with shelter and given access to resources to rebuild their lives. They are treated as worthy of a decent life purely for existing, not because of their perceived monetary value to the country. People are worth more than money.

In the United States, we don’t give away benefits like that. You have to be really suffering or doing very well to get access to supportive services. Why not offer resources to the public so that more negative situations are resolved before they really begin? Wouldn’t prevention make more sense than dealing with situations when they are dire?

There’s plenty of money to help people but we don’t use it

The United States is the richest country in the world and yet, we have a lot of unnecessary suffering. There is plenty of money to significantly decrease the chaos and unrest in our country.

Imagine if we took a small portion of the defense bill that passes every year and put it towards public programs. More people would have more opportunities and the country would become more successful. If we invested more in helping people, maybe they’d want to help the country more. You get out what you put in, and with people, that’s no different. You can have “American Pride” and still know that things need significant improvement.

It’s not fair to judge our country by its wealth. Instead, judge its character. Would you want to be treated how the poorest people are treated by our government, and the public? I highly doubt it. Think about that next time you vote.

It’s not me, so why should I care?

No one likes being told about their privilege. The people who need to be told won’t listen when you accuse their privilege of blinding them. Instead, ask them to think of everyone as their neighbor. Would you want your neighbor to be treated poorly? What could you do to help?

Maybe no one helped you. That’s terrible, and I’m sorry that happened. I’m also guessing you would have wanted someone to help you. Even if no one helped you, you can help others. Next time you need help, the world may surprise you and help you. Or not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a helpful person.

If you finished the month off with extra income and polished off your savings, donate some of it. The world doesn’t become a better place solely from your existing, donating your time, or protesting without changing your own habits. Put your money where your mouth is. And if people are pissing you off, donate to no-kill animal shelters or sustainable nonprofits helping the environment. You can be fed-up with people and still help the world, and the United States, if that’s where your focus happens to lie.

What can I do to be a better American?

If your country treats the lower class badly, by all means, follow these tips too.

Vote for people who will enact change at a national level. Check on your neighbors and help them when you can. Donate your time and money to charities that you have properly researched. Set up recurring donations so nonprofit organizations can make grander plans to help more people without worrying about not having enough funding.

Stand up to your friends and family when they say rude things about less fortunate individuals or buy their tenth sports car without donating a single penny to charity. Be less worried about pissing people off and more worried about helping those who need help.

Be better. But please, don’t “Be Best”.

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Owings Mills, MD

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