Dear Jason Chaffetz, You are a representative in the United States government. It seems you don’t understand this, and it also seems you don’t care, but here is the deal, YOU work for ME, a regular American. You work for all Americans, so when you go on a television news program and say something arrogant as you did today, you get heat. I’m thinking you received a lot of heat because when I tried to call your office just now to express my dissatisfaction with your rudeness, I couldn’t get through to leave a message. On the line for people who are not your constituents, a message said it was full of messages. On the line for constituents, it said that you were not taking calls. Really, you aren’t taking calls from your constituents today? I even tried to e-mail you, but apparently, you have to live in your district and prove repeatedly that you are not a robot in order to do that.
In my opinion, you sir, are a coward. If you are going to go on national television and insult an entire group of people, then you need to have the courage to deal with the consequences. Obviously, you do not. However, I have am going to have my say, whether you read it or not.
You obviously know nothing about poor people. I am sick of you and other republicans judging poor people. You act like you have some kind of moral high ground simply because you were born to parents who had money. You don’t. Rich people aren’t better than poor people simple based on the amount of money they have. People are better people based on their actions and often their words. Jason, you failed miserably today. You said horrible things about a group of people you do not know. You judged people you do not know. You assumed that poor people make bad choices. You are uninformed, and it seems you do not care to educate yourself, however; I am going to try.
I grew up in poverty. When I was born, my parents were doing well financially. It doesn’t really matter, that just happens to be a fact and part of my story. They were not rich, but they were able to pay their bills. My father worked full-time and my mother worked part-time as a hair dresser out of the beauty shop attached to our home when my sister and I were younger. She worked full-time outside of our home when we got older. We lived my entire childhood in a modest home in a small town in Pennsylvania.
When I was a young child, my father got sick. He had to change jobs from his usual milk delivery and his income went down. He continued to work full-time during the day and worked part-time jobs in the evenings and on weekends with my mother.
I remember my father and mother taking a job cleaning the local library in the evenings after it was closed. My younger sister and I went with them, and now I realize it was because they couldn’t afford childcare. We sat in the children’s section and entertained ourselves, careful not to make a mess or disturb anything, while my parents cleaned which included sweeping and mopping the floors of the large old building that I thought of as a beautiful, magical place. On weekends and other nights, my father who was skilled in woodworking built things for others and my mothers helped him. He also did odd jobs including doing basic plumbing or doing body work on cars or to earn extra income.
Mr. Chaffez, you seem to think that poor people have poor planning, or buy items they do not need. You seem to blame them for the circumstances they find themselves in by no fault of their own. I want you to understand that when you are poor, you simply live each day in the best way that you can. When you are poor, you don’t have the ability to save money. All of your money goes to survival. You don’t have the ability to make better choices. Your choices are made for you by your circumstances. Really, your lack of choices are made for you by your circumstances.
Some poor people probably don’t have a cell phone. Some may have an inexpensive cell phone. Maybe some poor people buy smart phones. So what? They aren’t really expensive and many people use them in place of home phones. They are able to use them for everything including internet access and can be used in case of emergencies when they are away from home. If you have children, it’s a useful tool to have when you are out in the community. Also poor people can’t afford to buy new cars so they often drive used cars, which can break down often. No one no one wants to be stranded with a broken down car without being able to contact someone to come and help them, especially if you have young children with you. When you are poor, you often don’t have AAA as you can’t afford it, or can’t afford a tow truck, so you depend on family or friends to come and get you or help you to get your car running again.
Also, poor people are still people and are entitled to make whatever choices they want with what little money they have. Everyone deserves joy in life. I’m sure you enjoy the luxuries you have in your life, the cup of coffee you buy on the way to work, the movie you see on the weekend. Would you like someone telling you that you should spend that money in a better, more efficient way? Would you like it if someone appointed themselves as your moral superior and told you that you should make your coffee at home to save money or say that instead of going to the movies, you should donate that money to charity? No, people have the right to whatever joys, large or small, they enjoy in life.
Children who are born to wealthy parents are able to choose to go to college if they wish. If they do, their parents pay for their college education. When they graduate, they are not $25,000. or more in student loan debt starting out right out of school. This was the case for me in 1984 when I graduated from college. I put myself through college. My husband did too as we were both born to poor families. We got married right out of college, and were $50,ooo.oo in debt. He was an officer in the Marine Corps, and we went to Quantico, Virginia where he began his training.
We were lucky in many ways. We were white and certain privileges came with that. We had grown up in a town where we went to great schools and received an excellent education. We grew up at a time when we could afford to put ourselves through college on student loans and in his case also on grants, and still afford to live for part of our college careers in the college town we lived in by supporting ourselves with part-time jobs. The rents in the community were not high in 1984. I doubt this would be possible for someone as poor as we were to do this in 2017.
While I will give my parents all of the credit for being hard workers who provided for my physical needs, who kept me in stable shelter, who kept me clothed, and fed, I will acknowledge that I was abused by them. I was still lucky because I had good people in my life who helped me. I had adults who provided some stability and let me know that I was smart and lovable. There were good people in my life, not every abused and or neglected child has this either. I know I was lucky. I know these things made a difference in my life and in the opportunities I had.
Being poor is not a choice. You cannot simply pull yourself out of poverty by sheer force of will or by working hard enough. You cannot pull yourself out of poverty if you do not get a good education as a child and a teen.
I worked in the social services field with people who lived in poverty for over twenty years. The majority of them were good, kind, compassionate people who were simply trying to do the best they could with the limitations that life that gave them. I worked with different populations including homeless adults and mentally ill adults. I respected them a great deal. Everyone has something that they have to deal with in life. We all have some kind of limitation. No one is perfect.
Jason, it is not your job to judge others. It is definitely not your job to judge poor people and the choices they make in their lives. It is your job to represent your constituents and to listen to them. It would be great if you could make it your job to educate yourself about poverty.
It would be great if you would make it your job to educate yourself about the needs of the poor including their healthcare needs, and then try to do something to actually HELP them. Jason, it would also be great if you would try to be a better human being.