I read an article about the poverty in Appalachia the other day and thought it was funny that they said the homes (in the 1960s) didn't have "plumbing or sanitation." Say what?
My grandmother kept a very neat house. She didn't have an indoor toilet, but no one, who visited her home, would ever have called her house "unsanitary." In fact, my house is probably a good deal less sanitary than hers, and I have both indoor plumbing AND sanitation. The fact that I have dogs and cats (nasty, dirty critters) living inside my house would have disgusted her.
It annoys me - a lot - when the media tries to spin the poverty issue as if it is a disease that needs to be eradicted. People who don't have money aren't sick, and funneling more money into the system does not make things better for the people the system is supposed to be helping. The more money we spend to fix poverty, the more cumbersome the system becomes, and the more money it takes just to administer the programs. It costs more money to pay for all of the people to do the paperwork than we actually give to the people who get the money. It's become a great, big, huge, unwieldy system that is going to buckle under its own weight, and the people who will get crushed are the people who are always crushed - the ones it is supposed to help.
Poverty happens when a small percentage of people claim ownership of things they have no business owning, and then, charge others for the use of those things. When one has to pay for such basic, necessary items like food, shelter, and water, one must have money, and if one can not afford those things, then, one's quality of life is degraded.
But poverty isn't about not having money, it's about not being able to provide for one's own needs, because someone has taken that freedom away.
The sun is out. It's not warm, because it's winter, but there's a brisk breeze and it's sunny. It's a perfect day for line-drying clothes. I was thinking about that article I read, and about how we no longer have a clothesdryer, and I mentioned to Deus Ex Machina that it was funny, because some time ago, I had some neighbors who did not have a clothesdryer - not because they chose not to have one, but because they were unable to afford to buy one - and I can remember that I considered offering to allow them to "borrow" mine. I think I actually felt some pity for them, because they had to hang their clothes on the line to dry - like that was just some incredible hardship. Maybe not exactly the same thing, but it reminded me of the time that a very well-meaning acquaintance found out we don't have a television and offered to take up a collection to buy us one. I'm certain there were deep feelings of pity involved in her offer. She thought she was doing us a favor, and it was a very kind, but unwelcome, gesture.
We have these crazy notions about what's necessary for quality of life, and among those things are some real non-essentials, like televisions and clothesdryers. I have neither, now, and I don't feel that my quality of life is diminished at all.
Mind you, this post is not me feeling superior to those people who do want those things, but rather a simple musing out loud about the difference between being poor and feeling poor. I wonder how many of the people who lived in Applachia, largely ignored by the industrializing world until the old growth trees were coveted and then, the coal supplies were discovered, would have considered themselves impoverished. Certainly, they had little money, but they probabaly had a warm cabin, and plenty of food, and lots of time for making music and communing with friends and family.
I wonder if we will ever get to a point where we feel sorry for people who are forced to use clothesdryers because they don't have the space (no yard) or time to hang their clothes out where the sun can carress and sanitize the fabric and the wind can whip the moisture out of the cloth.