Plundering the Poor

The other day, Bandobras related his recent adventures in helping a younger friend move. The young friend had made arrangements to rent a U-Haul to transport all his belongings.U-Haul totally messed up their reservations and was completely unapologetic for their mistake and for throwing a big wrench in an already stressful day.

Bandobras noted that U-Haul must have the same customer service policies as the  Greyhound bus company, who I once make the mistake of patronizing. Long story short – it was a nightmare from start to finish.

What U-Haul and Greyhound have in common is that they both service people who have no other choice. U-Haul is the bottom of the barrel moving option for those who can’t afford to rent from a more reputable rental agency or can’t afford professional movers or don’t have enough friends with trucks and/or energy. Greyhound is the bottom of the barrel transportation option for people who can’t afford anything else and need to go somewhere.

So, basically these two companies have monopolies as far as the unmonied go and therefore can treat their customers any way they like; any way that’s least costly and least inconvenient to the company.

I’m sure we’ve all, at some point in our lives, been forced to deal with a company we found at the bottom of a barrel and who, consequently had us over a barrel. Maybe they were the only game in town or maybe they were the only ones we could afford. And they knew it and treated you like crap.

And therein lies, what I think is one of the worst things about being poor – the lack of choice. Not just in transportation or truck rentals, but in everything. The only choices they get to make is to take the cheapest option for everything or do without.

And there are sharp operators out there who take full advantage of that – like U-Haul and Greyhound and landlords and employers. Poor people have to take the crappiest housing and can’t complain about the condition of the place because they have no where else to go. They have to take the shittiest jobs because they never had the option to educate themselves enough to get better jobs, so they have to put up with whatever their employers choose to dish out if they want to keep working.

With this latest recession or economic slump or whatever you want to call it, lots of people have lost their jobs and the money lenders have swooped in to give the poor completely unaffordable loans they are forced to take in order to keep themselves alive.

Those cheque cashing/payday loan places like Money Mart have been wise to fleecing the poor for quite some time. Likewise all those rental places where you can get furniture and giant TVs and appliances for low, low, low weekly rates. And those Don’t Pay a Cent Until 2012 shops.

And lotteries. Take a look at the people in line at your local lotto booth.  Most of them are people plopping down $10 or more every week that they can ill afford. But it’s the one small bit of something resembling hope they still have, I guess. That’s your provincial/state government making money off the poor.

And then there are people who have decided it takes too long to squeeze pennies out of the poor. They figure they can make a lot more from them by harvesting their organs.  People like New Jersey Rabbi Levy Rosenbaum , who has been all over the news lately for dealing in black market human organs. For decades he’s been buying organs from the poorest people in the poorest nations in the world and selling them in the US for up to 100 times what he paid for them

Poor people like the guy in Pakistan in this article: Man must choose between selling kidney or child..  He can’t pay his rent, so, like thousands like him, he was given the option of selling one of his kidneys or selling one of his children. (I’m waiting to see what exactly is done with these children that are bought and sold. No one expanded on that end of the story.) Anyway, either the child or the kidney will  net the man about the equivalent of 1300 US dollars.  That’ll keep him going for a few months and will earn Rabbi Rosenbaum about $180,000 back in the States.

How low can you go?

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35 responses to “Plundering the Poor

  1. We’ve had horror stories with both Greyhound and U-Haul. U-Haul gave away our truck on the day we were supposed to move from Tucson to Illinois…a 1600 mile move. And Greyhound sent my daughter’s suitcase to some little podunk town in Texas and refused to retrieve it until I started calling every day and acting like a jerk.

    We still have to deal with them both on a regular basis since our kids are the age where they need moving trucks and bus tickets pretty often, but I do it through clenched teeth every time, waiting for the inevitable screwup.

    Did I menion our box of platelets that went to Nashville, TN on Greyhound?

  2. Okay, I’m against slimy companies taking advantage of the poor. Like slick landlords and money lenders. (You’re probably better of getting a loan from Tony Soprano, at that point).

    But, on the other hand, poor people also have to take some responsibility for their own actions.

    Like…STOP paying these Money Mart places to cash your paychecks. For crying out loud…GET A BANK ACCOUNT. I mean..how HARD can it be?

    Even if your balance is only 20 bucks, and the bank charges you fees, it’s still much MUCH better than paying those other shysters.

    And if you’re poor..DON’T BUY a big screen TV and shit you can’t afford!

    There’s NO such thing as a free lunch. Be aware of “Zero Interest” and “No money down”. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably IS.’

    They oughta teach that in school, and make it mandatory course.

  3. Dr. Monkey – It’s an entire industry and it’s all legal (including the harvesting of organs in the countries where it’s done). I’d love to know how these people rationalize what they do.

    Ev – I have yet to hear a happy, fun story about either U-Haul or Greyhound.

    Friar – The thing about being poor is that you often have no choice but to do things you know are stupid. Like Money Mart. Unless you have a really well established credit rating, banks will hold pay cheques for 6 business days before you can get your money. A lot of people can’t wait that long to buy groceries. They’re living from pay cheque to pay cheque so they fork over a chunk of it to Money Mart every week. And, if poor people want furniture or appliances they also often have no choice but to go to the sharks. Even used furniture can take a big hunk out of the budget. It’s not always about the TV. I know if you’re really, really clever and have the energy left at the end of working your ass off all day at some minimum wage job, you can find ways to get a little ahead of the game (like the freegans do). And a lot of things that seem really simple and obvious to people who’ve never been poor, aren’t at all simple or obvious to those who’ve been nothing but poor all their lives.

  4. IN this particular instance it isn’t about not having any money. The man is working as a special constable and the woman is a teacher. He is going back to school and they had organized a truck and some friends to help. They didn’t want to spend a lot since they will be losing his income for the next year.
    The day before the move U-haul called and informed them that the truck they had reserved wasn’t available and they would have to get by with one about 2/3 as big and that one would have to be returned to the original dealership instead of being dropped off at the destination.
    With friends and family the move was performed but many would have been left with no place to store their stuff and no way to get it to the new location.
    All this for a couple who had done everything you can do to ensure a simple and easy move.
    These companies do this sort of thing all the time and there is virtually no penalty for them screwing over their customers.

  5. In weak defence of at least one of the fleecers, I’ve had to make use of places like Money Mart before and I’m thankful they existed, even if it did cost me a kidney to borrow from them. (Yes, it’s my fault I was in that position in the first place, but that doesn’t make me any less thankful that they were there.) When you’re desperate, you do what you have to do.

    The “no payments until 2012” places are different. They prey on the stupid and/or lazy, not the poor. For most of them (like Leon’s or the Brick), if you pay attention and pay everything before the deadline, there’s no interest or other fees. It’s only if you screw up and still have money due by the due date that you start accruing interest.

    And there’s been a time or two I would have sold a kidney or lung if I could have. Even now, I’d probably have to stop and think before I said “no”.

  6. Friar’s hit some good nails on the head and I think your rationalization is a bit too sympathetic. I`m just saying.

    As for U-Haul, they do tend to fly by the seat of their pants, but I’ve rented from them several times and I’ve had super success more often than not. They are priced right.

    Greyhound–well, I missed a connecting bus and the next was a week away. But what could they do? Traffic was the culprit. Long story short: I got a full refund and, with a bit of ingenuity, still made my trip on time.

    Landlords, employers, companies: They’re all people. Governments, too. Wars are people. So is religion. Even traffic. So I like to heap compliments or lay blame where it`s deserved: On people.

    And all that bloody organ business can be dealt with. If there’s a will to stop it, it just takes money & politics.

  7. I’m not going to argue that Greyhound and U-Haul take advantage of thier customers. But they are in the bussiness and when you are the lowest cost option you find ways of making sure you’re getting the largest profit you can. Unfortunately in the case of U-Haul that seems to mean they over book thier trucks so that they are sure they are all rented when ever they can be.

    Like Friar though I think people need to take some responsibilty for thier own actions. There is no reason that someone living in Canada cann’t educate themselves and provide themselves with a better life. My wife came to Canada from Poland when she was 7. Here parent work crappy jobs till they could learn the language and her mother went to school so she could get a better job. Now they are buy no mean rich but they had nothing when they arrived and they now live a pretty typical suburban life. When it came time for my wife to go to school, there wasn’t any money put aside for her education. She worked every summer and saved up enough money to cover her books and tuition. She even managed to get her degree without student loans. She then managed to secure loans to put herself though Dental School in Halifax. Sure she graduated with a ton of student debt but she started with nothing. Every time we drive downtown we go past the first apartment building she first lived in when they arrived. And every time we go buy she tells me about the roaches and the smells in the hall.

    Anyways, my point is, being poor doesn’t mean you have to always be poor. Making smart choices and busting your ass can dig you out of most holes.

  8. @MG

    Exactly! Just because you’re poor, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stay that way.

    Both my maternal and paternal grandparents came to Canada, right off the boat from Poland. (My Mom’s folks, in the 1930’s, no less). They did NOT have degrees. They worked minimum wage jobs, pinched their pennies, and slowly worked their way up.

    It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually they moved into nice homes and even managed to help put a few kids through university.

    And this was in the days before subsidized housing and welfare and Zero-Interest bargain stores.

  9. You did a post before where you seem to think that poor people are just screwed when it comes to education and life’s opportunities. Like some others here, I have to disagree. If you are healthy you can rise above poverty. You just have to really want to. As for the rent-a-center places you are absolutely right. They are blood suckers. If I had to stage my house to sell I would use them, but there really is no other reason.

  10. It’s not necessarily just because you are “poor” that these companies take advantage of you. It’s mostly because they can. They don’t care as much about customer service because you will likely be back once you need their service again, and even if you don’t use them again, there are thousands of others who will. They are not short on people who need them.

    The phone and cable companies are the worst. If you have the patience and quick-wittedness to deal with their crap, you can actually find some deals (usually). But they will not come out and offer a deal, and they’ll take it away or sneak in some other hidden costs that they “neglected” to mention because you didn’t ask. Even now, with some choice available, those companies still have poor customer service and treat everyone like shit.

  11. Bandobras – It does have a lot to do with having to choose the cheapest option. If they had rented a truck from Discount you can bet the truck they reserved would have been there.

    Louise – Of course all these people provide a service. If it weren’t for Greyhound and U-Haul and MoneyMart, a lot of people would be totally screwed. The problem, to me, is that these companies take advantage of the fact that they’re the only game in town for many people — Greyhound and U-Haul treat people like dirt, their vehicles are often not road worthy, the bus drivers are sketchy, MoneyMart’s fees are way out of line, etc., etc. And I don’t think you necessarily have to be stupid or lazy to not be aware of the fine print in those Leon’s “deals”.

    Tom – I’m glad things in your life usually work out well. That doesn’t necessarily make it a universal truth, though. And yes, we’re all people. Everyone is people. Even Soylent Green is people. And I’m not sure what you’re getting at about the bloody organs.

    Milan – What about the train? Isn’t it climate friendly? It also has the bonus of being people friendly. It’s not as budget friendly as Greyhound, but man the trip is sooooo much nicer.

    MG/Friar- Yes, I take your point that you can’t go for the lowest cost option and still expect first class service. It would be nice if companies treated people like human beings even if they’re poor, but I guess they do what they have to to make their profit. And yes, the immigrant stories are always very inspiring. I’m an immigrant. My parents also came over with the proverbial shoe-box of worldly possessions and $20 in their pocket. And we did okay. Things were quite a bit different back in the day when the country was bending over backwards to attract immigrants. There is no way my parents would have been able to do the things they did and accomplish what they did if they’d arrived here today. But yes,even today if you’re smart and determined and have chutzpah you can dig yourself out of most holes. HOWEVER, if you’re 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation poor and have never known anything but living and being treated like something scraped off the bottom of someone’s shoe; or if you’re poor because you have a physical disability or a psychological problem or have other mental issues — then maybe it’s not so easy to just pull up your bootstraps. I know people who are poor for one or more of the above reasons and yes, I feel like shaking them sometimes because they are so resigned to their poverty that they can’t even imagine anything else. And I can’t imagine how they could live so hopelessly, but I can see it. In the same way that you and I can’t really imagine being a multi-millionaire. The multi-millionaires of this world sneer at us middle-class shlubs in the same way that some of us middle-class shlubs sneer at the poor. “Look at those losers.” the multi-millionaires say. “Living in their little pathetic homes, going to their stupid little jobs for a paltry salary; having a few weeks vacation every year that they spend in Cuba — BAH! With a little determination they could all be multi-millionaires… but they’re too lazy and stupid to do what I did”

    Geewits – I think the key in your comment is “if you’re healthy”. And by healthy I would assume you mean physically, mentally and spiritually. A lot of people living in poverty have issues in one or more of these areas. Also, see my really long comment to MG/Friar above on this.

    Violetsky – They take advantage because they can, yes, but chances are you’re only using U-Haul or Greyhound because you don’t have the finances to go to anyone else. Like the phone and cable, any time a company knows you have really no choice but to use them, they take advantage. I don’t know why it has to be that way, but it is.

  12. Well, everything seems to be about covered here. What struck me reading these comments is the intolerance towards the poor, the “if they’re poor it’s their own fault and they aren’t taking charge of their lives” attitude.

    I don’t think it’s that simple, and no, I have no solutions to offer but I really think it’s not so black and white.

    But what the hell do I know.

  13. All the lovely, we were immigrants and we made it stories are fine. In this day they wouldn’t be allowed into Canada because they are not professionals or on a very small list of occupations we say the country needs.
    In Niagara almost all the farm labour that used to be done by locals and lots of immigrants is now performed by temporary seasonal labour that has no chance to actually stay in Canada legally and contribute their stories to the ongoing success of this nation.
    I have also used U-haul many times usually with no problem but when on the 30th of the month you tell someone the truck they reserved isn’t there you have screwed them. We spent hours calling all the other rental companies who by then had of course, had already rented out their trucks.
    What is the point of reserving the equipment? What would you do to a restaurant that took a reservation for a meal and then at the last minute said it’s not available anymore?
    One thing is pretty certain U-haul has lost about a dozen possible customers who are aware of this particular situation.
    I doubt that they care very much but eventually they will.

  14. Ohhhhh UHaul. A few weeks ago my friend and I had occasion to rent a small UHaul truck in order to go pick up a very tall cat tree. Because UHaul charges so damn much per mile, we rented it from the UHaul facility closest to the cat tree which happened to be a place called the Psychic Eye. On Saturday I called and reserved one of their $19.95 trucks for noon the next day.

    So on Sunday we arrived at 11:55 to find the Psychic Eye closed. We waited about 10 minutes and no one showed up so we called the number and the woman who answered, who is a psychic, mind you, asked “Do you have a reservation?” I said yes, that I had made one the prior day. She said they would be over to the shop in a while. (Just our luck to get the one psychic who does not live in her parlor!)

    About 20 minutes later the psychic and her extended family rolled up and she said the shop was closed that day because they were not able to get a babysitter. At long last we finally got the keys to the damn truck and were on our way.

    But seeing as how the woman was a psychic, shouldn’t she have KNOWN we were coming, I mean aside from the fact that I had bothered to make a reservation? Shouldn’t she have KNOWN her babysitter was not going to show up that day? It was all so incredibly ludicrous.

    But my cats love their new cat tree.

  15. As the gap between haves and have-nots widens, there will continue to be growth in those businesses – like Money Mart – who prey on those who are in desperate or near desperate straits. When the right conditions exist, there is created a service “vacuum” and nature abhors a vacuum so “enterprising” folks will fill it quickly.

    I do agree with Friar et al when they say that people have to take responsibility for themselves and avoid getting into a position where they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel – so to speak. But don’t forget that there are those who by circumstances, health, or whatever, by necessity seek out these services. It’s not the ocassional user of Money Mart or Leons, et al; those folks are usually driven by the real need to do so.

    As for the low service standards by businesses like Greyhound and U Haul. Um, isn’t this the norm just about EVERYWHERE? I got attitude from the kid at the equipment rental desk at Home Depot yesterday and before that was blatant indifference by a girl at the cash in Loblaws. This stuff happens all the time to me… and I’m a nice guy! Really!

    PS – Oh – and don’t forget the “low interest loan” businesses (no, not the Mob). Places like Citi Financial LOVE to see their doors opened by people who have made some bad financial choices…

  16. I agree with you XUP. It’s not nearly as easy to extricate oneself from poverty as it used to be. I want to address two of the things that have been brought up by your commenters.

    1. Banking. When my son’s father and I split up, I had to go on welfare. I’ll never forget pushing my baby stroller from bank to bank along Wellington Street, welfare cheque and ID in hand, trying to find a bank that would allow me to open an account. They all flat out told me it was their bank’s policy not to open new accounts for welfare recipients.

    2. Over the next six years I finished high school and got a university degree. This was only possible because of social programs like subsidized child care, student grants and loans, and Mother’s Allowance (social assistance). I then got a job and got off welfare. This was in the 80s/90s. Since then, Ontario has changed its laws. What I did in the 80s (getting student loans while collecting social assistance) is now illegal. The government has been sealing off the escape routes out of poverty for some time now. People are increasingly being locked into poverty.

    With respect to the inter-generational aspect of poverty, just about every middle or upper class family I know is helping their kids get a decent start in life, by subsidizing their education or giving them money towards a down payment or helping them out when they run out of money. Kids from low-income families get no help.

    Sorry to go on and on about it, but it just sounds so smug when people attribute success entirely to internal factors and refuse to acknowledge that the deck is stacked.

  17. When you go for the lowest bidder you get the lowest quality. I had my jeep moved across country when I moved here on the back of one of those trucks and the charge was $1500 bucks to my credit card. They were suppose to pick the jeep up at my house and drop it to the door when I arrived in Seattle. First, up they asked me to meet them somewhere and I do. Then they arrive in Seattle before I do and put the jeep in some inpound lot. When I arrive in Seattle I call to find out where my Jeep is, no one knows. It appears they failed to pay the truck driver for a month and he was holding my jeep ransom until they paid him. After threatening the truck driver, who had given me his car, he told me where my Jeep was, I went over to get it and had to pay $80 bucks to get it out of inpound. I called the company and told them they had not held up their end of the bargain and I wasn’t paying them, a lot of hot and heavy words flew back and forth and the conversation ended with, “Go to hell lady we have your money from the Credit card company.” I called my Credit Card company had a conversation with them, filled out some paperwork and just like magic they credited my Card for the 1500 bucks. I waited for a nice 60 days to past called up the company that transported my truck and said, very maturely, “I got my money back, neener, neener, neener.” I love that story because very rarely do things happen just that easy, but it appears if a company breaks any of the items in a contract you do not have to pay them. If they would have just been a little nice, I would have paid them something, but go to hell…doesn’t work for me.

  18. Jazz – Yes, it’s interesting how people don’t seem to get it. Like I said to MG/Friar, we might as well say there is something wrong with us because we’re not millionaires. I’m sure if we just got off our lazy asses and applied ourselves we could all be rich, too — not just getting by.

    Bandobras – U-Haul and Greyhound I’m sure have a zillion unhappy customers, but they also have a zillion people who will keep coming back because they have no choice.

    Elaine – You pose an interesting question about psychics. I once saw one buying 3 lottery tickets and I said to him “Hey, why do you need 3 of those?” And he just looked at me blankly and said, “I always get 3.” Thinking back, I guess he didn’t know that I knew he was a psychic, although he was in the public eye a lot. In any case, he didn’t get the irony. So not only was he a bad psychic, he also had no wit.

    Trashee – It’s easy for us to say people should avoid getting themselves into positions of poverty because most of us have been lucky enough to have avoided it. What if you start out from a position of poverty? As I said to Friar et al getting from a position of poverty to a position of solvency is equivalent to you or I getting from where we are to multi-millionaire status. It’s possible. People do it all the time, but most of us wouldn’t even know where to begin. And the people who already are multi-millionaires can’t understand why the rest of us keep on in this ridiculous middle-class existence when being rich isn’t that difficult with a little effort.

    Elaine – I think that’s what he meant by Money-Mart. They cash your pay-cheque for a big honkin’ fee and come and kill you if your cheque bounces. Is that what you mean by pay day loans?

    Zoom – Thanks. I was hoping you’d provide some input and hard cold fact.

    Cedar – Good for you! And excellent story. Of course if you’d been poor, you wouldn’t have had a credit card and they would have demanded the cash up front and you would have been screwed. Being poor sucks any way you slice it.

  19. Hey, I was poor I moved to Seattle with 3000 bucks and a credit card…who doesn’t have a credit card in America? Maxed out ones at least.

  20. Borrowing from family or reducing expenses are optimal solutions for people with short-term financial problems. When neither is an option, payday loans are a viable alternative. Consider an individual that is short on cash for the month and is faced with the option of taking out a $100 payday loan, writing a check for $100 with insufficient funds, or not paying their $100 credit card bill. Now compare these same fees expressed in terms of an APR: $100 payday advance = $15 fee (391% APR); $100 bounced check = $54 (1409%); $100 credit card balance with late fee = $37 (965%);.

    As far as payday lenders preying on the poor, a recent study cited by the Buckeye Institute concluded that the average profit margin for payday loan only stores was only 3.57%. Your typical commercial lender has a profit of 13.04%, which is much higher than your local payday lender.

  21. @XUP – you seem to have brought out the Bootstrappers (in force!) e.g. people who seem to hold a universal opinion that if you’re poor it’s because you’re not pulling yourself up hard enough by those good ol’ bootstraps!

    A surprising number of these people happen to be white men. Gee, I wonder what privileges they live with every day that THEY DON’T NOTICE – because they’re white men!

    @Friar – go destroy your credit rating with a bankruptcy or put an enormous medical bill on your credit card, fail to pay it on time even when the bank adjusts the terms and minimum payments IN THEIR FAVOR for no reason other than it says they can in the fine print and they made absolute bullshit mortgage loans that failed so they have to soak SOMEbody, and then go out and try to get a bank account. Let me know how it goes.

  22. XUP – Of course health (physical and mental) is key to making your way in life. But the key is drive. Yes I could probably be a millionaire if I wanted to put the work into it. I know a couple of people who have done it… Most of them are on thier second marrigages and barely know thier kids.

    Zoom – It’s not right that you cann’t open a bank account with a welfare check. That seems to be standard operating procedure for banks. When you really need a bank to help you with a loan they aren’t interested. If you don’t need it, they are calling offering lines of credit.

    As for upper and middle class families helping thier kids with thier education, that has to do with the fact that government student loarns are based on your parents income if you are under a certian age(don’t remeber what the age is though.) And with the rising cost of education it’s really hard to put yourself though school without loans or some other help.

  23. hallie: you sure do have an axe to grind. It really gets in the way of any point you are trying to make. Do you realize how you come off?

  24. Cedar – I hear ya, poor pilgrim. But no, you have to appear on someone’s radar screen to be offer a credit card.

    Emily – Thanks for your SPAM/information. You ended up in my SPAM drawer, but I figured I’d approve it since you’re the only one speaking in favour of pay day loans. You make it sound like such a good idea, I want to run out and get one. But seriously, I think I did mention that I have no doubt that ya’ll provide a service that isn’t adequately covered by our financial institutions. The fact remains, you wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the poor. Kudos for seeing and opportunity and seizing it, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy with the situation.

    Hallie – Yes, I was quite shocked to see the number of bootstrappers. It’s a difficult thing to understand, though – poverty. I think Americans are a lot closer to it than we are since one big illness/injury can put you guys on the streets. We still have a few social programs to shelter us from abject poverty. Not many, but some. I don’t think people realize exactly how few degrees removed from the situation they are and how very, very difficult it is to recover once you’ve been knocked down.

    MG – So why aren’t you a millionaire? Too lazy? Drive? Indeed drive is the key. And where does drive come from? Look at you making excuses for not being a millionaire. You have a middle-class mindset. It’s ingrained in you. You can’t think beyond it. This is exactly how it is with the chronically poor. Sure, on some level they know that there are maybe ways of dragging themselves out of their rut, but they have all sort of reason why it’s not possible – it’s their mindset. As to your note to Zoom, I think that was her point exactly. If your parents can’t help you, you’re screwed. No education for you. No future for you.

    Elaine – Once again I will let the person to whom you are speaking address your question. Only because I know Hallie is very capable of speaking up for herself.

  25. unfortunately, too many can go that low.

    i’ve known a few women that were pimped by their mothers as prostitutes to buy drugs for the mom. that stuff breaks my heart.

    i will always be grateful that my mom stuck it out with us three girls after she was left with nothing and no child support when my bio dad left us. people actually suggested that she put me up for adoption (i’m the baby) but she stood by us and did the very best she could to raise us with practically nothing.

  26. XUP – Are you really comparing me being content with my life to someone who is cronically poor. Maybe I have a middle class mind set. Maybe I’m content having a nice house with a good bit of equity in it. Maybe I’m content being able to take a vacations over seas. Do you think that poor people are content to live in crappy homes, working dead end jobs and eat Kraft Dinner?

    And you completely missed the point of my comment to Zoom. If I had university aged kids and they were going to university now they would have a very hard time paying for it. Back when I finished high school tuitions were just starting to rise and if you worked really hard you could make it though with out taking on student loans. Now that’s not the case.

    I just went to the OSAP website and for a 3 year BA at Ottawa U they expect it to cost 10,000 a year. Fortunately the fedral government will be lend my child $1,400. Once you add in the ZERO DOLLARS she gets from the provincial government she come up with $8,600. Drop the family income to $60,000 a year and she’ll qualify for $8,786 leaving her just $1400 to come up with.

    That is why I’ll have to save for my kids education. And yes not having that debt load on them when they graduate will be an advantage to them, but if I want my kids to go to school it’s not like I have a choice.

    auntiehallie – Yes I am a white male. And I was very thankfull for the privilage of working full time every summer since I was 15. I also had the privilage of working part time jobs. I had the privilage of putting myself though school. And the privilage of paying off my student loans. Sure some people had it worse than I did. And some of them were white males too. Oh, I also had the privilage of reading the fine print on my mortgage.

  27. Tom – Thanks. That’s good to know.

    Leah – Hurrah for mom!! You really need to write your biography some time.

    MG – Yes, I am comparing your life to someone who is chronically poor. And yes, they are as settled in their lives as you are in yours. Don’t tell me you never had to budget or that you never wished for a bit extra or that you never had to do without? Of course you’ve convinced yourself that you’re content with the life you have. And yes, in the same way the poor have to convince themselves that they are content with what they have Because neither of you have the capacity or will or whatever to go beyond this. I am just trying to explain how ingrained middle class or lower class or upper class can be in a person. This is what you are. Wherever you came from, whatever you’ve done. If I am a millionaire and come and sneer at you for not being a millionaire because I know how much better life is when you’re rich, what do you say to me? If I say, “with a little effort you could be rich, too instead of relying on people like me to pay the bulk of the nation’s taxes. I’m tired of supporting you. Go get rich.”

    Elliot – Interesting. I like Google.

  28. XUP – Of the people I have know struggling financially they were never content. They may not have know how to get out of the hole they were in, but they weren’t content to be there. And ofcourse I budget and wish a had a little extra money. Doesn’t matter how much you have you always want a little more. I do know what it would take to make me rich, and it’s not “a little effort”. It’s huge effort. It would be alot of work and alot of risk.

    One last point. Millionaires are quite happy to have poor people around. They work cheaply, and you can make a bunch of money off them by giving them crappy service at thier U-Haul franchise.

  29. MG – Touche. I guess there are degrees of poverty, too. “Struggling financially” could cover a lot of territory. No almost one is “content” to be where they are financially – which is what my point was to your assertion that you were content. Wishing for something and knowing exactly how to go about getting there are very different. As you point out, you believe it would be a huge effort for you to move into another financial bracket. Me, I wouldn’t even know where to begin on the road to riches. And, I’m sure most people don’t. And that’s what the comparison was all about. Chronically poor people see dragging themselves out of poverty as a huge effort — and one which they do not even know how to begin. (Thanks. It’s been an interesting discussion)

  30. I’m with Violet Sky…the phone and cable company bandits ARE the worst. Bastids! If I wanted to rent a truck, uhaul is where I’d go and have gone many times. I don’t see that as just a poor man’s option. But Greyhound? I haven’t travelled by bus in a very long time and hope I don’t have to. I see your point there.