Monday, February 21, 2011

Spent

There's a game called "Spent" that one of my Facebook friends called to my attention, and I'm feeling a little irrationally offended by it. The purpose of the game is to try and educate people on how difficult it is to poor, and how much those people need help. I have a feeling the game is going to achieve the opposite.

As a person who has survived some pretty desperate financial situations, I'm offended by the implication that it "can't" be done. I know that it can be done because I've done it. For the record, right now I survive and mostly support my younger brother on less than what they're claiming you can't possibly live on. :P

1) You don't spend $800 on rent if you don't have it. I live in a decent one bedroom apartment that is almost half that, and a couple with a kid could easily live here, if they had to. It would be cramped, but it's doable.

2) Don't spend $30 at the laundromat if you only have $400 in the bank. There's a thing called handwashing, and I've done it when necessary to survive.

3) Don't have a cell phone if you can't afford to pay the bill.

4) "With these groceries, you're going to have a hard time getting enough to eat." Bullcrap. When I live alone I spend about $20 a week on groceries, and that's only because I buy a healthy variety of food. With my brother here, it ends up being more like $45 because he's a bottomless pit. When I was in dire straights, I was able to survive on about $10 or less per week by eating things like beans, rice, ramen, etc. That's not a long term solution, but it will get you by until you can find a way to get more grocery money.

5) $30 on a babysitter... So you have friends who will go to a concert with you, but you don't have a single friend who would be willing to give you a much needed night off by babysitting for you? Maybe you should reevaluate who your friends really are.

6) When the other kids were bullying my kid, why was talking to the teachers about the situation not an option?

7) This person needs a free checking account that doesn't charge fees for going under a certain amount. Yes, they exist. Yes, you have to do some research and look for them, and pay attention to the fine print. No one said being poor was easy.

8) I'm a little offended by the way they try to intentionally tug at your heart strings by making the constant "child wants this or that" stuff. Give me a break. Maybe you should take the opportunity to teach your child about money management, so that the next generation doesn't get into the same trouble you're in? This particularly applies to situations like the one where the child wouldn't eat the free lunches. (For that matter, why wasn't talking to the teacher not an option when the child was being bullied? I mean, come on.)

9) If you are in this much financial trouble and you start smoking, you deserve to be homeless. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Basically, the person you are playing in this scenario doesn't really know how to be poor. It's tough, I'm not saying it's not, but it /is/ doable. If you are a charity and want to say that you're helping out people who are having a tough time, I'm all for that. I think that's wonderful. But don't say that you're helping people out of impossible situations, because unless the person is mentally ill or retarded, it's not an impossible situation. It's just difficult. By making it look impossible, you're just encouraging people to look for hand outs instead of teaching them how to help themselves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Questions I ask myself

What is the point of avoiding controversy?

Is it to avoid discomfort? To avoid hurting someone's feelings?

If someone must be silenced to avoid controversy, does that really avoid hurt feelings?

Why are my feelings somehow less important if I'm in the minority?

I wonder if my professor recognizes the irony of vetoing a talk about civil liberties in a country that supposedly values freedom of speech so highly...

I think I've officially gone from pissed off to offended to depressed. Guess I should go do something about that.