Society Punishes the Poor for Being Poor

I avoid ever referencing a Quora post because of Quora’s censorship against non-privileged people, but today I came across a post that I feel really needs to be shared around. It illustrates the deep immorality in our me-me-me society, and also the reason for why I object to leaving socio-economic justice in the hands of gatekeepers, a chief reason of why I want a universal basic income for all, so that injustices like those described in this post can be stopped in their tracks. 

Some might argue that a federal job guarantee program would accomplish the same, but thinking so would mean that one overlooks the fact that the initial victimization that created a lifelong cascade in the case at hand happened in childhood, before the two sisters in need of help could apply for such a job; and – furthermore – the example of this story illustrates that people placed in charge to decide over the benefits of other people cannot be trusted and can, in fact, be horribly abusive and self-serving monsters. It is one of those realities that show themselves on the ground, in the trenches of living reality, and are never covered by distant evaluations such as macro-economics.

Here is the start of the story, a response to someone’s question of »I feel no sympathy for the homeless because I feel like it is their own fault. Are there examples of seemingly “normal” and respectable people becoming homeless?«:

Well, I’m ‘normal’ and I was homeless for two-thirds of my life through NO fault of my own – unless you’re trying to imply that I somehow chose to be born to poor parents that ended up dying on me abruptly, leaving me to fend for myself in a society full of selfish, narcissistic people that never cared about anyone except themselves.

I was orphaned when I was 12 in 1980. As a result, my older sister, who was 17 at the time, had to drop out of high school to work full-time at a sub-minimum wage waitress job which never paid enough to keep us housed and fed. We were always one $10/mo rent increase away from being evicted. I was too young to be able to get any kind of a job. There weren’t any better job opportunities available to my sister because women – especially poor women without a high school diploma – never had anywhere near as many job opportunities as someone born white and male. The gains of the feminist movement never trickled down to benefit us.

Because we were always hungry, cold, and being evicted as soon as the rent was raised in whatever crappy roach and rat infested apartment we could afford on her waitress tips at the time, we were vulnerable and very easy prey.

We had an uncle who had an upper-middle class life, a nice suburban home with a stay-at-home wife and two kids closer to me in age. My sister called him begging him and his wife (my aunt through marriage) to at least take me in if they couldn’t take us both, saying that she’d manage somehow on her own but there was no way she could take care of the both of us on what little money a waitress got, especially with no healthcare.

My uncle refused to take in even just me. Because it would have cramped his family’s style. They were used to things like backyard BBQs, annual family vacations to Disneyland, buying things like cousin Cheyl’s piano and clarinet lessons, cousin Timmy’s sports stuff, the best clothes and brand new cars every other year, croquet sets, country club memberships, and a backyard swimming pool.

And that’s how we both ended up getting trafficked into prostitution by members of a criminal outlaw motorcycle gang who promised to help us by getting her a good-paying job so we’d never be hungry and homeless again. I survived to eventually tell our story, my sister didn’t.

I recommend you read the whole story which has plenty more to tell.

If you need a little more bait to lure you, here are a two select quotes from the rest of the story:

Privileged people who set up and rigged the entire system to favor themselves at the expense of people with no privilege, apparently thought that while foreign women that were forced into prostitution were victims of the crime of human trafficking, American women and girls enjoyed prostitution and couldn’t possibly be victims too.

We also routinely get belittled, dismissed and written off as “damaged goods” by privileged people who are (supposedly) “allies” to trafficking survivors in the movement to fight human trafficking – a movement that was literally built off of the backs of women just like me that privileged people who are NOT trafficking survivors turned into their personal cash cow, riding the gravy train of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex to generate six figure incomes for themselves from all this federal and state anti-trafficking funding – while poor struggling older trafficking survivors (like me) who started this movement got nothing but shit…


Ending Note: Please share this story around. I can share only so much before social media block me for “spamming.” Also, it takes me at least 100 hours a month to research and write for this site. If you find any value in what I do, please consider becoming a patron and supporting this site with an automatic monthly donation of $1 or more. If you can’t afford this, then don’t, but please share my posts, tell folks about my online course offering, refer others to this site, refer me to paying outlets, partake in discussion, or contribute essays of your own. Thanks. Only together can we change the world. 🙂

One thought on “Society Punishes the Poor for Being Poor

  1. “Respectable people never become homeless.” If that doesn’t show you the vast divide between the 1% and the 99%, I don’t know what else does. The 1% live in their high-and-mighty bubble of “respectability” and privilege and cast aspersions on the rest of us. It’s time for the 99% to fight back and put these elitist snobs in their place.


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