Monday, August 18, 2008

This is worth reading.

Even if you have to watch an ad to get to it. (Let me know if you do--I have a Salon membership so I don't know how it works for just one linked article.)


Grendel said...

I did not have to watch and add, and the article is well written and serves up some important points. Not least of which is her acknowledgment of being something of a parody of herself.

The problem with this article and similar articles is the person writing it is inherently removed from the true nature of the problem by the simple fact of being educated enough to write about it. Hard core, generational poverty isn't a summer problem. Nor is it a problem one tries to surmount while maintaining internet access.

I don't mean to diminish the nature of the challenge she faced, and presumably faces but I felt a little like she pretended to understand and I don't think that's possible for someone like her or like me that exist with benefits of education, family and class that aren't readily available to many.

I don't mean to turn this into a rant on someone else's blog, though, so I'd better stop. :)

Kate said...

Dude, I think part of her point *is* that she is in a better and easier place than pretty much everyone else needing these services. I sort of felt like that was most of the point of the article.

Kate said...

That is, yes. You are completely correct. And I think that the person writing this would agree with you.

Kate said...

(Also, rant away. Who puts up a link like that and doesn't expect ranting?)

Kate said...

Oh, and one last thing: why do you assume she is getting Internet access from home? She is likely getting it at work or at the library. Point being, don't assume. :)

Kate said...

OK. One more last thing. The other main point of this article is that you can have all of the advantages and STILL need these services. This woman leads with her advantages--she is not trying to pretend to not have been given opportunities, and she is not trying to pretend that she has spent every second of her life being beaten down with no respite. She, like many, many other people, hits a temporary hard patch and has to rely on these services. She specifically points out that this is a short-term, new thing for them, and that they treat and view it differently than people who have never had any other choice. In short, she is not the appalling woman who wrote "Nickel and Dimed." I am not quite sure that your vitriol fits what is actually written here, even though you points are certainly correct in and of themselves.

Grendel said...

Sheesh. My mini rant inspired one. :)

I don't mean to knock her down, and perhaps I read a tone into the article that while I've come across it before, wasn't there.

I certainly don't mean to be vitriolic. The author makes very legitimate points. I'm not familiar with "Nickel and Dimed" but from your characterization, I don't wish to be.

I'm not saying this author is a bad person or a hypocrit, or at least no more than any person writing about extreme poverty is. Again, if you're writing about it, you're almost certainly not it.

Perhaps I'm simply not sure what I'm saying. [much rambling that comes to no conclusion deleted later] I'll say again I think the author makes very good points and I probably heard a tone in the article that was not there.

Kate said...

Remember the audience: I thought this was a very good example of the "rich (or at least well-educated)yuppies who are liberal, this could happen to you, so you should help out others in need and not assume they brought it on themselves" type of article. I thin where we mostly differ is that I don't think she was trying to write about extreme poverty; I think she was trying to write about her own tough time that required that she use the soup kitchen and food bank. As you say, if you are writing about extreme poverty, you aren't experiencing it, but I got the feeling she knows that. I could be wrong. :)

Grendel said...

Well, truthfully, I don't know if I don't find that more annoying. Her tough times were to me more in the category of annoyance. What happened sucked, and it's worse than anything that's happened to me, personally, though I've been close and one perhaps one inability to make bail from being homeless, but she has to go to the soup kitchen, if I read the article, once. She uses the food shelf. While talking about the long emails she sends to friends and family never quite asking for help. I more than understand pride, but that sort of pride is in itself a luxury. Again, I'm not saying she doesn't make very legitimate points. And perhaps I simply wanted more acknowledgement that the author's situation while bad, was a long way from the worst. I'll even buy that she gave sufficient acknowledgement and I didn't see it and am now prejudiced against the article, making my criticism rather firmly my problem. :)

I think there's definitely a place for people to write about poverty and those people writing about it will almost by definition not be experiencing it. Nonetheless, someone should provide what voice they can precisely because those experiencing it often have no voice. There are instances where the author here does indeed do that. When she notices the condition of the older people's clothes, neat and pressed but a facade trying to disguise their own hardship. When she notices the other children and their blank acceptance that this is their lot. Those are good parts in my perhaps not so humble opinion. :)

I think in some ways this line is indicative of the problems I had with the tone "It was like listening to my former self, the one who didn't know how bad things could get." In my opinion, she doesn't, yet, know how bad it can get. She, and I, have a safety net of friends, family and to an extent social class that protects us. While it is a useful and a good thing to remind the self-rightous and selfish idiots that make up much of the middle class that there, but for the grace of all their built in privileges go they, I simply think the author could've better concentrated on the un-graced they, who far from having fallen, were never up in the first place.

My contention is not with the author, who (whom? damnit.) is a fine person, likely better than me. But rather with what we as middle class and to an extent what we as U.S. citizens consider bad.

Kate said...

Fair enough.

Kate said...

Oh, but wait. Didn't you know that you are not rich in this country unless you have 5 million dollars? At least according to John McCain.

(to slightly change the subject)

Grendel said...

Good to know. I plan on stopping paying taxes, well, state taxes anyway based upon my new level of poverty by that definition.

Sadly, once again I'm not overly thrilled with either of the candidates. I was a bit of a Edwards fan and since I find sticking various portions of one's anatomy into various places/people where it may not belong is significantly less objectionable than sticking various portions one's military force into countries where it may not belong, I'm still something of a fan.

The newly religiously aware McCain take a flying leap, however. I prefer my flesh eating zombies uninvolved in the political process.