Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Orginal Underclass

"So why are white Americans in downwardly mobile areas feeling a despair that appears to be driving stark increases in substance abuse and suicide? In my own reporting in Vance’s home ground of southwestern Ohio and ancestral territory of eastern Kentucky, I have encountered racial anxiety and antagonism, for sure. But far more striking is the general aura of decline that hangs over towns in which medical-supply stores and pawn shops dominate decrepit main streets, and Victorians stand crumbling, unoccupied. Talk with those still sticking it out, the body-shop worker and the dollar-store clerk and the unemployed miner, and the fatalism is clear: Things were much better in an earlier time, and no future awaits in places that have been left behind by polished people in gleaming cities. The most painful comparison is not with supposedly ascendant minorities—it’s with the fortunes of one’s own parents or, by now, grandparents. The demoralizing effect of decay enveloping the place you live cannot be underestimated. And the bitterness—the “primal scorn”—that Donald Trump has tapped into among white Americans in struggling areas is aimed not just at those of foreign extraction. It is directed toward fellow countrymen who have become foreigners of a different sort, looking down on the natives, if they bother to look at all."

The Original Underclass

The existence of poor whites is denied on the left with even Bernie Sanders saying "when you're white you don't know what it is like to be poor." I lived in the ghetto right next door to other races, so he's wrong there.  The right is no better, claiming that everyone who is poor deserves it. They put forth boot-strap dreams and idealized lives that don't match reality.  Sadly too many poor whites will think wrongly Trump will rescue them out of the economic malaise. I don't think that's the plan from either two wings of the same tyrannical bird. I watched my old rural town die, and the factories close, almost like a stereotype I suppose though in my case I didn't live in a coal mining area.

I have as much in common with the "polished people" with their gleaming suburban homes as a Mongolian sheep-herder.  Even with my education which gives me a few pleasures and resources denied to some, they speak a whole other language. I told my husband the other day, "I don't understand what these people are all about!" And it's true I don't. I think how little I have in common with many people even from socioeconomic realities alone. I've been poorer then this, we are eating and just got our car starter fixed but it's strange. What happens to a country where so many are "disaffected" or treated as "throw away" people even in some cases by their own families? What happens when a sliver of a professional class makes all the rules, and defines a reality, that has nothing to do with your real life? A lot of America is checking out from the talking heads.

When I watch TV, no one's life on there resembles my own. I am not living in a shack in my case but a basic two bedroom apt although one with a dirty rug and walls that needed painted 6 years ago. Do people on TV match your life? I feel like I am watching a whole other world, and their motives and view of life makes no sense to me. But even in everyday life, I meet people in that polished world, I and my husband never were able to enter. The chasm that grew between my family and me even was summed up with that divide beyond the abuse. One thing I did not mind moving away from was the depression that had taken over my old town, where the first idea on everyone's mind was to leave. There's a certain kind of sadness when towns enter that decaying state. 

You want to hear one irony, I am the first person on my mother's side of the family who ever graduated from college.

I still think the racial divide the elite are so much into pushing is to cover over the class divides they use to rule.

Even in a more affluent tourist town, we see the decline on the edges and away from the richer areas, closed shops, tattoo stores, people walking who lost their cars long ago and lots of people who are mostly white, with those cardboard signs out by the highway. 

The Lonely Poverty



  1. I don't see the non-whites living in poverty. Non of them are homeless, except for a few native people, but they've been here all along. The homeless, the lesser thans, they are almost all white. So its time to recognize what that guy said, that the white doesn't know what being poor is, well, I've seen plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    1. We have the poor inner cities in my area, and poor hispanics, who work the farms, but yes most of the people I've seen on the highway begging have been white. I think more white people end up homeless too because there is more family cohesion in other cultures. Yeah I didn't that, he said that, it bugged me big time. Some of them are so out of touch.

  2. Sounds like these poor white people are non-narc normal people who could not fathom becoming narcs themselves. I worked with these people before the Great Recession. They were not elitist snobs or those who believe in getting up by one's bootstrap. They were just normal people. Then I found out online that some of these people died while some retired from work or collected disability checks. I also noticed that if they had a chance, they moved out.

    There are poor white people in my area too. Even though I live in a college city, there are educated poor people who had their degrees years ago and used to work. They are normal people who could have been homeless. Luckily, my city and several nearby cities has elected officials who have been working with a committee that organize trust fund programs so middle-class and poor people could get subsidized housing as renters or homeowners. My neighbor once told me that nobody could afford to live in a city we live in unless if we owned a home 40 years ago or inherited a home from our parents or grandparents, if we are super-wealthy or if we are lucky to get a subsidized housing. Many residents of our city are in the first and third categories.

    I've homeless people who have been sleeping in streets for years. When I was homeless myself years ago, several homeless people told me that they did not want to stay in a shelter because of too many rules and mean employees. I heard that there are many unwritten rules in shelters and some employees are criminals who should be locked up. I stayed in a nicer shelter and lucked out with finding a room at the Y and my apartment before the economy got worse and housing market went downhill. I learned that rental housing market got worse since many home owners gave up on their homes since the real estate underwater became a reality after the Great Recession. When I got my first subsidized apartment in late 2008, people were able to move up the list on a monthly basis. Two years ago, I learned from my neighbor that about 4,700 people were on the waiting list and she said, "Count yourself blessed." Here is the most recent article about underwater real estate (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jorge-newbery/top-ten-metros-where-the_b_10615608.html).

    Well, one thing I want to tell you that many cities do not have trust fund programs to help middle-class and poor people to get a subsidized apartment or house. I learned that some city councils and mayors do not care about people who have been left behind so they started a program of blaming poor or middle-class people rather than helping them to keep their homes, jobs, and families all under one roof. There are extreme examples as mentioned in websites about criminalization of homelessness. A link I am posting is an example: (https://www.nlchp.org/documents/No_Safe_Place) . In the early 2000s, I read an article about the five meanest cities in the United States, at the same time I lived in Las Vegas. The mayor of Las Vegas named Oscar Mayer lamented that he was not a mean mayor. He obviously did something to get Las Vegas down the list before he let his wife run as a city mayor replacing him. Las Vegas is still a mean city but it is not top five as it was in the early 2000s. I saw many poor whites and that poor whites outnumbered non-white people. It was a shame. I noticed classism and snobbery that made poor white people homeless. Some social workers and case workers are snobs. I also noticed that some behavior of poor white people bother elitist snobs rather than how much money they have. For example, elitist snobs wriggle their noses when they see poor white people smoking, drinking cheap beer, eating Wonder Bread, or spitting. These are examples. They would not hire poor white people for these reason and something else.

    1. Yes many people do not want to become narcs.
      Sorry you knew some of these people who died, I hope they got a new chance in their new communities.

      I am glad your city helps the poor, I think that is rare and it is good they have decent subsidized housing.

      I know your city is very expensive, and was shocked to see people buying apartments smaller then mine for half a million before on TV so I think your friend is right about ultra wealthy or only poor or others who qualify for disability housing living there.

      Sorry you were homeless. That had to be hard. I fear homelessness but we have kept our rent paid on time.

      I do believe some shelters are rough. The one we have here is in the rough part of town and is not handicapped accessible with a big flight of stairs on the front of it. I know some may have rules or fear being stolen from while there. Some shelters are better then others. I would fear bed bugs in ours and I have heard from people in the community it is always FULL and they will only give you a cot in the basement.

      So I would not go to our local shelter if I ever end up homeless. As long as the system has not collapsed I could always get a rented room with my disability check in my case. I was told I am too sick to be legally homeless by these two friends and it's true I would die in streets even in one night so they'd have to take me somewhere. I worry about the people I know who end up homeless, it can happen easier too then people think. I have been close two times in my life and some would consider my boarding house life near homelessness but I never slept on the street.

      I have learned of very long waiting lists for good housing, one is 4 years of one major town. So glad you got your subsidized housing. Here one can get in one but one place is horrible and full of bed bugs. I know people who had to move out. Bed bugs are dangerous to people with lymph disorders and can cost them their lives.

      Many rural areas in my state have good disabled housing but I need to be closer to medical care.
      Yes so count yourself blessed. I know in Chicago the waiting lists were 10 years long and barely opened.


    2. Yes some cities are far meaner and rougher then others. Every town has a different flavor even small ones. Some are more friendly while others are not. etc. I haven't been in many places that treated the poor well. My old rural town was friendlier but we were working class there, one reason we did not go back is we know we would be treated different being a few notches down. There was homeless people living in the park and hidden homeless living in RV campers. I was friends with some homeless people there. The social workers and others would tell people to go to a city an hour a way that was a rough place full of drugs and crime, instead of offering housing or help. The churches there should have been ashamed of themselves. I know my church helped a couple members who became homeless but that was rare.

      Here there is more charity in terms of food and medical helps, but less in housing. It is a more affluent area at least where I immediately live. I think being homeless here would be a rough haul too though some of the homeless are given sheds to live in by church people.

      I believe poor whites are disposed of by their families far more often. If you do not succeed by a certain age in white families you are cut off. You are considered a shame and embarrassment. The wealthier they are the more danger this is too. Ie I have seen poor white working class families treat very poor members with love and care while millionaires and 6 figure people throw anyone overboard who "doesn't measure up". My treatment even by my narcs worsened after my husband lost his newspaper career.

      Minority groups have faced hard times and believe in more family cohesion and loyalty a bit more. In the inner city it seems extended family ties are closer too. My uncles, aunts and cousins, never cared about my poverty or helped me out once. My siblings did not care I was dumpster diving for food. I have met other groups of people and noticed the mentality is totally different so in some ways while many minority groups are poorer as a whole and suffer racism, it is easier for poor whites to end up homeless and alone with no help or place to sleep except the street.

      There is massive class oppression among whites. Many poor whites are treated better by other groups then other white people who are more well off. There is a lot of elitism. I believe classism costs poor whites jobs and opportunities.